Shorts + saddle: the winning pair for comfort

Shorts + saddle: the winning pair for comfort


The saddle is the most important point of contact between the human body and the bike, that on which comfort and performance depends, and we will never tire of repeating that the ideal choice of size and model cannot be left to chance, but rather must be selected based on each cyclist’s body measurements and depending on the type of activity performed.

That established, there are also other variables we must consider, which are otherwise capable of nullifying the merits of the saddle itself, generating various types of problems and annoyances.

First of all, the assembly of the saddle itself: possible positioning errors with incorrect support for the ischial bones may cause abnormal pressure and crush the soft tissues in the perineal area.

There’s also the issue of clothing: at the start, we mentioned that the saddle is a point of “union” between the bike and the body, but what about short bottoms? An element that remains in contact with our skin for the entire time we are pedalling, must possess special qualities which surely cannot be ignored.

Pedalling on the ideal saddle, but with unsuitable short bottoms may literally leave a mark, much the same as it would be absurd to think that high-quality shorts can eliminate problems associated with the wrong type of saddle.

How to choose your shorts

Apart from the obvious recommendation to try them on before buying, checking for example that the elastic bands on the legs are not too tight and that they generally adapt to the body well, making us feel at ease, a few extra words should be spent on short bottoms.

There is no shortage of analogies with the choice of saddle on this theme.

Even in this case, the most padded part must correspond to the two ischial tuberosities to offer comfortable support in areas of the saddle subject to the most pressure.

Just like with the saddle, another important evaluation criterion, in addition to physical shape, is the time spent on the bike. Depending on the number of hours spent pedalling, the density and thickness of the material should vary.

Each type of activity also requires a specific type of bottom, so in road cycling, the front and central part are thicker for improved protection of the perineal zone when pedalling in a low position; vice versa, for MTB cycling, short bottoms should be more reinforced in the rear part, catering to a generally more rearward position.

For obvious reasons, men and women require different forms and ergonomics.

The material used to make good quality short bottoms is a highly elastic polyurethane foam, which compresses easily but also returns to its original shape as soon as the pressure is relieved. Good short bottoms should also be breathable and quick-drying to avoid irritations.

“Chamois” cream

To reduce rubbing and irritations, many cyclists use anti-friction products on their skin called “chamois” creams, which form a film that reduces friction on their bottoms. These creams normally also have an anti-bacterial action, which simplifies the washing of garments, but it is best to check whether the components of creams are compatible with the material of the short bottoms.

Speaking of washing, this should be done immediately after use without letting the shorts dry in the dirty clothes basket; also, it is better to use a delicate wash cycle with warm water and a neutral detergent, without using a softener; finally, don’t hang them out to dry in the sun to prevent the foam from drying out and altering its properties.


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