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  1. #1
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Why bike shorts?

    I have never figured this out - why is it I can ride a "comfort bike" with a wide, soft seat, wearing normal shorts and not have big problems (I even did a century once!).

    But as soon as I get a road bike, if I don't wear bike shorts, I'll know it either right away or within a few miles?

    At first I thought it had to do with the seat, but everyone says a wider, solfter seat will cause MORE problems.

    So, I could ask the question this way: Why is a narrow, hard saddle necessary on a road bike to avoid pain, but not on a comfort bike?

    The only thing I can think of is the position of the body - leaning forward a lot more on a road style bike.

    Recumbent riders can also apparently wear normal shorts, but they aren't leaning forward either.

    So, what's the deal on all this?

    BTW, I hate having to wear bike shorts, but see no way around it and still have a fast bike (other than a recumbent).

  2. #2
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    The padding in the short cushions the ride without making it too soft.

    The padding keeps you dry.

    The lycra supports your calf muscles to prevent injury.

    Chicks dig drafting a fit rear.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  3. #3
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    We can yap all day about the benefits of cycling shorts and different saddles, but it's just one of those things you'll have to learn from experience.

  4. #4
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    The padding in the short cushions the ride without making it too soft.

    The padding keeps you dry.

    The lycra supports your calf muscles to prevent injury.

    Chicks dig drafting a fit rear.
    Well, I still don't get it - I mean, why it HURTS to ride a road bike without bike shorts, but not a big deal on a comfort bike.

    I understand the padding keeps you dry - same could be argued for use on a comfort bike, but I did fine without them as far as discomfort goes.

    Also understand the support - but that still doesn't account for the but pain without them, but only on a road bike.

    As for the last item, I guess that explains why girls keep passing me!

    Bob

  5. #5
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by velogirl
    We can yap all day about the benefits of cycling shorts and different saddles, but it's just one of those things you'll have to learn from experience.
    Well, yeah, I learned from experience. But I'm a curious person and want to know why this problem exists on a road bike but not on a comfort bike (at least not anywhere near as bad). If I understand why something happens, sometimes I can come up with solutions. Even if I don't, I still like to know.

  6. #6
    cab horn
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    It's beccause you're usually leaned far more over on a road bike than on a comfort bike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    On a performance road bike, you are out to ge the maximum performance out of both you and the bike, while a comfort bike you're out for a COMFORTABLE ride. The bike is designed for comfort, not performance.

    Think of it like this: A Buick Park Avenue is for a comfortable ride, not a high performance jaunt around Daytona, but certain high performance street cars have supurbly excellent handling at the expense of comfort.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  8. #8
    dam this is fun ! STEEKER's Avatar
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    I don't wear those prissy little bike shorts cause I can't get my fat ass in them lol I have worn baggy shorts on all my bikes mountain and road bikes for long hauls and short hauls and get no pain at all except from the odd boil from work sweat and dirt.....

  9. #9
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    I can ride my arione without the lycra shorts. The seams from my pants start to irritate me around mile 20 though.

    If you don't want to wear th tight lycra stuff there are baggy mtb shorts with padding. Just an FYI.

  10. #10
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Operator and Steeker:

    I suspected it had to do with leaning over more. I wonder if Steeker doesn't have a problem because his road bike doesn't have him leaning over as much as most would. Can you elaborate, Steeker? If you think it is something else, I'd love to know!

    DieselDan:

    I understand the usual purpose of the road bike, but that, in itself, doesn't explain why regular shorts create major comfort problems. I can easily see ways they may help PERFORMANCE though.

  11. #11
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by forum*rider
    I can ride my arione without the lycra shorts. The seams from my pants start to irritate me around mile 20 though.

    If you don't want to wear th tight lycra stuff there are baggy mtb shorts with padding. Just an FYI.
    Boy, I can't get to 20 miles - I'm probably lucky to make 3! I can force it, but it is very uncomfortable.

    I have looked at baggy shorts, but either I'm finding the wrong fit or there is something about them I don't get either. I've seen two types and own one of them but no longer use them.

    The ones I own have the shorts essentially as one piece. The thing is, they feel like a big diaper (wrong fit?).

    The other type has a suspended bike short inside the other shorts. I don't understand why this would be any different than wearing thin shorts on top of any other bicycle short (I'm open to suggestions on that). And every pair of those I've tried feel like a big diaper as well.

    Yet the regular bike shorts, while they may feel weird, don't seem to feel like that.

  12. #12
    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    I don't really like the baggy shorts for the reason you said(feels like a diaper).

    I usually just suck it up and wear the lycra shorts. You might want to try looking at these briefs they have at performance. They look like compression shorts but have a pad in the crotch area.

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...egory_ID=1123#

    Kinda steep at $18...

  13. #13
    dam this is fun ! STEEKER's Avatar
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    I use the same type of down hill bike seat on all my bikes it is longer than most bike seats and I shift sitting positions alot when riding I will take a pic of it and post it after I post this okies

  14. #14
    Deported by koffee allgoo19's Avatar
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    I hadn't worn lycra shorts for a while. I wear original Sportif shorts instead, because I go to the bank, stores, hamburger shops and often I get unwanted attention if I'm wearing a lycra shorts. Two types feel different because one uses more materail between the legs(Sportif) but it doesn't really leads to more pain. It's all about getting used to it(50+ miles). There are touring cyclists rides 100 miles day in day out with regular shorts. It used to be tight fitting shorts for racer only and only lately that cyclist start accepting lycra shorts more widely. If you look at old photos, you rarely find touring cyclists wearing lycra shorts.

  15. #15
    dam this is fun ! STEEKER's Avatar
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    okies here is the seat and the support is great at the nose to tail and never had any pain at all with this type

  16. #16
    Mind,Heart,Spirit Kokoro's Avatar
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    Not all bike shorts are lycra. If you're really looking for macho bike apperal try this link :

    http://www.galls.com/category2.html?...catalog&cat=27

    Galls supplies uniforms for cops/emts/fire of all types. It would be bad enough having the cops kinking in your door or writing you a ticket without having them wearing fruity
    lycra shorts that leave little to the imagination.

  17. #17
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by forum*rider
    I don't really like the baggy shorts for the reason you said(feels like a diaper).

    I usually just suck it up and wear the lycra shorts. You might want to try looking at these briefs they have at performance. They look like compression shorts but have a pad in the crotch area.

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...egory_ID=1123#

    Kinda steep at $18...
    Oh good, then the diaper thing isn't just me having trouble finding a good fit!

    But it still makes no sense to me - why should they fit differently? Why not either have a more normal lycra short structure (less diaper feel) with the outer shell as they have now? This is just weird. Maybe a serious mountain biker can explain that!

    I bought those things from performance (or something much like them). Actually, I bought two types. As I recall, they were better than just wearing regular shorts, but they were still a problem. OF course, part of the problem could have been the choice of shorts I wore on top. So many variables!!!

    But I'm stubborn. Five years from now, if necessary, I might be asking the same questions, hoping someone will come up with something - but I hope I can get it figured out this time!

  18. #18
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by allgoo19
    I hadn't worn lycra shorts for a while. I wear original Sportif shorts instead, because I go to the bank, stores, hamburger shops and often I get unwanted attention if I'm wearing a lycra shorts. Two types feel different because one uses more materail between the legs(Sportif) but it doesn't really leads to more pain. It's all about getting used to it(50+ miles). There are touring cyclists rides 100 miles day in day out with regular shorts. It used to be tight fitting shorts for racer only and only lately that cyclist start accepting lycra shorts more widely. If you look at old photos, you rarely find touring cyclists wearing lycra shorts.
    Maybe I should make a point to say now, before I lose track of who is who, that I'm assuming any folks who have success NOT using bike shorts are riding road bikes. Otherwise it wouldn't help me.

    Okay, now, I did a quick check of Sportif products and there are lots of shorts - which one do you use? I figure I can afford to buy a pair and even if the don't work for biking, I can use them for normal wear, but I want to maximize my chances by getting what works for you.

    Not sure if I followed the stuff about two types since I saw more than two types in my research.

    Are you saying that if I just kept riding with regular shorts, that I should be able to adjust to them? Considering the trouble I've had, that sounds like a big jump, but then, I'm sure some regular shorts work better than others.

    I do often ride with very flexible shorts - don't know what they are called - on top of the lycra shorts if I really need to carry stuff I can reach easily. This is especially true when I have sinus trouble. I have to keep stopping to blow my nose and reaching behind me is awkward, but no problem with a front pocket in the shorts.

    It is a little more uncomfortable, but not a huge problem. I've done 55 miles in one shot that way and also 76 miles once, split into two parts but still wearing everything in between.

  19. #19
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by STEEKER
    okies here is the seat and the support is great at the nose to tail and never had any pain at all with this type
    Does that mean you do have pain with some other types?

    Saddles are another of the great mysteries of life. Some people love one, some hate the same one. The one in the picture looked interesting though. I was trying to figure out if it was wider, especially the nose section, than most.

    Any specific observations you can make about how it differs from other saddles?

  20. #20
    Da Big Kahuna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kokoro
    Not all bike shorts are lycra. If you're really looking for macho bike apperal try this link :

    http://www.galls.com/category2.html?...catalog&cat=27

    Galls supplies uniforms for cops/emts/fire of all types. It would be bad enough having the cops kinking in your door or writing you a ticket without having them wearing fruity
    lycra shorts that leave little to the imagination.
    Interesting. Have you ever tried them? I also wasn't clear about whether they replaced lycra shorts or if they were to be worn under regular shorts.

  21. #21
    Deported by koffee allgoo19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRCF
    Okay, now, I did a quick check of Sportif products and there are lots of shorts - which one do you use? I figure I can afford to buy a pair and even if the don't work for biking, I can use them for normal wear, but I want to maximize my chances by getting what works for you.
    My regular shorts for bike riding are Sportif original seven pockets cargo shorts. I have another pair called Galapagos, made of little thinner materail they are also stretchy material. Good thing about Sportif is their stretchy material. I think best for bike riding is a shorts called Hattera, basically the same design as original 7 pocket but with thinner stretch material and longer inseam.

    I forgot to mention they make a shorts called Patrol shorts. It doesn't say it but I think they are made for bike patrol.


    Not sure if I followed the stuff about two types since I saw more than two types in my research.
    What I meant was bike specific lycra shorts vs. non-bike specific open legged shorts.


    Are you saying that if I just kept riding with regular shorts, that I should be able to adjust to them? Considering the trouble I've had, that sounds like a big jump, but then, I'm sure some regular shorts work better than others.
    You get sore butt or crotch even when you wear lycra shorts if you are not used to it. The time to adjust it is about the same with open legged shorts, at least for me.


    I do often ride with very flexible shorts - don't know what they are called - on top of the lycra shorts if I really need to carry stuff I can reach easily. This is especially true when I have sinus trouble. I have to keep stopping to blow my nose and reaching behind me is awkward, but no problem with a front pocket in the shorts.
    You won't have to worry about the number of pockets with Sportif original. They have 7 pockets. Some of them are zippered, so you don't have to worry about important thing like your wallet falling off while riding.
    Last edited by allgoo19; 04-21-05 at 01:52 AM.

  22. #22
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    I've noticed some bike shorts have a really thick pad in 'em and some have a thinner one, I can't stand Izumi's but found some Sugois that are much more reasonable, and some cheapo shorts can work really well - Bellwether etc., and some places like Sportmart will have bike shorts for something like $12 a pair, with some padding but not too much, and can be worn alone or under some nice cheap Patagonia etc cargos you pick up there too :-)

  23. #23
    Mind,Heart,Spirit Kokoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRCF
    Interesting. Have you ever tried them? I also wasn't clear about whether they replaced lycra shorts or if they were to be worn under regular shorts.
    Well actually as a security guard that commutes to work and even uses my bike on patrols of the property I usually where my regular uniform pants in winter and cotton shorts in summer. Galls has different shorts for bicycle patrol from shorts that look like regular shorts with belt loops to the lycra type. I would love to have more bike type uniform options but know the boss is going to want me to use the cash from my own pocket. Still I like the idea of a regular uniform shirt made of Cool Max instead of the usual cheap polyester.

    By the way you do know that you aren't supposed to wear underwear with lycra bike shorts, but please feel free to wear underwear with regular shorts.

    P.S. I ride a road bike with a hard narrow saddle.
    Last edited by Kokoro; 04-21-05 at 06:28 AM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRCF

    DieselDan:

    I understand the usual purpose of the road bike, but that, in itself, doesn't explain why regular shorts create major comfort problems. I can easily see ways they may help PERFORMANCE though.
    That's it! Just try a pair under regular short, or those special undershorts that Nashbar sells, and you'll understand the difference.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Metro's Avatar
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    Riding positions for a hybrid/cruiser type bike and road bike are radically different. You sit upright on a cruiser and pedal leisurely. You are "inclined" in a road bike to maximize the pressure you can place on the pedals. The central privot point for all this pressure is your butt. That's why road cycling is harder on the "tush".

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