Compressive fit with an absolute minimum of material to retain moisture; supportive chamois pad that is similarly designed for sweaty riding
Cost, revealing material
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Indoor riding gear is now a thing, thanks to Zwift, Covid, and the bike industry’s constant push for new stuff. I’ve tested quite a bit of it, and the new Assos Equipe RSR Superléger S9 bib shorts are the best bibs I’ve tried. And, yes, they look funny and cost a lot.
Visually, the material on the legs is sheer to the point of being see-through. My wife described it as “lingerie gone wrong.” But functionally, the super-thin bibs work very well for indoor riding as there is so little material to soak up sweat or retain heat.
On the legs, Assos uses a one-piece panel of super-thin woven fabric the company calls ‘Breezer Tex.’ On the rest of the short, Assos uses a knit material called Ossidia. Even the bib straps are made with a thin, lightweight elastic.
The bibs are surprisingly compressive, given how light they are. Often super-light materials lack strength, like early so-called climber’s jerseys that would sag if you put anything in the pockets. Castelli has an “Insider” bib short that is somewhat like that: thin, but lacking in compression (and a good chamois). I’d instead recommend Castelli’s Premio Black with woven panels for a great indoor short. Further, some lightweight material will also sop up moisture, leaving you with the worst of both worlds — floppy, soaked material that creates friction.
Critically, the Superléger chamois also punches well above its weight, with an aerated pad that doesn’t turn into a giant, friction-generating sponge, but instead provides cushioning with a minimum of friction.
For context, I ride and race on Zwift a fair amount. I’ve found most types of clothing to be unimportant; I’ll use ratty sweatshirts to warm up, jerseys are irrelevant, and socks… whatever. But those of you who are also into Zwift know that good bibs are critical! Pedaling hard and almost constantly in a static position quickly highlights any issues you may have with your saddle, your fit, or your bib shorts. Plus, regardless of how good your fan situation is, you’re going to sweat. A lot.
Other bibs I like for riding inside are the Giordana FR-C Pro for the chamois, and the Sportful Giara bibs for the pockets. That last one is weird, granted, but I ride in my garage and am often carrying stuff out there to ride. Pockets, it turns out, are handy. Rapha has some indoor shorts with side pockets. I like the big chamois pad on those, but they are shorts, not bibs, and the knit body material holds more moisture than the super-thin woven fabric on these Assos bibs.
Assos is positioning these Superléger shorts as hot weather bibs, for riding inside or outside. And I’m sure they would function just fine outside on a hot day, but you’d have to be pretty bold to pull it off. (In this review, for instance, I’m happy to run the stock imagery instead of photos of myself.) Inside, however, where your social presence is just an avatar on a screen, they are the best dedicated indoor bibs I have tried.
At $300, you’d be hard-pressed to find something more expensive. They do come with free returns and a two-year warranty. The $220 Assos Mille GTS C2 is another indoor go-to bib short for me.