When athletes decide to give triathlon a shot, they are faced with the question of what is the right clothing. Do I get bib shorts or tri shorts? What is the difference between a cycling jersey and a tri jer-sey? Do I get socks or do I not get socks?
There is swim, bike, or run specific clothing as well as tri specific clothing and it can get confusing.
These are all good questions and we will answer them one at a time. Today, we will discuss bib shorts or tri shorts.
Bib Shorts or Tri Shorts
Bib shorts are cycling shorts that are held up by a bib, or what would be more commonly known as suspenders versus an elastic waistband. The shorts have elastic at the bottom of their leg to keep it tight to the cyclist’s skin which aids in limiting wind resistance.
The suspenders allow the shorts to not have an elastic waistband which helps reduce the opportunity for the waistband to dig into the skin over the course of the ride. Reducing this tightness also removes the chances of chafing from the waistband.
You may think that you will get hot with the extra fabric that goes up your back due to the suspenders. Typically, the fabric that is in that space is made of netting which will help keep the rider cool.
Lastly, the cycling pad in bib shorts is larger and thicker than those found in tri shorts. Bib shorts are designed for the cyclist in mind and not the athlete that will have to get off the bike and run. This pad will help keep the rider comfortable for long days on the saddle.
Triathlon clothing, including the shorts, are designed for versatility and performance. The shorts need to be able to go from swimming to cycling to running and allow the athlete to perform the best that they can.
In bib shorts, the pad is larger as it is designed for comfort on a long ride. The pad in tri shorts is mini-mal and uses a non-absorbent and high-density foam pad. This makes it easier for the athlete to tran-sition between sports.
Since the athlete is submerged in water during the swim and then sweating, and in some cases pour-ing water over their head, the pad helps to repel water which will keep the athlete comfortable during all three sports.
Bib shorts are designed specifically for cycling and tri shorts for triathlons. Does this mean that you cannot ride in tri shorts or race a triathlon in bib shorts? No, you can use them interchangeably but there are advantages to using the item that is specifically designed for the sport (or sports) that the athlete is going to compete in, and comfort is a big one of those advantages!