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MATERIAL SCIENCE

 

BICYCLE ACCESSORIES

Bicycle Helmets

BICYCLE CLOTHING

Padded Cycling Shorts

 


Padded Biking Shorts:
Cycling Demands High Performance Fabrics

If 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 Lycra™spandex 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 buildup.

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 body.

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.

BONUS'S

Reflective logo at the back and side of the leg for greater road visibility.

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 fabric.

Don't forget to combine this conversation about the best padded biking shorts with the purchase of a well designed bicycle seat .

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Products, specifications, and techniques shown are meant as a guide only.

Owners of this site assume no liability for and make no claim to the suitability of any products or information shown, other than to report history of usage, and sharing of knowledge from others.

It is the sole responsibility of the owner to adequately test for suitability and application method for a product..

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copyright Jan. 2007