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Padded shorts - pad standards

Old 12-16-19, 05:55 AM
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Jungleland
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Padded shorts - pad standards

Hey all, I have been only riding for about 4 months or so and just picked up and rode my new bike yesterday (Trek Domane SL4). I am really happy with the bike but the seat is a lot more stiff (less cushion that what I am used to).

I have a couple of pairs of Sponeed padded shorts that I bought on Amazon that have done the trick for me on my old bike but I am wondering if I need something with more/better padding. My big issue is when I look at them online, there doesn't seem to be a way to distinguish the quality of padding in the shorts. Anyone know if there is something I should be looking for to determine which ones have better padding?

Thanks All.
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Old 12-16-19, 06:23 AM
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Padding is personal and depends a lot on riding experience, bike fit position, length of time on saddle, etc.

if the current padding is working for you, then stick to it! Otherwise you generally get what you pay for in terms of longevity.

Last edited by yamsyamsyams; 12-17-19 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 12-16-19, 06:27 AM
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If that works for you, great.

IMO, LESS padding is better than more. But it's so personal, you have to go by what is comfy for YOU and not others.
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Old 12-16-19, 06:56 AM
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As a former runner, this sounds like buying running shoes. Go with what works for you. It's quite an expensive trial and error game to play.
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Old 12-16-19, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Jungleland View Post
As a former runner, this sounds like buying running shoes. Go with what works for you. It's quite an expensive trial and error game to play.
Pretty much.

Reminder, the pad goes directly on your skin. No underwear. So comfort is really key.
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Old 12-16-19, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Jungleland View Post
I am really happy with the bike but the seat is a lot more stiff (less cushion that what I am used to).
Your new saddle could be more stiff, but that doesnt necessarily make it less comfortable. Often times the issue is that the saddle shape(width, usually) isnt good for you. Just because the saddle came on the bike doesnt mean you need to use it. Saddles are individual- get what feels good. Same goes for the other contact points- bar shape and type of bar tape, as well as pedals and shoes.
All that stuff is individual.

A saddle can be firm/hard/not padded and feel comfortable for hours on end if it fits well.
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Old 12-16-19, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Jungleland View Post
My big issue is when I look at them online, there doesn't seem to be a way to distinguish the quality of padding in the shorts. Anyone know if there is something I should be looking for to determine which ones have better padding? Thanks All.
The most immediate thought is "price". Then I think about the manufacturer and their array of types of padding. Some short/bib makers don't say too much about their padding. So what do you do? Go to the padding maker to see what's what. Pads are designed for particular purposes. Once you realize that, then its about going to the shorts/ bib maker to begin asking questions directly to them.

I've been told that practically all the pads are made by a small source/manufacturer with the exception of maybe Assos.

Try looking at these

https://www.elasticinterface.com/cycling-pad/road/

https://dolomiti-pads.com/?lang=en
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Old 12-16-19, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
The most immediate thought is "price". Then I think about the manufacturer and their array of types of padding. Some short/bib makers don't say too much about their padding. So what do you do? Go to the padding maker to see what's what. Pads are designed for particular purposes. Once you realize that, then its about going to the shorts/ bib maker to begin asking questions directly to them.

I've been told that practically all the pads are made by a small source/manufacturer with the exception of maybe Assos.

Try looking at these

https://www.elasticinterface.com/cycling-pad/road/

https://dolomiti-pads.com/?lang=en
That's interesting, thank you GC.
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Old 12-16-19, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jungleland View Post
Hey all, I have been only riding for about 4 months or so and just picked up and rode my new bike yesterday (Trek Domane SL4). I am really happy with the bike but the seat is a lot more stiff (less cushion that what I am used to).

I have a couple of pairs of Sponeed padded shorts that I bought on Amazon that have done the trick for me on my old bike but I am wondering if I need something with more/better padding. My big issue is when I look at them online, there doesn't seem to be a way to distinguish the quality of padding in the shorts. Anyone know if there is something I should be looking for to determine which ones have better padding?

Thanks All.
Congrats on your purchase. I just purchased a Domane (SL 5), and when I was researching it, I want to say I remember other people complaining about the stock saddle... I'll see if I can find the posts.
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Old 12-16-19, 09:48 PM
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Looks like Sponeed uses the same Dupont CoolMax pads as Przewalski and Spotti, both very good low priced shorts and bibs. I have the thicker orange 3D pad in a couple of shorts and, in bibs, the yellow/black fade 4D pad that's sculpted to be thick only around the sit bones and thinner elsewhere.

Both the 3D and 4D pads are very good. The surface is smooth and dimpled, and wick moisture better than anything else I've tried from Pearl Izumi, Black Bibs and others.

Bike fit is critical to saddle comfort too. Sometimes all it takes is a few adjustments to saddle height and angle, reach to handlebar, stem height, etc., to make a bike comfortable even with thin pads or unpadded shorts. And if the fit isn't right no shorts can help much.
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Old 12-17-19, 06:35 AM
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Some bibs are certainly better than others, but to be perfectly honest, the more you spend, the better your bibs will be.

I have never been disappointed by expensive bibs ($100+), but I have certainly been disappointment by cheaper ones(<$70). If you shop around, it's often possible to find some really good deals on bibs this time of year. I've picked up bibs for as much as 50% off.

Last edited by topflightpro; 12-17-19 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 12-17-19, 10:23 AM
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A small change in saddle tilt can make all the difference.
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Old 12-17-19, 02:50 PM
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My experience is that the more you ride, the less padding you need. Thick pads seem more comfortable when you're starting out, but the more time you spend in the saddle the less comfortable those thick pads feel. I prefer leather saddles and no pad at all; just a thin chamois to absorb sweat and prevent saddle sores.
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Old 12-17-19, 02:56 PM
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Was your old bike a road bike? How often and how far or long time-wise were your continuous rides?

The above is necessary to give you a more specific answer.

Unless one has personal medical or physical condition standard road bike saddles even the harder ones are more comfortable than the heavily padded saddles when fitted properly.

Last edited by BengalCat; 12-17-19 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 12-17-19, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post

Reminder, the pad goes directly on your skin. No underwear.
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Old 12-17-19, 05:39 PM
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I just buy a bunch of different brands until I find one that I really like. Then I'll buy a few more. At this point my collection only consists of 2 that are the same though. On Amazon they are cheap enough. At the Rapha store OTOH, I'll try before I buy at that price.
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Old 12-17-19, 06:45 PM
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Get some assos bibs, if there’s still discomfort, it’s bike fit or down the rabbit hole of finding a seat that works for you..goodluck!
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Old 12-17-19, 07:04 PM
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Our butts are as individual and different as our faces. (No, I haven't looked, but I've been observing what bike seats work for people for half a century.) Bike manufacturers have a choice. Put on a quality saddle and charge a little more that everyone has to pay, including the 90% for whom this isn't an ideal saddle, or put on a cheaper saddle and drop the price a few bucks. Fuji, the bike I raced, took the second approach. I put the good Italian seat from my previous bike on. Unless Fuji had spec'ed that seat, I would have changed it. Quality or price wouldn't have changed my mind. My butt as a 10,000 mile/year active racer was too important.
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Old 12-17-19, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by popeye View Post
A small change in saddle tilt can make all the difference.
+1 To make this easy (and make accurate and repeatable on-the-road adjustments) consider getting a 2-bolt post where you can loosen one bolt and tweak the other (say) exactly 1/4 turn to try a different tilt. Re-tighten first bolt, ride, see if you like it and if you don't, repeat, only going that 1/4 turn in the other direction (or compromising at an 1/8 turn).

Ben
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Old 12-18-19, 07:53 AM
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I had the bike professionally fitted at my LBS so I am hesitant to play with the saddle quite yet. I had a hybrid bike with a padded seat (but the seat had a similar shape to the domane saddle) and rode up to 30 miles without too much discomfort. I think I'll give it some butt in seat time to see how it goes as maybe it is just something I need to condition. It's only a little bit sore when I am riding but more so when trying to get off the bike (I am the least limber person I know so it's comical watching me try to get off the bike, even more so when it's mounted on the Kickr). Thanks for all of your input, it gives me a lot to think about.
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Old 12-18-19, 06:19 PM
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Another factor takes time -- getting stronger legs and core. Makes a big difference in saddle comfort when we don't sit so heavily in the saddle.

When I first resumed riding in 2015 after a 30+ hiatus I was in terrible physical shape. Friends who were longtime cyclists who never got out of shape would say stuff like "Support your weight with your arms, legs and core, not your butt!"

Well, yeah. Easier said than done. Took at least a year to get back into that kind of shape. Meanwhile I used heavily padded and wider saddles. Since then I've switched to firmer and narrower saddles. But I couldn't have done that the first year.

If you're starting out with a fairly aggressive riding position and the stock bike, you can speed up your conditioning by adding some off-bike exercises to your routine. Only takes one or two sessions a week, 20-30 minutes each, to see some improvements. I do body weight calisthenics and use homebrewed weights (jugs of 10 to 20 lbs of water) for squats, lunges, etc. And push ups, planks, ab work, etc. It all helps toward cycling fitness and comfort. There are lots of tutorials online for basic exercises, so pick whichever routine suits you.
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Old 12-18-19, 07:04 PM
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There are three types of chamios/padded inserts, foam, gel, and hybrid, with both gel and foam.

Everyone's bum is like fingerprints, so it's hit and miss, just like with saddles.

I like thick foam chamois...

If you want to try something cheap that is not going to fall apart after one wash, search for Spexcel on AliExpress... Sizing is like Rapha, so probably go one size bigger...
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Old 12-19-19, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Jungleland View Post
I had the bike professionally fitted at my LBS so I am hesitant to play with the saddle quite yet. I had a hybrid bike with a padded seat (but the seat had a similar shape to the domane saddle) and rode up to 30 miles without too much discomfort. I think I'll give it some butt in seat time to see how it goes as maybe it is just something I need to condition. It's only a little bit sore when I am riding but more so when trying to get off the bike (I am the least limber person I know so it's comical watching me try to get off the bike, even more so when it's mounted on the Kickr). Thanks for all of your input, it gives me a lot to think about.
IMO, you have the right approach.

For me, if my butt hurts a little while I'm in the saddle and then hurts more when I take the pressure off, that means that my butt is not "in shape" and I need to get re-accustomed to more time in the saddle. YMMV
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Old 12-19-19, 09:53 PM
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Aerotech Designs

They make many styles and models of shorts and do a pretty good job of describing the pads they use in each model. I swear by their Elite model. Not cheap but really fine shorts.
https://www.aerotechdesigns.com/mens...ke-shorts.html
https://www.aerotechdesigns.com/roadbikeshorts.html

Last edited by eflayer; 12-19-19 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 12-19-19, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jungleland View Post
I had the bike professionally fitted at my LBS so I am hesitant to play with the saddle quite yet. I had a hybrid bike with a padded seat (but the seat had a similar shape to the domane saddle) and rode up to 30 miles without too much discomfort. I think I'll give it some butt in seat time to see how it goes as maybe it is just something I need to condition. It's only a little bit sore when I am riding but more so when trying to get off the bike (I am the least limber person I know so it's comical watching me try to get off the bike, even more so when it's mounted on the Kickr). Thanks for all of your input, it gives me a lot to think about.
Just make sure your weight is on your sit bones.

I've had good luck with mid-priced shorts but I use xxl for the room in the crotchel region. Expensive shorts with good pads are miserable if they are too tight.
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