The Skins C400 Compression Bib Shorts appear to be a normal set of bibs, but you’ll feel a serious difference as soon as you try them on. All of Skins’s products focus on the benefits of compression to aid performance and muscle recovery. Founded in 1996 by an Australian skier, Skins product line includes tops and shorts for Snow, Cycling, Golf, and Triathlon. We’ve previously reviewed their TRI400 Compression Tri Suit, so if you’re a triathlete too, you might be interested in checking that out too. Skins claims that the “unique dynamic gradient compression” increases power and stamina by providing more oxygen to your muscles. They also claim that compression reduces muscle vibration and lactic acid buildup, thereby reducing soreness the next day. Let’s see how that really works:
The first thing I noticed about the bibs was their close fit. We mentioned in the TRI400 review that we were a bit concerned with the XL covering such a wide range of body shapes. Thankfully, that suit fit well, as did the C400 bibs. If you’re used to normal bibs or even a normal pair of cycling shorts, these run a bit tighter, obviously, due to the improved compression.
The next thing I noticed was a lack of silicone grips on the leg bands. Most cycling shorts have some sort of gripper or at least a thick band of elastic to prevent the legs from riding up during exercise. The C400 have neither, instead you’ll only find a regular folded seam.
Two final observations about the fit and feel of the C400 compression bibs: the upper part of the bibs are made of mesh and are very cool and breathable and the chamois is significantly larger than others we’ve tested. The chamois padding was a bit thinner than our normal bibs, which made for a more sleek profile, but the additional width could be a turnoff to some riders.
When it comes to performance, I was very impressed. My concerns about lack of grippers on the legs were largely unfounded, I did not experience any issues with them riding up on any of the test rides. For this testing, I rode 6 times at varying distances and cadences and was pleased that the bibs stayed in place. The compression certainly reduced muscle vibration, especially important given the quality of South Carolina’s roads in general. I really felt that the compression stabilized my muscles and I certainly noticed an improvement in recovery.
The mesh uppers were a godsend, especially since it’s been even hotter than usual here on the South Carolina coast. Skins also did a great job with the internal seams, they’re well made and very low profile, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any discomfort from those.
The only complain we have about these bibs is the size of the chamois. If Skins reduced the size a bit, we’d be completely in love with these bibs. The very center part of the chamois is thin and unobtrusive and would be outstanding by itself, but the additional padding around that center part actually detracts from the fit and feel.
I certainly recommend you to try these bibs out, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in the saddle. The chamois issue is real, for me, but might not bother you as much and it certainly doesn’t cause any pain or irritation, but it is larger than I prefer. However, the compression properties of these bibs make them a great addition to your cycling kit and can certainly help calm those muscles on long rides and provide quicker recovery so you can go hard the next day.