Review: B’Twin 500-series men’s cycling bib shorts

With the opening of Decathlon Philippines, Filipinos now have access to the French sporting goods warehouse store and its cycling-related house brand, B’Twin. Renowned in other countries for good yet affordable gear, I thought it would be interesting to put some of its products to the test.

When I visited Decathlon’s Singapore branch in Bedok, I made mention of just how surprisingly cheap their 500-series bib shorts are. For just a couple extra Singapore dollars over their waist shorts, the significant onus that usually comes with bib shorts is waived. This registered in my head as the bargain of the entire B’Twin lineup – one practically begging to be put to the test. I’m pleased to announce that the pricing has carried over to our shores too. Having had Pearl Izumi’s US- and Japan-/Philippine-market waist shorts, how do these items fare?

How good are these, really?


  • Designed for rides around two hours long
  • Offered in sizes S-XXL; XL size tested
  • Mesh bib straps
  • Double layer construction on thighs
  • Large ventilated pad, preformed, with antibacterial treatment


On the left is a fresh pair with black thigh cuff. On the right with the blue thigh cuff is the same model of shorts I’ve had since December 2016. Note the B’Twin logo almost totally peeled off on the older pair.

These are pretty simple shorts, mainly made up of black except for the white B’Twin logo and a thigh cuff of your choice of color: blue, orange, red, or the same black of the rest of the shorts. This simplicity means easy pairing with almost any jersey. The thigh cuff does away with any elastic or silicone to help combat it hiking up your leg, but it stays in place nicely even so.

The “yoke” of the bibs that suspends them over your shoulders is a sheer white polyester mesh, with straps that are middling in width. Thicker straps tend to sit flatter for longer, but these have enough weight to them to do so without digging uncomfortably into your shoulders. They’re also set low enough on the waist to enable relatively quick nature breaks…at least for men. Sorry ladies, none of the halter-back-style straps, quick-release buckles, or thoughtful zippers that will help you drop and pee on these shorts.

These stiff, large label tags can be a little obnoxious.

One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb almost immediately is just how huge these label tags are. If you ride around without a base layer, these can potentially chafe on your skin. It’s also a faff trying to keep them inside the bib straps. Cutting them off will help.

Arguably, the main function of any cycling short (aside from keeping you in as civil a state as possible while remaining skin-tight) is to locate the chamois pad correctly against your bum, so that it helps absorb road vibration. In this respect, B’Twin does quite well. I’ve ridden many, many kilometers on the first pair I’ve had, and the pad has never shifted away from its location, which is pretty good to begin with. It’s not too far up on your butt crack, nor is it too far forward of your groin or genital area. This is in contrast to one pair of my Pearl Izumi waist shorts, where the pad effectively folded in under itself in a bizarre fashion inside its top covering.

A look at the chamois pad B’Twin used on these shorts. Again, fresh pair on the left, older pair on the right. It’s subtle, but there’s a difference in the thickness.

B’Twin’s “preformed” pad itself, though…takes a bit of getting used to.

When I first wore my first pair of these shorts, I distinctly remember the pad feeling a little bulky between the legs, somewhat like wearing a diaper while riding. Very little interference in pedaling motion, but I was always aware that it was there. Initial wearings had me persuading the pad to fit better between my legs and crotch before setting off. After buying my subsequent pairs, I noticed the same thing too. Upon further inspection, it’s down to the pad’s sheer thickness.

Lowering the angle shows the thickness difference better between fresh and broken-in. Personally, the older pair is more comfortable to ride in; this pad tends to bunch up a little when new.

The good news is, the chamois pad does compress under your weight, breaking in after a few rides. Once it does, it conforms better to your buttock and perineal area, and it “disappears” from under you as you ride – which is how shorts and saddles should be. It stays that way for quite a long time, too. Decathlon and B’Twin are conservative with the two-hour rating; it can stay comfy for quite a bit more riding. My recommendation, then, is to break in fresh pairs of these B’Twin bib shorts on the turbo trainer for a few sessions to improve their comfort, before taking them out on a significantly long ride.

Pearl Izumi’s US- (left) and Japan-/Philippine-market (right) shorts both have chamois pads that work better straight out of the box.

Aside from the pad needing some work, there are a couple other areas where the shorts feel their price somewhat. That white B’Twin logo on the thigh is reflective, but it peels off a little too quickly, negating the benefit. That “double layer” construction of the shorts may also need some getting used to, as the top layer tends to snag on my saddles’ noses when getting in and out of the saddle. This can be adjusted to, but seeing as I had no such problems with Pearl Izumi’s single-layered shorts, I wonder if there’s actual benefit to the two-layer fabric.


So B’Twin’s 500-series bib shorts aren’t perfect. At that PhP1,100 price though, the relatively minor flaws are forgivable, and can be overcome by wearing them in.

The inside of the cuff reveals no elastic or silicone used to keep them in place on your thighs – it’s just the same spandex of the shorts. The material is such that you don’t really need it.

In my opinion, they get most of the important things right, and they make for quite a decent “graduation” from waist shorts to bib shorts. They don’t offer the best comfort out of the box (break them in for best results), nor are they the best in absolute comfort, so the price premium of big-name brands such as Pearl Izumi, Castelli, or Rapha still has justification. If you’re looking to expand your cycling wardrobe quickly and on the cheap, though, B’Twin has something good here…provided Decathlon actually has them in stock.


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