All about cycling bib shorts and tights
Sitting on a bicycle saddle and moving your feet up and down can cause scratches where you don’t want them. The seams may chafe and the waistband may dig in. If you have pain in your saddle, you may not have ridden your bike for a long time.
If you ride your bike regularly, a seat pad can make a big difference in your comfort. This is a soft foam insert sewn into the seat area of the shorts to provide some cushioning. There are also large, soft saddles that are good for short rides in “normal” clothing, but they don’t support efficient pedaling motions well and can be uncomfortable over long distances. The chamois pads feature varying degrees of padding placement where they are most effective, with different options for men and women to suit different riding styles and disciplines.
- Bib Shorts and Tights – Cycling shorts and tights (full length) are made from a form-fitting elastic fabric with straps that go over the shoulders or sometimes the ‘body’. A preferred option for road cyclists. The waistband doesn’t have to dig in for long days in the saddle, and straps keep shorts and tights in place so you can’t see other road users. The only major downside is that the straps prevent difficulties with “natural breaks”, but some brands take this into consideration with their women’s bib shorts. Note features such as clips, zippers and folding seats.
- Waist shorts and tights – They fit and stretch like bib shorts, but without the straps. The waistband is usually higher than non-cycling shorts to protect the body, and often has a lower front area, perhaps of softer fabric, to ensure comfort in the riding position. Some riders prefer waist shorts because they facilitate a ‘natural break’.
- Liners – Mountain bikers, or even riders who don’t like the full Lycra look, can hide comfortable chamois pads under baggy shorts in the ‘Liner’ shorts. Some baggy shorts are lined and look like road bike shorts, only slightly thinner to keep you cool.
The golden rule for padded cycling shorts, tights and liners – Never wear underwear with padded cycling shorts. Trust us on this point. Adding extra seams will chafe and chafe more than you can imagine.
In addition to the padded, lycra shorts favoured by roadies and cross-country mountain bikers, another option is baggy mountain bike shorts. As mentioned above, it’s common to still pair them up with a padded liner, especially for longer rides.