Are you sitting comfortably?

Padded shorts is a regular subject that always arises as a point of discussion for NO reason. Discomfort, rubbing,chaffing, hotness or blood running down a leg are NEVER mentioned but chamois cream seems to be familiar to some riders; not them but somebody they KNOW.

The key factor about shorts is the saddle. If the shape, stiffness, condition or set up of the saddle is poor then your shorts will have a lot to contend with in the comfort area and power output, balance and even your centre of weight in a corner may be substantially affected.

Many riders do not experiment with saddle position but less experienced riders tend to start with the saddle at the shop setting. So sort out your saddle position first. Still not comfy then try a different saddle. Good saddles are not necessarily expensive but shape and padding vary considerably so try a few. Even sitting on a bike in a shop could tell you what feels wrong for your shape.

You are trying to balance correctly upon your ischial tuberosities (sitting bones) so the shape has to match you irrespective of whether you are mountain climbing thin or downhill racing muscle. So saddle is sorted and set correctly which is normally level but can be a little offset.

Now go and get out all your shorts and turn them inside out.



new to older


foam removed showing base cover



top cover removed to show foam


The padding should be flat and even. Repeated washing will wrinkle them a little but if your wrinkle turns into a crinkle then time for a new pair. Inside the cover of the padding is a thin piece of foam held flat in place with glue and when this separates the layers move independently. This causes friction which is the source of many comfort problems even on a short ride.  A padded short has four layers in total with three layers making up the pad.


In the past leather chamois pads used to harden with use and repeated washing so cream was used to keep them supple and soft. Now the cream is used mainly as a friction reducer. On very long rides or on riding holidays it could be a benefit but perhaps try it out before a holiday as it could affect the pads in some shorts

Some shorts have removeable liners that can be replaced and some under shorts are designed to be worn underneath baggy shorts (without liner) or underneath trousers. Some baggy shorts have a sewn in liner and the same check applies however you could cut out a worn pad from these and substitute an under short. Some riders prefer longer lycra padded shorts underneath baggies for both looks and the warmth and tension around the thigh muscles. Undershorts are grippy and lycra tends to move freely under the baggy short. This might seem unimportant but check how many riders pull at their waistband and tuck in a jersey to avoid a cold back so choose what suits. From the photo you can see the shape varies too. Again try a few types to find one that suits.

Padded shorts are all meant to be worn without additional underwear underneath as an extra layer can cause more friction and although it can be inconvenient if riding to work you need to ditch the thong and mankini and make room in your backpack. Obviously you need to remember to carefully empty your backpack before a night ride otherwise if you have a puncture……

So although it is NOT you, avoid a PILE of trouble check for crinkles and if you have a question then ask somebody else because I do NOT know.


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