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  1. #1
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    Padded shorts or different seat?

    I'm returning to road riding from a 40 year absence. Yeah, I've had the beach cruiser with the monster, cushy seat but that seat probably won't work with the Specialized Sirrus Sport I bought on Saturday. Just did a 6 mile circle (too fast and I'll pay for it) and realize I need to do one of the two.

    I'd prefer the seat route if it will work. I plan to ride every day (planning and doing don't always match) and can't see washing shorts every day.

    Is there a good seat for this bike that will replace padded shorts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member oldnslow2's Avatar
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    Get a set of cycling shorts.

    You're "nads' will thank you.

  3. #3
    tsl
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    Remember that there is more than one definition of "pad".

    Fortunately, you can immediately forget the definition they use at Cape Canaveral.

    In cycling two matter. "Cushion" and "absorbent".

    The primary purpose of the pad in cycling shorts is the absorbent definition. They absorb sweat from the skin, releasing it through the other side. This keeps the skin dry. Even this far north, a sweaty groin is uncomfortable, and causes chafing. I can't imagine the level of swamp crotch I'd get in Sarasota.

    The cushion purpose is more of a marketing thing for newbies. I've found that shorts designed with cushion first and absorption second tend to be thicker and stiffer, especially sideways between the legs, and actually increase chafing. They also don't seem to disperse moisture, but rather, hold on to it until the shorts are removed. This makes for an excessively swampy crotch--exactly the opposite of the goal of good cycling shorts..

    Some people love them--no accounting for personal tastes--but I wouldn't know why.

    As for cushion, once your backside adjusts--about a month of regular rides--you'll find you need cushion less on a road bike. The reason is weight distribution.

    A cruiser puts most of your weight on your backside. Given that and the relaxed gentle pedalling they inspire, a cushioned saddle is an important part of the package.

    A roadie puts up to 40% of your weight on your hands, relieving pressure on your backside. When pedaling in a spirited fashion, even more weight is removed from your backside, transferred to your feet as your push. Thus, you need less cushion in the saddle since there's less weight there.

    Look into shorts first, keeping in mind their main purpose is to prevent swamp crotch, with a secondary side benefit of a modest amount of cushion. The diaper-like ones may seem tempting, but I'd advise against them at first.

    EDIT: Down the road should you decide a different saddle is in order, remember that everyone's backside is different and what works for one may not work for another. And that's before considering different cycling styles. It's tempting to solicit recommendations on teh interwebz, but probably not as effective as consulting a good fitter at an LBS.
    Last edited by tsl; 06-14-15 at 07:49 PM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubble View Post
    I'm returning to road riding from a 40 year absence. Yeah, I've had the beach cruiser with the monster, cushy seat but that seat probably won't work with the Specialized Sirrus Sport I bought on Saturday. Just did a 6 mile circle (too fast and I'll pay for it) and realize I need to do one of the two.

    I'd prefer the seat route if it will work. I plan to ride every day (planning and doing don't always match) and can't see washing shorts every day.

    Is there a good seat for this bike that will replace padded shorts?
    This is something you will have to work out yourself. Too many variables. However, Specialized makes very good saddles in my opinion. Unfortunately, I checked the specs on your bike and saw that the Sirrus uses a seat called the Targa. I did not find a saddle by this name in their catalog so it's possible it's a cheapish throw away intended to keep the initial price of the bike as low as possible. Most people replace saddles anyway. Whatever you do take your time and invest wisely. Quality bicycle shorts will cost good money but pay for themselves in the long run. Washed and dried properly they will last a long, long, long time. Problem is if you ride daily and don't want to wash daily you will need multiple pairs. Finding the perfect saddle can be much more difficult and expensive. Your Specialized dealer should have test saddles that you can borrow. The problem is that somebody else usually has them. The good news is that Specialized has a 30-day money back guarantee. So with the help of your LBS you can pick a saddle you both think will work, and if not, bring it back and exchange for another or a full refund.

    If you were riding 40 years ago you probably remember Brooks leather saddles. These are still around. And you probably remember they took forever to break in, but once they did, they were comfortable. This is not the case with leather covered plastic saddles like the Specialized. In my experience, plastic saddles either conform to your butt right off they bat or they don't. If not, try a different model.
    Last edited by Hangtownmatt; 06-14-15 at 10:43 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member NVanHiker's Avatar
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    I'm with Tsl! I tour a lot, and on one trip I tried bike shorts with thick padding. As Tsl says, it actually increased chafing! I went back to the old hiker's trick of two pairs of socks (in this case, boxer briefs), which basically means the layers rub against each other instead of your skin. One of these days I'll try Tsl's suggestion of more traditional chamois shorts. I use a hybrid seat, not cushy but not a roadie seat either. Also, I have found that you just plain toughen up after a lot of riding.

  6. #6
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    I don't think 6 miles is a long enough ride for a good shake-down of a seat.
    Most people get a little saddle sore for the first ride of a year after an absence from riding.

    I'd try your current seat a bit more before making any drastic changes.

  7. #7
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    If you don't want bike shorts or underwear with a pad, consider wicking undershorts, ExOfficio, Techmar or Wickers are some brands.

    A good saddle well adjusted is a must for longer rides.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I didn't start using padded shorts until I was regularly doing 30-mile rides. Now that I ride bents, I tend to remove the pads from any new bike shorts I get.

  9. #9
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    One, I agree that six miles isn't enough to decide, but if you decide on shorts, you can go the liner shorts route if you're not wanting to go full lycra shorts. If you're not familiar with them all they are is light weight bike shorts meant to wear under regular shorts for about half the price.

    I use liner shorts when I'm out mountain biking and regular bike shorts when I'm on the road bike.

  10. #10
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    just count on your butt being sore for a couple weeks of riding...get some bike shorts and ride thru it...it gets better.

  11. #11
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    Thanks guys. I've been a long distance power walker for years (over 1500 miles per year) but there is nothing tech about it. Find the right shoes, the right underwear to stop chafing, a good water system and you're good to go. Getting back on a bike and looking at all of the 'stuff' out there makes me fight my gadget geek side. I can already see that it is tempting to acquire all kinds of stuff you later look at and wonder why you bought it.

    I'll get some shorts and ride a while before I make any changes.

  12. #12
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    There are some who have made an art form out of selecting a saddle, systematically trying dozens of saddles. Different brands, models, materials, isolating each quality until finally finding the perfect saddle and they're set for life.

    That doesn't work for everyone - just saying, in case you start down that road and don't actually need to. There are very large individual differences, in the bone shapes, flexibility, muscles and weight, so that nothing can really be generalized. I think that the shape is more critical than is padding and construction. In fact my saddle has no padding at all and I'm fine wearing thin running shorts. But that doesn't hold for other people either.

    I think that it's best to stick with the road saddle and padded shorts for a few weeks and see if you adjust to it. The reason is, is that it's probably pretty generic and more likely to be acceptable for most people and it does take time to fully adapt. Then if comfort doesn't improve, or pain persists, change something.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    my 2 cents: 2 shorts & a Brooks saddle
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  14. #14
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    Pad as in sweat absorbant, but not thick , has always been my choice , not thickly padded like an adult diaper..

    thousands of saddles are made , and many companies offer multiple shapes ..

    its between your butt and the saddle as to what is right.

  15. #15
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Padding in shorts won't fix a bad seat problem.

    I have, and enjoy, a Selle Anatomica seat. Disappears under me, shorts or jeans..... $100 during their Christmas sale.

    Agree though, try the Specialized seat for awhile - as I find Specialized Body Geometry seats are usually comfortable, once you get used to it.

    I also have Brooks on another bike, and like the AnAtomica better. Not a slam on the Brooks, because I like it too!

    And, lots of color choices on the AnAtomica

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  16. #16
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Remember that there is more than one definition of "pad".

    Fortunately, you can immediately forget the definition they use at Cape Canaveral.

    In cycling two matter. "Cushion" and "absorbent".

    The primary purpose of the pad in cycling shorts is the absorbent definition. They absorb sweat from the skin, releasing it through the other side. This keeps the skin dry. Even this far north, a sweaty groin is uncomfortable, and causes chafing. I can't imagine the level of swamp crotch I'd get in Sarasota.

    The cushion purpose is more of a marketing thing for newbies. I've found that shorts designed with cushion first and absorption second tend to be thicker and stiffer, especially sideways between the legs, and actually increase chafing. They also don't seem to disperse moisture, but rather, hold on to it until the shorts are removed. This makes for an excessively swampy crotch--exactly the opposite of the goal of good cycling shorts..

    Some people love them--no accounting for personal tastes--but I wouldn't know why.

    As for cushion, once your backside adjusts--about a month of regular rides--you'll find you need cushion less on a road bike. The reason is weight distribution.

    A cruiser puts most of your weight on your backside. Given that and the relaxed gentle pedalling they inspire, a cushioned saddle is an important part of the package.

    A roadie puts up to 40% of your weight on your hands, relieving pressure on your backside. When pedaling in a spirited fashion, even more weight is removed from your backside, transferred to your feet as your push. Thus, you need less cushion in the saddle since there's less weight there.

    Look into shorts first, keeping in mind their main purpose is to prevent swamp crotch, with a secondary side benefit of a modest amount of cushion. The diaper-like ones may seem tempting, but I'd advise against them at first.

    EDIT: Down the road should you decide a different saddle is in order, remember that everyone's backside is different and what works for one may not work for another. And that's before considering different cycling styles. It's tempting to solicit recommendations on teh interwebz, but probably not as effective as consulting a good fitter at an LBS.

    ^^^ Print this out, laminate it, frame it, and refer back to it any time a discussion of "padded" shorts crops up, and people tell you that you're just as well off wearing cotton briefs and cargo shorts.

    The shorts/bibs I wear for any ride over 50 miles have very thin chamois. I don't need "padding". I need something that will wick ball and ass sweat.

  17. #17
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Get a better seat if needed, get a pair or two of bike shorts, if you like them, get a couple more pairs, then you're set for a while.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  18. #18
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    In cycling two matter. "Cushion" and "absorbent".
    That sounds too much like what they use pads for in Old Folks Homes.

    It takes a few weeks and a few miles to break in or get used to a new seat. Keep at it, but don't hurt yourself.

  19. #19
    blt
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
    If you don't want bike shorts or underwear with a pad, consider wicking undershorts, ExOfficio, Techmar or Wickers are some brands.

    A good saddle well adjusted is a must for longer rides.
    I'm probably in a really tiny minority, but I wear ExOfficio undershorts and bike shorts with a pad. Never had any chaffing problems, never had any comfort issues, it just works great for me. All cyclists tell me I'm crazy to wear underwear underneath my bike shorts, but I've had problems without the underwear, never any problems with the underwear. Of course, I wouldn't wear cotton underwear if you paid me (OK, that's a lie, pay me enough, I'll wear the cotton underwear).

  20. #20
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Look into shorts first, keeping in mind their main purpose is to prevent swamp crotch, with a secondary side benefit of a modest amount of cushion. The diaper-like ones may seem tempting, but I'd advise against them at first.
    Yes, back when most saddles were breathable leather, bike shorts had no padding, just a thin layer of chamois to wick up moisture and carry it away from your skin. Pads became more necessary when saddles got plastic shells and even more so with the carbon-fiber shingles popular on road bikes these days.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Somehow I get the feeling that we were never intended to ride road bikes given our human bodies. All kinds of fine tuning to get it "just right" so that we don't get injured. Yet we force our bodies to get into a narrowly defined position in order to ride for hours. Then we think about the hours spent on riding and how time consuming this activity really is. Finally the experts tell us that we really don't need to spend all that time trying to be aerobically fit because of diminishing returns as we age.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Outnumbered's Avatar
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    Get a custom saddle fitting at a good LBS where you sit on a sensor to get your seat bone width just right. Then get matching seat. The shorts will help keep you drier and prevent less chaffing in vital spots. You really need both and let's face it where you meet the saddle is actually more important than where the rubber meets the road.

  23. #23
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Good cycling shorts and saddle for me. I use the Brooks B17 Standard. It works OK without cycling shorts, but still feels better riding with. As for cycling shorts, like saddles, it comes down to fit and personal preference. If you ride a lot, I would suggest buying one good pair and one cheap pair (but still decent fitting) as a backup. For cheap shorts, I would suggest Nashbar house brand, often on sale for $25. Then the following year, buy another good pair and relegate the cheap pair to emergency backup status or indoor trainer duty. I now have 3 good pairs of shorts and 3 cheap pairs.

  24. #24
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    I have a Serfas dual-density saddle. I also wear Pearl Izumi Attack Shorts. I can literally ride all day every day with no pain or chaffing.

    A very important aspect of the shorts is the muscle compression. They help greatly with muscle fatigue. Make sure they are 8 panels or more for optimal compression.

  25. #25
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
    Get a set of cycling shorts.

    You're "nads' will thank you.


    Oh and, the more you ride, the less your butt hurts.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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