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Lycra Shorts: What to Look for Before You Buy

There comes a time when those old road bike cycling Lycra shorts need replacing. And my ones I bought 20 years ago from Days cycle shop in Enfield are just about losing their elastic properties from the Lycra and not quite tight enough around the waist anymore.

Whether or not I will ever get such a pair again beats me.  My shorts have REAL chamois leather layered with towelling. Not the foam stuff that I think might last a couple of years at best in the modern ones.

I sound like my grandfather shouting ‘modern rubbish.’  Then again when I first started wearing black slipstream bottom wear (ahem) I got funny looks.  No longer!  There isn’t a second glance, seems like everyone has them.

Still, at risk of being held up and shot for being rude about manufacturing industries, let me at lest consider the available technology.  You never know, a new pair of Lycra cycling shorts made from up to date materials may just last as long as my last pair!

Lycra shortsMy shorts currently fit just right, even if they have seen better days.  They are waist shorts and fit high up my back and well over my hips and stomach.  They never used to roll down though they do now a bit as I lean over.  I will be asking to try on the next pair to make sure the fit is the same.

If your shorts don’t fit like this, or bunch up when you ride, or sit too short on your back or hips you will know about it very quickly.

It’s unlikely that I will find real chamois again, but the idea of a thick pad to wick away sweat and make razor blade saddles that bit more appealing is still important.

I have been surprised at the numbers of sections modern men’s Lycra bike shorts are split into.  My ‘Days’ cycling shorts are just 5 pieces, but 6 is now the norm, though manufacturers are making shorts that are constructed from less panels and more technological materials.

I hope I can find some which have as good leg grippers as my current wants as leg grip is key for a smooth and comfortable ride.

A final bit of advice I have picked up is to choose shorts whose key seams aren’t near places that risk chaffing, like the inside leg.

Current prices range from supermarket own brand (around £8.50 for Tesco’s own cheap Lycra shorts) to over £100 for bib shorts – assos bib shorts are a good example of this.

I can’t make mind up if bib is the way to go though. Leave a comment please if you have had any experience! Don’ t they pull on your shoulders as you cycle along?

Other options include 3/4 length that go over the knee.  As I already have cycling tights, this might be a good winter option to raise the heat around my knee joints, though the May weather of late suggests that longer shorts could be a good idea even now!  Cold enough for sleeves, it’s cold enough for knees, as they say.  If you already have a pair of best running tights, then they will do fine so long as the seams aren’t in the wrong place.

I could get some of those Lycra compression shorts.  They are manufactured so that they promote blood flow to the muscles.  I can quite see how in a professional race where every tenth of a second counts that it would make a great difference, but for me poodling up and down Lancastrian terrain it’s an unnecessary expense, not likely to be winning an sportifs too soon.  Combining the idea of compression and shorts, in the winter I don a combination of compression tights/cycling shorts  – shorts over the top.  Though it’s a bit odd because then the chamois isn’t next to my nethers, which kind of defeats the object.  I’m fine though for a couple of hours, but after that mine, and I think even the best compression tights seam, tends to rub a bit.

I am left considering 3 options.  First my no-go area: Tesco.  It might be cheapest but they look nasty.  And they certainly don’t match anywhere near my current pair.

That leaves me with the Endura padded men’s shorts that are designed to be dry in the crotch area (£14.99) Condor cycles Italia offering at the same price, but perhaps I am just attracted by the brand.

Or mid-priced Lusso ProX coolmax.  At £35 it’s at the top of how much I am willing to pay, but reviews online and off are favourable.

I think the final choice will be between the latter two Lycra short, and economy may finally win out.


Thanks to Richard Masoner for the photo

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