Part 1: Why it’s worth it to invest in cycling shorts

Updated: Aug 26

Cycling specific clothes (shorts with padding and jerseys with pockets in the back) can at first look odd and uncomfortable but the benefits highly outweigh the initial aesthetics. If you’re leisurely riding for under an hour, running errands, athletic pants/jeans will probably be sufficient. If on the other hand, cycling is becoming a form of regular fitness, that’s when cycling (bib) shorts come into the picture. Below are some initial thoughts to keep in mind when buying shorts:

1. Padding (AKA Chamois, pronounced “shammy”)

The key distinction between cycling shorts and non-cycling specific shorts is the padding. That added cushion makes a world of a difference on long rides.

a) It alleviates pressure to prevent aches and numbness (yes, it happens!).

b )The material is designed to reduce friction and guards against chafing between you and the saddle.

c) Moisture wicking and anti-bacterial properties ensures hygiene is also kept in mind. Machines for Freedom, a women specific brand, provides an excellent example of the science that goes behind well-designed chamois.

Note: Keep in mind that the amount of padding for men and women are concentrated in certain areas to support our anatomically differences. Women's bibs have a wider cut around the hips and wider padding around the sit bones,

2. Grippers

Another property with cycling shorts are the silicone grippers (an elastic band) that are at the hem of the shorts. You want to find ones that hug your thighs but not constrict them - just enough grip that it stays put when you pedal. Without them, the shorts can slide and the fabric will unnecessarily rub against your skin which leads to chafing. It comes down to experimenting which one is most comfortable for you.

3. Price

When you’re starting off, the price point for cycling bottoms can get pretty steep (like over $200 for just one). Generally, the steeper the price, the higher the quality and technology used in design. It's apparent when you start riding in them. If you do go down that route, check to see what their return policy is like. Some higher end brands like or Machines for Freedom have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, that's how strongly they believe in their bibs - I own 4 from MFF. If it’s something you want to explore but with a lower price point check out cycling shorts on Amazon, TheBlackBibs, and other cycling websites. You’ll find some with similar properties in points 1 and 2, and if you take good care of it (hang dry vs dryer) then you can extend the life out of it. For starters, purchase shorts/bibs that hit your criteria plus fit within your budget until you feel ready to jump in and get into the gritty details of what matters more to you.