When you begin to bike in a serious fashion you will realize that there are investments you just don’t anticipate.
Whether you need to pay for upkeep on your bike, adding bike lights, or even simple things like new pedals–the costs add up!
One of the most important investments you will make toward your biking involves comfort and safety. We’re probably talking about helmets, right? Wrong.
Though helmets are a #1 priority we are actually discussing padded bike shorts. Padded bike shorts can be seen on just about every serious rider in town. They are comfort based pieces of clothing that both protect your body and improve your riding experience.
Like other things in life, there are many options when it comes to padded bike shorts. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take when deciding on your pair!
What are padded bike shorts?
Padded bike shorts are basically exactly what they sound like, tight-fitting shorts that are lined with padding. These shorts are lined with a chamois padding around your rear and crotch area, sort of like a saddle. The reason that riders love these shorts is pretty simple to explain, with a bit of critical thinking.
How do you ride? Are you a distance biker? Do you do heavy mountain biking? The constant jostling, chafing, and rubbing will do a number one this sensitive area. Any rider who forgoes the shorts on a long day of hard biking will understand the results of said negligence. It’s not pretty. So bike shorts have skyrocketed up the list of ‘must own’ accessories for serious bikers.
Like fingerprints, however, there is no perfect pair of shorts for everyone. We all have minor differences in our bodies in terms of size, shape, and sensitivity. So how can you pick the right shorts? Furthermore, what even MAKES UP the right pair of shorts?
A glance inside of padded bike shorts.
Walking into a bicycle shop can leave you feeling pretty disoriented. You are suddenly surrounded by a thousand different pairs of colorful shorts staring you in the face. They all look sort of similar to one another but completely foreign to anything you’ve ever worn before. What are you looking at here? How can you begin to narrow down your options? Let’s break down your shopping into easy to digest categories.
When you are looking at the various shorts options you have to be aware of a number of different factors and differences. To start with you will want to know how many panels are stitched into the shorts you will buy. Typically, the more panels involved the better. What are panels, though? Panels are separate pieces of material stitched together to form your shorts. The more panels there are, the more form-fitting the shorts will be. The more snug the shorts fit, the less distracting they will be while you are riding.
2. Chamois Padding
After finding which pair of shorts will most likely fit you the best, by regarding the paneling, you can move on to the second most important aspect: the chamois padding. The padding in your shorts is what will make, or break, the long-term comfort of the clothing.
Adequate padding will protect you from chafing, bumping, and bruising over the course of your riding experience. The more you ride the more worn down the padding will become, so for this reason, you should focus on the higher quality material. Look for synthetic padded liners and avoid any of the cheaper stuff. You can also avoid the gel inserts as well.
Before moving on it is also worth noting that more does not always mean better. Bulky padding can bunch up and actually contribute to your issues while riding. In short: look for the Goldilocks of padding–not too much, not too little.
Most padded bike shorts are made of stretchy spandex. You are supposed to easily pull the shorts on without feeling like they are being absorbed into your skin. The idea is snug but comfortable.
Spandex will give way if you stretch your legs so as to make pedaling, walking, and all around biking an easier thing to do. On the other hand, some shorts are made specifically to combat your movement. The reasoning behind this is that the resistance will help form kinetic energy in the shorts. The energy will be stored and then released when you pedal, giving you an extra burst of power and strength.
If you don’t like the idea of your shorts fighting your pedaling then make sure to avoid these types of padded shorts!
If your goal is to look as professional as possible then consider buying yourself a pair of bib shorts. Bib shorts are exactly what they sound like shorts equipped with shoulder strap style bibs. The shoulder straps keep your chamois padding as tight to your body as possible which will allow for the most long-term comfort. This keeps everything in the saddle exactly where it should be.
There are downsides to getting bibs, though, and most of them are from a practicality standpoint. Wearing bibs makes it really hard to take a quick break to use the bathroom for male and female riders. So that is an issue to be aware of.
5. Leg Grips
Nothing is more irritating than having to fight your supposedly form-fitting shorts as they try to ride up your legs. The more they ride up on you the more irritated you will get. Avoid this problem by getting shorts armed with leg grips. These grips fit around the bottom of the shorts and help to keep your shorts from dancing up your body.
The final consideration that one should have when looking through options comes down to price. If you can afford the top of the line shorts, which will be listed at the bottom of this article, then, by all means, purchase them. This will be a way for you to never have to worry about the little problems poor shorts can cause.
If, however, you can’t afford the top of the line stuff there are still price appropriate options. Read reviews, get your hands on different pairs of shorts and talk to other bikers. You’ll find the right pair eventually.
What are the best padded bike shorts around?
Now that you know what padded bike shorts are, how to choose the pair that you want, and what to consider when buying let’s go ahead and take a look at some popular pairs on the market. These padded bike shorts aren’t the be all-end all of options but they definitely are a good starting point to get your research going.
PD.Creek Men’s 3D Padded Bicycle Cycling Underwear Shorts
This pair of padded cycling shorts is meant to be worn under a pair of shorts. Made of 80% polyester, and 10% spandex, the fabric is both breathable and form-fitting. The bulky pad helps to protect you while you are in the saddle and you can get the whole product in a variety of different sizes. This is an affordable way for you to experiment with the different sizes of padded shorts as a pair should run you under $15.
Baleaf Men’s 3D Padded Coolmax Bicycle Cycling Underwear Shorts
This is Baleaf’s response to the PD Creek product listed above. Made of lycra material, these shorts are super flexible and also moisture resisting. After a long ride you don’t want to be stewing in your own sweat, right?
This Coolmax product will keep you dry and ready to bike. Form fitting and breathable, these shorts are meant to go underneath a larger pair of regular shorts.
Canari Cyclewear Men’s Velo Gel Padded Cycling Short
Here we have the kind of cycling shorts that you wear alone, with nothing on top of them. This product is 82% nylon and 18% spandex. It is made with 8 panels which allows for the most form-fitting of fits. There are leg grippers at the bottom to keep the shorts tight and a GEL shock pad inserted to keep you comfortable while you are biking.
These shorts will give you both comfort and durability as you ride for hours on end. Though the gel packs are not our first suggestion, they seem to work well with the 8-panel construction that Canari has implemented here.
Mens Basic Bike Short Padded Cycling Shorts Biking Pant
This is a generic response to the brand name options listed above. These bike shorts are smooth and padded to give you comfort on a long ride without bulking you down with too much padding. There are elastic leg grippers situated at the bottom of the cloth.
This model is made with 6 different panels which should allow for a tight fit. The cloth is made of lycra and nylon and stretches right without being too constricting. Trying out these shorts is an affordable route to a good and comfortable product.