If you enjoy long days in the saddle and relish the challenge of climbing mountains and testing your stamina, ‘saddle soreness’ is an unfortunate hazard. Those in the know realise that a good pair of cycling shorts will make or break your ride. If you don’t invest in the right pair, you’ll soon live to regret it!
Comparison: Best Padded Cycling Shorts
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What are Padded Bike Shorts?
A pair of padded bike shorts is specially crafted clothing designed for the purpose of keeping saddle soreness at bay. There is a layer of padding stitched into the shorts to ensure you are able to comfortably ride your bike for hours, no matter the terrain. The best cycling shorts typically consist of a high-quality chamois insert.
Padded bike shorts also help you avoid chafing, skin irritation and friction while improving air circulation and reducing vibration. Advanced products also wick sweat and body heat away from the skin, so you receive cool relief as you cycle. In simple terms, if you intend on riding your bike for long periods, a pair of padded bike shorts are essential.
Top 3 Cycling Shorts
1 – SANTIC Cycling Men’s Shorts
These padded shorts from SANTIC are Amazon’s choice and are one of the site’s bestsellers. They are made from a combination of Nylon (82%) and Spandex & Lycra (18%). First and foremost, these shorts are incredibly comfortable thanks to the silicone leg grippers which keep them firmly in place even on very long rides.
The SANTIC cycling shorts also promote good hygiene due to the breathable mesh design on the waistband; this is combined with a double antibacterial 4D Coolmax Pad which ensures you remain comfortable. Also, these shorts do an excellent job of wicking sweat, so when you’re enduring a hot and torturous day in the saddle, you can rely on this product to keep your skin cool and dry. As a bonus, the design eliminates the possibility of bacterial infection, so you will avoid the dreaded pain of saddle soreness.
Although the SANTIC padded shorts are an excellent purchase and good value for money at just $23.99, we advise you to carefully measure your leg band because it isn’t as stretchy as the waistband. As a result, you may need 1-2 sizes higher than you normally wear. Overall, these cycling shorts are very comfortable, durable and reliable. You will feel cool and dry when you wear them, and they don’t crawl up your leg as you ride. We also like the stylish reflective logo on both sides.
2 – Pearl Izumi Attack
The Pearl Izumi Attack range offers cycling shorts for men and women along with unisex versions. The lower cost versions are ideal for any casual users that ride less than 100 miles a week. We believe the brand’s mid-range short is much better than the entry-level versions because it offers a more comfortable fit and provides you with higher quality padding when compared to entry-level shorts.
The foam is much denser in the mid-range shorts and it fits snugly against the body to provide you with the protection and comfort you crave. Although these padded shorts don’t have the same level of form fitting as the top of the range line, you get more than enough protection for a reasonable price. If you want an even better fit, prepare to pay up to $100.
The material is made from a combination of nylon (88%) and spandex (12%). Most customers are delighted at the ability of the shorts to wick moisture away from the skin. As long as you’re only contemplating relatively short rides, the mid-range Pearl Izumi Attack cycling shorts represent an excellent purchase. If you ride hundreds of miles a week, you may find that the padding begins to wear after a few months.
3 – NOOYME Men’s Cycling Shorts
These padded shorts from NOOYME are sleek and stylish with smooth flatlock seams designed to avoid skin irritation and friction. The 3D structure chamois padding is very comfortable and fits nice and snugly to the body. The imported chamois includes 82 holes and is extremely light and breathable. The non-slip silicone leg grippers only enhance the level of comfort as they prevent the shorts from moving up the leg during a ride.
The high-quality design is capped off with two reflective marks to ensure you can stay visible to motorists and pedestrians when you ride at night. The material used to create these cycling shorts consists of Polyamide (80%) and Spandex (20%).
If you decide to purchase a pair of NOOYME men’s cycling shorts, make sure you measure your thigh because you may need to go up a size. Overall, this product is every bit as good as its more expensive counterparts and represents one of the best value for money pairs of padded shorts on the market. You get comfort and durability as they are ideal for longer rides.
How To Choose a Pair of Padded Bike Shorts
Comfort & Fit
There is simply nothing more important when choosing a pair of cycling shorts than comfort and fit. The shorts you choose should be tight yet comfortable because if they are too loose or restrictive, you’ll pay for it on the open road. Above all, the shorts should protect your legs if and when they rub on the saddle. The best cycling shorts offer a reasonable amount of padding and are made from a durable fabric that won’t tear.
The majority of cycling shorts have a gripper, often in the form of a silicone strip, along the bottom of the leg to stop them from riding up when you cycle. Other methods of ensuring a tight fit include the addition of stretchy elastic along the bottom of the legs. Make sure you purchase padded bike shorts with high-quality grippers as you don’t want to be pulling the short legs down as you ride.
As there are dozens of brands on the market, the level of padding found in each pair of cycling shorts is very different from one company to the next. The padding ranges from thick to thin with the thickest padding absorbing vibrations with layers of foam or thick gel inserts.
Only choose a pair of cycling shorts with premium quality chamois padding as this material works wonders when it comes to cushioning the butt and reducing abrasions. You’ll need a thick layer of chamois padding if you’re either a newcomer to the world of cycling or else you are a long distance rider.
At the top end of the spectrum, the padding is different for men and women. Men’s shorts have a pad with a line/compression through the centre of the chamois. Women’s shorts have more of a ‘pillow’ type design. There is also a wide range of unisex offerings. If you’re an experienced rider, it is probably a good idea to invest in a pair of cycling shorts with a thin pad to prevent abrasion.
Although it is called ‘chamois,’ the material in cycling shorts pads is no longer made from chamois leather. Instead, it is typically made from a high-performance synthetic fibre designed to be hydrophobic. The pad is often treated with an antibacterial finish to reduce the growth of bacteria which is the main cause of saddle soreness.
Even with this finish, don’t wear your padded shorts more than once before washing; the quick drying material used to make the shorts means you have no excuse! Incidentally, there is ‘endurance’ and ‘race’ fit padding. As the names suggest, endurance is for longer events which mean more padding while race padding is thinner and designed for short rides.
Types of Padded Shorts
Spandex Road Shorts
This type of cycling shorts is designed to offer freedom of movement while you cycle as it stops chafing between your legs and helps cushion the all-important Ischia bones from the saddle. Spandex road shorts are ideal for people that routinely engage in rides of 50+ miles.
Triathlon Bike Shorts
This product is designed for relatively short distance triathlons and other sporting events. These shorts feature a thinner layer of padding than their road equivalent but still provide protection against chafing. They normally include features such as mesh ventilation spots and reflective piping and are a good all-rounder that you can run, ride and swim in.
Also known as ‘commuter’ shorts, this product is for casual riders who only cycle a few miles around town. They are normally made from a woven stretch fabric and are ideal for riders who don’t want to wear spandex. However, these shorts are not the subject of any reviews in this article.
Underwear & Liner Shorts
You are supposed to wear these liners beneath a pair of cycling shorts, and they are an excellent way to turn a pair of casual shorts in a pair suitable for riding longer distances. Liner shorts normally consist of base layers fitted with chamois padding sewn in, and you can get thick or thin padding. You can use this product for various sports including motorbiking, swimming and rowing.
These are compression cycling shorts that don’t have an elastic waistband. Instead, they are held up by suspenders or straps. Elite and experienced riders prefer bib shorts to traditional spandex cycling shorts as the extra layers of padding are ideal for extremely long rides. On the downside, you have to remove the straps if you want to go to the bathroom.
Finding the Right Sized Cycling Shorts
It should be pretty easy to find the right sized spandex cycling shorts because they are extremely stretchy. As a consequence, it is possible to wear a pair that is a size too large or small and still enjoy extreme comfort as you cycle. The main thing to concern yourself with is the chamois pad that is sewn into the garment’s saddle area. You need to ensure this pad is stretched across the crotch area smoothly to ensure adequate protection and comfort.
You should be able to run your hand across this area while the padded shorts are on and feel no bunching whatsoever. The best fit for you is when the cycling shorts provide a snug fit with the pad close to the skin. You’ll know the shorts are too big if the pad begins rubbing around and causes painful abrasion. Of course, it will be too late to do anything about it if you discover this fact while in the middle of a ride! Always judge the size by the ‘feel’ of the padded shorts and not what it looks like in the mirror.
Pros of Cycling Shorts
It is very easy to take the shorts on or off; this is essential during longer rides when you need to take a bathroom break.
They Keep You Cool
Modern day cycling shorts are made from a material designed to keep your body temperature down during hot weather. Unlike bib shorts, there is no material covering your upper body.
Padded cycling shorts are usually up to $20 cheaper than their bib equivalents.
Cons of Cycling Shorts
The design of the shorts means you’re likely to feel uncomfortable initially as you get used to the tightness around the waist.
Possible Shifting & Sliding
Although the best cycling shorts typically don’t allow this to happen, your outfit could slide around as you ride causing the chamois to change position; this circumstance often leads to painful chafing.
If the waistband is less than tight, the phenomenon known as ‘builder’s crack’ could occur as you crouch down on the bike!
If you love riding your bike and need a pair of cycling shorts that prevent you from becoming uncomfortable in the saddle, consider one of the products reviewed above. However, there is a wide variety of choice so always make sure you choose the best padded shorts for your needs rather than assuming a popular brand is suitable.