Cycling Shorts - spending money vs. finding the right fit
I've been repeatedly hand-washing the same pair for a year. I know there are some pricier ones ranging from $50-$100+. However, I've read that the most important thing is getting the right fit, which is why one should be able to try them on before buying them.
Is it more important to try them on first or to spend more money? Some of the most expensive pairs have padding that is thicker at specific spots, but I've wondered if that finely shaped padding would matter if I didn't get a pair that fit perfectly.
My personal experience with all cycling gear is that I pretty much HAVE to try it on. I cant order it of the internet because, unlike some other types of clothes, there are several reasons why I want my cycling gear to fit just right and sizes are all over the place (one brand's M is another's XL). Having the correct size makes shorts/bibs much more comfortable. You want it tight so the chamois stays where it needs to be, and because the material has a lot of give to it.
So fit is important, but some more expensive gear is really superior to some of the cheaper stuff. That does not mean you cant get decent stuff on the cheap, it just takes a little more effort. Also, there is a certain point where gear becomes more and more expensive wile only being marginally better. My LBS has 20 euro bibs but they are extremely crappy. You can get a pear of Pearl izumi bibs on sale for 50 and they will last longer and are more comfortable. It is a difference of night and day. However, there are also 200 euro Assos bibs. Sure they may be nicer, but the difference becomes smaller as you go up in price. Go for a happy medium.
Last edited by Cookiemonsta; 09-07-12 at 07:00 AM.
I have a bunch of different styles (all bought online). Some cheap, some not. I like bibs better than shorts (except for commuting) because, as long as the height is more or less ok and the waist is ballpark, the bib straps force the chamois up where it needs to be without too much trouble. A little tight is better than too loose, but too tight is also a problem. Fortunately for me, I'm hoping to lose some extra weight, so when stuff does come that's too small, I just keep it hoping it'll fit someday. And if I ever buy the really expensive stuff (to me that's $50+) it's because it was on a good sale to bring it down quite a bit.
I have been wearing the cheapest Performance shorts for many years and many miles. They fit me perfectly and are very comfortable. Since they, and I, never change I buy them online with no concerns.
My only problem is that the stitching for the chammi and the elastic at the bottom of each leg wears out after about 200 rides and they start feeling a little uncomfortable. But 200 rides for $19 is OK with me.
I also have many high end expensive bibs and short that I used to wear. They are really comfortable and long lasting but I like the Performance for some reason.
I went through a whole process of trying to find decent cycling shorts for long distance riding several years ago. I tried on all kinds of shorts, mens and womens, brands from very expensive to not expensive at all.
I have a slight allergy to nylon/lycra so the blend has to be just right for me or I feel like ripping them off about 2 minutes after I had them on ... so I weeded out a whole bunch that way. Then, the padding needed to cover my sitbones. I did not want to sit on the seams or not sit on any portion of the padding at all. And some had very narrow padding or padding in all the wrong places. I also don't like it when the padding is formed into lumps and bumps all over the place. I like relatively thin padding that is all one smooth piece. So that weeded out a lot more. And finally I ended up with the $35 shorts from MEC.
They were wonderful ... so comfortable. Unfortunately I wore them out (as you do after a couple years of long distance cycling), and I ordered more to be picked up when I went to Canada in 2011. And sadly, they have changed their shorts. The padding is lumpy and bumpy now. The shorts are OK, but I'm not sure I could wear them for much more than a 200K.
You've got to find something that works for you (and I'm back on the hunt again for really good long distance cycling shorts) ... they may be very expensive shorts, or they may not.
IMO, virtually any low to medium priced brand-name shorts or bibs will work well if they're the correct size. Nowadays they all pretty much come with decent chamois as long as you stay away from anything odd like gel or super thick types.
Of course the only way to know if they are the correct size is to try them on as the fit between manufactures can be quite different. If you have a local dealer where you can do that, great. If I'm ordering on-line and am unsure of the sizing, I'll sometimes order two sizes of an item and return the one that doesn't fit. I just did that a couple of weeks ago with cycling shoes.