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Thread: Bike shorts?

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    Bike shorts?

    I know that bike shorts have that little chammy in them and they are spandex. But why cant I just get a softer saddle instead of getting bike shorts with a chammy, or just wear underwear for that matter.

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    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Bike shorts are worn for comfort, support, and because lycra doesn't flap in the wind. If you're not concerned with speed, wear whatever is comfortable.

    Whatever you do, don't wear underwear with bike shorts. That's definitely a no-no.
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    Senior Member Rockrivr1's Avatar
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    Well, I guess it depends on your bike and what kind of riding you do the most. You can always put a bigger seat on your bike if you're more comfortable that way. My wife has one one her bike and she calls it her "big" girl seat. If you stay with a standard bike seat your underwear and normal shorts will not be enough if your riding long enough. They'll move around and you could end up with chaffing. I rode without bike shorts for a while and once I got bike shorts I wondered why the hell I didn't get them sooner. It was like night and day. Your results may vary, but if your just on a commuter bike, there's no reason not to put a bigger seat on if that's what is comfortable for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    ...But why cant I just get a softer saddle instead...or just wear underwear for that matter.
    softer saddle = more pain (cuts off the blood supply by bulging up into soft tissue - saddles are like shoes, try for size, try before you buy and take it back if there's any discomfort)

    underwear = discomfort (it won't kill you or your chances to have children but it's really, really annoying)

    here's a good thread on what to look for

    http://www.bikeforums.net/mountain-biking/405236-just-returning-cycling-need-some-saddle-recommendations.html#post6477761
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    Senior Member JustChuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    I know that bike shorts have that little chammy in them and they are spandex. But why cant I just get a softer saddle instead of getting bike shorts with a chammy, or just wear underwear for that matter.
    Go ahead and give it a try. Both ways.
    The bikeshort/chamios give a close ergo fit with no bunching. A fat seat just gives a squishy sit spot and you still have to deal with the seams, loose fabric, poor ventilation, no ergo fit, no wicking of moisture. But go ahead. Ignore a hundred years of prior cycling experience

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    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    What kind of riding do you do? How far or how long timewise do you plan to ride? If it's less than 10 miles, choose whatever you feel like wearing.

    If you feel out of place with bike shorts on, just put on a pair of jeans (shorts or regular) over it. A lot of people do it so they can carry their wallets, change, keys, etc in the pockets, hang their cell phone off the belt, etc etc...so they can do whatever without feeling they left or forgot something from home or after parking their bike.

    I see where you are going with the seat instead of bike shorts. Sometimes you just don't feel like taking the time to put them on and just want to jump on your bike and go. The bottom line is that the seat and bike shorts have to work together 'for you' to be comfortable, esp on long rides. Having just one doesn't necessarily mean it's perfect. That's why people try/buy different bike shorts and seats to find that perfect combination for them. For the casual or general rider, a good/different seat may be the answer...they aren't going to be riding long distances or spending a long time on the bike.

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    BUY Fox Racing BMX SHORTS... BE HAPPY

    I train for triathlons and do LONG distance rides in Fox Racing Bmx shorts, and I cannot extol the values of them enough! I wear underwear, they have plenty of padding, they are comfortable they are large enough to look normal yet tight enough to not flap in the wind.

    They are the way to go!
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    Bike shorts are worn for comfort, support, and because lycra doesn't flap in the wind. If you're not concerned with speed, wear whatever is comfortable.

    Whatever you do, don't wear underwear with bike shorts. That's definitely a no-no.
    No. Let him do that and see how far he gets...
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    It's not just the padding, it's also the lack of stitched seams in the contact area of the chamois/shammy/whatever-you-wanna-call-it. Even non-cycling lycra shorts (think Under Armour and stuff like that) with flat seams rub and chafe more.

    Like others have said already, if you don't want to wear the shorts by themselves, wear them under regular clothes.

    And, if you like them but wish they stayed in place even better, try some bibs (even under regular clothes, if you want).

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    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    Anyone who wishes to ride without bike shorts, or ride with underwear under the shorts, can go right ahead. Just don't whine on BF when raw spots and stripes are abraded into the tender bits, or certain bits go numb. My skinny, uh, self needs the padding, on a ride of any length more than a short hop. Others may be blessed with having no need for padded shorts; well, more power to you.

    Why not pad the saddle, instead of the shorts? Good question, which I cannot fully answer, except to say that I tried that angle, and it is better to have the padding in the shorts, so it moves with me.
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    That little bit of padding is not padding. It is to wick away sweat and moisture from the critical areas. There are shorts with thick padding and in general they are like the padded saddles. Not very comfortable.

    I have recently run into problems with a saddle. One I have been using for several years. When you sit on a saddle you should be putting most of the weight on the Sit Bones. If those sit bones are not on the wide part of the saddle- or another part is taking the weight- then discomfort occurs. I reset the saddle so I sit on it properly and adjusted the tilt of the nose and todays ride of 50 miles caused no pain.

    And that is not because I have an attuned butt. If I ride on the wrong type of saddle- or if the saddle is not set up properly- I will have just as much pain as a Newbie - first time out.
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    when trying on bike shorts how tight do you want them to be?

    At medium they feel tight (not too tight but very snug) when im just standing around, but large doesnt feel tight. What do i want?

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    when trying on bike shorts how tight do you want them to be?

    At medium they feel tight (not too tight but very snug) when im just standing around, but large doesnt feel tight. What do i want?
    Snug is good. Some compression on the thigh muscles helps to reduce fatigue and improve recovery.

    However, different brands fit differently (just like street clothes in general). Do the sales people seem knowledgeable or not? They should be able to help with this.

    The chamois (although these days I think the majority or synthetic materials) spreads the pressure, moves moisture away from the body, doesn't lump up and create pressure points, is often of more than one material to get the proper support in particular areas and the stitching is done in areas that will not cause problems with chafing. Compare the inside of your jeans and shorts to the inside of cycling shorts and how all of them are put together. Big difference. Also, compare cheap cycling shorts to mid and high end models. Also big difference.

    Over a couple of years, I went from no cycling shorts, to cheapies, to mid and high end versions. Every time I upgraded, I was able to ride further without problems. I also used Assos chamois creme. There are others on the market, but this one works for me.
    Last edited by flatlander_48; 11-15-08 at 06:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    Bike shorts are worn for comfort, support, and because lycra doesn't flap in the wind. If you're not concerned with speed, wear whatever is comfortable.

    Whatever you do, don't wear underwear with bike shorts. That's definitely a no-no.

    One other advantage to lycra is it doesn't get snagged on the saddle nose, water bottle cages, etc. When I was wearing MTB shorts, the loose shell was always snagging on something. I've relegated loose fitting clothing to short distances or destinations where "tight isn't right."
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    when trying on bike shorts how tight do you want them to be?

    At medium they feel tight (not too tight but very snug) when im just standing around, but large doesnt feel tight. What do i want?
    Snug

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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    when trying on bike shorts how tight do you want them to be?

    At medium they feel tight (not too tight but very snug) when im just standing around, but large doesnt feel tight. What do i want?
    You want them tight enough that the padding will not shift around while you're riding.

    Having proper cycling padded shorts will help with the rear-end pain somewhat. They will not eliminate it, but they will allow you to ride longer.

    If you want maximum comfort, you should look into either recumbent bikes, or the RANS crank-forward semi-recumbent bikes. These use larger seating areas than a normal bicycle saddle and you won't need padded shorts to ride them comfortably, although un-padded "recumbent" riding lycra shorts may still be a good idea.

    The problem with wearing other types of pants (on either an upright, or a recumbent bike) is that the folds of fabric that you end up sitting on tend to cause skin irritation. The lycra shorts are intended to be fitted with enough tension that they are very resistant to bunching up on their own.

    ------

    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    That little bit of padding is not padding. It is to wick away sweat and moisture from the critical areas. ...
    No offense or anything, and I know I've mentioned this elsewhere on bikeforums, but-----this is not true.

    The padding in regular cycling shorts is there for padding to protect your sensitive areas from the seams of the shorts themselves, and nothing more. It does wick away moisture as a consequence of its construction, but the moisture itself is not the problem.

    The rider's rear sweats during riding and most organic fibers such as cotton will shrink when wet, and then they will not cushion effectively. So the padding is (now) made of synthetic fibers, so that it will not absorb moisture and stay cushion-y.

    The "moisture" theory is false because recumbent riding shorts (example 1, example 2) do not have any padding at all, and recumbent riders do not have this "moisture" problem despite the fact that recumbent seats are largely made of the same synthetic materials that upright bicycle saddles are. The only "padding" that recumbent shorts use is an extra layer of lycra or similar material for modesty purposes; it's nowhere near as thick as what you find in typical "upright" cycling shorts.

    The main difference between upright bicycle saddles and recumbent seats is that recumbent seats are flatter and do not have a nose to press upwards hard into the groin--so the seams of the shorts is not nearly the problem it is with an upright bike saddle.
    ~

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    ok so it sounds like i should go with snug. The Large size had the waist band up at my bellybutton which i thought was odd.

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    Strech fabric pants make for more comfortable riding. Not all underwear is the same so try different brands to find the most comfortable. Get a firm saddle that is wide enough at the back to support your sit-bones but narrow at the front so it doesnt rub your thighs when pedaling.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer02 View Post
    Snug
    But not too tight around the thighs ... and they should be fairly high in the back.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chico1st View Post
    I know that bike shorts have that little chammy in them and they are spandex. But why cant I just get a softer saddle instead of getting bike shorts with a chammy, or just wear underwear for that matter.
    If you got a harder saddle (i.e. a Brooks) you could ride wearing whatever you want. I've done fairly lengthy rides in a bathing suit and beach shorts on my Brooks.

    But just about any other saddle you'd want cycling shorts.

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    Bike seats are designed to provide maximum support so that you can pedal most efficiently. If the seat is soft, then the pedal action will be compromised.

    The purpose of the chamois is different. Its to prevent skin abrasion which could lead to a skin break. That's serious because if the skin breaks, you're finished.

    You touched on a subject that I think is overlooked. Shorts and bike seats, I think, need to be taken as a whole. The seat can help in helping the rider with friction, heat, and sweat. But most, if not all, don't.

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    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    There is a general misconception about shorts in that the chammy is usually thought of as padding, it can have some padding affect, but it's more a case of minimizing abrasion. Things to watch out for generally, minimal seams, any that exist should be flat stitched, materials should assist in sweat management, i.e. avoid thick cottony types. If your rides are short, and you have regular pants with fairly flat seams, you may not need bike shorts. In my opinion they are better in almost all riding situations. Everyone is different, and saddles also come in many different t types, they are a very personal thing. Riding style also come into it, and your fitness level, if you are a strong rider and are pushing the pedals fairly hard the whole time, you will have less of a problem with the saddle. If you sit on the bike like a sack of potatoes, your butt is gonna hurt more. The day I rode home so tired I had to take a nap on a bench, my butt was sooooo sore.

    Shorts come in many grades, the $20 cheapies are better than nothing, but the ones that list up around $50-$70 are the least I would buy. I try to find clearance models for $30-$40 or bibs in the $65 range on sale. others here have spoken highly of the seriously expensive stuff, $150+ Not had a need for that, if i find one on sale may try it. And yes, snug, not tight enough to bind, but not wrinkly and flapping either.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    Riding style also come into it, and your fitness level, if you are a strong rider and are pushing the pedals fairly hard the whole time, you will have less of a problem with the saddle. If you sit on the bike like a sack of potatoes, your butt is gonna hurt more.

    +1

    Ideally you are only supposed to perch on the saddle, not plunk yourself into it like you're in your lazyboy watching the game. Your feet should be taking a good portion of the pressure ... which is where good, stiff-soled cycling shoes come in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    +1

    Ideally you are only supposed to perch on the saddle, not plunk yourself into it like you're in your lazyboy watching the game. Your feet should be taking a good portion of the pressure ... which is where good, stiff-soled cycling shoes come in.
    The problem with this theory is that it is exactly that--only a theory.
    Maybe pro racers do it, and I bet a lot of "ordinary folks" do it after their butts get so sore that they have to do it just to keep going, but it's simply not a comfortable or practical way for ordinary people to ride. It's poor salesmanship covering up a poor design--"blaming the customer" as it were.

    Telling people that "saddle fit is critical" and then saying with the next breath that "you're not supposed to place your full weight on the saddle" doesn't make any sense...... If bicyclists (by and large) are not placing their full weight on the saddles, then saddle fit should be even less critical, not more.
    ~

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    The problem with this theory is that it is exactly that--only a theory.
    Maybe pro racers do it, and I bet a lot of "ordinary folks" do it after their butts get so sore that they have to do it just to keep going, but it's simply not a comfortable or practical way for ordinary people to ride. It's poor salesmanship covering up a poor design--"blaming the customer" as it were.
    Errr, it's more of an opinion than a theory, It is true though, that if you are taking more of your weight on the legs than the butt, you can't help but have less wear on the butt? I would agree that if you are a slow, or low stamina rider, or just one that wants to meander around, you would probably do better with something more cushy, but the problem there is, plusher saddles are less conducive to an efficient pedal stroke, sort of a vicious circle. In such a case, I might recommend trying a recumbent?
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    Telling people that "saddle fit is critical" and then saying with the next breath that "you're not supposed to place your full weight on the saddle" doesn't make any sense...... If bicyclists (by and large) are not placing their full weight on the saddles, then saddle fit should be even less critical, not more.
    ~
    The two statements are not mutually exclusive, even when i am pedaling at a good clip, and thus, minimizing weight on the saddle, saddle shape and position still matter for comfort.

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