Tag Archives: bike shorts

The joy of bike shorts is something you need to experience

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bike shorts combat one of the most common concerns for bike riders – a sore rear end. To best explain how bike shorts fix the problem, let’s look at what the problems are.

Why Do you Need Bike Shorts?

-New Muscles

Most people aren’t used to sitting only on their backsides. On chairs, stools or couches we disperse our weight over the back of our thighs as well as our bottom. Asking our gluteus maximus to suddenly support all our weight is essentially weightlifting for your butt and some discomfort is normal.

-Movement

When riding at a casual pace, you can easily complete 3000 pedal strokes in one hour. That much movement over a bike seat can cause some chaffing.

-Fit

The last cause is the fit of your bicycle and seat. A poor bike fit can cause a lot of discomfort so check that first. Just like anything else you put on your body, it’s possible that your seat doesn’t fit. To find a seat that fits, see our article on saddle fit.

Bike shorts contain a pad that can diffuse the pressure on your backside, eliminating a lot of discomfort from using new muscles. The shorts allow your legs to glide over it and relieve any instance of chaffing. Finally, shorts can sometimes solve issues with a poor fitting saddle by filling in spaces where you need support but your saddle isn’t offering it.

How do I pick bike shorts?

Shorts come in all shapes and sizes. Tight shorts are popular because they offer great comfort as well as unencumbered movement around the bicycle. Baggy shorts are very popular for their casual look and the sddition of pockets. There are even cycling skirts (called skorts) that offer excellent comfort and great off the bike look.

First, lets talk about the pad (also called the chamois). The pad is the single most important part of a cycling short, it does all the work and has the largest effect on comfort.

-Single density pad

Bike Shorts single density pad

Mostly found on inexpensive shorts, a single density pad consists of a foam pad with a soft material bonded to the outside. These pads are the same thickness from edge to edge. The pad relieves pressure where your body hits the saddle and the soft outer material is smooth on your legs while pedaling.

 

-Multi density pad

Bike shorts Multi density pad

Found on mid range shorts, multi density pads are made from a similar material as a single density pad. Multi density pads offer thicker padding where a rider makes contact with the saddle and less padding where pressure is not as direct. By varying the thickness of padding, this chamois conforms to the facets of a riders body, adds padding where its needed most, and uses the soft material of the pad to combat chaffing where padding is not needed.

 

-Multi part pad

bike shorts multi part pad

This pad is like the multi density pad in concept (more where you need it, less where you don’t), but uses very different materials depending on location. Typically these pads have denser foam where you sit, smoother materials on either side to resist chaffing, and often incorporate anti bacteria materials. These pads are only found on high end shorts, and offer the best possible comfort.

What about the outside of the bike shorts?

Bike shorts use tons of materials so to go into detail about each one would be impossible here. The easiest way to talk about the outside of the short is to break it into two categories: fabric and cut.

-Fabric

The materials for cycling shorts need to do two things: flex freely when you pedal and move moisture off your body, much like a cycling jersey. Shorts typically use very flexible materials like Lycra to move freely as you pedal. Lycra (or similar materials) flex incredibly well, but don’t to a great job moving moisture (sweat). The more moisture held onto your body, the greater the chance for chaffing and discomfort. To get the optimal flex and moisture management, most manufacturers use a mixture of materials within the shorts. As the cost of the shorts increase, the material typically does a better job flexing and moving moisture. The inexpensive shorts usually flex, but don’t keep you dry.

-Cut

Because the materials used to make the short don’t have infinite flexibility, the cut of a cycling short is very important. As shorts become more expensive, manufacturers use more sections of material (called panels) bonded together to conform to the shape of your body. In baggy shorts, more panels allow you to move freely, and to move seams away from areas that make contact with the saddle (eliminating the possibility of chaffing). A general rule of thumb is the more expensive the short, the more panels it has.

Bike shorts panel comp

The shorts on the left use many panels while the shorts on the right use only four

How do I know if my bike shorts fit?

Bike shorts are cut to fit best while riding. This means that they are designed to fit snugly when seated on a bicycle. When you initially try them on and stand upright you may feel as if the back of the pad is “loose”. Place your hands on your knees (replicating the leg/back angle on a bicycle) and the shorts should be snug throughout. If the shorts feel too snug or too loose, it’s best to try a different size.

Now that you know these helpful tips about bike shorts, you should feel comfortable that you can find the right pair for you.

Athlos custom cycling clothing: Out of the box review

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Having been involved with many teams and clubs over the years has given me the opportunity to own many pieces of custom cycling clothing. I have also owned lots of name brand cycling clothing. What I have found, there are some pros and cons to both custom and brand name products. This brings us to a great conversation I had with the guys at Athlos, during the Interbike Show, last fall. Athlos is working to offer riders all the benefits of brand name product in a custom package and making it easy to order as well. Read on to see how they did!

Out of the box custom cycling clothing

I received a medium jersey, large bib short, and medium arm warmers as I requested. All the pieces are part of Athos’ split zero custom cycling clothing collection, which is their top of the line products. Being a top end product, they are a true racer fit. Racer fit doesn’t mean you need to be into racing to enjoy the products benefits, all it means is that the cut of the shorts and jerseys are form (European) fitting. The items I reviewed were made for the ‘Rebel with a Cause’ cycling club. They are in Baltimore and ride to raise money to help feed those in need. All the colors in the kit I received were clean, vibrant from the shorts to the jersey. I was impressed, the consistency is surprising considering the jersey and short were made of different materials.

Fit of the custom cycling clothing

I would love to believe that I am still a medium jersey guy? But, too much food and the relentless assault from father time makes it tough for me to squeeze into the medium jersey. The large shorts on the other hand fit amazingly well. The legs stop just above the knee and have a tall, soft cuff with a grippy material on the inside. The bib is unique in that the back straps are an H strap rather than the standard Y shape. This is a very different approach to a bib short. Immediately I noticed that the short didn’t have the “compressive” feeling over the shoulders that bibs typically do. My fear was that the shorts would feel loose while I was riding, but instead they felt great. They stayed in place well and never felt tight or constrictive.

Function of custom cycling clothing

With our Minnesota winter in full effect, jerseys and shorts get buried under jackets and tights. The added layer usually works against what shorts and jerseys are designed to do. First off, a tight over a short can add to chaffing, because of the two layers rubbing over each other. Additionally, jerseys do a good job of moving moisture (sweat), but require air to evaporate that moisture away. Jackets block that evaporation somewhat. I’m happy to say that even though the test situation wasn’t ideal, the Athlos kit did great. The jersey was comfortable and the short’s chamois felt great.

Ordering something for yourself

Sadly, you can’t just buy the Athlos stuff off a rack but only through their custom program. The process is simple, fill out an information form, receive a quote, and start the design process. If you have a fully baked piece of artwork, that’s great, just submit it and go. If like most of us you have an idea, but not the ability to create the art, Athlos has designers to transfer your ideas into reality. Once you have approved the quote and design, it’s on to ordering.

Athlos

Artwork Proofs of the Riders With a Cause kit.

Artwork is approved by the customer before orders get placed.

 Ordering

Ordering is where Athlos sets themselves apart. Athlos builds you a team store on their site for free and then supplies a link that can be distributed to your group. From there each rider orders their own product and Athlos produces, collates and ships it. Additionally, Athlos sets up “fan pages” where clubs or teams can fund raise by selling their product to supporters at a premium.

Moving forward

With how comfortable the kit is I am excited to see its long term durability. I have had kits in the past that were comfortable, but shredded in no time at all. By contrast, the best kits I own are both really comfortable and nearly bullletproof. Based on the construction quality I’ve seen so far, my guess is the Athlos kit will end up in the latter group. If you want to get your team, club, or group a custom kit use the code “HFB” on Athlos site for a discount.

Beyond Laws and rules, we should work to employ some common courtesy toward each other while riding our bikes on the road and trail.

Bike Pic March 29, Get Your Summer Riding Gear Ready The Time Is Almost Here

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we can start getting our summer riding gear out! You don’t have summer riding gear you say? Well our staff here has put together an awesome article explaining how to pick out the perfect pair of bike shorts and more. Check it out!

View the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide and remember to register for the Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour and all the other fun rides coming up.

Thanks for viewing Today’s Get Your Summer Riding Gear Ready Pic

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more place to have fun we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our picks with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with one of our camera’s ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next Pic of the Day posts.

Have a great day!