Here is a link to overview many types of chamois pads to aid in your understanding of a padding inside a bicycle short. Once you look at the chamois pads, you will see they range from thick to thin. There are a variety of sizes as well. One thing they all have in common is the ability to cushion the saddle area.
Gel filled Bicycle Shorts Gel Filled chamois pads are ideal for sore butt's on beginners and cyclists who are moving up in their mileage and need relief of the pressure on the seat area. Thin Padded Bike Shorts are great for experienced cyclists who are comfortable on their saddle or for triathletes who want one garment for swim, bike, run. The thin pads are also ideal for anti chafe needs. Dense Pads are used in most Road Bike Shorts are in the elite category and are best for high mileage and century rides over 50 miles. Another typical use of a road bike short is the Bib Short which is a bike shorts without a waist elastic and is held up with straps or suspenders. This is most often used by experienced cyclists.
Road Bike Shorts are usually made from a stretchy spandex fabric. There are several reasons for using spandex in the design of these shorts. The fabrics used for road bike shorts are usually a six way, tricot, knit nylon or polyester. The lightweight fabrics are about 5.5 to 6 ounces per square yard. A medium weight is about 6.5 ounces and a heavy weight fabric would be about 8 ounces per square yard. Nylon/Lycra blends are more rugged and abrasion resistant which means they are long lasting. Polyester/Lycra blends are cool and wicking for multi-seasonal riding. The reason this fabric is used is primarily because of the freedom of movement and comfort during cycling. The higher the spandex content - the more compression on the muscles. High Spandex content (over 20%) is a sign of compression support for high end bike shorts. The higher the spandex, the more stretchy and supportive the fabric is. This compression massages the muscles to help work out lactic acid. The compression also helps to enhance blood flow to the muscles which helps reduce fatigue by keeping fresh blood circulating to the working muscles.
The Leg Gripper or Leg band is a feature you will see in most all bike shorts. These grippers or compression is important to prevent the shorts from riding up in the legs. During the cycling motion of riding the bicycle, the muscles are constantly flexing and moving. There is nothing worse than tugging at your clothes to keep them in place during your play. When a pair of bike shorts rides up on the leg, it creates an opportunity for bunching in the chamois pad, this bunching of the pad can lead to chafing, rubbing and the worst of all, the dreaded saddle sore. The use of leg elastics prevents the movement of the garment so the shorts stay stretched and the chamois stays in place.
Bicycle Shorts usually have something reflective on the moving areas of the leg. The moving legs make the ideal location for a reflective element so that it is visible for a motorist in low light conditions.
Road Bike Shorts are worn without underwear so the pad is held tight to the skin in the saddle area. The tighter the better. Bike shorts work best when they are worn tight so that the lycra spandex and support the working muscles. When you try on a pair of bike shorts it should not be tight or binding but it needs to fit snug so it stays in place. A well designed bike short is longer in the back, so when you are standing up straight, you will see a bit of baggy area in your butt area. Once you lean forward into the cycling position, the extra material will smooth out and fit well.
Panels - Bike shorts are often sold as 6 panel or 8 panel shorts. Many road racing shorts have advertisements and logos printed all over the garment to support sponsors, events or a cause.
Inseam - The length of the leg's inseam is a matter of personal preference. We think the short should be a few inches above the knee for most people. Some want a shorter short to avoid tan lines. Bike shorts come in Tall (about 11 inches), Short (about 5 to 7) and Regular Inseams (about 8-9 inches).
Elastics - Waist elastic is important to keep the shorts in place. Wider elastic has less tendency to roll. Some bike shorts have a drawstring, especially shorts for multiple uses like triathlon and fitness. A drawstring is not essential for road bike shorts, but may come in handy.
Bike shorts should fit snug with the pad close to the skin or potential benefits of wearing them will be negated. A correctly sized pair of road bike shorts is essential to make sure that you get the most out of them.. When looking at the manufacturer size chart, you will be able to fit into the size bigger or smaller with varying degrees of compression. We suggest the use of the manufacturer's size chart. If you want the garment to fit you loosely, you can go up a size. Bike Shorts should fit snug.
Men's Padded Bike Shorts need to be laundered each use. The best way care for road shorts is to machine wash and air dry. We recommend machine washing to remove all of the bacteria from the chamois pad. The goal of clean shorts is to prevent the buildup of bacteria on the chamois pad, which can lead to saddle sores. Saddle sores are a cyclists worst enemy. Air drying the spandex shorts helps the rubber spandex fibers to last longer without drying out.