Cycling shorts discussion

I’ve noticed a big difference in the pads in cycling shorts.

My own most comfortable is a pair of fairly cheap “Trek” brand shorts, where the pad is fairly wide. I’ve noticed discomfort with shorts where the pad is too narrow in the crotch area. I think it’s because, while the narrower pad’s edges are wide enough to extend down past the edge of a bike seat, they fall short on a uni seat and create a bump under my inner thigh where the pad ends partway down the side of the seat.

Do you have similar (or dissimilar) observations? Do you have a cycling short brand you prefer or even swear by? I’m looking to purchase a couple new pairs and wanted to put this thread out and see what everyone’s opinions are on the matter.

I’m in the same boat here… needing new shorts. In addition to steveyo’s query, I’m wondering how the thickness of padding affects one’s comfort. I have one pair that’s quite thin and another that makes me feel like I’ve got a phone book between my legs. Oddly enough I’m finding the thin padding more comfortable.

If you can, please compare / contrast the benefits of padding thickness. Thanks!

I agree with the thinner padding, too. The seat, after all, is nothing but padding, so the thickness in the shorts is redundant.

I’ve ridden numerous types of shorts and have found that the 8-panel design with a one-piece pad melded inside feels the best to me overall. My favorites happen to be Performance and Pearl Izumi. I also have a pair of shorts with gel padding inside and they feel pretty good. A good deal I think is the Performance Century, good price for good performance.

Remember that there are many factors that will determine your comfort level on the seat, the shorts are just the starting point. You will also want to focus on your seat height and pitch. And one more thing, you are not supposed to wear underwear under your shorts!:stuck_out_tongue:


I use plain Kmart cotton shorts

But I would be interested in what you all prefer. Please post a link to what you like, so I can get some ideas.

Thanks Steveyo for this thread, I’d like to find some good new shorts.

My favorite cycle shorts are the Perl izumi shorts with the very thin chamois cloth crotch padding that were discontinued about two years ago. The new version now has thicker less comfortable padding.

I don’t understand the rules for choosing the 6, 8 or whatever number of panels.

I like the thinner padding that covers the ridges of the unicycle saddle. Other than that good fit is important. If shorts are just a bit too loose, rough downhill MUni becomes challenging on a whole other level.

pearl izummi

I’m also in the boat of looking for some new shorts. My old shorts are wearing out.

The difficulty is that cycling shorts now are all using some flavor of technical fabric pad instead of the traditional chamois-like pad. I have a few shorts with the new style pads. They work just fine for bicycling, but don’t work as well for unicycling. If you try to lather up with Chamois Butt’r or something similar the pad just sucks it up like a sponge. After 20 Coker miles you start to really feel that you’re sitting on fabric instead of something similar to a chamois.

I’ve been looking around and the only place I’ve found that still sells a chamois pad is Kucharik. Looks like either their Ultra Suede Pad or their Real Chamois Pad might be the ticket. I haven’t tried them yet. I need to make a decision and give them a try.

Pearl izummis at 90 $ ?

Wow, we are not talking the blue light special here. Anyway, it would be cool to read reasons for these selections, and links if possible. There was several versions of these shorts listed on the first site I found.

Yes, the good Pearl Izumi shorts are in the $70 to $120 range. Worth it for serious cyclists.

But their new pad designs are hit or miss for unicyclists. Some unicyclists like the new pads while others don’t. You end up gambling $70 to $120 on shorts that may not work for you on the unicycle. Course if you also bicycle you can use the shorts for the bicycle (which is what I am using my new style Pearl Izumi shorts for).

JC, I liked that better

Only 36 $, or 6 times what I wear now, a lot better then 90$.
I am interested in why people like these different shorts. Links are important!
Is chamois machine wash? I am familiar with leather motorcycle gear. It sounds grungy, but we just never wash our leathers. For tight fitting sweaty uni shorts, I doubt that is a plan.

Ah the search for the perfect unicycling short!

The most important thing for me is getting shorts where the padding extends up far enough in front. A wrongly positioned seam makes a ride extremely painful. I have to say that in most cycle shorts there is not enough padding.

My favourite so far are Pearl Izumi - with the chamois. I have a couple of other Pearl Izumi shorts that I bought over the Internet thinking that they would be like my chamois ones and they had kind of ridged padding (I think they called it 3D). I don’t know how that’s supposed to be comfortable.

Also I’ve just brought a pair made by DeMarche (or something like that) and they have something they call elasticated padding, which is a bit gel like but comfortable.

Cycling shorts are a gentle cycle wash item. Hand washing is better. You should use soap that doesn’t have fancy perfumes or softeners or other additives. Simple basic washing soap. Then rinse clean so there is no soap residue.

With the real chamois you have to treat it with chamois cream to keep it soft and keep it comfortable. The artificial chamois-like pads also need chamois cream to keep them soft, but the real chamois pads need it even more. Kucharik also sells a chamois cream.

So the chamois becomes a maintenance item. With proper care it will last a long time.

Sweat wise?

The more I think about it, the better my baggy cotton shorts seem. Simple, and I can wash a dozen pairs at once and be done with it, without filling the machine with 1000$ of shorts. I am still open to comments, yet, as a fat guy in sweat city, expensive, high maintenance shorts , don’t seem like what I need. I sweat lots, and don’t want to do laundry every day. Yet I bet I am ignorant, why are these shorts better ?

I like dhb Earnley shorts. 8-panel, very comfortable and not too expensive. They’ve got a nylon-type pad like John mentioned, but I don’t find that a problem - I use a chafe stick that you apply to the skin like a deodorant stick rather than the liquid butt butter type stuff that soaks into the pad.

I wouldn’t use expensive shorts on a unicycle because it ruins them, but I like the Earnleys so much I use nothing else now, even on the bike. I just keep the newest pair for bike only, then put them into unicycle use when I get a new pair for biking. They don’t last a huge amount of time, but for the price I reckon they’re really good - I’ve got four pairs and I reckon I replace the oldest pair about once every six to nine months (probably averaging 120-150 miles a week of combined bike and unicycle).


I’ve long been a proponent of the ‘bib’ style shorts.
I ride almost exclusively when playing UniHoki and find that the shoulder straps stops the shorts from sagging down and occasionally bunching in the crotch. A problem I’ve have with regular cycling shorts in the past.

For one, they don’t soak up your sweat like a sponge. But really, if you’re comfortable with plain cotton shorts, there’s no reason to change. I go for shorter more casual rides with non-cycling shorts/pants all the time. It’s really only the MUni and longer distance rides that I find that padded shorts are really helpful.

Cycling shorts have developed the way they have because it is more comfortable to have a pad in the shorts than not. If the whole pad idea didn’t work then cyclists would just go with normal spandex running shorts with no pad.

The pad helps eliminate pressure points and friction and seams in the wrong places.

The tight spandex style fabric helps eliminate rubbing and also wicks away moisture. Cotton just sucks up moisture and keeps that moisture close to your skin. The spandex style shorts and polyester jerseys wick away the moisture so you stay dryer and more comfortable. The difference between riding hard (where you are sweating a lot) while wearing spandex and polyester cycling clothing vs. cotton shorts and a cotton T-shirt is amazing.

That said, there are some cycling shorts that have a pad that just doesn’t work well for unicycling even though it may work great (and get great reviews) for bicycling. You just have to try different ones and see what ends up working best for you.

Try a $30 - $40 pair of cycling shorts (like the Kucharik shorts) and see how you like them. It’ll give you and idea what cycling shorts are about. Chamois cream like Chamois Butt’r will also help.

For washing I just hand wash them in the sink right after I’m done with my shower after a ride. Hand wash, rinse, ring out, then hang up in the shower stall to dry. They’ll be dry and ready for riding again in a day or two (depending on your local humidity).

Cycling shorts also need to fit snugly. Don’t buy a size that is too big. They’re also worn with no underwears underneath. You can always wear baggy shorts over the top if you don’t like the tight spandex look.

Closest bike shop to me has dick all for cycling shorts…

Only stuff in the $60+ range… and they’re all extremely short, short enough for my junk to hang out anyways… what the hell?