In 2010, my brother and I were in college and found ourselves to be fat and out of shape. Working part-time and going to school full-time will do that to you. To get some semblance of fitness back, we brought our mountain bikes down to Allendale in the spring of 2011 to try to get fit enough to do a small race called Barry-Roubaix. I wonder whatever happened to that race?
Anyway, we had the bikes, but not the kit. As college students, the thought of spending $100 on cycling bibs was unfathomable. Particularly when we could buy an entire kit (jersey and bibs!) from some dude in China on eBay for $40. 6-8 weeks later, the kit arrived and it fit a little loose. Then after wearing it once, it had completely lost its shape, the colors faded, and the chamois would sometimes not stay put on rides. But hey – only $40!
That pretty terrible experience of buying a cheap, $40 kit from China has stayed with me in the decade since I rocked a Cervelo Test Team that was non-breathable and left me with a rash. Seeing ads on Instagram and riders/influencers online hawking The Black Bibs made me think of cheap, disposable cycling kit and I swore I’d never buy bibs for $40 again. Ever.
I Bought $40 Bibs
On an out and back before Iceman last fall, I was chatting with some guys from downstate who swore by the Black Bibs’ basic, $40 bibs. To be honest, I was a little shocked. In a sport where a $4,500 bike is almost the norm, why wear uncomfortable, cheap bibs? Who would do that to their gooch when it’s rubbing up against a bike that costs 5x more than my first car?
I had to try these for myself to see what’s what. Order placed, the $40 basic bibs showed up just a few days later and I threw them on for the biggest race of the year, Iceman. Talk about trial by fire, eh?
First Impressions of The Black Bibs
The most important thing for me when it comes to bib shorts is that they don’t have an elastic band above the knee. I have enormous legs and when an elastic band is placed just right, it looks like someone is trying to put toothpaste back into an already overfilled tube. Not a great look.
These bibs don’t have that annoying elastic band. They’re clearly made of quality material and the cut fits snugly, but not too snugly, over my robust quads and, may I say, divine derriere.
During Iceman, I didn’t think about my bibs once. And that’s the highest praise I can give bibs. There was no bunching up of material in the gooch area; nor did I feel any restriction of movement when pedaling standing or seated. Simply put, it simply felt like another layer of skin.
Durability of The Black Bibs
It’s been just over a month and I’ve gotten at least 12 rides out of these bibs so far. They remain just as comfortable as the first ride and have retained their shape after being thrown in the wash. While we can’t measure durability in just over a month, these bibs are already giving me the impression that they’ll last for a long time. Don’t put them in the dryer, obviously, and I think these will survive just as long as anything made by Rapha or MAAP. The stitching looks incredibly robust and they just feel premium in the same way my bibs from Castelli do. These Castelli bibs that I own, I might add, have lasted five years.
Should You Buy The Black Bibs?
Yes. While everyone has different preferences and body types, I have got to think these bibs would work for the vast majority of riders. The quality and comfort of these bibs are up there with anything I’ve ever worn from Castelli, Specialized, Louis Garneau, and better than anything I’ve purchased from Champ Systems.
If you need some bibs for your Zwift escapades this winter, these bibs are definitely worth a try. I’m ordering another pair very soon, which should say all that needs to be said about these simple, quality bibs. I’m pretty certain you’ll dig your $40 bibs from The Black Bibs, too.
*Disclosure: I paid full price for these bibs and will of course not receive any compensation from The Black Bibs. They also didn’t get any editorial input. These opinions are my own and are my honest feedback and recommendation.