By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Every cyclist knows that next to a properly fitted bicycle, that all-important chamois in your bike shorts is what stands, or sits, between you and a comfortable ride. Despite this, the function of the chamois pad is often misunderstood.
A chamois is more than just a cushion between you and your saddle. It supports your sit bones, protects delicate genital tissue and prevents chafing by wicking moisture away from your body.
Originally, chamois were made of leather, with no padding. That sounds painful, but genuine chamois leather is soft, non-abrasive and it absorbs moisture, making it well suited for cycling shorts.
Since the invention of Coolmax in 1986, chamois have been made mostly from synthetic materials, with more multi-layered padding added for comfort. But a thicker chamois doesn’t necessarily mean greater comfort on your bike.
Bike shorts are designed to move with you, like a second skin. That’s what helps prevent chafing, (which is why you don’t wear underwear with them). If a chamois is too thick, it may rub against you as you pedal, causing friction between your nether regions and your shorts.
Finding cycling shorts and chamois that are comfortable for you involves some trial and error. Start by looking for a chamois that suits your riding style. If you ride more upright, look for a chamois with a multi-thick pad that adds a little extra padding for your sit bones and tapers down at the front, such as the one shown above. If you ride stretched out, using the drops, look for a pad with an even thickness and multi-density foam. This one from Bouré has a four-way stretch chamois on a thin layer of foam padding. The material is light, transfers moisture and is super comfortable.
So when it comes to a chamois, thicker isn’t better. Less is often more. And price matters. Expect to pay $85 to $120 for a good pair of cycling shorts.
We want to know what you think! Scroll down to leave a comment.
Like this article? You’ll love getting our free newsletter!