What are the best types of cycling shorts?
Starting at the lower end of the market, the term misleadingly describes plain close-fitting stretchy shorts, traditionally worn by colour-blind members of the 1980’s. £5 on such an item, will gain you an audition for bananarama, but not cycling comfort.
All true cycling shorts have strategically located padded areas for dramatically increased comfort. Pads made of chamois provide spongy compression, and moisture absorption. Often, a bacteria-retardant synthetic chamois is supplied.
Lycra Cycling Shorts
These are the classic look, which comes to mind when you say; “cycling shorts”.
Their figure-hugging design, benefits aerodynamic considerations greatly: Having loose material flapping about like a sail, is an expedient way to waste your energy.
Lycra is to spandex, what
To emulate the stars of the tour de France, cycling apparel in team colours will shoot the clothing expense skywards. Paying a premium to promote somebody else’s sponsors on your legs, doesn’t make you ride any faster! In fact, by wearing race colours, it only adds to your embarrassment when a determined granny zips her shopper past your glucose-expended limbs.
Bib Cycling Shorts
Here the shorts are integrated with a vest to make a one-piece outfit. The benefits are in a secure fit: Less movement means less friction, which is a good thing for those parts doing the moving.
A seamless design will ensure smooth contact with the skin, and reduce any irritation. A higher number of panels will lead to a better fit.
As well as the positive aerodynamic properties, the bib cycling shorts do not rely on an elasticated waist to stay in place. This should result in increased comfort, and totally eradicates the issue of shorts slipping downward.
Lycra is great, but where are you going to put your keys? See: Part II - Baggy cycling shorts.