Baggy shorts, lycra, shorts over leggings; no matter how personal your views, if you are in sheer lycra out cycling, you will most probably be laughed at. Avoid these horrendous cycling fashion disasters. Read on. We take the lead here to reach you to the best padded cycling shorts in the market, that are comfortable, ergonomic and what’s more, have a dash.
Riding a bicycle is an exhilarating experience. A wrong seam or that niggling bite at the waistline can throw a spoke into the works that will swiftly degenerate into an ordeal. To ride a bike comfortably without fighting with your shorts is a no-no. They should ride easily and naturally, be of a material that does not warp after a wash, and importantly enhance your performance.
This guide that we have put together is both explanatory and hopefully will equip you with sufficient pre-knowledge before you go and make your choice.
Why Wear Padded Cycling Shorts
As a biker, make no mistakes- your shorts or choice of them have a tremendous bearing on physical well-being along with less important considerations. You are positioned on the tail bone and all those knocks of the road; potholes, bumps, rubble and what have you, that you encounter.
On any surface, you can expect some impediments. The shock is transmitted straight up to the spinal column. The coccyx and lumbar regions are the regions that will be affected the most. These shocks and vibrations have to be dampened.
Chamois leather is the unquestionable superior choice her for use as padding. Whether you are a road cyclist or a mountain biker, your shorts need to have this shield. Other alternatives are foam and synthetic materials that really can’t fix it. Chamois is natural; it is ergonomic, will mould to your nether contours, does not chafe or cause discomfort otherwise.
Differences between Snow-board Padded Shorts and Cycling Padded Shorts
Please read this as your sit bones will thank you. Perish the thought if you are thinking in the lines of why padded shorts for snow-boards. If you fall, there is soft snow to cushion it. No, the snow cover is not deep enough in places and you will land on the hard ice below.
Fatalities have been reported before you are now immobile and help may not be readily at hand.
Padded snow-board shorts cover a larger area that includes hips, quads, buttocks and the tailbone. The pads are of varying dimensions. Thickness is one.
Cycling padded shorts are a different ballgame. Padded shorts with a crotch pad of chamois is for snow-boarding. The chamois padding in cycling shorts is bulkier and nests at the saddle end.
The question is that could you ride your bike in shorts designed for snowboarding? Sure for a short duration, it is okay. 20 miles, most probably not. The reverse too holds good. Your padded cycling shorts are not the best bet for snowboarding either.
Cycling Padded Shorts – A Comprehensive Buying Guide
a) Road shorts/bib shorts
Bib shorts are a premium option and are more comfortable. Waist shorts need to have the band high and wide enough or they will result in digging in. We had tried quite a few types and to go into detail on each will put you to sleep.
Bibs are the choice for most bikers especially for medium or long runs. The differentiating factor is the shoulder straps that hold the chamois in place, cutting down on movement when you shift position or walk around, reduces hotspots and chafing, does away with saddle sores and does not allow the fabric to bunch up in the crotch area.
They are comfortable around the waist. Continual waist pressure causes gastric distress. As the is no waistband, breathing is also unrestricted.
b) MTB shorts
These came about as a form of counter-culture to the lycra. Baggy became their calling. They may look like everyday wear but come with special features. Reflective details, a gusseted crotch, and zippered pockets to name a few.
The entire gamut from cross-country to enduro is covered. They are usually made of blends of nylon, elastane, spandex, and other stretchable, breathable fabric. Cross-country shorts come a bit differently. They are lighter, more form-fitting and less abrasion-resistant.
The point is that depending on the type of cycling activity, the range is very comprehensive. Also, the shorts are gender-specific, cut accordingly.
2. Panel Construction
In order that the garment fits your body contours, the use of panels is made. Obviously, the more the panels, the greater the adaptability of the garment to stretch and flex. In older times when the less stretchable fabric was not available, fabric such as wool wood requires a good number of panels. Today, it holds less distinction but all the same, high-end gear is generally of 8 panels with 6 being the norm.
What insulates you from the saddle is the chamois padding, or as most makers use faux chamois. This is the predominant feature of biking shorts and there is only one way to find out if your choice is true; take a ride in them and get a feel. This is a bit impractical as we doubt any seller allows test rides. If you have friends who have tried it out earlier, you are in luck.
Thickness is only one consideration of how chamois can fare. The density, shape and whether it has stitching that is exposed are factors to be taken into the reckoning. There are many different colors, styles, and methods to affix chamois pads in shorts we tested and it is very simple.
Nylon and spandex rule the roost as the fabric of choice for road cycling shorts and bibs.
We went through the specs of many makers, some using their own patented fabric and some have polyester fires too as a constituent.
By and large, their performance is of satisfactory quality. The most renowned brands use a varied combination of materials - the end result being superior breathability, comfort, and flexibility. They come expensive and their target audience is professional bikers.
By and large, mostly all are of good wicking quality whereby body moisture is expelled.
5. Size, Fit, and Comfort
The best fit is that which hugs your waist and ends up just above the knees. In cooler climes or for better sun protection, you can opt for ¾ shorts which extend a bit below the knees. Bib knickers score high in the area of comfort. The straps we found were not of any concern causing irritation or any such. They need to be broad enough and individuals with longer than usual torsos may have chafing issues.
Lastly, we come to how the bottom cuffs are held in place. Silicone grippers placed inside the shorts is one way. Compression grips, which are usually found on high-end models do a better job and don’t abrade the skin.
When it comes to comfort, the may feel like a Versace, but a different story will unfold once you are in the saddle. You are not buying your shorts at Macys, so surely your bike shop will be more than glad to accommodate your request for ‘try before you buy’.
6. Tight or Baggy
If you are one of those cyclists who zip around, you should consider tight-fitting race shorts. It has to do with aerodynamics, least wind resistance and all such.
If you are more of a commuter or touring on a cycle, you would be hopping on and off the cycle, you are certainly concerned about the look of your shorts and available pockets more than the speed. What you would need is ‘baggy shorts’ with an inner liner.
The guarantee of maximum comfort is padding. But there is a limit; you cannot have shorts that are heavily padded. The type of padding prescribed is what is called the variable infinity thickness type. What this does is to make the thickness variable depending on the needs of a certain body type. With the correct padding, the durability, and performance of your shorts leap quantumly.
Most people are likely to get foxed by the term inseam.
This measurement correlates to comfort and fit.
Most cyclists prefer the inseam to be a bit above the knees. Chaffing is the chief irritant here. Remember, cycling shorts are not meant for wearing over inner-wear. In colder weather, the inner seam length could go up to the ankle level.
The bibs we tested with our well-trusted tape gave us measurements of 8.4” to 9.6”. We admit it was a bit unclear where the makers were taking their measurements from. It really does not matter because
the cuff lengths were a close match.
Your imagination is the limit. Bike shorts come in mind-boggling colors, patterns, and designs. Traditional, trendy, staid, need a logo on them; done. This aspect is a reflection of your personality.
Breathability in a breath means allowing your garment to allow air circulation. The fabric should breathe. This way, all that moisture from your body secretions, sweat and so on is transported out so you are not left cycling in damp, moist clothing.
Sweat has this tendency of pooling around the tailbone. If your shorts are not breathable, you are sitting in a puddle of sweat; wet skin blisters easily not to mention bacterial growth.
Padded Shorts Maintenance Tips
Bike shorts are an integral part of your cycling experience. They can be expensive as you know. So it is an incentive to keep them clean. Some DOs and DONTs for maintaining your shorts
- Wear shorts that fit snugly. There is a middle path. They should not jiggle about or be so tight as to smother circulation.
- They are high-performance gear. A handwash is preferably then throwing them into the wash.
- Always wash in cold water ONLY. Heat is death for lycra and similar fabrics.
- The cleanser has to be gentle. Harsh detergents wreak havoc on the synthetic fibers and the elastic components that hold up your shorts.
- Whenever you decide they require a wash, do turn them inside out in your hamper or you may be in for one helluva stink fest.
- Immediately after a ride, take your shorts off and let them dry normally.
- Never wear underpants with your shorts. Trust us on this one.
- Fabric softeners are the death of biking shorts. They leave a film. This film inhabits the wicking and breathability capability of the fabric.
- Using a heater setting on your dryer is sounding the death knell. Air dry only.
- The chamois part is pretty important. Okay, it is not lambskin anymore, but the proper care of this part is crucial for your shorts to retain their ability as biking shorts. It is mostly of suede leather.
When you set out in the quest for those cycling shorts, we strongly emphasize that you be adequately conversant with the basics of sewing. We cannot sufficiently reiterate that your personal preferences come upmost. If you dig baggy more than tight-fitting, well, baggy it is then. Weigh the consequences of your choice clearly. Being comfortable, your health and hygiene are what should be the prime consideration.
In this guide, our entire endeavor has been directed in giving you pointers as to how best you can streamline your choice.
Buying a pair of shorts and caring for them is a different kettle of fish. You don’t want to wash that investment down the drain; worse still, use unserviceable shorts for your rides.
Q. 1: What would be the right size of bike shorts?
Ans: Bike shorts should fit snug. The pad should be close to the skin, otherwise, the potential benefits of wearing these shorts will be void.
Q. 2: How are Bike Shorts worn?
Ans: Rule 1, No under or innerwear, please. If you are donned in bib knickers, your jersey goes over the bib straps, never under.
Q. 3: Are cycling-specific shorts really necessary?
Ans: Smart question. There is no rule against wearing boxer shorts on a ride. The question is how serious a rider you are. Try boxer shorts for a 10 km ride and you will have your answer.
Q. 4: What is a chamois exactly?
Ans: Chamois is the leather derived from the skin of chamois, a species of goat that is common to Europe. In cycling terms, this padding is synthetically made to mimic the quality of chamois leather in its superior polishing and cleansing properties. Suede is often chosen as the closest cousin to chamois.
Q. 5: Is the wearing of underwear compatible with this type of shorts?
Ans: Innerwear; underwear is never to be worn with biking shorts. This will negate the moisture-wicking qualities and you will end up riding on damp wet shorts that will cause friction burns.
Q. 6: Is it any different by wearing padded cycling shorts?
Ans: Saddle sores and chafing are done away by wearing padded shorts by providing a layer of padding which is best shaped for the riding position.
Q. 7: What are the advantages and disadvantages of bib-style shorts?
Ans: Bib shorts keep, well, your shorts up; the chamois stays in place; look great off the bike; are more comfortable at the waist; no hitching is required and a lot more.
Q. 8: Why all these shorts so tight-fitting?
Ans: Aero-dynamics to start with. To increase pedaling efficiency. For efficient moisture expiration. And so much more that it will take a whole page.