A Review of the Features of Men's Bicycle Shorts from Novice to Elite!
There are so many choices of bicycle clothing available and each is tailored to a different type of cyclists. Some of us are serious, fit riders who want to look trim and fast. Others among us are casual and love the joy of cycling and just want to ride longer. The best way to know about bike shorts is to understand your options available in today's marketplace. If you are reading this, you probably love to ride and want the best deals possible on cycling apparel. Here is some expert advice to help you pick the short that meets your individual needs. There are many choices because there are so many opinions on what is best for all the types of riding that goes on out there. Road riders, trail riders, mtb, cyclocross, and commuter, all appear the same on the surface but the clothing has nuanced differences that really matter. Here is how to make the most sense out of the broad array of choices. We love to ride and hope to see you on the road....
Key Benefit of Men's Bike Shorts: Comfort
* Comfort while cycling, shorts provide great freedom of movement for cycling motion (stretchability of fabrics)
* Anti Chafe design between the legs and on saddle area (engineered pads and removal of seams)
* Padding for the ischial bones (sit bones need a cushion)
* Elastic to keep shorts in place
* Fabric that can abrade without damage
* High tech materials that sweat well in the heat of exercise.
* A snug fit so it stays in place and won't flap in the wind.
Most bike shorts have a foam chamois padding sewn into the saddle area.
The padding in a pair of bike shorts will range from thick to thin. The thickest pads act as shock a absorbent with layers of thick foams or gel inserts. The chamois padding that is inside a pair of bicycle shorts also will reduce abrasion and cushions the butt. If you are just starting to ride, or the longer your ride, the more density you need in a chamois pad. The elite pads are dense and designed for long distance riders. The pads are also distinguishing between gender in the higher end cycle shorts. The pads that have a line or compression through the center of the chamois are engineered for the male anatomy. The women's chamois have more of a pillow. There are also unisex pads that both men and women enjoy. A more seasoned bicycle rider may want a thin pad in their bike shorts so that it prevents abrasion and yet feels invisible. Using a thin chamois pad is also popular in triathlon shorts where the short is worn for swim, bike, run. More information on Chamois pads for cycling.
Bike shorts are worn without underwear (especially cotton briefs).
The padding in the saddle area of a bike short is often called the chamois pad even though the pads are rarely ever chamois leather anymore. In the 1970's and 1980's bicycle shorts had a leather chamois pad sewn into the saddle area for the sole purpose of preventing abrasion. Back then the chamois was lubricated with an oil to create a "slip" so the cycling motion was smooth against the skin. The use of anti-chafe creams and lubricants continue to be an important part of cycling as these creams combined with snug bike shorts do wonders to enhance the comfort of a cyclist.
Today, most chamois pads are made from high performance synthetic fibers like Coolmax brand polyester or polyurethane fibers. The surface of a chamois pad is usually hydrophobic which means they stay dry. The chamois pad is often treated with an antibacterial or silver ion finish to diminish the growth of bacteria which may lead to saddle sores. A clean chamois pad is an ideal way to prevent saddle sores. Today's synthetic chamois pads are machine washable. Machine washing of a chamois pad is important to remove all bacteria.
Categories of Men's Bike Shorts
Bike shorts have been tuned into the sport this year with lots of little extra modifications to add value to your time on the saddle. Fabrics are technical and lightweight, the pads are highly engineered for gender, type of cycling and duration on the saddle. The fit has a wide range from compression to a loose casual fit. All of the different types of cycling shorts can create confusion as there are so many options to buy. To complicate this, every cyclist has an opinion on what is best for you. If you enter into discussions, you could get a different suggestion from everyone you speak with. Bib Shorts or Baggy, Road shorts or Mtb? From thick padded cycling shorts for longer rides to thin pads for multiple sport uses like triathlon. Cycling Shorts have come a long way over the years!
The men's bike shorts below show different types available that are typical when shopping for a pair of cycle shorts. Each individual who rides has a different saddle, style of riding and distance to ride. What makes up a good pad and bike short? With all of the different choices, you can see there is a short developed for all types of riders.
Each category of men's bike shorts have a few elements that make them comparable. Some matter more than others but here are a few things to look for:
1. Bike Short Fabrics - There is a large range of materials that have evolved over the years, newly developed nylon fibers that stretch, offer compression and hold up to the abrasion and rigors of the cycling motion that rubs against the bicycle saddle. Two key materials that are commonly used are Nylon and Polyester. Nylon bike shorts are rugged and fit great, Polyester bike shorts are softer and more colorful. Both nylon and polyester yarns are knitted with a rubber yarn referred to as Lycra Spandex or just Spandex. Look for a short that is at least 15% spandex. The higher the spandex content the higher the stretch. Tricot knit fabrics are warp knitted so that they stretch in all directions. A great bike short would have something like 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex or something similiar. Read more about the fabric below.
2. Panels - Short construction used to matter alot more than it does today, back when bike shorts started out they were made of wool and cotton knits. This means that the panels mattered for good fit. Today's modern fabrics with high stretch make the fit much more forgiving with fewer panels and tailored pieces. 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. Bike shorts can be custom made for a club and team. Try your hand and design your own bike shorts with our design tool. It is easy to start creating your own colors for your club or team.
3. 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). Professionals typically have thick thighs and look for a slightly longer inseam around 10 inches.
5. Elastics - Leg 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 for swimming, yoga or running.
6. Pockets - This year you will see more pockets as we need our devices on hand to stay on our course, find rest stop information and respond to messages. Pockets are important for holding snacks, tissues and essential personal items.
ATD Men's Padded Bike Shorts - An overview of Styles and Types of Cycle Shorts:
Road Shorts (Most Popular for Experienced Riders)
These types of shorts provide freedom for movement while cycling, prevents chafe between the legs and cushion the ischial bones on the bicycle saddle. The padding is sewn into the saddle area and is typically Thick and Dense in Spandex Road Bike Shorts
Ideal for long distance (elite) or beginners who need a thick pad for cushioning (gel). These shorts have thicker pads for high mileage and 50 miles like a Century Ride (100 miles).
Try designing your club's next bike short with our custom design tool.
Triathlon - Swim- Bike Run (Great for Multiple Sports use)
Thin padded Triathlon Bike Shorts These types of bike shorts are great for athletic types who participate in a variety of sports and athletics. This category of short has thinner pads for chafe prevention, slight cushioning and features like reflective piping and mesh ventilation spots. Ideal for for triathletes who want one garment for swim, bike, run.
Cycling Liners (Worn under your favorite shorts)
Underwear and Liner Shorts Padded Cycling Underwear is a great way to transform your favorite pair of casual shorts into cycling apparel. Padded cycling underwear can be used for any activity high in impact. Other sports include rowing, motorcycling riding, and horseback riding, just to name a few. These garments are base layers that are worn under your normal looking shorts or pants. They are usually mesh (for ventilation) with a chamois pad that in sewn in. The liners are available in both thick and thin saddle pads.
Commuter Shorts - (Casual and loose Cycling)
Casual Shorts are ideal for bicycle lifestyle. They are usually a woven-stretch fabric for lots of shorter distances like around town riding. They are for daily use and double as a casual short. This is the most popular short available for the casual cyclist who does not want to wear spandex.
Lots of pockets.
Mountain Bike Shorts (Loose and Baggy)
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.
Men's Bib Shorts
Men's Cycling & Bib Shorts (Preferred by Racers)
Bib Shorts - compression bike shorts without waist elastic that are held up with straps or suspenders. This is most often used by elite and most experienced cyclists. The pads are the best available for long rides and superior comfort on the bicycle sadde.
Fitting into spandex shorts is very easy for most everyone because the shorts are very stretchy. This means you could wear a size too small or a size too large and still be comfortable while cycling. Bike shorts usually have a chamois pad sewn into the saddle area of the garment. This pad needs to be stretched smooth across the crotch area to maximize it's performance to protect the rider. With a pair of bike shorts on your body, you should be able to run your hand across your crotch area and feel smoothness without any bunching. Bike Shorts work best when they fit snug with the chamois pad held close to the skin.
When bike shorts are too large, the chamois pad moves around and may create an opportunity for rubbing or abrasion. Bike Shorts should be snug. Judge the fit on a bicycle not standing up at a mirror
The features built into bike shorts often are built around the function of the cyclist who is riding. There are many types of cyclists on the road, so there is a similar variety of padded bike shorts. Leg grippers or some type of leg compression is essential for cycling shorts to stay in place. With the constant motion of the muscles during exercise, the shorts tend to ride up if they don't have some type of compression or grip on the legs. Below are some examples of men's cycling shorts with their prices and chamois pads.
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Men's Bike Shorts: Chamois Pad Design
You can see from these images of different chamois pads there are a variety of prices and thicknesses available. Beginners want a thicker pad, triathletes use a thinner pad, long distance riders have several choices but generally prefer a dense breathable pad.
Padded cycling shorts are designed for men who ride bicycles. If you study the chamois padding, you will note that they are engineered for the placement of the bones on the saddle. The different densities and thicknesses are designed to provide shock absorption where it is needed. Men's bike shorts typically have a groove or cut out in the center of the pad for the male anatomy to sink into and take pressure off of the Ischia and perinea area.
Bicycle seat neuropathy is a common injury for avid cyclists. It is related to vascular and neurologic injury to the pudendal nerve. The pudendal nerve runs below the pelvic bone, and can create numbness and discomfort if too much pressure is placed. The problems associated with the pressure on the pudendal nerve can cause a lack of blood flow to the entire pelvic region and the genitals. The lack of blood flow into this region can also lead to numb limbs and fatigue. To relieve pressure from this nerve, many men's bicycle saddles and bike short's chamois pads have a cutout in the center, to reduce the pressure and thickness in this nerve area.
Multi-Layer Chamois Padding A thin cycle pad with the correct seams will fit tight into all of the curves of your crotch area. The torso is very deep and round, combined with the curvature of the thighs, it is impossible for a seamless pad to fit "up and in" snug to the crotch without seams. The baseball type stitching provides an excellent fit when chafe is an issue. Most chamois pads are made from a polyester surface that has an antibacterial, hygienic finish. It is a permanent finish which prevents premature fabric decay and prevents the growth of bacteria and odors so giving a healthy micro climate between the body and fabric which is ideal for bike shorts. Think of it as a type of polish that smooths the fibers so the ridges cannot trap moisture or bacteria.
Thick Padded Shorts - Layers of Foam or Gel with "density added" Gel filled chamoispads are the thickest and ideal for absorbing shock and adding comfort to a sore butt. The gel provides a gentle layer that softens the bike ride's shock that is absorbed into the ischial butt bones. Gel adds a layer of comfort for new cyclists and those who are moving up in their mileage. A Gel Pad is good for all rides long or short. If you are comfortable on your saddle, you might not need the thickness and weight of a gel padded bike short. The density of the foam varies by location within the pad itself. The bones on saddle area have the highest density of foams, the sides of the saddle have the thinnest or lowest density of foam. The pads are highly engineered by type of rider, position on the bicycle and how long the rider is traveling.
Men's Padded Bike Shorts -The most important part of a men's 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. Padded Bicycle clothing is sure to please.
Long distance cycling may require extra comfort from a Gel filled chamois pad sewn into a pair of bicycle Shorts. Gel Filled chamois pads are ideal for sore butts. Gel Padded Shorts are idea for beginners and cyclists who are moving up in their mileage and need relief of the pressure from the bicycle saddle area. Dense Pads are used in most Road Bike Shorts 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.
On the other hand, there are lots of people who are comfortable on their saddle and want a lightweight pad that prevents chafe and feels natural. 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.
Most Bike Shorts are made from a stretchy fabric. There are several reasons for using spandex in knitted fabrics one of which is the ability to move, the second is the ability to provide muscle support through compression. 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 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. Reflective signals are best located on moving parts of the body. Legs move up and down making the reflective materials highly reflective and visible to oncoming traffic.
Bike shorts fit the cycling position, NOT standing up looking into a mirror. Padded 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.
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.
Care of Bike Shorts
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 sweat and 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.
Men's Padded Bike Shorts are worn "without underwear".
We highly recommend the use and frequent application of an anti-chafe cream for long distance rides. Put the cream on your skin, between your legs and all over the chamois pad. Squeeze a generous portion of the cream on the pad and rub it all over the pad. The lubricant on the pad and your skin will prevent hot spots from abrasion. On long bicycle tours or long daily distances, this cream application may be essential to enhance riding comfort.
Examples of Men's Bike Shorts: Thick and Dense Chamois Pads:
High end chamois pads are technically engineered for peak performance on bicycle rides. Superior support is built into the pad with the understanding of how the body sits on the saddle and where the pressure points are in contact with the bike saddle. The pads are quick drying, antibacterial and are loaded with features for each unique type of rider. These pads are engineered with layers of foam, shaped to conform with the contact points between the Ischial bones where there is an extra layer of dense padding to absorb the shock and abrasion. The bicycle saddle you use needs to support your bones and pelvic region without nerve pressure. Men's Elite Bike Shorts, Printable Shorts, Touring Shorts, Century Shorts, Gel Padded Shorts
Spandex Road Shorts - Men's Elite Short
A long distance garment with thick and dense pad.
3M Reflective Sides,Multi Layer Chamois pad on sit bones
Thickness: 15 mm plus four Engineered Densities of foam for comfort after 50 miles
Spandex Road Shorts - Men's Printable Shorts
3M Reflective on side panels with a top shelf pad that is protective, perforated pad.
10 mm thickness on sit bones 3Dimensional
Thickness: 10 mm 6 mm 5 mm
Spandex Road Shorts - Gel Padded Touring Short
Big, Roomy side pockets and layered Gel Pad for extra comfort.
Thickness: 12 mm with Gel Insert
Spandex Road Shorts - Men's Gel Padded
Gel Chamois Pad with soft wicking fabric
Thickness: 12 mm with Gel Inserts
Spandex Road Shorts - Century Thick Padded Cycling Short
Men's Century Thick Padded Short stays dry and is very stretchable, special polyester/lycra fabric stays dry and cool.
Thickness: 10 mm Elastic CyTech pad
Men's Bike Shorts: Thinner - Mid Weight Anti-Chafe Pads
Men's bike shorts that have a thin pad are more multi-sport oriented and ideal for experienced riders who are comfortable on their saddle. The size and density of a thin pad make it ideal to eliminate chafe and abrasion between the legs. The pad is large enough to surround the entire saddle area without seams coming in contact with the saddle. If you have a saddle sore that needs to heal, try the pro bike short, it's pad is multiple layers for maximum performance. The triathlon shorts are also multiple layer as the image below suggests plus they are molded and engineered specifically for swim, bike, run. The construction of the pad, the type of perforated foam and the fabric face enable a comfortable light weight cycle short that is ideal for all types of moving around. Triathlon Shorts, Classic Padded Bike Shorts, Wild Print Bike Shorts, Pro Bike Shorts, All American Bike Shorts.
Thinner - Mid Weight Classic Padded Bike Short
Men's Classic Black
Thickness: 10 mm Multi Layered Pad
Thinner - Mid Weight - Wild Print Spandex and Men's Pro Bike Shorts
Multi Layer Pad - Thin for Anti Chafe, Light pad
Thickness: 7 mm thick
Thinner - Mid Weight All American Bike Short
All American - Black (Made with American everything)
Thickness: 10 mm
Men's Bike Shorts: Baggy and Loose Fitting MTB Shorts
This category of bike shorts are actually two shorts in one. A baggy exterior and an internal liner or bike underwear. The baggy and loose fitting bike shorts are ideal for casual riders who do not want to wear spandex. Getting ready to choose a loose fitting (aka "baggy") bike short is easy when you have choices. Most of the mountain bike shorts are two shorts in one. A loose outer shell made of nylon and an internal stretchy padded bike short. We have found that many people who want the baggy bike short look are not just mountain bikers. More often the buyers of the loose fitting shorts want a more casual and normal looking short. They are usually referred to as Mountain Bike Shorts or MTB shorts. Some refer to them as ATB or all terrain Bike shorts. There are many brands of shorts and the differences are subtle and significant, so you need a little time to find the right pair for you. ATD Padded Cargo MTB Shorts, Mountain Bike Shorts, ATD Mens Bicycle Commuter Multi-Sport Shorts, MTB Touring Shorts, ATD Men's Commuter Urban Pedal Pushher 3/4 Knicker Shorts
ATD Padded Cargo Black P.Chamois Pad
ATD Summit Mountain Bike Shorts
Stretch Woven and lots of pockets.
Not Padded with Refletives
ATD Mens Urban Commuter Multi-Sport Shorts
Stretch Woven Commuter
Not Padded, 4 zippered pockets
ATD Men's Commuter Pedal Pushers - 3/4 Knicker
Stretch Woven Commuter
Cycle Underwear and Padded Liner Shorts
Padded Cycling Underwear is a great way to transform your casual shorts into cycling apparel. Padded cycling underwear can be used for any activity high in impact. Other sports include rowing, motorcycling riding, and horseback riding, just to name a few. Aero Tech Designs Padded Underwear are available in many different options regarding the pad thickness and purpose. Most liner shorts are a mesh fabric for coolness and ventilation.
Men's Gel Padded Underliner, Mesh Bicycling Underwear, Impact Liner with Hip Crash Pads, Gel Padded Mesh Cycle Liner Short
|Men's Gel Padded Underliner
Thick and Dense, Elite Air-Gel Underliner
|Mesh Bicycling Underwear
Thin - Breathable Perforated Elastic Interface Pad Very Cool
Thickness: 6 mm
|Impact Liner - Hip Crash Pads
Multi Layer Chamois
Thickness: 6 mm
Gel Chamois Pad is ideal for beginning cyclists who need extra comfort on the butt bones.
Thickness: 12 mm with Gel insert
Unpadded Fitness Shorts and Exercise Shorts
This category of bike shorts are ideal for multiple sport activity. The spandex shorts offer compression - which reduces fatigue and helps you recover faster. The unpadded shorts offer up excellent range of movement without restriction. Ideal of multiple sports like running, soccer, yoga and general fitness. Compression shorts are best when made with Nylon or Polyester combined with spandex. Cotton should be avoided for fitness because it gets wet and degrades quickly. A cotton fitness short will hot hold up and provide the muscle support needed.
A good quality fitness short generally has about 15 to 20% spandex. Spandex is the rubber within the knitted yarns of a technical stretch fabric. The rubber or Spandex is often branded as Lycra Spandex. Lycra is a brand of spandex that is high quality, consistent in its high performance stretch for athletics. The fabric knitted for high quality garments have a tricot construction which enables a 4 way stretch that wrap around the muscles providing compressive support and enhanced blood flow.
Unpadded PRO Compression - Skin Shorts
Not Padded - Good for Recumbent Riders, football and baseball compression, and weight lifting. Holds the family jewels in place.
This type of short is ideal for multiple sports, it prevents chafe between the legs, has grippers so they stay in place during exercise.
This short is a basic spandex short for multi-sport uses. It is a spandex short that prevents chafe and supports leg muscles.
Our number one bike short for all our customers - Available X-Small ($19.95) to 6X-Large ($29.95)
High PerformanceFitness Shorts
Not Padded for Multi-sport fitness. Great Reviews, great fit. Drawstring waist, No leg elastic.
Use for: Walking, Rowing, weight lifting, running, basketball, baseball, football, hockey, Yoga, Soccer, etc. for all exercise.
Men's Swimming Jammers
FINA Swimwear - Men's Black Jammer for swimming and training in chlorinated pools. Fabric lasts.
This garment is specificly approved for rugged durability for indoor swimming, Available up to size 5X
Have Fun and Feel Fantastic in Any of These Awesome Bicycle Shorts! See you on the Road....