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Should I Wear Padded Bike Shorts?

  • Bikes
Should I Wear Padded Bike Shorts?

A cyclist’s most important tool is their gear and though bike helmets are a #1 priority, there are a number of other essentials that improve the experience of riding a bike. 

One of them is padded bike shorts. They look a bit funny which is why most cyclists opt out of using them. This blog details their purpose plus tips on how to wear them best.

Do You Really Need Padded Bike Shorts?

Just as activewear improves the quality of exercise in the gym, padded bike shorts help cyclists reap every benefit of bike riding. Here are two major reasons why you may need padded bike shorts:

Reduce Chafing

Wearing denim shorts on a bike ride may seem comforting but it tends to cause chafing on the thighs and rear which can be incredibly painful. Padded bike shorts act as a barrier between the seat and skin so there’s minimal to no chafing while riding down a paved road.

Decrease Groin Numbness

One of the most common complaints of bike riders is numbness in the rear. Because a bicycle seat is so compact, it tends to put pressure on the pelvic bones which after long hours on the saddle, go numb and may lead to chronic back pain. Padded bike shorts help alleviate the pain by cushioning the pressure.

Should All Cyclists Wear Padded Bike Shorts?

Padded bike shorts aren’t actually a necessity for all cyclists. It depends on how long you’re going to be seated on the bike. If you’re spending less than an hour to an hour every day peddling the bike, you might not need the padded bike shorts.
However, if you are an enduro rider or a racer, you will be spending quite some time on the saddle so make sure to pick up a pair of padded bike shorts (and while you’re there, check out the Kask Mojito and Giro Helios road bike helmets).

How to Get the Best Wear Out of Padded Bike Shorts?

Now that you know the benefits of having a pair of padded bike shorts, here are some tips on how to get the most value for money and have the padded bike shorts last for over a year.

Use Chamois Butter

Also known as chamois cream, it is a gel-like spread that is applied to the pads of the bike shorts and the perineum to prevent chafing. It is especially helpful in the summertime and while speed peddling. Chamois butter also reduces friction between the groin area and the bike seat so there’s less soreness.

No Undergarments

Despite common belief, padded bike shorts are actually supposed to be worn without any undergarment. They fit quite snug so wearing underwear can disturb the sizing as well as enhance friction which reduces their efficiency. Not to mention, the padded bike shorts won’t be able to manage the sweat and dust build up so it’ll actually be more unhygenic

Spend a Little Extra

In padded bike shorts, the quality increases with the price meaning you get what you pay for. So, don’t shy away from spending an extra buck for moisture management or enhanced friction control, such features only serve to improve your bike riding experience. Of course, aesthetics are important too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What helps a sore bum from cycling?

Hands down, chamois butter. Apply a little on the pad of your biking shorts and adjust the fitting. It will feel strange at first (almost jelly-like) but once it settles into the skin, the friction between the shorts and the groin will be reduced and there will be no chafing or soreness.

How tight should cycling shorts be?

Cycling shorts should be snug enough that they stay in place while you’re speeding down the trail but loose enough that they don’t cut off the circulation. Keep in mind that padded bike shorts do tend to ‘break in’ slightly so they will adjust and stretch with time.

How do you clean padded bike shorts?

Padded bike shorts must always be washed with cold water and mild detergent as hot water can wear the padding down and tear the elastic down. Make sure to wash or at least rinse them after every ride as the skin can adversely react to dust and sweat build up.

Final Thoughts

Besides the benefits listed above, padded bike shorts also reduce laundry down to a pair of activewear and that may just be the push you needed. Don’t forget to get some chamois butter while you’re in the market – the combination may be the best buy of your bike riding gear.

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