Padded shorts - to wear or not to wear

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Padded shorts - to wear or not to wear

Postby N_Wilson » 17 Feb 2009, 10:22am

I have riden both with and without padded cycling shorts, and am struggling to notice any obvious difference!

If I haven't riden for a while I'll get a sore rear end with or without padded shorts. If I've been doing a lot of riding I won't get sore whether or not I wear padded shorts.

Besides from the lack of seams in undesirable places what is the benefit of wearing padded shorts?

Any thoughts?

Tim Cox
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Postby Tim Cox » 17 Feb 2009, 10:49am

The main thing is how comfortable your saddle is in the first place and how suitable your riding position. However I usually wear a pair of inner shorts for longer rides. They cushion some of the jarring from increasingly rough roads. But they do make you sweat a lot more in the event of hot summer days.

Dee Jay
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Postby Dee Jay » 17 Feb 2009, 3:12pm

I've not cycled without my padded undershorts ever since I bought 'em.

I love my padded undershorts! :P

Not sure if I could even be persuaded to cycle if I wasn't able to wear 'em ...

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Postby EdinburghFixed » 17 Feb 2009, 5:10pm

I never owned a pair until relatively recently (last couple of years) - however I now have to force myself to sit down if I'm out in jeans, otherwise I find myself riding standing up subconsciously!

For another step up, you can wear bibs which avoids anything digging in around your middle.

Wouldn't go back. :)

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Postby kwackers » 17 Feb 2009, 5:15pm

I've never tried them, but perhaps someone can explain how padding your underwear can possibly be better than a decent saddle? After all if some extra padding on yer bum helps why wouldn't it help the same if it was just stuck to the saddle??? (And look less silly).

Brian Offord
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under shorts

Postby Brian Offord » 17 Feb 2009, 5:41pm

When touring I wanted to get away from the lycra shorts so I tried padded under shorts but found the linner was only a thin piece of foam
and were not very good, so had a look around and found a brand named SUGOI the short matrial is perferated with a performance liner not cheap but worth the money.

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Postby Ron » 17 Feb 2009, 5:58pm

I was encouraged to buy a pair but found them quite hot and uncomfortable due, I think, to the restricted airflow. Also felt as if I was wearing nappies when wandering around off the bike. My padded undershorts soon landed in the recycling bin. :cry:

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Postby eileithyia » 17 Feb 2009, 7:17pm

Wear them, Wear them, Wear them, how can anyone ride without??????
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Postby Richard » 17 Feb 2009, 8:54pm

Wear what is comfortable for you and, in some circumstances, practical/polite/appropriate.
I Wore them and went back to underpants because I felt that any comfort gained from padding was offset by their tightness and lack of airflow.

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Postby DavidT » 17 Feb 2009, 9:28pm

Wear padded!

I find underpants get rather sweaty and very uncomfortable, with the seams and edges in all the wrong places.....

Further proof for me is that years ago I campaigned to get my wife and my brother to wear padded shorts. They are both occasional cyclists only. I was treated with complete cynicism if not ridicule. However, having tried padded shorts (with no additional underwear) they were immediately convinced!

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Postby anniesboy » 17 Feb 2009, 9:49pm

When I see a Tour de France rider wearing anything other than padded cycling shorts. I will throw mine in the bin.

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Postby PW » 17 Feb 2009, 10:11pm

Padded in winter, for some reason they're warmer, I don't know why. In summer I'd rather not. A good Brooks saddle is as good as anything, I prefer not to have a sweaty undercarriage!
If at first you don't succeed - cheat!!

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Postby EdinburghFixed » 18 Feb 2009, 10:11am

The point of 'padded' shorts is not to provide any cushioning effect. It's purely to provide a comfortable seamless interface between crotch and saddle and to wick away sweat. In other words, it allows you to ride on a comfortable saddle for longer at a higher rate of effort.

This being so, I'm baffled that people find cycling shorts are more sweaty than normal clothes. I mean that is half the point of the garment, so something funny is going on (the other half of the point is that they cover up the seams).

I sweat *a lot* when I ride fast and can't say I would ever imagine cotton underwear being an improvement. I don't understand how there is any difference in ventilation when your undercarriage is pressed against the saddle either way? (Are there some funny recumbent riders in here?)

There are other advantages to shorts which are less obvious:

- the low front, high back is cut for your position on the bike - nothing digs in at the front and you don't get a gap at the back
- there's nothing to flap in the wind and slow you down
- no temptation to put things in pockets that will then dig into you (either riding or when you stack it)
- makes you feel faster somehow
- demonstrates your physical dominance over car drivers ;)

Finally, you don't end up with holes worn in the crotch of all your jeans, as I did when I was a student!

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Postby patricktaylor » 18 Feb 2009, 10:23am

EdinburghFixed wrote:The point of 'padded' shorts is not to provide any cushioning effect. It's purely to provide a comfortable seamless interface between crotch and saddle and to wick away sweat ...

Well, I wear chamois-padded bib shorts only to provide a cushioning effect, and they are undoubtedly more sweaty because there are more layers and no ventilation.

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Postby Doris » 18 Feb 2009, 11:49am

I used to wear padded, but since I got a brooks saddle, I've found that I don't need them.

Much better in the heat of the summer, and no discomfort at all, even after 70 miles. I've just bought a new bike with a new brooks saddle, and even from new, no padded shorts needed. Hooray!