Author Topic: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!  (Read 1851 times)

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Offline rrusf96

padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« on: February 03, 2021, 02:54:40 pm »
I am new to cycling and would like to work up to 100 miles a day so I can do some trips on the Rails to trails across the US. As a casual cycler, I never wore padded shorts in the past. I've received advice that to be able to ride 100 miles I must buy padded shorts. Every pair I've tried on have been very uncomfortable to walk around in and ride in. I wear XS and it seems like the padding is the same width for all size clothing. I also prefer to wear sun protective performance pants as I'm fair skinned and don't want to put on suncreen. Most padded pants I've found our design for winter and far to warm for a Floridian. Has anyone found a seat that provides the same level of comfort and been able to avoid padded pants?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 02:58:06 pm by rrusf96 »

Offline John Nettles

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2021, 03:20:45 pm »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!

There are several things that need to be addressed.  First, the saddle.  Saddles are EXTREMELY personal.  Use only what works for you.  That said, a lot of cyclists that spend a lot of time in the saddle actually ride saddles with no padding.  Others do but they are definitely not the "tractor seat" type of saddle. 

I personally use a leather seat on all my bikes since, once broken in after 500-1000 miles, the saddle fits your personal anatomy so it fits like a glove and supports you quite well.  Others prefer the better quality saddles with some padding as it provides a little cushion on the seat bones. These riders typically, but definitely not always, ride more casually such as on the weekends only for up to 50 miles. But let me repeat that use the saddle that works for you but do not be afraid to try ones you "think" you might hate.  A lot of bike shop and/or saddle manufacturers have a fairly generous exchange (not refund) policy so you keep trying saddles until you find one you like.

As far as shorts go, you do not need to purchase a padded short though they do help.  For a better fitting one, maybe try Terry brand.  Though they are geared for women, someone who is XS may benefit from them.  They too have a decent return policy. 

The big advantage of biking shorts is not the pad but the liner (or chamios) basically reduces the friction between your skin and the short. It does this by somewhat clinging to your skin and then slides on the short.  This greatly reduces skin sores which will eventually become infected, irritated, and painful.  In the old day, shorts did not have pads, only the chamois. BTW, the reason cyclists do not wear underwear with bike shorts is because the underwear seam can rub, causing irritation.

Once you find a pair of shorts that you like, you might consider buying several pairs as the manufactures tend to replace them with "improved" models that may not always feel better to you. That said, like saddles, if you prefer to ride in a non-padded short, then go for it.  Just be sure the short slides on the saddle and not against your skin or you will get skin abrasions.

Finally, you do NOT need to be able to ride up to 100 miles a day before touring.  I would suggest you be able to comfortably be able to ride 50 miles in a day though. But then again, you really do not need to be able to ride much just so long as you plan your days accordingly.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Inge

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2021, 01:51:26 am »
I no longer think you need a padded saddle and/ oror padded shorts.

I started out on a padded saddle (SQlab 602) when I got back into cycling some years ago. Though, found that on hot days the saddle got uncomfortably hot so changed saddles  and now only use a leather saddle (a Selle Anatomica (on my gravel bike) though I find their lifespan a bit on the short side and have since 1 year also a Gilles Berthoud Mente saddle (heavy duty touring rig). Both saddles once broken in are very comfortable. But it takes some time to break them in - Selle Anatomica did not need a lot of breaking in whereas the GB saddle took a lot longer to get comfortable on. I did break the latter in with padded shorts though for they are very hard saddles.

For a long time I have used padded shorts/ bibs on bike rides and when having a pair that fits wel,l for me (Sugoi, Assos, Rogelli), they can add comfort on very long rides. To find properly fitting bibs might take some trying of different brands. Though now that I get older I no longer like to ride in bibs, for various reasons, and have made the transition to MTB shorts and Merino boxers. This combo combined with a leather saddle for me is equally comfortable to cycling in well-fitting bibs. With the added bonus that when not on the bike I no longer stand out as a cyclist. I especially like NZO Doobies for shorts and for underwear I have Ortovox boxers (120 comp light shorts for I like the legs to be a bit longer).

I absolutely agree with Jonh on "Finally, you do NOT need to be able to ride up to 100 miles a day before touring.  I would suggest you be able to comfortably be able to ride 50 miles in a day though. But then again, you really do not need to be able to ride much just so long as you plan your days accordingly. "

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2021, 08:37:32 am »
I don't like padded shorts either. I wear athletic compression shorts with running shorts for modesty. It works as well as padded shorts for me. If your saddle is comfortable, you're good to go. One thing I do is move around a lot. When rolling downhill, I put most of my weight on one foot. I get out of the saddle once in a while. Instead of drinking while riding, I stop for 5 minute water breaks.

100 miles a day is a good goal, but I never made it. I did several tours riding 60 to 80 miles a day. The most I ever rode in one day was 97 miles. After setting up for the end of the day, I had to ride a ways to get to a grocery store. I used to roll at sunrise and get a couple of hours in before having a hearty breakfast. Then I might stop mid-day for a hike, see a site, or just relax. I also stopped to blog and Email, usually at a public library. That's how I kept in contact with my family. I also took a day off once every week or more, depending on what I found interesting in an area. I'm sure others could do the tour faster. It's not a race. But you will have to do it again tomorrow. Endurance and moderation were the keys to my tours.

Do it your own way.

Offline John Nelson

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2021, 02:49:30 pm »
Obviously you should do what is comfortable for you, and you only find that out with experimentation.

Unfortunately, however, it's really hard to know what effects riding all day every day for months will have on your body. You don't want to get a thousand miles into your trip of a lifetime and have to abort because of saddle soreness. So it pays to be a bit conservative and not deviate too far from what most cyclists do. The wisdom of crowds can help avoid problems that are difficult to foresee.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2021, 05:14:26 pm »
You might want to check out options at your local bike shop (LBS).  Not every brand will have the same padding.  Ladies may want to check out Terry brand clothing, although not every LBS will carry it.

I think the important point is to be careful wearing non-cycling specific shorts with large seams.  Try to ride 50 miles in blue jean shorts, for instance, and you'll have some embarrassing abrasions at the end of the day.  (Bag balm works well if the skin isn't too raw, but better not to go there in the first place!)

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2021, 05:25:51 pm »
Walmart A&D ointment is a poor man's bag balm
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline TCS

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2021, 09:08:57 pm »
I am new to cycling and would like to work up to 100 miles a day so I can do some trips on the Rails to Trails across the US.

World cycletourist John Rakowski opined that somewhere north of 40 miles/day a rider begins to lose the experience of being where they are.  If you lose the experience of where you are while off and away bike touring, his advice was to just stay home and put the big daily rides in there.

Tom Vernon's First Law of Bicycling:  'A bicycle is not for going.  A bicycle is for stopping.'    :D
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2021, 11:13:24 am »
I am new to cycling and would like to work up to 100 miles a day so I can do some trips on the Rails to Trails across the US.

World cycletourist John Rakowski opined that somewhere north of 40 miles/day a rider begins to lose the experience of being where they are.  If you lose the experience of where you are while off and away bike touring, his advice was to just stay home and put the big daily rides in there.

Tom Vernon's First Law of Bicycling:  'A bicycle is not for going.  A bicycle is for stopping.'    :D

They are wonderful opinions! I agree wholeheartedly. Do you have any links to the sources, please?

Offline TCS

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2021, 08:30:29 pm »
Ach!  Sorry.  This got away from me somehow.

Okay, first, there's no right and wrong way.  If someone's goal is to blaze across the country, hey, that's their ride and more power to them. 

Anyway, Adventure Cycling member and contributor John Rawkoski talked about his 'savor the experience' style of touring in the feature interview in Adventure Cycling, August 2003, and mentioned the 40 mile/day soft target then.  I think it was a Bicycling magazine interview back in the 1980s where he suggested mile-eating tourists might consider long daily rides around home with the advantage they'd have a comfortable bed and good food every night.   ;D

Englishman Tom Vernon was a social commentator, musician, epicurean and the 'Fat Man on a Bicycle'.  He wrote a couple of books under that moniker and even made a number of BBC television programs of his tours, some of which were shown on American PBS. The quote was something he said on one of his six-part 'Fat Man in France' series as he spontaneously stopped to investigate something interesting along the country lane he was riding.  I believe one of the 'Fat Man in France' episodes is on Youtube.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2021, 08:33:10 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: padded shorts vs padded saddle - newbie here so go easy on me!
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2021, 08:41:29 am »
Ach!  Sorry.  This got away from me somehow.

Okay, first, there's no right and wrong way.  If someone's goal is to blaze across the country, hey, that's their ride and more power to them. 

Anyway, Adventure Cycling member and contributor John Rawkoski talked about his 'savor the experience' style of touring in the feature interview in Adventure Cycling, August 2003, and mentioned the 40 mile/day soft target then.  I think it was a Bicycling magazine interview back in the 1980s where he suggested mile-eating tourists might consider long daily rides around home with the advantage they'd have a comfortable bed and good food every night.   ;D

Englishman Tom Vernon was a social commentator, musician, epicurean and the 'Fat Man on a Bicycle'.  He wrote a couple of books under that moniker and even made a number of BBC television programs of his tours, some of which were shown on American PBS. The quote was something he said on one of his six-part 'Fat Man in France' series as he spontaneously stopped to investigate something interesting along the country lane he was riding.  I believe one of the 'Fat Man in France' episodes is on Youtube.
Thank you very much!!
Off to do a bit of sleuthing!