Sombrio Smuggle bib liner review

Who knew some of the best bibs are made by a MTB company?

BikeRadar score4.5/5

If someone told me that Sombrio made some of the best bib shorts around I likely would have laughed then asked if they were confused. It's not that Sombrio makes lousy stuff, its clothing is top notch for style and function, but rather it's renowned for its gravity-focused gear, not for the pedally stuff, and certainly not bibs. Sombrio's Smuggle bib liners change all that though. 

The front sits low — good for bathroom breaks
The front sits low — good for bathroom breaks

Sombrio Smuggle bib liner specs

  • Printed graphics 
  • Ergonomic patterning and mesh front panels for added breathability
  • Comfort band on thigh and flat seams for added comfort
  • Three rear stow pockets and one zippered stow pocket
  • 10-inch inseam
  • Formula FX chamois
  • PoronTM vibration dampening technology
  • V-notch for increased ventilation
  • Four-way stretch side panels mould to body contours
  • Welded centre channel for pressure relief
  • X-Small – XX-Large sizes
  • $130

The right fit

One of the big stumbling blocks I have with most bibs are the straps. They either dig into my shoulders or chafe my nipples, sometimes both. I wear a baselayer to ward off these annoyances, but that is another layer and I'm not one to believe that adding clothing helps keep me cooler.

The mesh bib straps are set wonderfully wide
The mesh bib straps are set wonderfully wide

Pulling on the Smuggle bibs, the fit was a pleasant surprise when the straps lined up wide on my chest and outside of my nipples. Not only that, they were wide enough on the top of my shoulders to not feel like I was about to be sawed into thirds lengthwise. Additionally, the straps are full mesh so they feel light and airy, and the middle of the bibs come down relatively low in the front — so #1 bathroom breaks are a bit less annoying than with higher bibs. 

On top of all that the overall fit worked well for my gangly, trim body, not overly constricting yet nowhere near loose, just snug as spandex should be. Mesh panels comprise the front, back and bib straps, basically everything except 14cm (5.5in) panels running the length of the sides and the 8.3cm (3.25in) thigh grippers. All of the seams are flat and the stitching has held up admirably. 

All material is mesh, the seams are flat and the leg openings don't have any bothersome silicone grippers
All material is mesh, the seams are flat and the leg openings don't have any bothersome silicone grippers

On the bike, the Formula FX chamois is sized appropriately, not too thick or sprawling, and lined up nicely with my sit bones. The chamois has a list of features but the two that matter most are that it's comfortable and looks and performs the same as it did many months ago. 

The leg openings feature 'comfort bands' rather than silicone grippers to keep them in place. As a rider who often has hairy legs I appreciated the smooth material over the often hair-pulling nature of rubbery grippers. 

Bibshort storage

This is where the Smuggle name comes in. They feature three rear pockets plus a zipped pocket. The three open pockets sit high enough on the back that they lay flat, even when humped over while climbing. I found tossing a tube, tire lever, mini tool and CO2 in the pockets kept my jersey low profile and prevented me from looking like I had a questionable growth blossoming on my back. 

Leave the pack at home, three rear pockets hold your gear
Leave the pack at home, three rear pockets hold your gear

The small, zipped pocket on the left side is ideal for cash or a credit card and not much else. A small multi-tool fits as do keys, but I'm not very keen on placing something hard and unforgiving right between the top of my hipbone and bottom ribs. 

The small, zipped pocket is thin — perfect for cash
The small, zipped pocket is thin — perfect for cash

Things worth noting

A couple things are worth noting about the Smuggle bib liners. First, the printed graphics peeled off almost completely. I'm not sure if the washing machine got them or my outer shorts rubbed them off, but the Sombrio name on the left leg and the camo print on the thigh grippers are practically gone. Does it effect the performance, not in the slightest. 

The graphics peeled off almost completely
The graphics peeled off almost completely

The other note is unless you know for absolute certain you're the only rider in the woods, the overall mesh construction is see through if you dare stare hard enough. The Smuggles are labeled as bib liners for a reason. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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