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Close for Comfort: Cycling Shorts

2016/7/25 14:51:01

Cycling shorts, the short, skin-tight shorts used by bicyclists around the world, have a kind of social stigma attached to them. No one wants to see old men in skin-tight pants, with every muscle, and every other body part, clearly visible through the material. But cyclists, clothing is everything. The right kind of clothing can win a race, and the wrong kind can lose a race. And cycling shorts, for all their bad reputations, are essential pieces of cycling equipment.

Comfort and Efficiency

Cycling shorts can cut down on race times, but they can also help the cyclist have a more comfortable, less injury-prone ride. Due to their skin-tight nature, bicycle shorts reduce wind resistance, but they also compress the legs which helps prevent muscle fatigue. They also protect the cyclist’s skin from friction against the bicycle skin, and whisk sweat away from the legs to cool the rider and to also prevent chafing and rashes. For these reasons, cycling shorts are worth the risk of stares and whispers for spectators.

However, cycling shorts have come a long way. In the past, the shorts were made from black wool to hide oil and grease stains. A leather patch, sewn inside the shorts in the crotch area, was intended to reduce chafing from the bicycle saddle. Now, however, bicycle shorts are made of spandex with a synthetic chamois lining throughout, and they are produced in a variety of shapes and styles to suit the needs of individual riders.

Consequently, male cycling shorts are often vastly different from the female versions, as the internal lining is often focused on different areas. The shorts also include a ring of sticky material on the hem of each leg, so the material clings to the skin and remains fixed to the same position. As a result, cycling shorts are designed to be worn without undergarments.

There are two popular variations of cycling shorts used by bicyclists. Bib shorts are held up by integral suspenders rather than an elastic waistband. Many cyclists find the elastic waistbands uncomfortable, and when certain shorts get wet they may become loose and slide down in the back. Bibbed shorts are also popular among taller riders or riders with bigger stomachs.

Baggy cycling shorts are useful for non-racing situations. While they still have a skin-tight lining on the inside, the second layer of the short is baggy, making them more socially acceptable. Baggy shorts are often more expensive than simply lycra shorts, but they definitely provide a more pleasant riding experience, especially in city environments.

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