Why The Ugliness Of Cycling Shorts Is Surpassed Only By Their Importance

Non-riders have a tendency to laugh at the shiny, often gaudy cycling clothes worn by even casual bicyclists, but if they rode even a few miles, they would understand that cycling shorts are second only to a helmet in crucial importance to the rider. Cycling shorts may not be made for fashion, but they provide a critical element of comfort to any kind of bicycling effort.

The first cycling shorts were nearly more work than worth.

Made of wool, with a leather chamois stitched for padding in the crotch of each pair, they were hot and they were nearly impossible to launder. The wool took forever to dry, and the leather became so stiff it often hurt more than it helped. Today's cycling shorts are as far from these old models as our laptops are from main frames.

They weigh next to nothing, they dry in no time, and their padding stays soft and supple, just as it's supposed to be. With or without straps (the so-called "bib" style), a pair of cycling shorts is essential for any bike rider.

Really, the only thing today's cycling shorts have in common with their ancestors is their style.

With the exception of some of the models made for mountain biking, cycling shorts are still long enough to cover most of the rider's thigh and basic black is still the predominant color. However, any ride through a town with a sizable population of road riders will also reveal what passes for fashion sense among bicyclists: the basic black cycling short is now frequently festooned with so many advertisements for events and products and companies in the most garish colors on the spectrum that the black is all but unseen! For some reason, road riders seem to thrive on clashing colors and excessive advertising. And the more devoted a cyclist you observe, the more logos and screaming slogans you are likely to observe!

Still, there is a real reason to wear cycling shorts, no matter what they look like: their padding. It, especially if combined with a good bicycle seat, will vastly increase your comfort level as a rider.

It, rather than a particularly delicate area of your anatomy, will absorb a lot of the shock of bike riding. Cycling shorts are made as they are for good reason. They absorb shock, let perspiration evaporate, and keep you aerodynamic on your bike. Being aerodynamic matters to speed, of course, but also to safety. Loose fitting clothing can get stuck in a bicycle's moving parts as well as making your form more resistant to any wind you encounter.

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By: Alastair Hamilton -


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