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Old Dog 09-10-06 08:35 PM

Basic Clothing/Comfort Questions
I am an Old Dog learning new tricks. I started riding a few months ago and started with 3 - 5 miles on my Trek Comfort bike wearing street clothes and tennis shoes. I have upgraded to better pedals and 1.25" road tires, mountain bike shoes and a mix of mountain bike and road shorts. I am now riding 25 - 30 miles and looking forward to longer rides.

Now for the problem - I can hardly walk after a long ride. I am seriously chafed and it becomes painful to ride two days in a row.

What is the standard for men's wear? What, if anything, do you wear under your shorts? Does powder before you start reduce the chafing? Is this caused by my clothing or my saddle?

EtherGhost 09-10-06 08:58 PM

I just got a pair of these for a 30 mile bike ride today, and I had absolutely no chafing problems. Switching from regular shorts to biking shorts helps a lot I would say

pHunbalanced 09-10-06 09:16 PM

Although some individuals can handle it, most cyclists I've known can't be comfortable on a stock "comfort" bike for longer distances than 15-20 miles. The upright position and even moreso the soft saddle are the likeliest culprits for your chafing. It may be time to look at a firmer saddle or maybe even a new handlebar set-up.

slowandsteady 09-11-06 01:51 PM

Clothing plays a huge role. There is a reason why serious and even not so serious riders always wear cycling shorts. Cycling shorts have a chamois that covers the seams and the tight lycra is slick and has no areas that will bind or get caught. The cheap shorts are fine for rides of less than an hour, but you really need the higher end stuff if you go for closer to 2 hours or more. Performance century or elite shorts are good values.

Also, saddles with a rough surface cause chafing where a smooth leather surface will not. You can also use some kind of lubricant on the inside of your shorts. Bag balm works and so does Assos cream and Chamois Butt'r. Good ol' vasoline works fine too.

roadbuzz 09-11-06 07:48 PM

Just a hunch, but when you pedal, does your butt rock from side to side? It shouldn't. That can be caused by a saddle that's too high (unlikely if you're riding a comfort bike), or just out of habit. Keep your butt steady and pedal from the hips down.

You mentioned you use a mix of mtn and road shorts. I assume you mean dedicated shorts with built-in chamois. Don't wear anything under your shorts.

Any lotion applied to that area just prior to riding will help, some work better than others. You can buy products specifically intended for that (see slowandsteady's post... personally I don't care for petroleum jelly & bag balm, it's a little too persistant, particularly in the shorts). I normally don't need it, but have had good luck with something called Udderly Smooth Udder Creme, available from the local Wal-Mart.

Saddle can definitely be a factor, as well as saddle tilt and height. For example, I require a saddle with a narrow nose so my thighs don't rub against it. Likewise having the nose tilted up too much (which can also cause other types of discomfort).

Finally, when I had trouble with chafing, I found that it was pretty slow to heal and easy to re-irritate. Even if you solve the problem, it might take a period of reduced mileage to actually improve. Good luck and keep working on those new tricks.

dpara 09-11-06 09:10 PM

An additional thought on the chamois butter. Buy something that you would be comfortable using off the bike as well. It will reduce any friction and help healing. Good old cocoa butter works for both as does vaseline as mentioned.

And stay away from powders. Thats good for absorbtion but not lubrication.

lebowitz 09-11-06 09:36 PM

I use the Nashbar chamois cream and pearl izumi ultrasensor shorts are great, works pretty well and I never get saddle sores any more. When I did I found bag balm really helped off the bike (if you can get used to the smell).

Old Dog 09-12-06 01:10 AM

Thanks for all of the replies. I will definitely try some lubrication and maybe try a higher quality shorts. Actually, I have a couple of different ones and I can tell the difference on longer rides. You are right that it takes time to recover. In fact, I rode two 30 miles this weekend and my feet, ankles and chafing all hurt. I am almost happy that I won't be able to ride again until the weekend and not much this weekend because of company.

phillybill 09-12-06 01:23 AM

If you are not into pure spandex and are a bit modest. Try some MTB shorts, I routinely ride 30+ mile s a day in them. They have the spandex liner with the chamois insert.

jcm 09-12-06 02:33 AM

Ditto all comments on bike shorts. I don't use any creams or lubes. My shorts are cheap Canari brand lycra with some kind of padding. It's not gel. My rides can be as short as 20 miles or as long as 100.

My best advice is to lose the gel or padded saddle. I had similar problems at about 35 to 40 miles til I went with a leather saddle. Soreness is a function of chafing. Chafing is caused by friction. A smooth leather saddle (or a pebbled finish) will wick away moisture and keep you noticeably drier as your rides lengthen. It will be slick which will lesson the friction and will eliminate hotspots. If you ride in an upright position try a Brooks B67. They're about $90 from Wallbike and you can send it back for 6 months if you don't like it.

DataJunkie 09-12-06 07:56 AM

Make sure your shorts are tight.
When I am in between sizes I choose the smaller size. Loose shorts = chafing

AndrewP 09-12-06 08:27 AM

Saddles on comfort bikes are often too soft. Your riding position may also not be helping. If you can adjust your handle bars so you are leaning forward, it will take some weight off your butt and put it onto the pedals.

bike4life 09-12-06 01:48 PM

+1 to all the comments about cycling shorts. It doesn't matter if they're MTB or road shorts, just that they're cycling specific. Another important factor is the size of the saddle, both width and length. Here's a link to an easy to read and understand discussion about saddles: I'm also concerned about your ankles and feet hurting, sounds like your bike may not be properly fitted for you. Even if you were fitted, it might be time for a re-evaluation of that oh-so-intimate man-to-bike relationship.

MichaelW 09-13-06 10:53 AM

With soft padded saddles you sink down, distributing the weight over your soft tissue and compressing blood vessels and nerves.
A proper road saddle is much harder and supports you at your sit bones , not the squishy bits between. You need to select a saddle which fits your shape since everyone is different. You also need to ensure that your riding position is suitable for more extended ride with a lower bar position to distribute weight from saddle to bars.
Putting the padding on the shorts prevents chaffing and sweat rash.

slowandsteady 09-13-06 12:51 PM


fact, I rode two 30 miles this weekend and my feet, ankles and chafing all hurt.
Your feet and ankles hurt??? Please explain.

FarHorizon 09-13-06 06:00 PM

Get some spandex. Not only does it protect against chafing, but also it protects if (Heaven forbid!) you ever go sliding down the road or trail on your butt.

ericgu 09-13-06 08:59 PM

I think others are on the right track when they suggest it's a saddle issue. Comfort saddles are not made for long distances. Most good bike shots will let you buy saddles and return them until you find one you like.

After you ride, get out of the shorts right away. Get into something that doesn't chafe. Use some hand creme or something on the area after you wash and dry (hair dryers work well).

But I'd bet it's the saddle.

Old Dog 09-13-06 11:52 PM


Originally Posted by slowandsteady
Your feet and ankles hurt??? Please explain.

I think it is just exercise and a little arthritis. In addition to biking, I played racquetball on Monday. I think my body isn't used to all of the exercise I am getting.

leob1 09-14-06 09:43 AM

Count the panels of the shorts you have. Good shorts will have six or eight panels, it greatly helps how they fit. I have some cheap-o 4 panel shorts and they only get used as a last resort, and only short, <15 mile, rides.

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