Confused about shorts and saddles.

I have recently returned to riding conventional bikes after a spell of exclusively riding recumbents for a few years. I have proved to myself the wisdom of huge, padded saddles not being the most comfortable in the long term, despite their appearances and initial luxury.

However, my cycling wardrobe consists of bib shorts and tights with the padded inserts removed as they were both unnecessary and uncomfortable when riding a 'bent. I haven't bought any new clothing yet as I have had a strange experience: I did a 50 mile ride a couple of weekends ago and a 30 miler yesterday in unpadded shorts on a fairly minimal Selle saddle with no discomfort whatsoever. I was commando underneath unpadded bib shorts, and it was a very hot and humid day. The lack of padding made life a lot less sweaty.

So why are padded saddles considered a 'bad' thing, but shorts come with plenty of padding and are considered a 'good' thing? I have reached the conclusion that padding in shorts is not for me: it is hot and sweaty, and the alleged comfort it provides does not seem to exist. In normal life I cannot get along with boxer shorts and wear briefs, so the large nappy feeling and the lack of support for my 'bits' when wearing padded shorts is not my favourite feeling. I would put up with that if there was a comfort bonus, but it doesn't seem to exist for me.

Am I missing something, or have others made similar discoveries?
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Originally "padded" shorts weren't really padded at all; the chamois was (I believe) designed to give a smooth absorbent interface between skin and saddle that couldn't crinkle and cause discomfort. Last week I bought some new shorts and I'm dismayed to find that the chamois is now a set of thick gel pads; I'm not too happy about this but am prepared to give new technology a try so haven't sent them straight back.

Maybe the answer to your question is that the body sinks into a padded saddle, which can cause sweatiness and eventually lead to pressure points in the wrong places whereas a correctly set up saddle supports the body in the right places while the pad remains held close to the skin and prevents chafing. Maybe.
 

Rohloff_Brompton_Rider

Formerly just_fixed
i don't use pads either. the only pad i like long distance is on my winter lussos bib tights. but it is so thin and small it hardly qualifies as a chamois.

i don't like padding on saddles at all. i use brooks on my brompton folder and a selle titanium flight on my mtb.

like you, i don't understand, why not just have the padding on the saddle? there must be a good answer or the pro's would not do it.
 

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
Location
Berkshire
On the rare occasions I've ridden on a padded saddle I move around a lot. That in itself made it uncomfortable as I wasn't always sat where I should be. A non-padded saddle keeps me in one place whereas the slight padding in the shorts just offers me a little comfort over no padding at all. Everyone's different though so no right and wrongs - just what works for you.
 

hotmetal

Senior Member
Location
Near Windsor
Rebel Ian said:
On the rare occasions I've ridden on a padded saddle I move around a lot. That in itself made it uncomfortable as I wasn't always sat where I should be. A non-padded saddle keeps me in one place whereas the slight padding in the shorts just offers me a little comfort over no padding at all. Everyone's different though so no right and wrongs - just what works for you.

My experience agrees entirely with Ian's. People always look at my saddle and make comments about sitting on razor blades, yet I don't find that it is any less comfy (indeed more so) than fatter saddles that I used to have on my MTBs. I now run a similar Fizik on my MTB. Also I've heard of loads of people on bikes (as opposed to 'serious cyclists') who have gone out and got the fattest Nora Batty perch with cushions and gel and springs and they still get a sore bum, probably due to chafing and pressure points. A lot of it is just a matter of getting accustomed to it, which applies equally to people who have been off the bike (or riding recumbents) for a while, because bums forget!

It is an odd thing that shorts 'should' have padding and seats 'shouldn't', but I agree with globalti that in the 'good old days' when you could still get real chamois inserts in shorts, it was more for avoiding getting damp, creased fabric up yer chuff, rather than cusioning. That said, I don't really mind the gel pad thingy in my bib shorts, though probably a real chamois would be better.
 

youngoldbloke

The older I get, the faster I used to be ...
hotmetal said:
It is an odd thing that shorts 'should' have padding and seats 'shouldn't' ........
- no it isn't - shorts move with the legs, the saddle doesn't. The padding moves with the legs preventing chafing, which may occur as the legs move against the saddle. As some of the posters have pointed out, padding is not always essential - if you are lucky - and may be of a minimal nature yet still be effective.
 
Of course men are different from women!!!!! (did you not know that?)

When I cycled as a child I was put on a Brooks leather saddle that had been hanging around in the garage/shed and that was that. It then was put onto my own bike from the tandem. We all wore trousers/shorts, homemade by my Mum, often with homemade double saddles like the 'traditional' type you could buy from Hebden cord, although ours were generally shorter, as my Mum liked short shorts. We rarely had saddle problems and wore only normal underwear.
When we raced we used black shorts with a chamoix insert.

I don't ever remember anyone ever complaining. We used to do huge mileages in the winter.

So now, suddenly shorts/trousers have to have this huge nappy thingie in them which makes you feel very hot, sweaty and the waists are always too tight. If you wear padded underwear it can ruck up and cause even more problems. There is such a fuss about saddles and which type, by me as well as everyone else.

I don't really know the answer to this. Perhaps we are just trying to see problems before they arise, rather than just getting on with it.
 

koro

Active Member
I am so glad to see this post....I was thinking that I was the freak, my experiance so far, albeit with the cheap Aldi cycling shorts is that of wearing a hot nappy...dam uncomfortable...
 

Cubist

Still wavin'
Location
Ovver 'thill
Interesting. I dug out a pair of shorts the other day with a thickish pad. The shorts were a pair of CCUK which I had been issued as cycling kit from work. It was a hot day, and not only did the pad feel hot, it also acted as a sponge. I remember that in autumn/winter when I wore the shorts as undershorts they were fine, but in summer? The pad is simply a fabric insert.

My bibshorts on the other hand have a Coolmax silver antibacterial inserts. Not very thick, but wonderful at wicking moisture away. Just enough padding to make the saddles on both bikes really comfy/unnoticeable.

So. I conclude you don't need thick padding. It helps if your shorts fit really snugly so that they move with your skin. A decent saddle which your backside has got used to is as important. Quality wicking pad. Good personal hygiene and a couple of dabs of sudocrem . Sorted.

Cheap shorts? Binned them.
 
i am reading with great interest. i have brought 3 pairs of shorts all with varying degrees of padding and price tags . i have the specialized dolce seat, which i believe is a good one and i am still getting sore. i am sore not on my bottom but my ladies bits. i thought maybe it was because i was new to cycling and was hoping to see improvment by now. saddly i am still suffering. any ideas please would be great.
 
I am afraid that any advice I can give is from a make point of view. Are you riding 'commando'? It is strongly recommended if you are a man, but would any ladies care to elaborate on this point? As I said earlier, I find the whole padding bit uncomfortable, so is it worth taking what would be your most uncomfortable pair of shorts out of the three, and removing the pad?

I would have thought that the angle of the saddle would have a lot to do with the punishment your lady bits are getting - your weight should be carried by the sit-bones of your pelvis. Perhaps you could angle the nose of the saddle down a bit and try that.
 
I am afraid that any advice I can give is from a make point of view. Are you riding 'commando'? It is strongly recommended if you are a man, but would any ladies care to elaborate on this point? As I said earlier, I find the whole padding bit uncomfortable, so is it worth taking what would be your most uncomfortable pair of shorts out of the three, and removing the pad?

yes i will admit to riding commando. not sure that no padding would work but i suppose it is worth a go. i have also seen specific cycle underwear and wondered about giving them a try but i know that this contradicts the no knickers rule. i am not sure if the pads are at fault or maybe the seems. my newest pruchase are the altura gel shorts so no seems around the padding on the inside of the shorts bit there are seems on the outside
 

e-rider

crappy member
Location
South West
To hobbygirl

I'd say that if you have some pain from ALL 3 shorts (if they are all different brands/styles) then it is quite likely that the shorts are not the problem.

It could be your riding position - try tilting the saddle at different angles - most people like either totally flat (get a spirit level) or with the nose of the saddle slightly down. And slide it forwards or backwards to get a good position. Also check the reach to handlebars and the handlebar height. Nearly forgot to mention saddle height too - very important to get that correct.

It could be that your 'body & bits' simply don't like the saddle that you have (even if it gets good reviews) - we are all different shapes and sizes so no saddle will be good for everyone. Try a different one if you can (borrow for a try if possible)
 

Spinney

Bimbleur extraordinaire
Location
Under the Edge
Hobby girl:
I used to get a sore bum on my hyrbid, and sore 'ladies bits' on my touring bike. I bought a new saddle for the tourer (comfier or your money back) that was supposed to be woman-specific and more comfortable, and took it back after a couple of months because although my ladies bits no longer hurt, the bum (back of legs, where the knicker line would be if I wore them) was hurting again.

Then, when I reverted to the original saddle on the tourer, I no longer seem to get sore bits of any sorts. It may be that I put the original saddle back on at a slightly different angle (so that's worth a try) - or (as my OH thinks), I've been doing a lot more riding recently so my legs have got stronger, and I've also standing up in the pedals more, all of which means less weight on the saddle, and slightly less time in the saddle.

(My original sore bum problem was sometimes as much to do with sweat as with pressure - wearing shorts with an absorbent pad and no knickers sorted that out.)
 
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