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Old 09-11-04, 08:29 PM   #1
TheRCF
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Getting blunt on bike shorts

Okay, I'm still trying to find shorts that get the job done without big problems.

I recently read about it being important for the leg of the shorts to stay down to avoid bunching. I was having LOTS of irritation where my leg meets the torso, though I didn't actually think it was "bunchnig". So, I made it a point to pull the leg down at every stoplight. This helped a lot, though sometimes I didn't hit many lights so it wasn't perfect. You see, I have not found any shorts - not even ones that are clearly too small for me, that has the hem of the leg tight enough to stay against the leg. There is ALWAYS a gap someplace - so grippers aren't a real solution since there isn't full contact.

Now, besides the irritation at the torso/leg contact point, I also get irritation two other places and it seems to be pretty much the same thing. The 2nd worse spot is the scrotum. It feels like the padding is causing irritation. Not quite as bad (usually) is the same feeling on the butt.

In the last couple weeks, I have made various changes:

1. Dropped the nose of the seat a bit below parallel. That helped with the scrotum (but not always - today was bad). It doesn't seem to cause any other problem though. For example, I don't feel like I'm sliding forward.

2. I slid the seat forward, eventually as far is it would go. This may sound stupid, but I was apparently not sitting on the sit bones. Apparently when getting fitted, I did, but in normal riding, I tended to want to be more forward. Now that I am on my sit bones, that MAY be causing some of the soreness on my butt simply because I'm not adjusted to the pressure there. Sometimes it isn't a big deal (I ride about 19 miles, rest for several hours, ride back home 13 miles. The entire time, I'm wearing my bike shorts.

I have also tried two different kind of padded underwear, advertised as turning any pair of shorts into bike shorts. One pair looks similar to bike shorts (has legs - which have a gap at the hem like my other shorts) and the other look similar to jockey shorts. I've had a fair amount of success with the jockey shorts style. I can often avoid the problem of irritation at the torso/leg point (though not always). But the other two problems vary. Some days I get one or the other, or both like today. Occasionally, on my length ride, I have minimal problems.

So, after that long lead-in, I have two basic questions to start:

1. Is there a possible solution to the problem of finding shorts that hold snugly at the hem? I'm not sure, but apparently my upper leg is a bit shorter than the norm and thus the hem is further down on me (thus a narrower part of the leg) than others. I even tried triathlon shorts to deal with this, but while better, they don't do the job. I need to find shorts that taper more than most.

2. To deal with the other problems, it seems a different pad may be good. Are there any that are less coarse than others? They all seem soft enough to the tough, but wearing over time is a different thing.

Also, has anyone else tried the padded underwear? I'd be interested in different kinds. For one thing, they are a lot easier to deal with.

Bob
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Old 09-11-04, 09:06 PM   #2
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Do you roll the leg opening up? That makes them a little tighter it seems.
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Old 09-11-04, 09:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by seely
Do you roll the leg opening up? That makes them a little tighter it seems.
I sometimes do that. It might help, but I haven't really noticed. I'll try to keep track.

I should have included in my post that I also use a generous amount of baby powder to try to reduce the irritation. If I don't, it is definitely worse.

Maybe I should also point out that the gap shows when I'm just standing normally. It's probably silly that I don't check when sitting on the bike (I usually, though not always, wear regular shorts on top). But I do know that pulling that hem down regularly makes a definite improvement so they must be riding up. Sitting make flex the muscle enough to make better contact, but if so, it isn't sufficient anyway. Other people I see just standing have full contact at the hem.
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Old 09-11-04, 10:37 PM   #4
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what kind of seat do you have, and how far do you normaly ride?
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Old 09-11-04, 11:00 PM   #5
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I have a Selle Italia seat, but that brings up the other thing I forgot to mention - though it might be better covered in a different thread even if it does relate to this.

Anyway, my first bike (Trek Navigaton 100 - a "comfort bike" had a wider seat, more padding, plus a suspension seat post. I always wore normal shorts and underwear and even rode a century once!

Other than various differences in shape, etc, of road bike seats, I'm wondering why you are supposed to have a relatively hard seat, but then wear padded shorts. Why not just more seat padding instead of padded shorts? It used to be so nice to be able to ride to Waikiki - sometimes with just my bathing suit under my normal shorts - and just take off the shorts, go in the ocean, shower off, lay out till I dry, put the regular shorts on, ride home! Can't do that with my road bike seat.

My minimum ride is 12.5 to Waikiki, after about 3 hours, 13.5 miles home. Often I circle Diamond Head before coming back to Waikiki so that would make the first part 18.5 miles.

I occasionally go further, so whatever I wear needs to work for that too. I have done two centuries - one on my first road bike. More typically, a long ride would probably be around 50-60 miles.
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Old 09-11-04, 11:20 PM   #6
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The pad in the shorts isn't for extra cushion--its to prevent chafing actually.
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Old 09-11-04, 11:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seely
The pad in the shorts isn't for extra cushion--its to prevent chafing actually.
But shorts vary in how thick the padding is, so something else must be involved - and certainly when I ride even a short way with no padding, it is a problem with the hard seat.
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Old 09-12-04, 06:37 AM   #8
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Get a comfy saddle
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Old 09-12-04, 08:08 AM   #9
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Ever think about trying bibs instead of shorts?
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Old 09-12-04, 03:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larue
Ever think about trying bibs instead of shorts?
Funny you should mention that! Today I rode using regular bike shorts instead of the padded underwear. I did okay as far as avoiding irritation even though I rode 12.5 and then 32.5 miles more after a 2 hour break. But these shorts (Primal) always feel like there is too much material up front. It's probably worse since I wear regular shorts on top, but even when I don't, it is a problem.

Also, especially as the ride progressed, I felt the waistband was working it's way down - which is why I was thinking about bibs. If I understand them correctly, they would solve the waistband problem. However, they wouldn't necessarily solve the other issues and the money to keep trying different things is getting out of hand. I also would still be wearing regular shorts on top. Bibs would also make things more difficult at the beach. With shorts, I may leave my bike shorts and regular shorts on, but just pull off the jersey. With bibs' that doesn't work.

Bob
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Old 09-12-04, 04:12 PM   #11
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why wear shorts over the bibs?
and they would definitely take care of the waistband problem and they seem more comfortable in general.
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Old 09-12-04, 04:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larue
why wear shorts over the bibs?
and they would definitely take care of the waistband problem and they seem more comfortable in general.
Because:

1. I need pockets. I think in terms of "practical biking", while still wanting to ride far and fast. For example, I have a very nifty cloth beach mat plus a small inflatable raft-like float that I can actually roll up together and fit in a second water bottle cage! This reduces the number of times I need to carry a backpack or use a rear rack (I need the inflatable because just sitting on the sand kills my butt. The raft cushions that). I do carry a fanny pack with my cable lock, some basic tools, and a small bottle of sunscreen. But I still need those pockets.

2. I'm just not the person to wear those bike shorts in public. It just isn't me so that isn't going to change. I have sometimes worn them on a ride down and then slip on regular shorts when I arrive - but I need a backpack to do that.
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Old 09-12-04, 06:26 PM   #13
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everyone should wear what they feel good in. No one should hassle anyone over that. It is a matter of how one rides . That is the issue. Just some hassle those who wear bike shorts. That should not be the case either.
But my 'peer group' are my fellow cyclists..They think those wearing non cycling clothes are riding less than their capability..ONce wore regular shorts over bike shorts.Stopped at a coffee shop... they asked why? I find regular clothes over bike clothes WHILE riding to be uncomfortable. So our riding experiences are personal and that is how we should evaluate others.
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Old 09-12-04, 07:21 PM   #14
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chamois cream?
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Old 09-12-04, 07:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRCF
2. I'm just not the person to wear those bike shorts in public. It just isn't me so that isn't going to change.
I thought the same thing. Never! I got riding long distances and the pain forced me to try shorts. Big difference. I thought that I'd never try bibs... they're just so goofy. But the shorts just weren't good enough. Now I wear Descente Classic Pro Bibs (less padding than most shorts). Right now, I don't think I'll ever wear anything else. And being poor, $90 purchase is a statement.

I hope you find the solution right for you.

As for chaffing, have you tried the various personal cycling lubes/lotions out there, like chamois butter?
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Old 09-12-04, 07:44 PM   #16
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chamois cream?
I have sort of sports cream - fairly thick gel like stuff - I've tried. I don't care for the mess plus I'm not convinced it has done any better than the powder, at least for my normal length rides. But it does have the problem that it seems to hold the material against the skin more. With the powder, I can stand up and have an easier time pulling the material away from the skin. With the gel, in wants to stick.

Maybe I'm using it wrong? I mean, we take somethings as obvious, but maybe it isn't as obvious as we sometimes think.
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Old 09-12-04, 07:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordOpie
I thought the same thing. Never! I got riding long distances and the pain forced me to try shorts. Big difference. I thought that I'd never try bibs... they're just so goofy. But the shorts just weren't good enough. Now I wear Descente Classic Pro Bibs (less padding than most shorts). Right now, I don't think I'll ever wear anything else. And being poor, $90 purchase is a statement.

I hope you find the solution right for you.

As for chaffing, have you tried the various personal cycling lubes/lotions out there, like chamois butter?
You have to understand that I am about as reserved a person as you will find. If you are old enough to remember the '60s, I may have been the only teen to NEVER own a pair of bellbottom trousers - not even mild ones.

As for bike shorts, even if I wasn't reserved, I do not look good in them anyway. But even if I didn't mind, I still want pockets in normal places for everyday stuff when done riding. In fact, my big complaint about bike jerseys is that I want one pocket in front like a regular shirt. I get by without one, but it makes a couple things more difficult.

Like I said, I think in terms of "practical biking". Ideally (never happen) that would mean just jumping on the bike with no concerns about special clothes with minimal affect on riding speed (there will be some). So my shoes are bike sandals with clips that I wear riding or not. I already mentioned my basic beach stuff. Hopefully one day I'll get a shirt I like with a front pocket, but that is a minimal problem. I keep a rear fender attached to the seatpost because no matter what the weather forecast in Hawaii, you will get little showers and I don't care for the dirty water hitting my back. The wheel I suffer with, but the bike frame blocks a fair amount so I figure it isn't worth putting another piece of junk on the bike.

But the shorts are a huge problem. I have bought at leas 5 pair, plus the two types of padded underwear. I've tried on many others and none made me feel they might work (even if they did feel good, that might not last on a ride).

It's just very frustrating. If I can get something like the padded underwear that has a pad which doesn't cause irritation, I'd be satisfied. But I don't even know if there is any pad material that will take care of that for me.

Maybe I just need a wider - maybe softer - seat. I just don't know what I might lose if I went that route.

End of rant (grin)
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Old 09-12-04, 08:54 PM   #18
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I often take a lightweight pair of nylon shorts with me on rides to slip on when I go into restaurants, stores, etc.
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Old 09-12-04, 09:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Maybe I just need a wider - maybe softer - seat. I just don't know what I might lose if I went that route.
a softer saddle increases the chance of numbness over a greater distance.
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Old 09-12-04, 09:32 PM   #20
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I often take a lightweight pair of nylon shorts with me on rides to slip on when I go into restaurants, stores, etc.
I have wondered some about using different shorts over my bike shorts. I'm not someone who really knows much about clothes - just buy whatever is available and not too expensive, so I don't know if some types would work better than what I'm using. As for taking shorts with me, I would ideally like something that wouldn't require me to carry a backpack. But I'd have to do something because my fanny pack has no more room even if the shorts stored VERY compactly. I'd have to get a bigger fanny pack, at least. Or, if I know I'm not going to spend time at the beach, I could find a little bag to put them in and store in the 2nd water bottle cage.

Heck, even know we have our hottest weather in Hawaii right now, I don't find myself needing to drink anything on my normal rides, so I could use the primary water bottle cage usually. Ultimately, it all depends on how compact I can make them.
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Old 09-12-04, 09:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordOpie
a softer saddle increases the chance of numbness over a greater distance.
When I wore my regular bike shorts today (rather than the padded underwear), I had a lot of numbness issues. I wasn't getting that much with the underwear.
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Old 09-13-04, 06:09 AM   #22
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If you are looking for Jerseys that might work for you in term of pockets, look into the jerseys designed for recumbent bike riders. They have side pockets and/or front pockets. On a recumbent the rear pockets of most jerseys are useless. Another thought. If you are not going to enter any serious sanctioned cycling competiton you might want to try a recumbent bike. On a recumbent you can wear anything you feel comfortable in. Padded shorts are not needed. with some miles under your belt you can be as fast as you currently are on your road bike. I put in 41.5 miles yesterday including a moderate club ride with nothing getting sore. And I'm over 50 and just rejoining the cycling masses.

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Old 09-13-04, 08:05 AM   #23
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How long have you been riding as it does take a bit to get use to. Sometimes thinner pads work better then thicker. Bibs for sure and is your seat level.
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Old 09-13-04, 09:28 AM   #24
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couple of thoughts here,
1) dump the padded underwear. I'd suggest a good short or bib. If you need pockets
something like a rafting short (from REI, LLBEAN etc.), thin nylon sort of material, pockets
and oh so fashionable worn over the bike specific short will be more comfortable.
my personal thought is the padded underwear bunches, is hot and isn't wicking away
sweat so they get pretty damp. speaking of which, you're not swimming/surfing/etc in
these shorts between rides are you?
2)softer saddles while intuitively a better choice simply are not. you need something
that will support your weight on you sitbones, and not sink, sag or give thus allowing
the soft tissues to now have more contact than before.
3) You can find Bibs at all levels of expense, Some of the best I've found are
ETXE-ONDO from bicycling hub ( www.bicyclinghub.com) on sale for less than 50 bucks.
4) a gel sort of sports cream won't do it. get Chamois Butt'r, Chamois Cream or Bag Balm
(yeah I know its made for cows but it works). check the archives for info on this.

hope this helps,
Marty
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Old 09-13-04, 10:33 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnet1
If you are looking for Jerseys that might work for you in term of pockets, look into the jerseys designed for recumbent bike riders. They have side pockets and/or front pockets. On a recumbent the rear pockets of most jerseys are useless. Another thought. If you are not going to enter any serious sanctioned cycling competiton you might want to try a recumbent bike. On a recumbent you can wear anything you feel comfortable in. Padded shorts are not needed. with some miles under your belt you can be as fast as you currently are on your road bike. I put in 41.5 miles yesterday including a moderate club ride with nothing getting sore. And I'm over 50 and just rejoining the cycling masses.

'bent Brian
I don't race and have no interest in doing so - I do like going faster though. I gave some thought to a recumbent early on before getting my first road bike (because I was worried about my back problem). But the back is fine and I have a real nice Felt F35. We also have real good bus service here with bike racks which comes in handy. Not too many recumbents would fit. ALso, they don't climb hills as well and I have a good number of them. Oh, I'm 55 and been riding for 2 yrs, 7 months. I have a total of almost 15,000 miles.

Bob
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