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Thread: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

  1. #1
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    Default Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    My cycling liner shorts, with some sort of fuzzy, lo-tech pad are shot. I've decided to get a pair of proper lycra cycling shorts, hopefully with a very good pad, something I haven't had for 20 years. I have no idea what to get. Maybe getting anybody's pretty good stuff is a fine way to go but to hedge my bets against a regrettable purchase, some questions:

    What are your favorite synthetic pad brands and models? Why?

    Are real chamois available and relevant?

    • Maintenance requirements?

    • Are good ones usually more comfortable than the synthetic stuff?


    I understand that this is crystal ball stuff but I have no idea what brand of shorts and pads are considered amongst the better stuff. Thought you guys would have some insights.

    Pearl Izumi has a few different pads, haven't yet looked at the others but looking doesn't really tell me much anyway.

    What would you recommend?

    Thanks for any insight you can provide!!

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I heart burnt bikes.

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    If you spend the dough on Assos you will not regret it. Sick money but if you're three hours into a ride in cheap shorts, and some errant stitch/seam/wrinkle has chafed a hole in your nether regions, you'd pay double.

    You can spend a whole lot of money buying "bargain" shorts and have a whole bunch of shorts where the chamois doesn't sit right, the fit is just a little off, you discover the spandex is transparent in direct sunlight (if you're lucky enough to have someone tell you), or they're just plain ugly.

    For me, the simpler the better when it comes to chamois design. The stuff with gel or huge thickness variations feels like a diaper.

    And now the subjective part (because everybody's parts are different):

    Castelli are comfy and good looking but short-lived.

    Pearl Izumi I'd put as the best of the rest, behind Assos and Rapha.

    Maintenance? Keep them clean and out of the dryer. I air-dry mine after a ride and before they go in the hamper with other clothes. Don't turn your sweaty shorts into a Petri dish by balling them up, throwing them in a pile, or stuffing them in a gym bag for days before washing.
    Tödd Höllând

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Fit is very personal, as you might guess. For me, Assos is intolerable, as the pad isn't where my junk needs it to be, the legs are too short, the compression is quite high, and the grippers clamp into my hams. They are constructed beautifully, and other people love them more than anything, so just make sure you can try before you commit. My favorites are Giordana bibs, though Pearl Izumi shorts have lasted me 10 years and still work great. Once I get a job (sheesh) or these wear out, I'l try the Raphas or maybe Capos. Between these and the ones the guys above have listed, you should have loads of good choices.

    Personally, I like:
    1. only a little compression
    2. legs nearly to my knees
    3. low and thin front that doesn't bunch up and pull hairs
    4. quite high in back so they don't leave me feeling like they're sliding off my butt
    5. firm thin-to-medium pad that's wide enough for my saddle (most pads only cover ass-hatchet saddles)
    6. flat-sewn seams IF there has to be a seam.
    7. gentle leg grippers. If the legs are long enough I don't have trouble with them riding up. It's nicest IMO if the entire leg grips gently (see #1 and #2) rather than relying on a python of a gripper
    8. crotch ventilation. Some ancient Descente shorts were basically split left-and-right, with mesh that let some air in where it counted.

    Honestly, now that I finally found a saddle that seems to really fit (Berhoud Vars, which is 18cm at the back with a quick transition to the narrow nose), I'm fine without anything more than something slick to avoid chafing.
     

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I just tried Assos for the first time last year. I had very mid-tier shorts before that. After buying one pair I bought 2 or 3 more and that is basically all I use. I just get the least expensive model what ever that is called from the outlet. https://www.assosfactoryoutlet.com/?...from_store=gbp
     

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I'm in the Assos doesn't really work for me camp, but they are undoubtedly excellently constructed and durable, so if they work for you that would be a solid buy. I've recently tried Velocio and it is my new favorite. They're not cheap, but priced more in line with mid-range Rapha and lower-range Assos (which, btw, is a ridiculous way to refer to them because low end Assos is very, very nice). I also think their jerseys are more comfortable than anything else I've tried. If you're coming off some old, ragged out liners, my guess is that any of these will be really great for you, though finding a pad you like may take some experimentation.

    Todd is spot on about Castelli. Very comfy, but they'll be worn out as soon as they're broken in.

    Another option if you want to try something at a lower price-point is La Passione. Their stuff is good, not great, but it sells for about half of what the higher end brands sell for and it's much more than half as good.
     

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I think the big difference in the higher quality bibs is the longevity of the lycra. Once the lycra loses its compressive quality, no designing or pad selection will matter. The more expensive bibs just decay more slowly, so once you've found a brand that fits your anatomy, the return on investment is how long the bibs are usable. At a certain point, most of the pads are pretty similar, and quite a few manufacturers use similar pads made by a very small number of companies.

    Some of the better bibs that aren't too much $$ (at least IMHO) are Assos NeoPro S7 and Rapha Core bibshorts. I've learned the hard way that quite a few bibs, like Giordana or Garneau, are almost perennially available on sale. And while they are good bibs, even on sale they don't have the same durability as the Assos and Rapha bibs at regular price. And like others above, I have found Castelli an irritating combination of excellent design and blind drunk sewing, so I just don't buy them any longer.

    The next bibs I buy will be Velocio. I've made big mistakes on tights purchases, but the Velocio Zero bib tights I bought a while ago are so much better than any other tight I have used (fit, warmth to mass, etc.) that I cannot imagine the bibs not being great too.
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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I wear the Q36.5 L1 exclusively. For me they are the most comfortable cycling bib. I am not a fan of Assos but plenty people are. It is really subjective.
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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Speaking of Velocio, I just saw that their ES Bib Shorts are on sale for $99. Looks like they have all sizes except large. That price makes it pretty easy to stock up for next season.
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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I'd err on the side of buying whatever you can try on locally. If this is really your first rodeo, you could do a whole lot worse than going to the local REI and buying some PI bibs for $100 or so. If they work, buy two more. If they don't try another brand.
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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    I like the Bouré shorts. You will not get the style points (not the wallet dent) of the Assos, but they have a strong following with the Brevet/Ultra cycling crowd.
    They are MUS, the fit and materials are great, and they will make up custom shorts (I like the Elite short with the UltraSuede PRO pad) at no extra charge and no extra lead time.

    Men's Cycling Shorts - Bouré Bicycle Clothing
    Guy Washburn

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Thanks all. I'm quietly taking it all in. Unlimited options, unlimited fit differences. I'll visit the local shops and see what comes of that. This might be more difficult than purchasing shoes online. I'm probably overthinking it but I wish there was more information about each pad offering, though not being able to put your hands on them may make it moot.

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    All depends on what your gooch likes. Thick pads work for some, thinner for others. And the pad shape plays as much a role there too. And that's not even getting into how much compression you want out of your shorts.

    I've found my gooch is happiest with Q36.5 and Assos stuff. Liked the Castelli stuff over the years as well, but the QC and durability were all over the map.
     

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Search and State sale is live...

    I wear a mix of Q365, Rapha, and S&S. All good. Q is great on hot days, Rapha for cold days - especially the Roubaix fabric - and S&S is right in the middle. Not a strict rule, but works well.

    Another factor can be the interface between the shorts and the saddle... plan to try a bunch. With a little luck, you’ll hit the spot without breaking the bank.

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Interesting stuff to which I have no access: SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class journal research

    Going to see if my sis in law can get this through interlibrary loan.

    I went to an LBS today; Bontrager shorts. Seemed like real soft foam, the kind of stuff that would be pretty thin after a short while. I'm sure none of this is garbage but there is a science to it and I'd like to know more, though the proof will be in the riding. Overboard? Probably.

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Quote Originally Posted by guido View Post
    I like the Bouré shorts....
    They are MUS, the fit and materials are great, and they will make up custom shorts (I like the Elite short with the UltraSuede PRO pad) at no extra charge and no extra lead time.

    Men's Cycling Shorts - Bouré Bicycle Clothing
    Custom sizing, however, is not free. From their site:

    Hard to find clothes that fit properly? Cycling clothes need to fit correctly to work properly. We can provide you with Custom-Fit Lengths - Tall Sizes, Short Sizes, Ape Man Arm Lengths, etc - for almost every style you see in our catalogue for an additional charge of 25% over the regular price. Typical turn-around time for Custom-Fit orders is 3-5 days, and we'll keep your measurements on file for easy future ordering .
    DT

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois


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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    me and my butt (sung to the Harry Nillson tune Me and my Arrow) have grown to love this short from Aerotech. Not the best known brand, but seemingly this short is made out of spun steel. Significant pad but really well fit for me. Does not move around and have to be adjusted. Just sits there around your parts. And the lycra does not break down forever. I hate spending even this much for shorts but me and my arrow deserve it! Used to be a Voler fan. Shut down by Aerotech. Your parts may differ.

    https://www.aerotechdesigns.com/mens...ke-shorts.html
     

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Lots of talk about "shorts" in this thread. I just hope we are all using this term as shorthand for bibshorts. Friends don't let friends ride in "shorts."
     

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    Default Re: Recommendations Needed: Cycling shorts and pads/chamois

    Quote Originally Posted by David Tollefson View Post
    Custom sizing, however, is not free. From their site:
    Will Assos even make a custom size? I can hear the italian laughter... In Castelli sizing my 44 chest gets me a XXXL Gaba, i shudder to think what a 34 waist short would require in their sizes
    Guy Washburn

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