Cycling Shorts Basic Guide
Many beginner riders view cycling clothing as just part of the uniform. It usually takes one or two good rides without bike shorts to realize there is more to those tight-fitting, brightly colored garments than meets the eye. For many riders, a good quality short is their most important piece of clothing. With the seat being one of three contact points you have with your bike and a significant weight bearing point, the importance of a good cycling short with a high-quality chamois pad (pronounced "shammee"), moisture wicking properties, and good fit becomes immediately apparent. Cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear, but they can also function as underwear beneath your favorite pair of baggy shorts, or cycling pants.
There are a few key features to look for as a beginner cyclist shopping for your first pair of shorts:
- Integrated padding or chamois pad. Chamois are manufactured in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Everyone has their own unique anatomy, hence the necessity for male and female specific pads.
- Technical construction. Most cycling shorts are made of a form-fitting, light-weight elastic material (Lycra) that maximizes comfort and support and wicks moisture away from the body.
- Fit. Multi-panel construction allows good fit without relying on the stretchy nature to accommodate your shape. The tight fit prevents movement between fabric and skin to alleviate chaffing (rubbing of the skin). The tight fit also prevents flapping fabric, which reduces wind resistance and increases your pedaling efficiency. If the tight-fitting appearance is not for you, there are baggy cycling shorts that incorporate a padded liner and feature pockets if you prefer a more relaxed, casual appearance and fit. Bib shorts provide increased support for more comfort during longer rides.
Bicycle shorts improve comfort on your bicycle, plain and simple. They dissipate heat in hot weather, prevent chaffing and saddle sores. You will greatly appreciate the chamois padding on longer rides. Remember--form follows function. The tight fit is more than just part of the cycling uniform.
Bib Shorts - compression bike shorts without waist elastic that are held up with straps or suspenders.
Shorts - These types of shorts provide freedom for movement while cycling, prevents chafe between the legs and cushion the ischial bones on the bicycle saddle.
Baggy / MTB - Rugged and loose fitting with a padded liner. Known as a "Baggy" short, the loose fitting bike shorts are often called ATB or MTB as they are Mountain bike shorts. They are often sold as two shorts in one, a padded liner inside, a loose-fit outer short. (NOTE: These are not offered in the NEHSCA store. You may purchase generic ones at any of our sponsoring shops.)