Road Bike Shorts designed for people who ride long distances on our public roads and streets. This distinction of being a "road" rider is connected with the history of the sport of bicycling. Road Racers, Track Racers, Mountain Bikers and Cyclocross Riders all have slightly different needs in their bike short design. Cyclists who are just starting out and Trail riders have similiar needs, with much in common with the elite riders.
Once you start to ride longer distances you will quickly note the need for a pair of padded bike shorts and possibly a new bicycle saddle. There are bicycle saddle-fitting services that will measure the distance between your Ischium bones and recommend a saddle that is the correct size for your own anatomy. Once you have a saddle that works for you, you will want to take your comfort to the next level with padding for the saddle area. A good Bicycle Saddle fits your size of bones in the saddle area. Women's saddles and chamois pads are wider than men's because of the wider pelvic area.Here are the Essentials within the Anatomy of a bicycle Short:
The single most important part of a bike short is the chamois pad. The pad is designed around the human pelvic girdle which contains the Ischium bones aka your "sitting bones." The Ischium support the weight while seated on a bicycle The pelvic girdle consists of two hip bones which contains three fused bones: the ilium, ischium and the pubis. The Ischium bones are often padded for cycling by the density of the pad. There are many choices of chamois pads to pick from that range from thin to thick.
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 comression 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 fatugue by keeping fresh blook circulating to the working muscles.
The Leg Gripper is a feature you will see in most all bike shorts. These grippers 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 dredded 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 must fit right or the 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.
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.