Padded Bike Shorts
By Alastair Wain
Your first pair of padded bike shorts can be an intimidating purchase, but that thin layer of spandex will make all the difference as your rides increase in distance. Wearing a padded bike short will add comfort to your ride and help protect against saddle sores.
Cycling shorts are specifically designed to provide protection for the rider against friction from contact with the saddle—avoiding the saddle sores! Protecting your behind is equally as important as looking after the contact points that are your feet and hands across a day or multi-day ride.
There are two styles of cycling shorts, both built around a padded chamois layer that is sewn into a close-fitting pair of shorts. Road riders typically wear tight-fitting padded cycling shorts, whereas commuters and mountain bikers often wear these under a pair of overshorts. Both options work well for cycle tourists. The cultural norms of your destination may also be a factor in choosing between the two styles.
Different brands and styles of cycling shorts have different densities and amounts of padding. Try on multiple pairs to find the one that fits best. You will also find different thicknesses in Lycra. Choose a thinner layer for warm temperatures and a thicker layer for the shoulder seasons and winter. Many companies also make male and female specific shorts.
If you choose to purchase a pair of padded shorts for your next cycling trip, consider the following:
- Padded bike shorts are designed to be worn without underwear! You’ll soon see that wearing underwear not only looks funny but is uncomfortable too.
- Consider purchasing two pairs of shorts, preferably with two different styles of chamois. On multi-day rides, rotate between the two pairs to prevent saddle sores.
- Ensure that your cycling shorts provide adequate coverage when you lean forward into a cycling position.
- If you choose to purchase a bib pant, the shoulder straps go under your cycling jersey. Keep in mind that this style will require you to take off your cycling jersey when you use the washroom.
- If riding in the shoulder seasons or a colder climate, buying a pair of cycling leg warmers will take the chill out of the mornings and late afternoons.
- No matter how comfy your old shorts are, be sure to retire them when the material becomes threadbare. This will be more comfortable for you and your fellow riders!