If you’re considering cycle clothing for your first few bikes rides make sure padded cycle shorts are at the top of your list! Padded cycle shorts or tights are one the most important cycling investments you’ll ever make. This is because your bum will have a unique requirement to be comfortable every time you ride.
In fact, it’s the only item of clothing you’ll always need whenever you ride, whatever the weather – so investing in a pair of padded bike shorts is vital to you and your cycling.
The concept of padded cycle shorts or tights will inevitably feel rather new to you, but very quickly you’ll realise the benefits and never look back:
Padded cycle shorts will help:
It’s also vitally important to understand that bike short inner pad and the saddle should work in combination. I will write a post on bike saddle comfort shortly, but the point I want you to remember is the shorts always work in combination with your saddle!
Reasons why you must wear padded shorts when cycling:
1. The pad in the shorts is made of special material that wicks away sweat but allows the area to breathe: something underwear cannot do when cycling.
2. The seams in underwear will chafe against you painfully if you try to ride a bike for any length of time.
Which Shorts Should You Start Out With?
When you’re getting started, try a few different bike shorts to see what suits. It takes considerable trial and error to get a pair that suits you perfectly for your cycling.
However, be aware that buying the most expensive bike shorts does not in anyway guarantee comfort. You really do have to try and see what works.
Bib Or Waist Shorts?
Shorts or tights can come with a "bib" which means they have bretals that pull up over your shoulders. The advantages of bib tights or shorts is that you don’t have them sliding down as you cycle along. The bretals keep everything neatly in place! 🙂 .
However, tie at the waist or elastic waist are also an option specially for us women when we need to go to the call of nature…so in my opinion it’s more for this convenience than anything else.
My personal preference are bretaled shorts or tights - because more often than not, I like the shorts to stay in place and not have any elastic cutting into me.
Different Types Of Padding In Shorts...
Shorts or tights have pads in them today made of synthetic material called Spandex which is a type of lycra. The pad ideally should breathe and have the ability to wick sweat away, as well as not slip against you whilst riding, preventing chafing.
There are two types of pad in bike shorts you should be aware of but please do not get too hung up on this - as a comfy pair of shorts can have either pad:
Again, it’s personal preference as to which you choose and which you prefer. As mentioned, I have many gel padded cycle shorts that a very comfortable. I also have more expensive ones that quite frankly didn't give me any better comfort, even though they specialise in better breathability etc...
Should I Use A Special Cream?
You can use special cream, sometimes called a “chamois cream” which is efficient to help protect you against localized chaffing, especially when you’re new to wearing any type of padded bike shorts and going a long way.
If you’re planning on riding a long time on the bike +2 hours then yes, you should consider a chamois cream. Or if you’re riding a tour, or riding day after day then you ideally ought to be using a cream.
Vaseline is also a great alternative, but you have to watch vaseline (petroleum based) against carbon fibre - errr - supposedly makes your bike frame melt away!
There are many creams on the market, but basic vaseline is inexpensive enough to test and try out AND if you’re going abroad to cycle any time soon, you can take it with you on flights as small tube or pot is only 100ml – something to consider.
As we’ve just seen, the topic of ‘bums, padding and shorts’, can get confusing quite quickly if you’re a beginner. My tip is not to get too overwhelmed with all the varieties. The important thing is to choose a few pairs of padded shorts you think might work and see how it goes.
As you can see, there are specific women’s cycling shorts out there where the cut at the waist is slightly narrower and the pad can be a little wider. I have always found this uncomfortable and prefer a unisex or general padded short, but you might find otherwise.
The padding for women is placed at the appropriate location than in men’s shorts, so ideally you should go with women’s specific shorts if at all possible, even if the cut at the waist always seems a little pinched – or go for a bib if you don’t like waisted shorts. Again, it really comes down to trial and error.
Bike shorts should fit close to the skin and shouldn’t be baggy anywhere around the legs or crotch. Shorts and tights can have grippers to stop them riding upwards, but make sure these are not too tight, or your legs will feel particularly uncomfortable.
When you try on shorts initially standing up straight, you’ll notice some extra ‘slack’ material at the back. As soon as you bend over into a cycling position, you’ll notice that extra material flattens against your back and does not ride down past your waist – this is ideal.
What About The Cost?
As I’ve mentioned, expensive bike shorts do not guarantee better comfort! Prices can range from very cheap to over £100 or 100 euros...! Choice is personal preference. I recommend starting with a basic quality pair like here in my store. Most of these pads are gel pads and will last a couple of seasons - ideal for beginner cyclists.
Congratulations! When you start to wear padded cycle shorts, your ‘journey’ as a true cyclist has just begun!
Remember, just getting used to these padded items with your cycling is your goal at this beginning stage. Don’t worry about the brand too much, just make sure they have a good padded insert and get used to wearing them…
How did you find wearing bike shorts for the first time? I would like to hear your comments and opinions…Do share this post with cycling friends or anyone who you think might benefit from this post!