Bib shorts are a very personal piece of cycling kit. Everyone has their favourite pair and brand.
Most cyclists also have a story of buying a cheap pair, suffering through a long ride, upgrading to a more expensive pair and immediately regretting skimping on such an important piece of kit.
Because really, apart from your helmet or bike, a good pair of shorts is the most fundamental piece of kit you can own. I promise I will get onto the review shortly, but first a little bib short background.
Apologies also that this is a very 'male' review - we'll get a female specific one done ASAP.
My own personal bib short horror story came back in 2015 on a bikepacking tour of Scotland. I had splashed out a huge £75 on a pair of Castelli bib shorts, and they were the dream.
In classic Castelli fashion I had to send them back twice as I had bought my ‘normal’ size first (medium), and then had to size up twice to get a pair that fit (Castelli is famously made for tiny Italian men).
However 600 miles in 6 days loomed, and my previous pair of shorts were well and truly out of commission.
One pair of shorts for 600 miles is pushing it, however, so I needed a second pair. I wasn’t prepared to shell out another £75 for a back up pair, so I bought a pair of DHB shorts (without bibs) for £15 on Wiggle.
This was when DHB were truly terrible (and really cheap), and boy did I feel it riding through the Cairngorms.
The moral of the story is don’t cut corners on bib shorts - you get what you pay for. The upshot of my bad bib buying choices was that I ended up wearing the Castelli shorts over and over again, washing them constantly.
They ended up full of holes with a non-existent pad, and have been consigned to the bin. Godspeed, good shorts!
How then do you go about buying a 'good' pair of shorts (or two)?
Who do you trust, when every manufacturer claims to have the ultimate chamois pad the prices all seem to be up there with a London one bed!
Believe what you read and you'll need to spend around £250 to get a decent pair. Well, the truth is that you don't.
One of the best things about group rides, alongside the camaraderie and collective cake eating, is the ability to find out about great cycling brands and products.
This is how we found out about Attacus; a young, hungry London startup looking to make the best kit on the market without the ridiculous price tag.
The name started popping up at rides and on social media, and then suddenly everyone was rocking the moth (it's a moth, not a bee. Very important distinction!)
I needed to get hold of some kit and see what all the fuss was about!
Before going on, it’s worth mentioning that Attacus are one of our club partners. We promote their kit to our members, who get a sweet 10% discount.
Some may think that makes this review, but we wouldn’t be partners with them if we didn’t love their kit, would we?
So spoiler - we think the shorts are great, but keep reading below for exactly why you’ll love them too.
Really that’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? How much protection can you offer my precious heiny whilst I’m riding for up to 8 hours (sitting in cafes for an hour or more totally count).
Sitting on a tiny piece of plastic & leather for a whole day, means you really want to be looking after your nethers with a decent pad.
Attacus’ official description is the 'top of the range Cytech chamois pad'.
Now, I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds impressive. What I can tell you, after a month of riding and racing in the shorts, is that it is as impressive as it sounds.
Supportive and comfortable, without being bulky and intrusive. You know what I mean, the kind of shorts that make you feel like you’re wearing a nappy.
Only on one really long, hard ride did I feel a bit of posterior pain, but it would be impossible to feel nothing, given the length and effort put in.
The confidence that a good chamois can give you is a huge factor in a whether or not a pair of bib shorts can be considered ‘good’.
Like with most things in cycling, how a piece of kit makes you feel is very important. Picture the scene, you’ve got up early for a really long, tough ride. You’re getting ready, either bouncy off the walls with excitement, or nervously checking every last detail thinking about things that could go wrong.
You start kitting up, the first thing you’re going to put on is your shorts (unless you’re weird). If you know, in your heart of hearts, that your shorts aren’t up to the job, that they make your bum hurt after 50 miles, or that they rub and cause discomfort, then either your great mood is going to be diminished by your crap kit, or your nervous state will be compounded.
You. Haven’t. Even. Left. The. House. Yet!
Having ridden the Attacus bibs for other a month, I can gladly say that the pad is one of the best I’ve ever tried.
Definitely up there with Rapha, most people’s gold standard, and way way better than my old faithful Castelli shorts. Knowing that you’re protected when out on a ride gives you a huge confidence boost.
The pad is also perforated so will wash better, dry quicker and (hopefully) smell less. Good for bike packers and those 'one short wonders' (you know who you are)!
Again, when discussing cycling kit materials, it can be vexing to know just what means what. Lycra is lycra, right?
Well, no, actually it’s not. The official description of the Attacus material is 80% Polyamide and 20% Spandex. What that means is anyone's guess, but because Attacus are such an accessible company, you can ask them.
I did just that, and co-founder Jimmi told me that it means 'premium Italian fabrics, that offer just the right amount of comprehensive support, whilst still stretching and moving with your body'.
They've also removed as many seams as possible, because seams are bad.
They've even made sure that the bib straps are made of soft mesh to keep you chafe-free. They are good to us!
I’ve been able to wear the shorts in a few different scenarios, so feel like I have a good idea of how the material performs, and how comfortable they really are.
Riding and racing in the heatwave conditions we had in August, many lesser shorts can sometimes ‘melt’ in the heat.
By that I mean, the material warms up and expands a little bit, feeling less tight and supportive.
The Attacus shorts remained unmoved in the hot weather, and also breathed very well.
Last weekend I raced in the torrential rain. Again, a lesser pair of shorts can become really heavy and loose when wet.
The Attacus shorts didn’t move an inch, allowing me to focus on a (failed) solo breakaway attempt. I would love to be able to blame the shorts, but I can’t.
In short, the way the material supports your muscles, without rubbing or constricting is pretty (sweet) spot on. The Attacus bibs hold all the right bits in place, whilst not constricting your movements or causing you pain.
I've worn many pairs of shorts, and the Attacus material is as good as any shorts that are twice the price.
Now onto the most important part - how do they look? You may think this is a bit shallow, but allow me to explain. How you look directly affects your performance. Do you want to ride your bike if you think you look rubbish?
Cycling kit (and sadly sometimes, the cycling world) has the ability to make many feel very self conscious. But, looking good in a set of kit makes you feel good about riding your bike.
Feel good - ride better, faster, further. Look good, and you’ll have more fun. Fact.
What about the Attacus style? With a wide range of jerseys to choose from - all black to all the colours - Attacus have cleverly gone with the opposite for their shorts.
Just two options, in fact. All black or mostly black. Anyone that knows me will know that these two options thrill me, but they should thrill you too.
Allow me to explain: some people love colour, and that’s fine, but matching colours can be difficult, and a brightly coloured bib short can lead to colour clashes all over the shop.
Don’t care about this sort of thing? Great - crack on and wear what makes you happy. If you do care, then you'll know that one thing pairs with everything. Black!
So Attacus’ black bib shorts are so versatile because they go so well with all of their many jerseys.
Therefore you only need a couple of pairs of shorts, allowing you to play around with all the jerseys. Not only that, but due to Bavin’s law (i.e. black goes with everything) then you can pair these shorts with most of your existing jerseys too (that pink, lime and orange charity jersey for Ride London in 2015 might have to go though!)
You do have a choice with Attacus - black shorts with black logos (understated, stealth) or black shorts with white logos and hem. Either way you’ll look cool, guaranteed.
In summation, bib shorts are very important for many reasons, and Attacus bib shorts are very very good.
The pad is one of the best I’ve used, the material does exactly what it’s supposed to, and the styling is understated and incredibly cool. It's fair to say that they tick every box when it comes to what you want in a pair of shorts.
At £100 a pair (not forgetting the 10% discount for Dirty Wknd members) these shorts are as good, if not better, than the big boy brands that are charging over twice the price.
However, this isn’t the only reason to buy Attacus bib shorts.
If, like me, you want to wear and support independent, homegrown (dare I say it ’startup’) brands, then Attacus are a great brand to wear.
The shorts are great; amazing value for money and the team behind them are London cyclists, just like you. Not some huge company owned by Asda, but normal riders who make their kit with exactly you in mind.
If that sort of thing doesn't make you want to get outside, in very comfy shorts, and ride your bike then I don't know what does!