Why Do Long Distance Cyclists Wear Bike Shorts?

Bike shorts – those tight black or neon spandex shorts that you see serious cyclists wearing during long distance rides. You might think that they look silly and are not very flattering, but these butt-hugging shorts really do have a purpose. They can make a big difference in comfort and performance during a long ride, such as a London to Paris bike ride charity challenge or a Century Ride (100 miles). A bike ride of such epic proportions will mean hours and hours of riding per day, which can result in saddle sores and chafed skin.


So how are these shorts different from regular shorts and what advantages do they provide? Bike shorts are specifically designed with the needs of a cyclist in mind, so let’s take a look at some of the features that bike shorts have to offer:

  • They are made from spandex or Lycra, which are flexible materials that reduce air resistance and allow you a full range of motion.
  • They have strategically placed seams to prevent rubbing and chaffing against you in an uncomfortable way.
  • They are tight-fitting so that the loose fabric will not get caught in the cogs or the wheels.
  • The tight fitting design will also make them more aerodynamic.
  • The material is absorbent and breathes, so it will draw your sweat away from your skin and prevent chafing.
  • There are even shorts that have removable liners, so that you can take them out and wash them to keep your shorts smelling good.

These are just some of the features that you should look for in a pair of bike shorts. Keep in mind that there are two types of padding. Chamois padding is a type of synthetic padding that is designed to help you wick sweat away from the skin. It is more expensive than gel padding but it is better for long distance rides. The other option is gel padding too, which is thicker and is better at cushioning but will not breathe as well as chamois. They are better suited for shorter bike rides on roads.

When you find the right pair of bike shorts, you might want to buy a few of them – you can alternate them while on multi-day trips and wash one while the other dries.

Are Bike Shorts the Same for Men and Women?

When you are choosing bike shorts, can you wear any type or do you have to choose ones that fit your gender? The answer is that yes, bike shorts are designed differently for both men and women. After all, males and females have different anatomy so we need a slightly different style of cushioning in order to stay comfortable on long bike rides. Women’s cycling shorts are cut slightly narrower at the waist and the cushioning pad is usually a little wider. Also women are usually have larger waists than men so many bike shorts for females will be designed with a longer front inseam.

Equip Yourself with the Right Gear

If you are going to be participating in one of the charity challenges that will require you to ride your bike for long distances it is very important to equip yourself with the right gear. This includes wearing clothes in breathable fabrics, having sturdy shoes with flexible soles and of course, wearing the right bike shorts. While you might be able to ride around the block on your bike in denim shorts and flip flops, it’s an entirely different story when you are riding for multiple miles over a series of days. You need to be able to protect your skin from rashes, chafing and saddle sores when you are riding for a long time.

What else should you wear when you are cycling for long distances? It is also a good idea to wear a long sleeved t-shirt, because it can protect you from any debris, bushes and brambles. Don’t forget a cycling jacket to protect you from the wind and rain and a high visibility vest to keep you safe when riding on the side of the highway. When it comes to your jacket, look for fabrics that are waterproof and windproof, yet will still be able to wick away sweat. Sunglasses and sunscreen on a hot day are also important.

With the right gear you will be able to take on any charity challenges and ride long distances in comfort! What epic bike ride challenge will you be taking on next?