As a bike lover, the impact of the right bike shorts on your overall comfort and biking performance cannot be overemphasized. Cycling shorts and other bike accessories like shoes and pedals are designed primarily to make your ride as comfortable as possible. This translates to an increased riding efficiency and increased performance on how far and fast you go. If you're looking to take your biking to the next level with the perfect cycling shorts, but don't seem to know how to choose the right one, this guide is for you.
What you should consider:
Whether you are serious about riding or if you are a casual rider who loves to pedal around town, your choice of bike shorts should depend largely on the level of comfort they provide. Although certain designs and aesthetics might appeal to you, you may end up not getting as much comfort as expected.
It’s (Almost) All About the Chamois
The name “chamois” comes from a leather made from European mountain goats, but since the 1980s virtually all chamois pads built into cycling shorts have been constructed of synthetics. And a good one is among the most critical pieces of bike gear. A chamois adds some padding to make rides more comfortable and is engineered to pull moisture away from your body while reducing chafing on sensitive areas. Less irritation and bacteria build-up help prevent dreaded saddle sore.
Here's how to choose the right cycling shorts for you
1. Know your options
Cycling shorts, like saddles, come in various styles and types to fit different riding purposes and are made from various materials. Here's an overview of your available options with bike shorts
Road shorts are tight-fitting shorts that allow free movement while cycling. They help prevent chaffing between your legs and equally provide some cushioning for your sit bones thereby bringing comfort and stability. They are adequate for long-distance cycling and contain thick pads for high mileage and comfort. Keep in mind there are specific bike shorts for men and bike shorts for women.
Triathlon - Swim, Bike, Run
If you participate in various sports like swimming, biking and running, this is most likely your best bet. With thin pads that prevent chaffing, slight cushioning and other features like mesh ventilation spots, quick dry material and reflective piping, the triathlon short would very effectively work for your multiple sports needs.
If you would love to transform your casual shorts into biking apparel, try making them a pair of padded cycling shorts. For sports like motorcycling, rowing, horseback riding and any high impact activity, padded cycling shorts come in handy. They are worn beneath your regular shorts or pants so you can enjoy hours of riding and other activities.
You must have seen cyclists on loose and baggy shorts with extra pockets, these are the mountain bikers. Mountain bike shorts are abrasion resistant and offer their riders more range of motion. They are also fashionable and contain a padded liner inside, and a loose-fit outer short. Some brands have tabs so you can remove the liner and enjoy wearing the shorts as casual wear.
Bibs use shoulder straps, rather than a constricting waistband, to hold the shorts up and in place. No waistband means less pressure around your stomach. Most bibs have a higher panel front and back that not only eliminates your chances for exposed skin but also holds in your stomach for more flattering look. But not everyone is able to adapt to the downward pressure, however slight, that bib straps can put on your shoulders. And some people don't appreciate that straps are visible under lighter-colored jerseys. The biggest complaint with bib shorts? Unless yours are designed with a drop tail or super-stretchy straps (which so many these days are,) bathroom stops can be a challenge if you're in a hurry. Generally speaking, you'll find better quality and fit with bibs than you will with shorts.
2. How would you be using your shorts?
Over the years, several kinds of materials have been used to make bike shorts. In recent times, nylon and polyester are the main materials used. Nylon bike shorts are generally rugged and are a great fit on the body. Polyester bike shorts on the other hand are softer and usually more colorful than nylon. It's worth mentioning that both nylon and polyester materials are knitted with rubber yarn to enhance their elastic properties. The rubber yarn is often referred to as Lycra Spandex or just Spandex. For shorts with excellent stretch properties, aim for the ones that have at least 15% spandex. Basically, the higher the spandex in your shorts, the longer it will be able to stretch. The kind of shorts material you choose will depend on what kind of rider you are. Some shorts are good for long-distance cycling while others are excellent for a short distance or within-town biking. Some shorts are great for certain riding styles while others wouldn't do so well using the same style.
3. When in doubt: try them on
How else do you know if a piece of clothing material perfectly fits your physique or not? By trying them on! Factors like differences in butts, seats, crotches and even riding positions can make seemingly good cycling short unfit for you. When trying them on, make sure to leave your underwear on. Although, cycling shorts are generally worn without underwear as they contain chamois; a padded crotch section of your bike shorts. The chamois is made of foam of various densities and it helps to trap harmful bacteria thereby keeping you safe and dry. It is also designed to provide a smooth surface that significantly reduces friction which in turn prevents heat and chaffing. Having your underwear on while cycling prevents the chamois from doing its job. However, for test purposes, you might have to try a few bike shorts on, so it makes more sense to maintain good hygiene and do that with your underwear on.
4. Focus on key positions
While the cycling shorts might feel cool and comfortable while riding they can feel a little awkward at first when you start to walk around. So you should try doing some leg raises, as high as you would normally raise them on a bike and allow the leg hems to fall into a position similar to what you would have on the bike. Also, lean over and try to get in your favorite and most frequent cycling positions to see how well it fits and how comfortable it feels. Do not forget to pinch the Lycra along your outer thigh to check whether the material functions properly and snaps back tight against your skin as it normally should. The Lycra is expected to be tight and compressive. Doing this will make you certain that you have the right size for you and are good to go.
Now that you know how to choose the right cycling shorts for you, we can't wait to ride with you in your gorgeous looking cycling shorts.