19 Mar 2018 Why padded bike shorts?
If you’re ready to take a Wilderness Voyageurs cycling vacation, you might be wondering – what should I wear for several days of cycling to stay comfortable on the bike? Three words will make a world of difference: padded bike shorts.
Bike Shorts by Design
By design, the shorts provide a padded, seamless, and fully supported point of contact between you and your bike seat. The actual padding provides a smooth, cushioned, and breathable surface which reduces road vibration while wicking away moisture and decreasing the possibility of saddle sores. Through paneled construction, a center chamois pad, and lack of crotch seams the shorts will not cause chaffing or irritation. Lastly, the use of stretchy lycra helps support and keep muscles warm while pedaling. All of this allows the rider to go longer, possibly stronger, and more comfortably. Amazing!
Most cycling shorts are made of black (or colorful!) spandex with a little bit of padding in the crotch and the rear. They’re made to fit men or women, with specific designs for each body type. That bit of padding, called the chamois, protects your skin from the friction that comes with long miles in the saddle. It also pads your sit bones, which are the main contact point for your body on the saddle. The tight fabric also wicks away sweat and reduces wind resistance, making you more aerodynamic and compressing the legs to reduce muscle fatigue.
Types of Bike Shorts to Choose From
Chamois come in different thicknesses. A thin chamois is good for a short spin, of about 30 miles or less. Thin chamois can also be nice for a more active ride, like a hilly road bike route that’ll have you moving around and climbing out of the saddle. A nice, lightweight short for women is the Terry Actif short. For men, we carry Endura’s X-tract Gel Short, a great lightweight option.
More substantially padded bike shorts are good for long rides, or flat routes that’ll have you sitting in the saddle for a while. A lot of padding is really nice for flat rail-trails like the Great Allegheny Passage or the Katy Trail! For ladies, we have the Terry Touring Short, the best multi-day, moisture-wicking, fully featured bottoms for touring. And for men, we’ve got Garneau Neo Power Motion Cycling Shorts, highly compressive shorts designed for optimal comfort and efficiency on long rides.
Bike Shorts that are more like, well… Shorts
If you’re not keen on going for a ride in skintight shorts, you’re in luck. Lots of companies make cycling shorts that look just like regular shorts, but have a hidden chamois liner. These are really nice for commuting to work or riding to a cafe, so you can look stylish and still have padding and protection. Baggy shorts are great for a Wilderness Voyageurs bike tour, where our days of cycling are sometimes interspersed with a short hike or a stroll into town. For men, check out the Garneau Range Cycling Shorts. For ladies, we have the Garneau Radius Cycling Short, a stylish and versatile knee-length short.
This is important! Padded bike shorts are designed to be worn without underwear. That’s right. Nothing but the bike shorts. Wearing underwear could cause the fabric to bunch up, and it will actually give you saddle sores. Most chamois pads are made from high performance synthetic fibers and treated with an antibacterial finish to diminish the growth of bacteria. If you’re worried about abrasion, try using an anti-chafe cream on the parts of your skin that come into contact with the saddle. Also, make sure you keep your bike shorts clean. You can rinse them out in the sink, or machine wash them after every wear for best results.
Finally, don’t wear your shorts like this guy. He’s looking pretty good with the helmet (safety is always first) the bike jersey and even a race number on his bike. HOWEVER…. he’s got his shorts on inside-out! Yep, make sure the chamois pad is always in contact with your skin and not the saddle.
Any other questions about padded bike shorts or any of our bike tours ? Just give us a call at 1-800-272-4141 to chat with one of our Wilderness Voyageurs bike tour experts.