Chamois Necessary For Long Tours: A Myth

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
I don't wear padded shorts, but what I find affects me the most is the underwear and how it's made, and where the seams are. Thick cotton with big horizontal seams are absolutely terrible for riding in.
I also use a Selle SMP saddle where the nose of the saddle dips down for much more comfort.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
Haven’t worn chamois lined shorts since the early ‘80s. In fact, I can say now that they (in association with my Brooks saddle) caused me to give up biking for a number of years with the chafing and numbness. Everyones butt is different so if you can’t find a seat that works for you, test the many other options out there.
 

jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
Its a myth that point of the chamois is "padding". Generally not the case (if it were, you could just add padding to the saddle and skip the shorts). The point is to help prevent chafing, especially over time. They are absorbent, don't move (usually made of a fairly grippy material) and are constructed of a solid piece of seamless material, so they cover any seams in the shorts themselves as well as anything you'd be wearing over top. How helpful they are really depends on a lot of things; how long you usually ride, riding position, length of time between breaks, etc. I know people who can knock out 50 milers in cargo shorts, and I know people who need to wear shorts to ride to the store and back. My experience is I can wear what I want for shorter rides but some sort of bikes shorts are necessary on longer rides (though most of my experience on longer rides is on normal bikes, not electric bikes).

The best advice is to just do what makes you comfortable. IME a nice pair of bikes shorts make a difference, especially as I start approaching 3ish hours straight on the bike. I generally wear them whenever I ride.
 

mschwett

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Interestingly, I find a significant difference in comfort and butt-numbness between two seemingly similar pairs of padded underwear. They look really similar, different brands, same category, but one is just a lot more comfortable.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
I don't wear padded shorts, but what I find affects me the most is the underwear and how it's made, and where the seams are. Thick cotton with big horizontal seams are absolutely terrible for riding in.
I also use a Selle SMP saddle where the nose of the saddle dips down for much more comfort.
About 4 years ago I switched from typical cotton undies to bamboo fiber undies. While better all around every day, they're "even extra more better" when cycling.

After 60km in 30C heat, I still feel fresh as a daisy, at least in that region, with just the gitch and good, unpadded MTB shorts. I'm sure there are multiple brands, but these are my go-to...


Disclosure: The owner is a friend, and I was part of their pre-launch testing.
 

TNC

Member
Region
USA
Interestingly, I find a significant difference in comfort and butt-numbness between two seemingly similar pairs of padded underwear. They look really similar, different brands, same category, but one is just a lot more comfortable.
Look more closely at the fine print on the box, and you'll see..."regular Depends and extra-padded Depends";)
 

Cyklefanatic

Well-Known Member
Disclaimer: I only express my personal experience. Many EBR members may differ. End of Disclaimer.

Until recently, I have been totally sold on padded shorts/bibs, or chamois (have you noticed how many French terms are there in the cycling world?) Since 2013, I have been made to believe I needed to wear chamois for comfort of my backside. Yet, I went for a longer ride just several days ago just wearing jeans; to my surprise I felt so comfortable in my good and carefully fitted saddle. Indeed, I felt so much better without chamois that I repeated the attempt, going for a long ride in regular shorts. Guess what: It was for the first time in many years I could feel how comfortable my saddle has been; and I didn't need to stand on the pedals after some km ridden to allow my ass rest for a while :)

And think of it: I have suffered padded shorts for so many years without any real reason, just driven by marketing. Let me elaborate a little bit.

I strongly believe wearing padded shorts or bibs is justified in the case of road cycling, specifically racing. Road bike saddles are very narrow and elongated; the roadie takes aggressive forward riding position, riding in the hoods or in drops. His/her backside is located high, and the buttocks hang on both sides of the seat. Such riding position means the roadie is seated on their crotch. And that is how the padding is sewn into the shorts. It is thus understandable the crotch needs to be protected against hard seat. There is also sweating: sweat needs to be absorbed, and chamois is good for that. (I might also understand skinny riders who are missing tissue in their bottom).

The typical riding position of the rest of the cycling crowd is either moderate or relaxed. Buttocks often just rest on the seat. With such riding positions, chamois plays no role; instead, it is exerting pressure on the crotch (especially on the private parts), and can lead to skin sore, abrasion, and even to inflammation. So many bike seats are meticulously designed for ride comfort: ventilation, sophisticated shape, gel, springs or elastomer inserts, multiple layers etc. All these design features are negated once chamois is worn by the cyclist.

I say, it is about my personal experience. In my case: "No" to padded shorts for my future rides.
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It is perhaps a matter analogous to "clipless pedals/shoes". I think any competing roadie would ride clipless to get some edge in the race. For the rest of us, platform pedals are more convenient and safer...
No padded shorts for me but in the winter I wear a bathing suit over underwear to keep the boys warm. The two extra layers provide good warmth. I find my legs stay warm without any extra insulation because they are working.
 

Rincon

Well-Known Member
I stopped wearing padded cycling shorts this year. The thicker the padding, the more likely was numbness. I switched to triathlete shorts, which ride cool and have minimal padding. Zoot is a good triathlete brand. I usually wear them under shorts, otherwise they’re just too sexy.
 

Elkman

Member
I bought my first pair of bike shorts in the 1960's when I century rides were commonplace. They also helped with my 7-10 day road trips where I was riding 100 plus miles every day. I have always had cotton underwear between my butt and the chamois and so never had bacteria buildup and sores. My riding companion would frequently get sores but he went commando with the shorts. Only with the long bike pants did I see ones that did not some standard with the chamois padding.

More of a problem is that with the trend toward mountain bikes and e-bikes the thickness of the padding in bike shorts has increased a great deal. To find shorts that are like the ones I have been buying for the past 50 years I now need to buy "triathelon" bike shorts which have thinner padding used.