Anytime I get the opportunity to try a new pair of bib shorts, I literally leap at it.
The thing is, the combination of bib shorts and saddle is SUCH a tough one to get right, and if I am being honest I still haven’t found the perfect combo.
I will say, though, that these Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Shorts paired with the Specialized Power Comp Mimic Saddle come VERY close to being truly perfect.
I have found that if you have a harder saddle, you can often benefit from a short that has a more substantial chamois (the chamois is the padded part of your padded bike shorts).
However, if your saddle is on the softer side to begin with, you are probably just fine with a thinner chamois.
If you are riding a road bike you absolutely are going to want bike shorts with a chamois. I can do a short ride without a chamois, but anything over 10 miles really must have one.
One of the absolute BEST situations I have found is when you can combine a saddle and a chamois from the same company which is exactly what I was able to do here with the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short.
Specialized designs their saddles and their chamois to compliment one another, and it’s truly a great combination.
I have done shorter and longer rides with these bibs paired with the Power Comp Mimic Saddle and so far it has been a game changer.
This is a premium bib at a pretty reasonable price for what you get, and I am here for it!
Interested in learning more about the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short? Read on for the specifics on why we recommend this bib short to the Femme Cyclist Community.
Review in a Nutshell
- The material is soft, buttery, and NOT itchy. It is definitely a VERY noticeable step up from other Specialized Bibs that I have tried.
- Awesome, gentle grip on the silicone cuff that doesn’t roll up but also doesn’t constrict.
- True to size and comes in a range of sizes (XS to XXL, though at time of publication XXL was not available).
- The chamois is one of the best I have tried. It’s just thick enough, contours to the body, and perfect for racing.
- The magnetic closure for nature breaks in the back means that you can pull these bibs down for nature breaks.
- Specially formatted to compliment Specialized saddles for a superior fit and ride.
- Specialized has also made a very focused effort to create saddles and bib shorts very specific to women. These bibs show evidence of that effort.
- The magnetic closure in the back is awkward. It can be a struggle to get the two ends to meet behind you and get them closed up.
- These bib shorts are pricey. You get what you pay for, and if you want higher quality it’s going to cost you. I will say they are worth every penny, though. You can catch them on sale, though which is helpful!
- These bibs only come in black, which is kind of boring if you care about that sort of thing.
Price & Where to Buy:
Please note: The bib shorts I received from Specialized were all black, like the ones on the Back Country website. I personally prefer this, but wanted to make a note of it since what arrived was different from what was pictured on the Specialized website.
One of the Most Comfortable Bib Shorts I Have Ever Tried
Until I tried the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short, I honestly had yet to find a short that came close to my favorite bibs ever in terms of comfort, the Pearl Izumi PRO Bib Short.
These not only are close, but I am going to actually say they are 100% on par, if not even more comfortable.
These shorts are SO soft and buttery. There is no itch to speak of (which I have experienced with other bib shorts, including Specialized).
The best part, by far, is the chamois. I am going to make what for me is a crazy claim…this is the BEST chamois I have ever experienced.
It is just the right amount of thickness. It wicks away moisture. It shows evidence of phenomenal construction. And, most importantly? When paired with the Specialized Power Saddle with Mimic?
My butt didn’t hurt. At all. Like I didn’t even FEEL it after a long ride. Now everyone is different, but this combination, for me, is about as close to perfect as it gets, and I am THRILLED to experience it.
Well Constructed with Premium Materials
One of the obvious reasons the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short is so comfortable is the premium materials used in its construction.
These are Specialized’s race bibs, which means that detail is put not only into comfort, but into performance. They are a slim fit, which means that they fit very close to the skin like most bib shorts. I am often put off by anything labeled “slim fit” because to me that means “tight as all get out” but that is not the case with these shorts.
They are actually extremely comfortable and easy to put on. They have exactly the right amount of compression to be supportive but not squeeze the life out of you. It makes them more flattering this way too!
Additionally, as I mentioned before, the chamois is amazing. According to the Specialized website, “the pre-molded, triple-density foam Body Geometry Contour 3D Chamois is contoured to perfectly match the curvature of your body, all while being soft and supportive in all the right places.”
I 100% can attest that this statement is true. I have never had a bib short hug my pelvic area so perfectly and comfortably without gaps that allow for potentially disastrous chafing.
The chamois is also very breathable, so I didn’t experience any excess moisture or sweating on either outdoor or indoor rides.
The Straps Fit Great and Are SO Comfortable
One of the biggest problems I had with a different pair of Specialized bibs is that the straps didn’t fit well and were itchy.
It can be so hard to find straps that accommodate women’s chests. So many styles have the straps clasping in front, or have them off to the side where they awkwardly just don’t seem to fall in the right place.
These straps are GREAT. They have a good amount of stretch and give so they automatically adjust to different sized torsos. They gently sit on the sides of the chest without any kind of awkwardness or restriction.
They are also very comfortable. I don’t even notice them when I have these bibs on, which is exactly how straps on bib shorts should feel.
I Love Women’s Specific Products, and This is Clearly a Product Made for Women
For so long the cycling industry took men’s products, changed the color or size, and then called it a women’s product.
More and more we are seeing companies actually create products for women, or at least substantially change them so that they fit our bodies in addition to our style.
I absolutely love that the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short is so clearly designed for women.
Not only does it have obvious things (like the magnetic clasp in the back so that we can go pee without completely disrobing), but there are more subtle things too!
I must admit, though, that as much as I appreciate all of the research and development that went into the creation of the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short, I do wish there were more colors, and that they went up to XXXL.
I find that only offering bib sizes up to XXL still leaves a lot of women out. This is especially true when that is the only size that isn’t available on the Specialized website at the time I am writing this article.
Finally, I would love to see this bib in more colors! Even just one other color option, such as a dark gray or navy. I have SO many black bib shorts, but I have a lot of different colored jerseys that just don’t work as well with black.
I am guessing I am not the only one who feels this way, so it would be awesome if there were just a couple additional color choices.
The Magnetic Clasp in the Back for Nature Breaks IS Awkward
When I thought about the one thing that I really don’t like about these bibs, the magnetic clasp was the first thing to come to mind. It just doesn’t work for me.
You see, I absolutely love and adore the idea of this design. Instead of the bibs clasping in the front like many women’s bibs do, specialized keeps the front open but provides a clasp in the back for nature breaks.
While this makes the bibs incredibly comfortable, I have to contort myself to secure the clasp.
When I first put them on I almost hunted down my husband to secure it for me because my arms just didn’t want to bend that way! Maybe I am doing it wrong?
I will say though, that by having this option instead of a “drop seat” design (or no way of getting out for nature breaks at all!) it makes it a lot easier to relieve yourself and NOT make a mess of your bib shorts.
Additionally, I must add that the closure is a very strong metallic clasp that has never come undone on me when I don’t want it to.
Bottom-Line: Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short
I am VERY impressed with the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short. As someone who is very picky when it comes to cycling clothing, this is quite the compliment indeed.
There is nothing better than coming across a pair of bib shorts where you really have to reach deep to find something that you don’t particularly like.
While I struggle with the magnetic closure in the back and would love to see more colors offered, I truly feel like I am grasping at straws to come up with any major cons with the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short.
They are comfortable on long rides. They have an incredible fit to the chamois that is breathable, doesn’t sweat, and doesn’t chafe. They are soft, buttery, not itchy, and the cuffs have just the right amount of grip.
This is a premium short with a premium price, but it’s worth it. In fact, I have paid more for bib shorts that I don’t think are quite as good as these.
If you are looking for a comfortable pair of bib shorts that will give you a nice long ride in the saddle, you truly can’t go wrong with the Specialized Women’s SL Race Bib Short.
More Help Getting A Comfy Bum
- 9 Best Women’s Bike Saddles & How To Choose!
- 9 Best Padded Bike Shorts (Cycling Shorts) For Women
- 7 Best Chamois Creams for Women & How To Use It!
About The Reviewer
Stacy Ann Smith is a New England-based cyclist who strives to stay upright on her bike. She is the founder of Sascy Cycling, and her mission is to encourage women to love their body and focus on what it can do, not what it looks like. When Stacy’s not cycling she is teaching high school history and eating pizza with her husband and son.