A cycling buddy, Jonathan, sent out a text to our group the other day recommending we try The Black Bibs for reasonably priced trainer shorts. I’ve already got a drawer full of trainer bibs, but I’m always on the lookout for a decently priced pair of bibs.
I’ve been a fan of Funkier for a few years now, but they can leave a hot spot in a really bad place if you’re not careful – and I definitely won’t wear them on rides longer than, say, 40 miles. They’re for weekday rides so I can save my nice (expensive) bibs for the long days in the saddle without wearing them out. After all, I pay more for one pair of bibs than most would want to spend on a bicycle, I want them to last.
So, that brings me to the aforementioned Black Bibs. The slogan is “No Labels, No BS, Undeniably Affordable”.
Yep, no labels, check. No BS, Check. There’s no question, at $40 for their bottom tier bibs, they’re affordable. So, check.
The ordering process is simple. Delivery, at least to my house, was swift. My pair arrived the day it dawned on me I should track the shipment to see where it was. It was in my mailbox. Now, I picked up that bottom tier pair to try out. Why? I don’t know, possibly to be a crank when they didn’t live up to my high expectations… political season is in full-swing and the politicians have gotten everyone so riled up, cats and dogs are sitting back slack-jawed at the carnage. Hey, honesty is the best policy, and if I’m anything, I’m capable of being honest.
Wednesday night was my first ride in The Black Bibs… erm… bibs, and I picked a doozy of a night. My buddy and I went from a lazy, fun evening ride, to a full-on hammer-fest in 23-miles.
First impressions were a little tricky. The bibs are slippy on the saddle out of the package, so it was difficult to keep my keister in its happy spot on the saddle – I slid all over the place. Also, the chamois is rather thick, so it feels a little unsettling on the heinie at first. One really nice attribute is the leg hem – there’s no grippy on the hem so those who hate the grip will LOVE these shorts – and my leg warmers were still where I’d put them at the end of the ride, too.
About 15 miles into the ride, the slippery nature against my Bontrager Montrose Pro saddle relaxed and I was able to sit on the saddle without it feeling like it was a contoured sheet of ice. After that, the bibs went away entirely. And that’s exactly what I want in a pair of bibs. I want to not think about them. At all. Until the next time I put them on.
The chamois was acceptable and would be alright on a long-ish ride. I loved the lack of grip at the leg hem, but probably my favorite was the shoulder straps. I have pecs… not big one’s, mind you, but they’re there. And because I have pecs, there are rubbed raw nipple issues with some shoulder straps. Not with The Black Bibs. Normally I have to pay north of $100 for a pair of bibs that won’t rub my nips raw. $40 is unheard of unless they’re on sale, marked down from $100+.
Much more research will be necessary, and I’ll have to get a pair of the $65 high-end bibs, now. So far, though, I was thoroughly impressed with the pair I bought.
For sizing, I bought a Large, which is par for the course. I used to be a medium before I learned how to eat for my mileage, but those days are long gone. I’m 6′ tall and between 170 and 175 pounds (depending on whether we’re before or after November/December family get-togethers and dinners). Interestingly, the sizing charts go by loose measurements and are worthless. If you keep scrolling down, you’ll see a chart that goes by weight/height and that had me pegged at the tall/heavy end of a Large. They fit excellently.
Chuck and I rolled out last evening to a phenomenal evening that’s supposed to be the beginning of a great stretch of weather. We’ve been battling gloomy and rainy over the last week or more and we finally saw some sunshine yesterday. I was perfectly dressed for the low 50’s and an easy jaunt around the block. Heading north was fast, I was over 20 before I knew it. I turned east for Chuck’s house and that was fast, too. Southwest wind. It was going to be an interesting night. Fortunately, we fit a lot of miles (23 or more) in a small 6 mile by 4 mile rectangle for our normal loop so we were never more than a couple miles of headwind at a time.
We rolled out slow and easy, picking up the pace as we headed into the wind. I took the first three miles dead into the wind but I wanted some tailwind, too. I took a half-mile of Chuck’s turn. Then he took a turn… and it was on his second mile, into the wind on the smoothest road in our county, at 22-mph – I think that’s what did us in. I took a chunk leaving a subdivision that we normally take fast because of a nice downhill. It was a little tougher with the cross-headwind, but we kept the pace lively. Entering the subdivision for a second time, I kept the pace up a hill with some tailwind help, then flicked off coming to a stop sign.
Chuck took over and hammered it. Then I took another turn and I hammered it. Then the tailwind section and we both took some of that north of 23-mph. Then it was time to come to Jesus. We were staring at two ugly miles into the wind before another cross-tailwind mile. I was still feeling pretty good at that point, so I offered to take the first mile of headwind, too. I had a feeling I was making a mistake. I wasn’t wrong.
Up a slight incline off of Calorie Corner (six fast food restaurants within spitting distance of each other) and I was north of 20. I switched to the drops to cheat the wind a little more, but I was approaching max heart rate. I lasted another half-mile but once I hit 172 on the heart rate, I have to go back for a rest. I was beyond that. Chuck took over for a half-mile, then I took a half, then Chuck again. I caught the tailwind section and took it up to 23 again, but my heart rate maxed out again almost immediately. I was done. I made it a half-mile and told Chuck to roll on without me.
He was only a few hundred yards ahead of me when I turned the corner for home and I slowly ramped the speed up after having caught my breath. I pulled into my driveway just behind him. He was mildly bummed, after that big effort that we were only at a 19.4-mph average but he’d forgotten to take the slow start into account.
Then he said something to the affect of, “Yeah, I figured you wanted to go fast when we went into the subdivision, so I kept the pace up.”
I looked at him slack-jawed. “I didn’t want to go fast. I thought you wanted to go fast.”
Chuck chuckled. “I didn’t want to go fast.”
Yerp. You never know when a real ride’s going to break out. I have to admit, though… my pizza was just a little tastier than usual last night.