Bib shorts can be really, really expensive. Some of my favorites cost twice as much as the Specialized SL Bib Shorts, but after riding these, I’m going to say that you don’t need to spend that much money to get a high-quality pair of bibs.
Specialized SL Bib Shorts Features:
- Comfortable for long days in the saddle
- Lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric blend with 4-way stretch
- Silicone-infused leg cuffs keep everything in place
- Triple-density Performance Body Geometry Contour 3D chamois
- UPF50+ protection
- Subtle reflective elements improve visibility
- Stretchy, but supportive, mesh straps
- Articulated design for on-bike fit
- 11″ inseam (medium)
- MSRP: $150
Disappearing bib shorts
Thankfully the Specialized SL Bib Shorts don’t literally disappear, but you get the idea. They just plain fit and fit well. So much that I don’t even think about them. In fact, while riding, they just do their job in perfect harmony without discomfort or fit issues whatsoever. That said, let’s talk through just what makes these bib shorts tick.
For starters, the liner is a triple-density Body Geometry design that’s constructed to keep blood flowing and your backside comfortable for the longest rides. I rarely do a 100% road ride and these have been great for my mixed-terrain rides with gravel, singletrack and road. But, no matter where I ride, any chatter goes unnoticed as the SL’s conform to my backside like Velcro.
Specialized is well-known for the ergonomics developed under their Body Geometry initiative. In short, all the key touchpoints between rider and bike are optimized regularly and new innovation is introduced — all with the intent to allow riders to ride longer and more comfortably. Body Geometry items include gloves, saddles, shoes and bib shorts. In this case, the chamois and overall bib short construction provides the right compression and fit. Now, I’m a huge fan of the Assos floating chamois design found in the Mille GTS, Equipe RS and XC Kit, but the Specialized SL Bib Shorts are here to prove that you don’t need that kind of chamois trickery to provide all-day comfort.
No question, Specialized has done their homework with the SL Bib Shorts. The 11″ inseam length offers modern length, coverage and style. The combination of panels is both comfortable and compressive. The mesh straps offer some structure to them, so they don’t just stretch willy-nilly. They stretch just enough lengthwise, then become taut — allowing the shorts and chamois to get situated just right, and stay in place across all types of terrain. They are very stretchy sideways to allow body flex. It’s cool how the mechanical stretch built into the weave is optimized for each direction. The straps are comfortable and chafe-free with or without a base layer.
Because of the overall fit, I can stand and sit down again without any fabric snags or chamois movement across a variety of saddles (Ergon SR Comp Men, Fizik Terra Argo X5, WTB Silverado). And, importantly, no man bits creep outside the chamois area to get painfully sat upon during extensive up/down movements common for gravel riding — my body appreciates that!
The fabric on the lower legs is durable and never see-thru. As mentioned, compression is excellent for proper muscle support. As you go upwards to the straps, the fabric changes to mesh for added breathability. Even on the hottest rides, the Specialized SL Bib Shorts breathe awesome. Subtle leg grippers keep things in place and there are some small reflective bits just for good measure. Oh, and nature breaks are easy with that stretchy frontside.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 170 lbs. and have been wearing the size medium for a snug, but comfortable fit.
- A really superb bib short value
- Compression and fit is top-notch
- Chamois offers excellent comfort
- Great leg length
- Subtle branding
- I like them for road, gravel and MTB
- Some may not like Specialized kits while riding another bike brand
The Bottom Line: Specialized SL Bib Shorts
Certainly, house-brand kits can have a bad rap, but I’ve been blown away by just how good the Specialized SL Bib Shorts are — no matter the brand on the leg. These have a killer chamois, an awesome fit and superb compression. It’s hard to find fault with the SL Bib Shorts. The price is excellent and black is always in style (though other colors are available).
Buy Now: Visit CompetitiveCyclist.com