QUESTION: I’m new to road cycling and have only ridden mountain bikes up until now, with baggies. I’m not so sure about riding around in those spandex shorts. Do padded cycling shorts really make a difference? – Dan C.
RBR ANSWER: Almost all of us have faced this same issue as we first took up the sport of road cycling. Cycling shorts are really tight. They make a strong fashion statement — and not necessarily in a good way.
But the truth is that padded cycling shorts make cycling much more comfortable and efficient, and help you ride faster and longer. If you’re going to get serious about road riding, you’ll want to wear them.
Once you get over the initial horror of how they look, you’ll find that cycling shorts are very comfortable to wear, and are immediately more comfortable on your bike saddle. The padding helps keep pressure off the points of contact with your saddle, and also helps absorb the vibrations from your bike tires on the asphalt. They also help prevent any chafing from the constant movement of your legs against the saddle when you are pedaling your bike.
The tight spandex material is also significantly more aerodynamic than loose shorts or pants, which makes a real difference when you get up to speed on the road.
The good news is that although it’s initially uncomfortable to be seen in cycling shorts, you’ll quickly get used to it and soon it will become second nature. Serious road cyclists will even find it weird-looking if you show up to a group ride without them.
After you ride them for a while, I suspect you’ll be telling all your mountain biking buddies how they should be riding with them too. Padded cycling shorts are also quite useful on the trail, and increase your comfort and pedaling efficiency there too. In fact, if you ask around, you’ll probably find that quite a few mountain bikers are already wearing them under their baggy shorts.
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larry english says
you will also find that if the trip is short or you are not racing, you can get by with regular clothes.
try it on short trips, extend if you like the results.
i never race and if i am going under 35 miles, i usually don;t bother with cycling shorts
i do a bunch of other stuff wrong, too: spd on road bike, wear cotton when possible, use a backpack all the time, my helmet may be for mt bike [has visor], on and on, i’m a bad influence!
Don Macrae says
Agree with most, especially spd’s – easier entry and exit, the shoes are better for walking in, and the big power platform argument is nonsense with stiff shoes. Don’t agree about cotton, and your short ride is much longer than mine. A short ride for me would be <10 kms.
Harrison Spain says
I found a “transition” short worked for me to get over the embarrassment. That is shorts that have a cycling short under and regular shorts over.
Once I got past the odd feel; it was time to go full cycling short. You realize quickly that people just don’t care, and you should wear what makes the ride easier.
Henry Adams says
“Serious road cyclists will even find it weird-looking if you show up to a group ride without them.”
ESPECIALLY if you turn up without them!!
Road Bike Rider says
True story. I ride at 5:30 in the morning a couple of times a week with a small group.
There have been TWO times when a guy who got dressed in the dark trying not to wake up his wife showed up to the ride with the chamois side out because his shorts were inside out. Different people. It was just as funny both times.
Larry Klose says
Been there, done that. Strangely, the ride didn’t feel any worse because of it.
Stephen Turk says
I think you will find that the overwhelming majority of mountain bikers are wearing padded liners under their baggies, so they have the comfort issue taken care of. Then it’s just a question of fashion statement vs. aerodynamics.
Steve Beppel says
I an a novice to riad biking, but I love it. I bought a pair of padded biking shorts I wear under loose shorts and they add to my comfort level immensely. Recommended.
Stewarty G says
I wear mountain bike shorts without any padding on my road bike. They are not to baggy. I was wondering if I was to get a padded short would I have to adjust my saddle height to allow for the padding.
John Daugherty says
What vanity and empty-headedness! Who gives a shit what you look like on a bike or cares what other people think? Boils down to comfort.