The right fitting for cycling jerseys & bib shorts

We put a lot of effort into getting the fit right for our custom cycling clothing, but as a client, it is important that you understand how the fit is meant to work. The most important thing to consider when trying kit on is that it is designed to fit when you are on the bike in a riding position and not when you are standing up trying the kit on for the first time.

What this means for jerseys and jackets is that the fabric in the sleeves and shoulders is shaped to relax into its natural position when you pull your arms forwards to put your hands on the handlebars and the sleeves have to be cut longer; then the front of the jersey/jacket is cut short, because when your torso bends forward into the riding position, the distance between your chin and your waist shortens dramatically so if it is not cut short, the fabric will tend to fold and bulge. Meanwhile the back of the jersey/jacket has to be cut long as the curve of the spine in the riding position elongates the length that that the fabric has to cover. This means that if you try our jacket/jersey on when you are standing up straight, you should find that the fabric ripples across the shoulders and the sleeves feel a little to long. The front of the jersey/jacket should also feel a bit short riding up to the top of your bib shorts.

custom bib shorts

With bib shorts it is more of the same - if you hold a decent pair of bib shorts by the top of the straps and let them hang, you should see that the shorts naturally form a curve to follow the position that you will be in when riding. Standing up straight the straps will tend to pull both on the front and the back of the shorts, but in a riding position they should almost entirely pull up on the back. Only in the riding position should the fabric relax into its correct position - standing up straight, bib shorts should be ill-fitting! (Whilst on the subject of bib shorts, it is worth remembering that the straps have three functions: to remove the need to have an elasticated waist band that can dig into your stomach, to hold the back of the shorts high up your back so that there is not a gap between jersey/jacket and shorts and to pull the chamois up firmly against your backside so that it stays in place throughout the pedal stroke).

When it comes to our patented halterneck bib shorts (also sold under our license by DHB/Wiggle) the idea of the fit only working correctly in the riding position is equally important. In this case the halter strap only really pulls on the front of the shorts when you stand upright, but in the riding position the straps transfer the pull on to the anchor points at the back of the shorts. The functionality of the design of our halterneck shorts is so important for this reason: not only are they easy to pull down in the squat position to allow a rider to take a pee without removing their jersey/jacket, but in the riding position they perform the 3 key functions of standard bib shorts as outline above because the key anchor points are at the back of the shorts.

So the point is, when you try on cycling clothing, you have to do it on a bike, or at least bending forwards as if you are in the riding position. Decent kit should only fit properly when you are in this position - if if fits well when you are standing up, then there is something wrong!

Charlie Cutler