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Old 06-18-10, 08:37 AM   #1
HiYoSilver
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I just don't get it- what's the point of shorts or bibs?

For years resisted getting bike shorts or bibs. I finally got a set of bibs, PI. And now wondering why. What's the point?

-- It's too cold when temps are below 65
-- They barely add any saddle comfort
-- They don't seem to aid power or muscle recovery

So why not just ride in jeans? Maybe they have value for 30+ mile rides. I haven't tried that yet. But the shorter rides about time, it seems like the hassle is more than the clothes benefit.
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Old 06-18-10, 08:47 AM   #2
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Jeans are cotton. The cotton will absorb sweat and chafe you badly. You don't really need specific cycling clothing, but you should wear something sweat-wicking unless you are on a short trip. Having a seamless crotch area is helpful also.

I'll wear jeans to ride a few miles to the grocery store or the pizza place, but I won't on my 16-mile one-way commute. I certainly wouldn't on a long ride, or touring.

Cotton underwear is bad too.
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Old 06-18-10, 09:09 AM   #3
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And if I'm not mistaken, the padding is more to help lessen the pressure put on the sensitive spots on your underside. And if you sit in the same spot the whole ride, you're going to get a bit sore. Try to move around. I used to ride without bikeshorts and when I got my road bike I tried it. It hurt. Badly. After I got them, I noticed that it was still a bit uncomfortable, but it was more because I was coming from a hybrid with a soft saddle and a seat shock absorber. Now I can ride without 'em long distance. And if I'm just doing a short ride, like dcrowell said, something wicking or just regular pants/shorts arent bad, but try to stick with wicking. As far as the cold problem, you could probably wear leggings or some kind of athletic pants although too baggy and you run the risk of getting them caught in your crankset.
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Old 06-18-10, 09:29 AM   #4
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On short rides of less than 30 miles, I ride my cross bike with a broken in Brooks saddle. No cycling shorts. I use regular gym shorts. Works great. No issues. For long rides on my road bike with a plastic saddle, I then use cycling shorts. Like it was said above, they prevent chaffing and keep sweat away from your skin.
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Old 06-18-10, 09:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
For years resisted getting bike shorts or bibs. I finally got a set of bibs, PI. And now wondering why. What's the point?

-- It's too cold when temps are below 65
-- They barely add any saddle comfort
-- They don't seem to aid power or muscle recovery

So why not just ride in jeans? Maybe they have value for 30+ mile rides. I haven't tried that yet. But the shorter rides about time, it seems like the hassle is more than the clothes benefit.
When you start riding distances greater than 30 miles, their merit will become apparent.
And I still prefer wearing shorts & bibs on shorter rides too. Jeans just don't show off my circumcision scar well enough.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
For years resisted getting bike shorts or bibs. I finally got a set of bibs, PI. And now wondering why. What's the point?

-- It's too cold when temps are below 65
-- They barely add any saddle comfort
-- They don't seem to aid power or muscle recovery

So why not just ride in jeans? Maybe they have value for 30+ mile rides. I haven't tried that yet. But the shorter rides about time, it seems like the hassle is more than the clothes benefit.
Try a longer (50mi +) ride on a hot summer day in jeans, then in bibs, and get back to us.

I don't wear my bibs for short rides on my non-road bike (not being in bibs and a jersey on the road bike just doesn't feel right ideologically ), preferring flat seamed wool undies or cycling undies under some shorts without a seam that tears up the 'taint, but for those longer rides the moisture management of a chamois and the lack of folding at the waist of bibs versus shorts, sure is nice.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:07 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by IntegratedPi View Post
And if I'm not mistaken, the padding is more to help lessen the pressure put on the sensitive spots on your underside. And if you sit in the same spot the whole ride, you're going to get a bit sore. Try to move around. I used to ride without bikeshorts and when I got my road bike I tried it. It hurt. Badly. After I got them, I noticed that it was still a bit uncomfortable, but it was more because I was coming from a hybrid with a soft saddle and a seat shock absorber. Now I can ride without 'em long distance. And if I'm just doing a short ride, like dcrowell said, something wicking or just regular pants/shorts arent bad, but try to stick with wicking. As far as the cold problem, you could probably wear leggings or some kind of athletic pants although too baggy and you run the risk of getting them caught in your crankset.
The chamois is more for moisture management and to reduce chaffing, and less for padding.
Yes, moving around on the saddle is good to prevent numbness during longer rides, but if you are getting constant pressure and discomfort, your saddle position/bike fit needs adjusting.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:27 AM   #8
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The chamois is more for moisture management and to reduce chaffing, and less for padding.
Yes, moving around on the saddle is good to prevent numbness during longer rides, but if you are getting constant pressure and discomfort, your saddle position/bike fit needs adjusting.
Hmm, good to know. I haven't been back to my LBS for a refitting since I bought the bike, and when I went in last, I had on baggy jeans. I had thought about a new saddle, something with a little more padding than the one on there currently. I think a trip up there is in the works. And this time my gf can't give the "uh-huh, so you HAVE to go to the bike shop" look to me. Sorry to hi-jack the thread. Back on topic, what about the muscle recovery? I know they hold things in place and act somewhat like compression shorts, but how do they help in this department?
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Old 06-18-10, 10:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by IntegratedPi View Post
Hmm, good to know. I haven't been back to my LBS for a refitting since I bought the bike, and when I went in last, I had on baggy jeans. I had thought about a new saddle, something with a little more padding than the one on there currently. I think a trip up there is in the works. And this time my gf can't give the "uh-huh, so you HAVE to go to the bike shop" look to me. Sorry to hi-jack the thread. Back on topic, what about the muscle recovery? I know they hold things in place and act somewhat like compression shorts, but how do they help in this department?
Don't expect magic from shorts/bibs. The main point of the tight fit is to make sure there are no folds of fabric between you and the seat. Clothing that doesn't flap is also less annoying when going faster.

"Muscle recovery" is mostly going to be a result of you getting into better condition.

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I had thought about a new saddle, something with a little more padding than the one on there currently.
We have no idea the kind of bicycle you are using. If you are using a racing bicycle, a more padded seat tends to be not the choice of people who ride "real" distances. The seat has to fit but there is some amount of getting used to the seat too.

30 miles is a short bicycle ride. Much of the advice you are reading is directed to rides of longer distances.

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-18-10 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by IntegratedPi View Post
Hmm, good to know. I haven't been back to my LBS for a refitting since I bought the bike, and when I went in last, I had on baggy jeans. I had thought about a new saddle, something with a little more padding than the one on there currently. I think a trip up there is in the works. And this time my gf can't give the "uh-huh, so you HAVE to go to the bike shop" look to me. Sorry to hi-jack the thread. Back on topic, what about the muscle recovery? I know they hold things in place and act somewhat like compression shorts, but how do they help in this department?
You don't need padding, you need proper fit...something you may have to tweak yourself, with micro adjustments over time. Your LBS can just get you in the ballpark. If you want a comfier saddle, consider a Brooks or one of the Specialized BG saddles or a Terry...but everyone's butt is different, so what feels best for me may not for you.

I have really never noticed much difference concerning my muscles between compression type clothing like cycling bibs or shorts and non-compression clothing, so I'll have to defer to someone who can speak to the science behind the theory.
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Old 06-18-10, 10:49 AM   #11
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For muscle recovery keep up the pedaling for the last 5 or 10 mins of the ride, but without any effort. This keeps the blood flowing through the muscles and flushes out the lactic acid. Immediately after the ride take a big drink of chocolate milk
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Old 06-18-10, 10:49 AM   #12
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Jeans have no give and stretch jeans have a limited amount of give. Check out the crotch and see how much fabric is used in the gathering of the legs. It is thick and unforgiving which can cause irritation on some. The jeans are made of cotton which is not good because of the lack of proper absorbing as compared to wicking fabrics. Shorts/bibs are made to wick and hold your goods in place. If you are not keen on wearing them, get a pair of baggy cycling shorts that look and fit well so that you can wear them for any distance that you ride.
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Old 06-18-10, 11:25 AM   #13
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Don't expect magic from shorts/bibs. The main point of the tight fit is to make sure there are no folds of fabric between you and the seat. Clothing that doesn't flap is also less annoying when going faster.

"Muscle recovery" is mostly going to be a result of you getting into better condition.


We have no idea the kind of bicycle you are using. If you are using a racing bicycle, a more padded seat tends to be not the choice of people who ride "real" distances. The seat has to fit but there is some amount of getting used to the seat too.

30 miles is a short bicycle ride. Much of the advice you are reading is directed to rides of longer distances.
The muscle recovery was more for the OP question. I hadn't heard anything about shorts aiding in this, just wondered what he was asking about.

I have a Specialized Transition Multi-sport with the standard saddle. I wasn't planning on getting a giant seat, but I had been looking at the Specialized BG seats, maybe one of their long distance road seats.

BTW, I am by NO means trying to offer advice. More like getting facts straight from people who ride. First hand advice/experience is worth way more than just a clothing tag. I'm very new to cycling so the more I can learn the better.

Last edited by IntegratedPi; 06-18-10 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 06-18-10, 12:24 PM   #14
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The muscle recovery was more for the OP question. I hadn't heard anything about shorts aiding in this, just wondered what he was asking about.
OK, then I was replying to the OP's question!

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-- They don't seem to aid power or muscle recovery.
Don't expect them to. That isn't their purpose.
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Old 06-18-10, 02:14 PM   #15
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Ride hard for a really long while, at some point your body will tell you WHY you need Bib/shorts
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Old 06-18-10, 03:20 PM   #16
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I wear unpadded cycling shorts and jerseys for the weather more than anything else.

When it's hot (like now) the wicking fabric keeps the sweat basically off you to a certain extent. You're not arrivng at your destination with sticky clothes.

When I ride in regular clothes to work, I'm sweating in my clothes and mind you this is the morning. Riding back in the late afternoon I'm literally swiming in it.

In shorts and jersey's I'm still sweating but I'm not drowning in the stuff.

As the slogan says "cotton is not your friend".

Another reason why I wear cycling shorts. They don't ride up on you like regular shorts.

P.S. I was tempted to buy padded shorts because the new saddle I got was killing me, but after a few days I got use to the new saddle. Mind you, I don't ride long distances so I'm sure that's a good reason why the saddle doesn't bother me now.
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Old 06-18-10, 03:26 PM   #17
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-- It's too cold when temps are below 65
That's why they make knee warmers and leg warmers.
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Old 06-18-10, 04:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
For years resisted getting bike shorts or bibs. I finally got a set of bibs, PI. And now wondering why. What's the point?

-- It's too cold when temps are below 65
-- They barely add any saddle comfort
-- They don't seem to aid power or muscle recovery

So why not just ride in jeans? Maybe they have value for 30+ mile rides. I haven't tried that yet. But the shorter rides about time, it seems like the hassle is more than the clothes benefit.
Go for an 80 or 100 mile ride in 95-100 degree heat and get back to us.
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Old 06-18-10, 04:53 PM   #19
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I used to just ride in jeans. Then I got cycling "shorts". Didn't think they made much of a difference. Then I tried going back to jeans. Yikes.
1. Jeans may or may not lead to more chafing
2. After cycling without them, I became much more aware of how much my leg is hitting against the jeans on the upstroke
3. If you don't have a chain guard jeans can get caught in the chain
4. They're really hot. They trap heat and sweat. If you wear a strap around your ankle, both this and #2 get worse.
5. On a road bike, they're more constricting then stretchy shorts.
6. They don't bunch up between your legs potentially increasing - numbness, as much.

These are my reasons. But I push it as hard as I can most of the time I'm cycling, so - who knows.
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Old 06-21-10, 12:07 AM   #20
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I can't imagine sitting on the seam in the crotch of the jeans and being comfortable.
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Old 06-21-10, 03:26 AM   #21
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I've got a couple pair of shorts so I can understand why bibs would be great but I have no need for the shorts. Even on longer rides of 50+ miles simple wicking underwear and regular athletic shorts do me fine. They're simply not needed and would dare to say no one sweats more than me.

I say wear whatever works for you.
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Old 06-21-10, 06:47 PM   #22
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-- It's too cold when temps are below 65
You're from Colorado?
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Old 06-22-10, 08:23 AM   #23
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I used to think 'whats the point', then I went for a 60km bike ride in jean shorts and cotton underwear. I was rather uncomfortable by the end.

I have an 'ok' pair of shorts (cost $60) - and find they do make a difference in comfort, especially on longer rides. The stretch of the fabric is nice when peddling, not having the jeans/whatever rubbing all over your legs. The moisture-wicking nature of them helps prevent chaffing and keeps things a bit nicer beneath the belt. The padding is a bit of an extra bonus for comfort/distributing weight - but it's a minor bonus.

For shorter rides, like when I'm commuting to work - no real point. For longer/fitness rides when I'm out on my bike for 4-5hrs? having the shorts has proven to greatly increase my comfort for the duration of the ride.
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Old 06-22-10, 09:02 AM   #24
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You're from Colorado?
Ahahahaha! That's so true - I'm from Minnesota, and cycling shorts are to cold when it's like below 45 degrees....lol. Then I wear some sort of leggings over the top of them, still wear cycling shorts.
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Old 06-22-10, 11:37 AM   #25
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Well thanks for the comments. Since so many were focused on the idea that jeans were horrible. The jeans I wear are only stretch jeans or "dress jeans", which also stretch. Stretch jeans are about 5% poly and dress jeans are almost all poly. Binding, seams and catching in gears and saddle soreness are not problems.

Besides not seeing much gain, the biggest problem with shorts/bibs is that others are judging them as being too revealing. Mnt bike shorts don't work as I don't want to wear shorts at work and don't want to carry another set of clothes. It would be nice if there were some designed with a little baggy in the crotch area and rest of fit is fine.
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