Tag Archives: cycling 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

With winter showing signs of ending and roads soon beginning to clear of snow and ice, we all look forward to venturing out into the world on two wheels. The following should help you find the right cycling clothes for that #NextBikeAdventure

How to pick the right cycling clothes for any condition

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

With winter showing signs of ending and roads soon beginning to clear of snow and ice, we all look forward to venturing out into the world on two wheels. The following should help you find the right cycling clothes for that #NextBikeAdventure. Even though the weather is improving, true summer temps are still a ways off, so take a look at these tips.

Layering Up with Cycling Clothes

As we swing closer into spring finding the right cycling clothes for an early season bike ride is important as temperatures fluctuate.

As we swing closer into spring, finding the right cycling clothes for an early season bike ride is important as temperatures fluctuate.

Your perceived temperature as well as the actual ambient temperature can change while you ride. In order to get the most flexibility, and stay comfortable, layered clothing offer the most options. Listed below are the many items that make up a complete wardrobe of cycling clothes. However, depending on your geography or personal preferences, some items may not be required.


A cycling jersey isn’t a necessity for riding, but it sure does make things comfortable. Jerseys come in lightweight sleeveless versions for the hottest summer days, or insulated long sleeve versions for cold weather riding.

     -Base Layers

They come in short and long sleeve versions. They’re usually made of a polypropylene material that keeps you dry by moving moisture off your skin quickly.


Cycling shorts are the most important piece of clothing when it comes to comfort. There are tight versions as well as baggy ones, but all have a pad to help make your saddle more comfortable.

     -Arm Warmers

Arm warmers fit snugly from your wrist to just below your shoulder. The ability to roll them up or down while you ride makes them ideal for rides that have a large change in temperature.

     -Knee Warmers

Like arm warmers, knee warmers offer great flexibility on days with a large shift in temperature. They can be easily packed in a jersey pocket for use when needed.


Gloves range from half fingered summer versions to heavy, windproof, winter versions and everything in between. The most important thing about glove is to find something that fits comfortably.


Tights are an essential piece of clothing if you want to be comfortable riding as the temperature drops. They help you retain body heat while not being bulky and interrupting your ability to ride comfortably.


Cycling jackets are noticeably thinner than a standard winter jacket. The reason they don’t need as much loft is because as you exercise, you create enough heat. Most good cycling jackets use a windproof material to stop heat from being pulled off your body by the air moving around you as you ride. Some higher end jackets are windproof as well as waterproof.

     -Wind Breaker

As it sounds, this jacket or vest’s main job is to stop the wind from pulling heat away from your body. They are usually lightweight and can be packed into a very small bag for easy transport.


Cycling caps are usually thin enough to fit under a helmet and vary in insulation depending on the material used. Warmer caps are usually made from fleece with a windproof membrane, while summer caps are made of nylon.


Booties are thick neoprene covers designed to fit over your shoe and ankle. They do a great job of insulating while still allowing you to wear you comfortable cycling shoes. If you plan to do a lot of winter riding, you may want to invest in a dedicated winter shoe, rather than booties.

What to Wear

Now that we know about cycling clothes, let’s talk about how they fit into the game. Everyone’s temperature threshold is different, so you may find it comfortable to wear slightly more or less clothing than recommended below. After a full season of riding, you will figure out exactly what works for you and where you may need some more clothing options.

Above 65 Degrees

Winter riding above 65

Jersey, shorts, gloves, and socks should be comfortable.

65 Degrees

Winter riding at 60

Add knee warmers, arm warmers, base layer, and light full finger gloves.

55 Degrees

winter riding 55

The addition of a vest keeps your core warm.

50 Degrees

Winter riding 45

Trade the arm warmers for a long sleeve jersey and swap out to thicker socks and gloves.

45 Degrees

winter riding 45

Swap knee warmers for light tights, short sleeve base layer for long sleeve, and add a hat.

40 Degrees

Winter riding 45

A wind breaking coat and booties keep you toasty.

35 Degrees

Winter riding 35

Trade light tights for winter tights, light hat for winter cap, and full finger gloves for winter gloves.

30 Degrees

Winter Riding 30

A heavy winter coat replaces the windbreaker and long sleeve jersey.

Stay Dry

With the simple breakdown of cycling clothes above you should be able to comfortably ride throughout the spring and deep into winter. If it rains, all bets are off. With rain on top of cold, the most important thing is to stay dry. Most synthetic insulating fabrics will still work when wet, but the wet greatly diminishes their ability to keep you warm.

In the rains of the fall and early spring staying dry can be a difficult task. The best way to stay dry is to wear waterproof clothing. A jacket and pants are a great way to start, but socks and gloves make the outfit complete. Before you go out and just buy anything labeled “waterproof”, understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

In their most basic form, a lot of materials are waterproof, but as soon as they are perforated with stitching, zipped closed with generic zippers, and left to be loose at all the cuffs, their waterproofing goes out the window. On top of the issue with letting water in, basic waterproof materials don’t let water vapor out. It’s just as bad to get soaked through with sweat as with rain as far as insulation is concerned.

     -Keep Water Out

To keep water out, look for waterproof cycling clothes that have sealed seams or welded seams (see image). Pay close attention to the zipper. Look for waterproof zippers (pictured) or large flaps that prevent water from driving through the zipper. Make sure all the cuffs are adjustable enough to be snugged against your skin.

Examples of cycling clothes with taped seams (Left), welded seams (Center), and a waterproof zipper (Right)

     -Let Sweat Out

To let the sweat out, waterproof materials should also be breathable. Breathable means that water from the outside cannot penetrate the fabric, but that any water vapor (sweat) being produced by your body, can escape through the fabric. Breathable fabrics work because water vapor is smaller than water droplets. To breath, the material will be perforated with holes small enough to stop water droplets from getting in, but large enough to allow water vapor to escape. Using a breathable material in tandem with base layers designed to pull moisture off your skin is a sure fire way to stay dry and warm.

You cannot beat the changing scenery of fall riding or the feeling of rediscovering riding in the spring. Hopefully, with these tips and a little experimentation, you will find comfort and enjoyment riding outside, even when the weather is cool.

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.


Artwork Proofs of the Riders With a Cause kit.

Artwork is approved by the customer before orders get placed.


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.