When people think about padded shorts, often times visions of tight-fitting lycra shorts come into play. Padded shorts are one of the most popular bike accessories sold next to helmets! Why is this? Simply put, they help keep you comfortable as you spend time in the saddle.
Padded shorts are made of material that wicks away moisture, aids in muscle compression, and . The chamios itself is often made of material that is antimicrobial and prevents chafing.
There are lycra shorts for men and women and there are some differences in how the chamios is constructed as well as how the shorts themselves fit. The most important thing is to simply try them on and see what feels the most comfortable for you. Every body is different!
You can find lycra shorts in several different leg lengths for men and women; from short to above the knee, and even capri length.
How the shorts are constructed can make a difference in comfort and fit. Shorts are typically made in 4, 6, or 8 panel designs. You can even find shorts made up of 12 panels! Most often the more expensive shorts will have more panels. The panels help ensure the shorts fit you comfortably in whatever body position you are riding in. More panels equal more curvature.
Shorts can be made from a variety of fabrics. Nylon spandex is stretchy and durable, but doesn't offer the ability to wick away moisture. Spandex mixed with other fabrics such as polyester allow for breathability and moisture transfer.
When purchasing padded shorts, it's important to look at the chamois and how it's constructed. There are chamois that are made for different types of riding. Some are constructed to be fairly thin while others offer more comfort and cushion.
People who participate in triathlons will want a chamois that is very minimal. Those who are doing long-distance riding may want something a bit thicker. Those recreating on a more casual basis may need something more mid-range while indoor cycling class participants want something a little thinner.
The chamois pads are constructed of several layers, the top layer usually a technical fabric. This fabric wicks away moisture, has breathability, and is antimicrobial. Under that is usually foam or fleece fabrics.
Bike shorts from various brands all fit differently, it's important that you try the shorts on to see what they feel like when in a bike riding position.
The shorts shouldn't feel too tight, but rather feel like a second skin. They should not fit too loose either, you do not want there to be fabric bunches causing friction.
Also, when wearing your shorts when riding- do not wear underwear with them! The shorts are designed to be worn alone and underwear has bands and seams that could cause skin irritation when worn under biking shorts.
The chamois purpose is to prevent chafing, which it cannot fully do when underwear is in the way.
A few other tips:
Consider chamois cream- there are many brands out there! Our most popular chamois cream is Chamois Butt'r and Chamois Butt'r Her' (available in tube, stick, and travel packets.)
Chamois butter/cream is especially helpful on hot days or long rides when you're in the saddle for a long time and are sweating a lot. It aids in reducing friction and helps keep irritation at bay. You can apply the cream directly or put it on the chamois pad.
Consider buying multiple pairs of shorts, especially if you ride a lot. You should wash shorts after every use, it is not recommended to wear them multiple times in a row without washing due to bacteria. It is also recommended to not put shorts in the dryer, so depending on how fast they air dry- you may wish you had a second pair.
If you are looking for a specific pair or brand of lycra shorts and we do not carry them in store, ask to see if we can order them in for you. If we cannot get in the exact product, we are happy to suggest alternatives!
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