Recommendations for mens padded bike shorts
February 19, 2014 11:16 AM   Subscribe

I would like to get my boyfriend some bike shorts for his birthday. He does not want to wear the tight, spandex-type shorts alone, but maybe under some other moveable shorts. Or any other options?

The few times we've gone biking, he's worn his usual cargo shorts, but he has finally realized that he does in fact need and want some padding! He does not wish to sport the tight spandex shorts by themselves, so I'm looking for recommendations on his options. I can only think of the spandex shorts with pads that bikers normally wear, on top of another pair of moveable shorts...? Or something like these may be the ticket. I just linked the first pair I came across.

So, any brand/comfy style recommendations on men's bike shorts would be awesome.

Riding includes casual mountain biking on trails, if that helps.

Thanks very much!
posted by foxhat10 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I used to wear Pearl Izumi Liner Shorts under whatever was convenient to wear for a given day (sometimes track pants, sometimes thin shorts, sometimes pants). I recommend them for the simple reason that you can then pick the outer layer based on what you like rather than what has a chamois built in (those are the pads you're referring to).
posted by saeculorum at 11:20 AM on February 19, 2014

I like padded cycling briefs, that way i can wear anything over them
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:21 AM on February 19, 2014

Aero Tech makes decent jerseys for large riders but the quality isn't that great. I'd go for a pair of liner shorts underneath his cargo shorts/pants.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 11:21 AM on February 19, 2014

You can either buy ordinary bike shorts (I like Bouré's products, or get cycling briefs like OHenryPacey recommends. Either works well under ordinary shorts, and (I think) offers more flexibility than baggy mountain bike shorts.

Whatever you get, make sure there are no seams near the crotch. I once got a pair of cycling briefs from REI that looked like ordinary briefs with a pad, and the seams around the leg holes were extremely uncomfortable. Cycling briefs with long legs are much better. The main advantage of cycling shorts isn't the padding itself (traditional chamois are fairly thin), but the absence of seams that can chafe and cause hot spots, blisters, or saddle sores.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2014

I have a pair of Zoic shorts that I'm quite happy with. They are made to pair with a removable liner so you can wear them that way or just as regular shorts. A fair amount of pockets, but not as bulky as other cargo shorts.
posted by mikepop at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2014

Zoic makes incredible shorts with a compression and padded liner/underthing.
posted by bensherman at 11:39 AM on February 19, 2014

How about mountain-biking shorts?
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:40 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

You want to get him these:

Performance Bike Ultra Shorts

and then these to wear over the spandex:

Rapha Touring Shorts

If you have a Performance Bike store near you, you can usually find the first pair of shorts on sale for < $50. It's harder to find the Raphas on sale, but is possible, especially if he's really big or really small.

SWRVE also makes good casual bike shorts but it's much harder to fit spandex under them. The Raphas are made to be worn over padded shorts.

I realize this seems expensive but I've wasted a lot of money on various MTB shorts, padded liners + regular cargo shorts, just regular shorts, etc. This is like the ultimate combo.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 11:42 AM on February 19, 2014

Rivendell Bikes sells non-racer type shorts. (NB: Not associated with Tolkien or anything LOTR-ish.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:10 PM on February 19, 2014

Maybe he needs a different saddle. Chamois isn't there as a shock absorber as much as an anti-chafing mechanism. Got a good local bike shop? Call up, ask for their opinion, maybe send him down there with a gift certificate.
posted by disconnect at 12:49 PM on February 19, 2014

You just want to look for mountain biking shorts rather than cycling shorts. They are usually some sort of synthetic outer that fit like normal shorts with an attached liner that is like a mesh version of what you are thinking of as cycling shorts, but also with the padded insert. I've owned several over the years and the basic REI ones (which I sadly can't find at their site) have been the best.
posted by Big_B at 3:31 PM on February 19, 2014

There are two dynamics here: modesty and crotch comfort. For modesty, your boyfriend is looking for something baggy instead of skintight. For crotch comfort, he is looking for something synthetic that might be padded. I'll give you the continuum of options here:

Mountain bike shorts, mentioned by Big_B and Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger upthread. Basically they come in two parts: an outer, baggy pair of shorts, and an inner liner. Downside: they aren't really designed for mix and match.

Next option is to wear regular shorts, with bike shorts underneath - the bike shorts will have a padded crotch.

One more option down from that is to wear triathlon shorts underneath rather than bike shorts - the crotch will be padded, but the padding will be much thinner (because the shorts are designed to also be used for running and swimming). Downside: triathlon shorts are expensive because triathlon.

Finally, you can wear regular cargo pants and just compression shorts (underwear really) underneath - no padding, but skin tight, so no chafing from seams.

Someone upthread mentioned seams being the main thing. I agree with this for road biking; less of an issue for mountain biking where you'll probably be in and out of the saddle more often.

When I'm on my road bike, I wear skin tight lycra bike shorts. When I'm mountain biking, I'll actually choose from any of the options I've listed above, depending on distance and whether I'm in a race. For casual mountain biking, my favorite setup is to wear synthetic shorts (like Lululemon core shorts or similar) over underarmour compression shorts (think lycra bike shorts without any padding). Bottom line: there are multiple options here that could work for your boyfriend; it might require a little experimentation.
posted by kovacs at 8:26 PM on February 19, 2014

Thank you everyone for great input. I now have a few different choices to consider!
posted by foxhat10 at 6:09 AM on February 20, 2014

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