Part of growing up is sometimes facing the reality that certain beliefs and understandings you have about the world are false. Looking back, I don’t remember having much difficulty dealing with the realization that, contrary to what my parents and others told me, there actually wasn’t a fat man in a red suit sliding down our chimney once a year, doing who knows what while he’s in our house, and eating cookies before leaving presents made by elves somewhere thousands of miles away that happened to be exactly like a toy I had ogled over in the toy store a few weeks earlier. I do, however, remember sitting in a theater and crying when Master Yoda was dying. Yoda was my favorite character, and quickly became one of my first heroes. Movies were reality to me, and Yoda was really an eccentric, hermitical Jedi Master dwelling on a far-off planet. I had even convinced myself that Yoda was immortal, so how was I watching him die?
Challenges and assaults on our beliefs don’t stop when we hit adulthood. I was reminded of this while reviewing the Aero Tech Bib Shorts. Prior to testing these, my bib short collection consisted of two pairs of approximately $180 bibs, an older pair (circa 2007?) that retailed at around $300 at the time of purchase, and two pairs of Assos FI.Milles that each cost $260. My understanding from not only my own riding but from magazine and website product reviews was that bibs had to be well into the $100 to $200 range before they are even “acceptable”, with more money spent equating to a more comfortable product. If it costs more, it’s got to be better. Right?
Armed with this belief, I must admit I had some preconceived notions about the Aero Tech Designs Bib Shorts before I even received them. The bibs retail for $59.95, meaning they are one-third the cost of my next cheapest bibs. Honestly, due to this fact alone, I was anticipating a cheaply-made, ill-fitting, uncomfortable bib that would be tossed away somewhere and forgotten after my initial usage and attempt to put a positive spin on a sub-par product for my review.
Because of what I’m about to say, I hope my wife doesn’t read this. Man, was I wrong! The bibs are feature-rich with similar attention to detail as seen on higher priced models. With their cycling position cut, elastic leg grippers, supple and flexible straps, mesh back, and multi-level pad, it was obvious that there was a lot of attention paid to details.
So how did these details translate into performance? Up to this point I have done several one to two hour rides in these shorts which would have previously been ridden in my $180 or $300 bibs. The Aero Techs were actually more comfortable on rides of this duration than even the $300 ones. I have also done three to four hour rides in the Aero Techs with quite favorable results. Though not as comfortable as the Milles for these longer rides, they performed much better than I expected.
Note that the Aero Tech bibs are a fairly tight fitting bib. On their size chart I am between the upper end of the medium and the lower end of the large. I ordered a large and was glad I did. The bibs are quite snug, especially when standing, but this snugness is welcome while in the riding position. The fit of the bibs meant there was no noticeable bunching or movement of them while seated. I did notice on my first ride that while standing for climbing or sprinting, there was a small gap at the intersection of the groin and thigh area. However, the next ride this was reduced by setting the bottom of the leg opening higher. The elastic gripper is so effective at preventing any riding-up of the legs that you want to set it to where you like it prior to riding. Though the legs are snug providing a nice level of compression, the elasticity of the shoulder straps is not constricting. The stretch in the straps is enough to make pulling the front of the bibs down for, as Phil Liggett would say, a “natural break” much less of a chore. The multi-level pad felt quite nice and did a good job of keeping the butt comfortable, even on the longer duration rides. I did see a small amount of bunching just below the glutes while standing off the bike. This bunching can also be seen in the model photo on the website. This was, however, in no way noticeable while riding.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give these bibs was also the biggest problem I encountered while riding with them. Because of their great fit and comfort level, I had to remind myself to actually think about the bibs from time-to-time. Assuming there are no long-term quality issues, I highly recommend them, especially considering their price. They’re proudly made in the US, and are unconditionally guaranteed. Find them at www.aerotechdesigns.com. Who knows, maybe they’ll change your beliefs as well.