Padded Biking Shorts:
Cycling Demands High Performance Fabrics
your intent is to peddle for long stretches at one time padded biking
shorts will be a critical item in your wardrobe. They should provide
essential padding and must be constructed of fabric that stretches
in all directions offering full freedom of movement.... typically
some sort of soft microfiber blended with a small percent of Lycraspandex
or nylon. It is also important that the fabric of the bike shorts
have wicking abilities to draw perspiration away from the body and
prevent saddle rash.
Interior Padding: Padding is designed to cushion your body
from seat-leg chaffing during riding. There are typically two approaches,
either a chamois (or its synthetic cousin) or gel padded. Biking
shorts and the insert, must be able to wick moisture away from your
body as suggested earlier.
Most of my riding buddies find that although the gel padded are
typically more comfortable they do not breath. Trying to counteract
this deficiency by wearing underwear with your bike shorts kind
of defeat the whole purpose of the shorts in the first place....
thus I think most will agree that the chamois liner wicks better
and offers more support, thus the better all round choice.
Some, like the "Attack" Pearl Izumi cycling shorts,
feature anti-microbial natural silver fibers that reduce bacterial
Either way the padded insert must be seamless and somewhat molded
for maximum comfort. They come in various shapes and thickness,
thus important to try them on as we have all different body shapes
and what works for me, isn't necessarily the best contour for you.
Sizing: Typically from XS - XXL
Waist: A flat elastic top is my preference as it is less
likely to dig in, some brand name bike shorts also included a draw
string at waist.
Panel Construction: padded biking shorts can be made with
4 panels or as is the case with the Louis Garneau Alveo, up
to as many as 10 panels for a more ergonomic fit. The more panels,
the more possible it is to contour these cycle shorts. Biking shorts
will move with your body, so it is not just the number of panels
but also it is important to be conscious of the seam location in
relationship to your body contours. Identify how the seams may effect
you. That is what you will find is ultimately the most important
aspect for overall comfort.
Many of the better "models" are now removing the seam
on the inside of the leg.
Leg grippers: they need to be tight enough to keep the shorts
in place and prevent saddle chafing but not so tight that they cut
off your circulation. Again another good reason why you really need
to try on a few different designs to find the one that fits your
Gender: The biggest difference in shorts for men and women
are the way they are cut and contoured to fit the body. The positioning
of the padding and the seams are slightly different according to
the gender, so buy correctly.. I'll assume you don't need any help
with that :) ? This should be a no brainer for most.
Womens bike shorts tend to be longer in the waist and available
in a wide selection of colours. Mens biking shorts are almost always
black, with a roomier crotch area and typically longer leg lengths.
Reflective logo at the back and side of the leg for greater
Pocket with or without a zipper, although the later is more
common on baggy or "touring" cycling shorts.
Machine Washable: Although many manufacturers recommend
cold water, gentle wash and no use of detergents with fabric softener
or perfume additives. The latter tends to reduce the effectiveness
of the anti-microbial liners and the shape retentiveness of the
Don't forget to combine this conversation about the best padded
biking shorts with the purchase of a well designed bicycle