Whether you’re a key worker picking up cycling for commuting or returning to it as a means of taking exercise, the array of cycling shorts can be a bit bewildering – lycra, baggy, pads, no pads, bibs, no bibs, waterproof, thermal, lite – what to choose? With more than 25 years of experience of design and making cycling kit for all tribes of riders we’re here to help you choose the right sort of shorts to keep you comfortable in the saddle..
Special shorts for cycling in, really?
The classic lycra cycling short is designed to conform to your body shape, moving with you as you pedal to prevent rubbing and chafing – if you’re pedalling at 80 RPM, any rubbing quickly adds up. The tight fabric also provides some support for your leg muscles too. On the inside, cycling shorts have a pad (sometimes called a chamois in a throwback to the days when they were made of leather) that provides cushioning. Pads have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade or so, with hidden tech to keep you comfy.
But do you really need them? For short trips absolutely not – jump on the bike in whatever you’re wearing and pedal. However, when you start to spend a little more time than you're used to then you’ll definitely be comfier in some cycling specific shorts.
Tight or baggy?
As well as the classic lycra form, cycling shorts also come in a baggier shape – something that came from the world of MTBing in the 1990s. Although they’re baggy on the outside, they’ll normally be worn with a liner short that’s much similar to a lycra short to fit you tightly and with a pad for comfort. Which style you wear is largely up to you and the sort or riding you do. Lycra shorts might be more aero for long days on the road and baggy shorts look cool out on the trails, but both styles will work just fine.
Pad or no pad?
Once you’ve tried riding in a padded short, we’re confident that you’ll never go back to riding without one over longer distance thanks to the extra cushioning afforded by the pad and lack of seams to eliminate nasty pressure points in sensitive areas.
Do they come with women’s specific pads?
In short (sorry), yes. Manufacturers have create different shaped pads with differing levels of padding. Same idea, but arranged in slightly different ways. Just like all of us...
Bibs or no bibs?
Although some riders will alwats prefer a classic “waist” short, classic cycling shorts come in a bib form that helps keep them in just the right place. It can make a quick comfort break a bit trickier, but with practice you’ll not be delayed long. For women, several different solutions are available on the market that prevents you fully stripping off – we think our innovative DropSeat is the neatest one available.
Cycling shorts with pads are designed to be worn without underwear – the pad should sit against the skin and although it might feel a bit odd being out with just a single layer between you and the outside world it eliminates material bunching and is another way to prevent chafing.