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Friday
May292015

Padded Under Shorts

Traditionally cycling shorts are worn without underwear. Anyone who knows anything about cycling knows that.

The reason, most garments including underwear have seams where the panels that make up the garment are stitched together.

These seams will rub and chafe the tender underparts and the insides of your thighs, as you sit on a narrow saddle, with your legs pumping up and down as you pedal your bicycle.

I have been involved in cycling and cycle racing since the early 1950s. Long enough to remember wearing woolen jerseys and shorts for racing. Woolen shorts, always black, not only by tradition, but by UCI regulation at one time.

The shorts had a one piece seamless patch on soft chamois leather sewn inside the crotch of the shorts. There was no padding. Both the jerseys and shorts were a lot of work to launder. They had to be hand washed, and left to air dry, or the wool would shrink and become matted and useless in a very short time.

After washing, the chamois leather in the shorts became stiff and hard. It required that you rub the leather between both hands to make it supple again. Then on race day the chamois patch was smeared generously with Vaseline.

With all this special care and expense, we never trained in our racing clothes. There were no cycling specific clothes in the 1950s, unless you could afford something tailor made. Our cycling shorts for training rides in the summer were often an old pair of cut-off trousers.

It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that cycling specific clothing became available for non-racing use. Manmade fibers like Acrylic, often replaced wool, making them easier to launder and care for. For racing too, Acrylic or a Wool/Acrylic mixture, replaced the pure wool shorts and jerseys.

However the chamois leather patch inside the shorts continued into the 1980s. Then as manmade fabrics for cycling clothing took over completely, the chamois seat insert was also replaced with a manmade material. The extra padding inside the shorts is quite a recent addition.

And so the tradition of not wearing underwear under your cycling shorts continues. But what if the underwear has the exact same padded insert that your cycling shorts have?

A company called Gearbest contacted me recently to see if any of the wide range of products they offered would interest me. I noticed some padded cycling specific boxer shorts that I thought might be worth a closer look. They sent me four pairs of these shorts. Two different brands, a L and an XL size of each.

The sizing is a little skimpy, and I found the XL size fitted me best. I do have a little middle age, old age spread. My waist is 37 inch. They do make an XXL size, but if you are really big around, these may not work.

The two brands I tried were Arsuxeo, priced at $9.16, and Kingbike, priced at $9.73. They were both made in a similar black Polyester/Spandex type material, a lot thinner than regular cycling shorts, but this is a good thing because they are considered an under-garment, and any thicker they would retain too much heat.

The Silicone padding was similar to that I am used to seeing in most cycling shorts on the market.

Of the two brands, the Kingbike has a nicer wide elastic waistband. The Arsuxeo had slightly thicker padding.

Wearing these under my regular padded shorts, I was aware of the extra padding, but didn’t find it uncomfortable. In fact as I got into my ride I didn’t even think about it.

Another reason to wear undershorts is modesty. I have mentioned before, that modern cycling shorts, even the expensive ones are often see through when stretched tightly across a well-rounded butt. Just stretch the fabric and hold it up to the light, you might be surprised at how translucent your shorts are, and when riding behind you, we can see your butt crack. The extra thin layer of black material these undershorts offer takes care of this issue.

There are many people who ride a bike for transport, either commuting to work, or out for a social evening. They wear their regular street clothes. Some wear a pair of cycling shorts underneath for comfort. But in summer this can get really hot. These boxer shorts would be a perfect replacement. They have no fly opening, so are considered unisex.

The Arsuxeo Shorts are shown at the top left. The Kingbike Shorts lower right. In both images the shorts are inside out to show the padding. Priced at under $10 a pair one could afford to buy several, ensuring you always have a clean pair in your underwear drawer.  

 

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Reader Comments (8)

In April this year I rode the 69 mile ride at the L'Eroica California in Paso Robles California. This was a ride, to recreate how we rode in the days of yore? We had to ride in WOOL jersey and shorts. I found a pair of CASATI made in Italy 80% WOOL and 20% Acrylic shorts. WITH a chamois liner. The weather later in the day was in the 70f I must say that I was very impressed with these shorts. After riding for the past, many years in the usual nylon type skin tight cycling shorts, I found these 80% wool ones very good and intend now to ride them in the hot summer.They are not skin tight but do fit very well. Brought back my memories of the days that Dave memtioned of racing in WOOL shorts.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

Why did nobody think of making cycling underwear long ago? At around $9, those are 1/10 the price of most bib shorts. Makes a lot of sense to throw underwear in the wash instead of my bib shorts after every ride.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohnb

I recycle my old cycling shorts into cycling underwear. When the cuffs turn into 'bellbottoms,' I have a shop shorten the inseams.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterResty

I have a pair of Pearl Izumi mountain bike shorts that come with detachable, light-duty padded cycling shorts that can be used as a lining. These cycling shorts can be worn under any suitable regular shorts, serving the same purpose as the padded underwear that Dave describes.
This combo is great for short rides to the coffee shop or store. They keep the wedding tackle safe and tidy also.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

These would also be good to wear under long cycling pants which don't have a chammy insert. Normally I'd wear a pair of shorts but these would provide the comfort without the added bulk.

May 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJW

I have a similar pair of boxers, and for short casual rides they are great under a regular pair of shorts. You don't look like a 'cyclist' but you are comfortable.
Perfect for riding to work.

I have a couple wool shirts from SmartWool, and they are the greatest. They fit well, machine wash, and breath nicely. I prefer them over synthetic jerseys.
Now if SmartWool would just make shorts.....

June 1, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

Interesting, for daily commuting I wear tightie whities, for longer rides I have two pairs of Nashbar padded liners which I wear under shorts. Looks like these are similar, but underwear material, not athletic/performance material.

Seems odd to me to wear these under biking shorts (which have their own pad) rather than under regular athletic shorts, like basketball shorts or something.

June 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

For several years I've worn Andiamo undershorts. They are a bit thin on the padding and the legs are about bike short length. I've found rock climbing shorts work well for casual riding but require a padded undershort. These both look to have better padding and fit than the Andiamo so I'll give them a try. Thanks for the tip.

June 4, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdoug peterson

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