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Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 03-11-14, 11:24 AM   #1
JBerman
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Cycling Shorts?

I have been riding with an inexpensive pair of cycling shorts ($20)... I have been relatively comfortable (new to cycling so I blame that too), and I was wondering if it would be a significant improvement to get a "real" pair.. I've seen prices range from $20 - $200... I can't imagine the $200 pair is 10x better, but would a middle of the road pair (like Pearl Izumi Quest) be "good enough" shorts? Just trying to understand the justification of the different price tiers. Especially since I would assume cycling shorts is something you have multiple of.

I am doing 30 miles rides now, but will be doing 48 next Sat.
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Old 03-11-14, 11:26 AM   #2
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nope... my best shorts were $15
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Old 03-11-14, 11:36 AM   #3
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You can ride a century without the spandex/chamois/padding just fine though biking naked might be uncomfortable for others.

Seriously, wear what you want and in your budget.
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Old 03-11-14, 11:39 AM   #4
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Yeah, the expensive shorts tend to be better.

But if your $20 shorts are working for you, why pay for something you don't need?

When you start riding longer and getting saddle sores, going numb, or getting rubbed raw, then maybe you get more expensive shorts.
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Old 03-11-14, 11:42 AM   #5
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I have a cheaper pair of Performance shorts with a pretty thin chamois that I don't mind for shorter rides, but they tend to chafe after an hour and a half (without some Butt'r). I have some mid-range Bellweathers that are nice and recently made the move to bibs with some less expensive Specialized bibs for about $60 that are super comfortable. Ordered a pair of bibs from PBK (house brand) and I'm hoping those are as nice.

What I'm getting at in my rambling is a pair of shorts with a good chamois that fits you is worth the money and going with bibs over shorts is even better.
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Old 03-11-14, 11:50 AM   #6
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I've had some cheap bibs (expensive ones too) that worked well for me and others (both cheap and expensive) that didn't. Now, I've lost a fair bit of weight and most of them don't fit like they used to. I have less regret about the the cheaper ones no longer fitting than when I look at the expensive ones that no longer fit and think about what I spent on them. Some of the not working was fit and some of it was the chamois. The chamois on some expensive ones can make up for a saddle that doesn't quite work better than cheap bibs, but a saddle that works with all bibs is a better bargain in the end.
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Old 03-11-14, 12:08 PM   #7
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In my experience, the expensive ones are better. My experience with the cheapest shorts ($20) is that they aren't worth wearing. Once you get into the $50+ (on sale, typically $80+ MSRP) you start getting decent shorts.

The big difference is how the chamois fits.
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Old 03-11-14, 12:41 PM   #8
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I've got these nashbar shorts (colebrook specifically, grey color that I'd never wear outside) I've used all winter and I'm not a fan at all. The chamois doesn't seem to protect my sit bones and they slide down pretty easily on the rear (I've never tried other shorts, but I doubt others leave on susceptible to plumbers crack so easily). Might try garneau brand for my summer shorts, I have thermal tights and I like them
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Old 03-11-14, 12:58 PM   #9
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Shorts quality becomes more apparent as the rides get longer and weather more extreme.
If the cheap shorts work fine for the rides you do, good for you.
I am finding that one of my "better" shorts are causing issues on rides > 50 miles and need a different chamois design. Another "better" pair has serious moisture management problems but the fabric is abrasion-resistant.
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Old 03-11-14, 01:31 PM   #10
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PI is a great brand. I recommend them. I like bib shorts, too, although they run a bit more. Cheap shorts have never fit me well, and make my butt look big.
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Old 03-11-14, 01:44 PM   #11
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Clearance is your friend.

While I do not ride with the extremely costly bibs ($250+)...I do have nice bibs in the $100-200 range that I picked up on clearance. I have a pair of Castelli Free bibs that retail for $199...got them for $91. I also have a set of Castelli endurance bibs that retailed for $149...picked them up for $89. The endurance bib is silly comfortable compared to the cheaper shorts I used to wear, the free bib is insanely comfortable fit wise. I bought these for this summer and haven't worn them yet...I got them for the really warm days.

Either way...I picked up $350 worth of bibs for $170. Like I said, clearance is your friend.
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Old 03-11-14, 01:55 PM   #12
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I ride my MTB/commuter with boxer underwear and baggy cotton shorts. Yes, I put the bike away when it's cold outside.

I understand this is frowned upon as road bike attire, and I have a road bike now.

A serious question from a guy who has never owned any bike-specific clothing beyond a helmet and gloves: What, if anything, does one wear under tight cycling shorts or bibs? Briefs? Athletic supporter? Commando? Something else I haven't thought of? Surely not loose-fitting boxers, I'm guessing.
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Old 03-11-14, 01:57 PM   #13
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I only buy my shorts on sale, but I'm currently pulling from these:

-Assos Uno FI S5 (x2)
-Castelli Endurance (2013)
-Castelli Body Paint Bib Shorts (2012)
-Castelli Sorpasso Bib Knickers (2012)
-Voler Bib Shorts- Unfortunately, I can't recall the name.

The last three all have the same pad. I was sent the Sorpasso Knickers by accident when I ordered a set of Endurance shorts, but opted to keep them.

My first two pairs of bib shorts (skipped shorts) were the Volers. Purchased for $45 a pair (MSRP of $90). I think it's the Estrada Chamois or something. I don't like them. They have been relegated to trainer/roller duty. I found a pair of Body Paint Bibs on deep discount, and purchased them after I had received the Knickers. I'm really happy with the Body Paints. I like the fit (Large) over the Endurance (medium). I tend to go to the Endurance bib shorts for most average rides. If I know I'm going longer, I'll slide on a pair of Assos bibs (these were actually the cheapest of the whole line-up, besides the Volers).

The real factor for comfort is the saddle IMO. I've ridden on saddles that irritate me after 3 miles, and I've ridden on others that don't irritate that bad. Chamois helps muffle the irritation or the discomfort, but will not mask it. I'm still on the search for the "perfect" saddle, although this Toupe 143 I just bought seems to be the closest.

I'm curious how the upper level Rapha, Giordana, and Capo all fit and feel. I'm waiting for a big sale on those and I might snatch up a few.
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Old 03-11-14, 02:10 PM   #14
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I ride my MTB/commuter with boxer underwear and baggy cotton shorts. Yes, I put the bike away when it's cold outside.

I understand this is frowned upon as road bike attire, and I have a road bike now.

A serious question from a guy who has never owned any bike-specific clothing beyond a helmet and gloves: What, if anything, does one wear under tight cycling shorts or bibs? Briefs? Athletic supporter? Commando? Something else I haven't thought of? Surely not loose-fitting boxers, I'm guessing.
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Old 03-11-14, 02:19 PM   #15
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What, if anything, does one wear under tight cycling shorts or bibs? Briefs? Athletic supporter? Commando? Something else I haven't thought of? Surely not loose-fitting boxers, I'm guessing.
I thought this went without saying, but it is the start of a new season. Never, ever ride without one.
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Old 03-11-14, 03:14 PM   #16
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I have found PI Attack to be a good balance between price and quality. MSRP is $80, but you can find them for $50 or a little less - I have never paid more than that. I have some less expensive shortes, and usually find myself becoming uncomfortable on the saddle before the 20 mile mark. As always, YMMV...
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Old 03-11-14, 03:26 PM   #17
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I thought this went without saying, but it is the start of a new season. Never, ever ride without one.
Say you're joking. There is nothing that an athletic supporter does for you that isn't already handled (pun intended) perfectly well by spandex cycling shorts. I have never heard of a cyclist wearing a jock. But then of course I have never inquired.
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Old 03-11-14, 03:30 PM   #18
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OP, Performance Bike Shop's Ultra line of shorts and bibs provide very good value. High performance for the money. No, they are not the best shorts/bibs on Earth. They are just good quality at a reasonable price, especially during the frequent sales. Fairly high tech chamois considering the price range. Up to 50 mile rides (as far as I ever go these days), they have never caused any discomfort or chafing. I should mention I always use Body Glide, however.
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Old 03-11-14, 03:31 PM   #19
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Squeeze, an athletic supporter is NOT necessary under bike shorts.

The shorts, in fact, will hold you firmer than any jock strap possibly could.
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Old 03-11-14, 03:37 PM   #20
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...But then of course I have never inquired.
I am the inquirer here and hope I haven't spoiled a long unspoken biker's secret or something. I can't remember ever noticing jock straps on the back the legs under bike shorts on a rider. I don't go around checking out guys' backsides, but you know what I mean, I hope. It's like football players with their equally tight britches and similarly bent-over stances at times - you can't help but see the straps in back.

To the original poster: sorry if I hijacked your thread but this is one of those questions I've been meaning to ask someone someday and it just happened to be here. I figured that was easier than stopping a rider on the street to ask.

Thanks guys, for taking the time to answer. It really was a serious question - I didn't know.
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Old 03-11-14, 04:55 PM   #21
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PI is a great brand. I recommend them. I like bib shorts, too, although they run a bit more. Cheap shorts have never fit me well, and make my butt look big.
I couldn't agree with this more. When I got into cycling I could only afford the cheap stuff. Now that I've had time to slowly replace it with good stuff (read: Pearl Izumi PRO) there is no way in hell I will ever go back to cheap stuff again.
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Old 03-11-14, 05:14 PM   #22
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Cheap bibs would be nice.
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Old 03-11-14, 05:22 PM   #23
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The priceier shorts/tights/bibs have more panels and therefore require less-stretchy fabric. So you should get better compression/comfort. Fit and number of panels are the most important factors of cycling shorts.

The chamois was originally made of real chamois. They could have just as easily used a big hunk of real spongeif padding was what was required. Of course the padding in a chamois is nice... but not really required. What the chamois really does is stick to the sweaty body parts and isolates the movement of the body and the saddle inside the chamois. That prevents friction blisters.

All that said... I am fine with my 4 panel cheap non-shaped foam chamois $14 shorts from Nashbar.
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Old 03-11-14, 05:30 PM   #24
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I've got three pair of Aerotech designs shorts, from $40-$60, all made in America and are holding up well, highly recommended.
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Old 03-11-14, 05:54 PM   #25
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I have tried em all up to $250.00 shorts. The best deal I have found so far is the ME - Mountain Equipment Co op high end shorts $69.00 Canadian. They are on par with any of the $200.00 + shorts out there. ME is Canadian equal to REI but anyone from any country can order.
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