Choosing the right cycle shorts
The number one item of specialist cycling clothing, and one of the most important additions to your cycling kit. Traditional cycling shorts are made from stretchy Nylon/Lycra with a pad (Chamois) inside to cushion your bum, and protect you from some of the shock from bumps in the road. We discussed a little more about the main reasons in our Blog “why is the correct cycling clothing important”.
There are two main variants of cycle shorts, waist or classic shorts and bib shorts; Waist shorts have an elastic waist band to hold them up, while bib shorts have built in braces. For most people (not all) Bib shorts are the more comfortable of the two options, though they do make loo visits less convenient, especially for women. The lack of a waistband is what makes the big difference, by removing the waist band you have less materials that will crumple, fold or roll as you are rotated forward on your bike and this removes the pressure that is placed around your waist and discomfort caused by excess rolls of material.
When designing a high quality performance pair of cycle shorts or bib shorts, we at KOA Sportswear consider full performance needs. This starts with fabric choices for each panel of the short, this often means our shorts are not just made from one material, but multiples of high tech fabrics and we will also use multiple panels to get the correct fit. We will change the materials to add more features where they are needed most; this means we can offer the very best in comfort and performance for everyone’s needs. We make adaptations like adjusting hem grippers and hem widths, changing the compression effects or flexibility on the lycra used on the legs, adjusting band widths on the straps and using softer materials across the torso; we also add materials that either break the air or slide through the air for greater aero benefits.
The importance of the PAD or Chamois
A pair of bib shorts with a high quality chamois or pad is just as important as a fitted bike saddle, a high quality chamois or pad enables you to last much longer on a ride and increases the comfort dramatically. We explain a little more about this in our blog Why is the correct cycling clothing important?
Your pad (along with you saddle) is your key contact point with you bike and it is important that contact point remains comfortable for the entire ride. It is for this reason that pads come in different shapes, sizes and thicknesses.
Firstly sizing, Women and men have differing pelvises, which the chamois is adapted to. The female pelvis is rotated outward a bit more. As a result, women’s padding is wider in the rear than men’s padding. Women have wider seat bones as well. Then there is the width of individuals sit bones along with riding position, if you ride in a more AERO (tucked) position, your point of contact with the saddle and sit bones changes and conversely if you spend more time in a more neutral upright position.
There’s also varying thicknesses when it comes to chamois and these thicknesses vary across the pad itself, sometimes with changing densities. The fit is very personal and depends on your natural shape, length of activities you carry out and whether you need to also run with the chamois (triathlon), plus many other factors.
At KOA Sportswear we make sure that not only the fundamental design properties are taken care of, but we look at design additions like channels in the pad or graduated densities of foam to relieve pressure, perforations to increase airflow and high tech fabric outer layers that are smooth on the skin and reduce friction. We select our PADS and chamois from the leading suppliers in the industry, we believe tried and tested is often the best recipe for success.
A high quality of cycle shorts or BIB shorts should be seen as a little bit of an investment, they are a fundamental piece of your cycling clothing that will have one of the greatest impacts on to whether you are comfortable on a ride or not. We recommend you find a pair that fits your riding needs, but also has the features and benefits to add to your cycling experience. We offer a full range of cycling shorts in our collections, which you can find here: Performance cycling shortsTights
When the temperature drops you may want to cover more of your body, and as always, there are options. If you look at your legs, you can choose between tights and leg warmers as an example. Cycling tights extend the coverage to your ankles, and are usually made of a thicker material to keep you warm. Like cycle shorts they’re available with and without bibs, and they’re also available with and without a pad. A lot of riders will wear unpadded tights over their Lycra shorts, this is so you can get more than one use from them in between washes (unless it’s a particularly muddy ride) This approach also often means you can still use the Cycle shorts that you may have already invested in to get a perfect PAD and use a less expensive pair of tights over the top
Three-quarter leggings are halfway between shorts and tights. The legs extend to mid-calf, so they keep the chill off your knees. Most three-quarter leggings are made from fairly light Lycra so they can be used in warm weather too. Three-quarters remain consistently popular with female cyclists.
We talk about the leg warmers in our blog “Choosing Socks, base layers, Arms warmers and there benefits”