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Do I really need cycling shorts?(11 posts)

Do I really need cycling shorts?empacher6seat
Jun 25, 2002 9:59 PM
Until now, I've been riding with regular spandex shorts that I use for rowing. I've never really suffered from a sore bottom. I guess those countless mornings of rowing on hard plastic or wood seats with no padding numbed my ass pretty good!

Anyways, my question: Is there any real advantage to cycling shorts besides the padding in the rear? I don't really want to buy any if I don't need to.
I'm actually looking for shorts with as little padding as I can.Leisure
Jun 25, 2002 10:26 PM
I rediscovered a couple weeks ago why I could still occasionally get numbness despite having a cutout seat; the padding actually redistributes the weight back over those areas the cutout is supposedly protecting. I'm riding around in these old jean shorts (I dug up from the catacombs of my dresser) that I was using last year and am riding as comfortably as ever. Oh well.
That's rediculous...elviento
Jun 26, 2002 9:58 AM
"the padding actually redistributes the weight back over those areas the cutout is supposedly protecting."

How can that be true???
I've discovered it, then rediscovered it...Leisure
Jun 27, 2002 3:51 AM
You have a cutout which is supposed to relieve pressure from that middle area. Put a thick enough pad in between and sit down, and some of the pressure will be spread back out over that area. A more extreme example that better illustrates the idea is putting a flat piece of plastic over you cutout seat. "Cutout go bye bye!" I started to have numbness this season after thinking my Terry Fly seat was infallible, then a couple weeks ago relearned why I never had numbness before. The shorts I typically wore were different, having little or no padding, as compared to what I had thought were my "serious" cycle shorts that had plenty and that I've been wearing all the time, but previously only wore on supersteep rides that never gave me numbness anyway (in my case, at least). Anybody that tries every anatomical seat and still has problems should consider what I'm suggesting. Just one more thing that might help.
Only one way to find outpmf1
Jun 26, 2002 7:05 AM
Buy a pair and see if you like them. Personally, I couldn't imagine wearing unpadded shorts. You don't need loads of padding, but some helps. Get a decent pair of shorts and try it. If it makes a huge difference, then the experiment was well worth it. If there is no difference, you're out $50. My bet is they'll make a huge difference.

For reasonable priced, good quality shorts, I'd suggest Voler ( -- its a mailorder only place. Good quality, reasonably priced. If it doesn't fit, they include an envelope to send it back free of charge.
Other types may do fine ...Humma Hah
Jun 26, 2002 7:25 AM
I've got a pair of baggies that I bought from Sunny's Surplus for $9, actually they're built more like swimming trunks. They never chaffed or produced any discomfort, on rides up to and including 140 miles. I still use them for MTBing, although they're about worn out.

I've got other ordinary shorts that will chafe me crazy in 30 miles.

My cycling shorts are undeniably comfortable, however, and have been since I first put them on, on any length ride.

If you're heading out for some long epic ride with shorts you're not sure will go the distance, you may regret it about 50 miles from home. If your rowing shorts are not built with seams tough enough, and in the right location for, cycling, and they split on you a long way from home, expect some comments from passers-by.
re: Do I really need cycling shorts?PBWatson
Jun 26, 2002 8:12 AM
I find the thinly padded shorts for rides over 15-20 miles work out nice, for anything less than that I dont bother. The gel shorts & other thick padded varieties just squish around & push the padding up into tender areas & cause numbness. On me anyway.
How long do you ride?ColnagoFE
Jun 26, 2002 8:23 AM
I find that a good rule of thumb is up to 20 miles anything works, but over that I need a good chamois and preferably bib shorts. Also you may have a cushy saddle which would cause you to need less padding. The chamois also absorbs some of the sweat that would otherwise stay on your butt or get on the saddle.
Jun 26, 2002 9:24 AM
Tongue in cheek i know. :D

The problema with synthetic-pads is they often don't conform to your butt profile & will bunch up. Real chamois pads typically work better as they take a "set" over a period of time. The downside to chamois is they generally are more expensive and can be a factor if you buy three or more to keep a newly washed one available.

We Newbies actually lowered the saddle on the MTB's at one time on the climb-only portions of the ride to perfect climbing techniques. Not so much a factor on road bikes IMHO as road climbing in-the-saddle has it's uses.

Greg LeMond sat way back on his saddle during the climbs and "pushed" the pedals as you can do this with lower gearing as in say using a 23 tooth rear cog sitting instead of mebee an 18t cog standing to conserve energy, cadence or turn-over rate being the same & trading off muscle groups, etc.

Typically more power standing but legs tire faster. Switching from sitting to climbing or vice versa usually means a two-click shift in a numerically close-ratio cassette. Practice, practice, practice is the key here.

Keep the padding to a minimum so as not to bunch & crease. Try and find a saddle to fit your butt profile ...not so EZ though in every case. The more hours you ride over time the less all this stuff will affect you ...or mebee the reverso? Be sure and stand throughout the ride whether you perceive the need or not as this will help butt soreness & leg tiredness. In the "end" you will adapt to your own style.

Keep a light rubbed-in application of chamois creme on the pad, synthetic or not. Wash the padded shorts often.

Cheers all,
Welcome back. Good to see your still among the living. nmLen J
Jun 26, 2002 9:27 AM
also depends on the weatherTomS
Jun 26, 2002 1:58 PM
if it's hot, I find it a lot more comfortable to sweat in bike shorts than regular shorts - they wick the sweat away somewhat, and dry quickly so they don't get nasty. Regular shorts start to chafe when I sweat too.

Also if it's raining, bike shorts are so thin and right next to your skin that it doesn't really matter if they get wet. Regular shorts can soak up water, get heavy, flop around, etc.

But your rowing shorts might have similar qualities, I don't know...