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Padding in shorts. Why not in the saddle?

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Padding in shorts. Why not in the saddle?

Old 05-02-17, 01:50 AM
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Racing Dan
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Padding in shorts. Why not in the saddle?

Can someone please explain why, since for ever, the padding is in the shorts and not in the saddle? I have a feeling it is purely tradition from a time when the saddles was just a stiff piece of leather. like a Brooks.

Personally I Really dislike padded bike shorts with the cream and sweat and high maintenance. Seems to me a better, or equally good, less elaborate and easy hygiene, method would be to ride in some seamless tights, maybe runners tights or bike shorts with no padding and seamless underpants/tights and then have the padding in the saddle rather than i the pants?

I haven't tested any of this, just wanted to test the waters and hear what ppl had to say?
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Old 05-02-17, 02:22 AM
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Because padded saddles cause you to sink down into them which causes unnecessary friction and makes them uncomfortable. Unpadded saddles are more comfortable.

When it comes to comfort on the bicycle ...

1) Make sure your bicycle is set up so that it fits you properly. It also helps if you are not too upright.

2) Make sure you've got the right saddle for you. It needs to be wide enough so that your sitbones are comfortably placed on it, but not too wide. It should also be firm enough to support your sitbones.

3) Get a decent pair of cycling shorts with enough padding to cover your sitbones but not too much so that it bunches and causes friction.

4) Strengthen your upper body and core. You should not be putting all your weight on the saddle. Much of your weight should be on your feet, but that requires a strong core.

5) Sit with good posture.

6) Ride lots. And exercise lots in general.
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Old 05-02-17, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Can someone please explain why, since for ever, the padding is in the shorts and not in the saddle?
Most saddles do have some degree of padding.

But, the reason some padding goes in the shorts is to conform to the body. Padding in shorts follows your sitbones, padding in the saddle does not.

I have a feeling it is purely tradition from a time when the saddles was just a stiff piece of leather. like a Brooks.
Not really. In the old days, the chamois was just a piece of leather, which the legs could glide on rather than chafe against the wool of the clothing.
People riding leather saddles in the old days (and many today) just developed hardened butts.

There shouldn't be all that much padding anywhere, whether in the saddle or shorts. A little bit can be useful to take the edge off for an unhardened sit bone.
But you want as little as necessary for sitbone comfort. Any sinking-in compresses tissues that you don't want to compress, and too much padding can collect sweat, or bunch up and chafe.

Personally I Really dislike padded bike shorts with the cream and sweat
How thick padding are you using? The chamois is intended to wick and prevent chafing. If it's accomplishing the opposite, then you have good reason to change things.

and high maintenance.
What's "high maintenance" about them? Most of them are rated for washing machine use on gentle settings. Taking care of my cycling attire doesn't seem much more difficult than other clothing.
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Old 05-02-17, 02:35 AM
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Thanks!

"Because padded saddled cause you to sink down into them which causes unnecessary friction and makes them uncomfortable. Unpadded saddles are more comfortable."

"Get a decent pair of cycling shorts with enough padding to cover your sitbones but not too much so that it bunches and causes friction."

This exactly is what Im talking about. Why is it you sink into the saddle and get unnecessary friction when the padding is in the saddle but not if its in the pants? That is the essence of the question. Is it not just old dogma?

I have personally had trouble with sweat, chafing and soreness riding in padded pants. Lots of other riders have too. Thats why Im trying to rethink it a little bit.
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Old 05-02-17, 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Why is it you sink into the saddle and get unnecessary friction when the padding is in the saddle but not if its in the pants?
Who told you that chamois pads in the shorts can't cause problems?
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Old 05-02-17, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Can someone please explain why, since for ever, the padding is in the shorts and not in the saddle? I have a feeling it is purely tradition from a time when the saddles was just a stiff piece of leather. like a Brooks.

Personally I Really dislike padded bike shorts with the cream and sweat and high maintenance. Seems to me a better, or equally good, less elaborate and easy hygiene, method would be to ride in some seamless tights, maybe runners tights or bike shorts with no padding and seamless underpants/tights and then have the padding in the saddle rather than i the pants?

I haven't tested any of this, just wanted to test the waters and hear what ppl had to say?
my B-17 is the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden. I use Ibex knickers, old mountain bike knickers (forgot the brand), or khaki shorts in the summer. ex officio boxers under them all with no padding. callous cross scranus for the one seam in the boxers. everybody goes home happy!
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Old 05-02-17, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Thanks!

"Because padded saddled cause you to sink down into them which causes unnecessary friction and makes them uncomfortable. Unpadded saddles are more comfortable."

"Get a decent pair of cycling shorts with enough padding to cover your sitbones but not too much so that it bunches and causes friction."

This exactly is what Im talking about. Why is it you sink into the saddle and get unnecessary friction when the padding is in the saddle but not if its in the pants? That is the essence of the question. Is it not just old dogma?

I have personally had trouble with sweat, chafing and soreness riding in padded pants. Lots of other riders have too. Thats why Im trying to rethink it a little bit.
the best explanation I've read (might have been in one of Grant Petersen's books) went something like this:

sit on a hard surface for a few minutes until you become aware of your sitbones.

slide a pillow under your backside and notice while the pressure goes away on your sitbones, the remaining pillow squishes up between and around your legs.

same goes for padded shorts and saddles. the extra padding, displaced by your body weight, is the culprit causing more problems than it solves. all that padding is for folks that ride for 20 minutes or so at a time when it probably doesn't matter what they're wearing anyway.
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Old 05-02-17, 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Personally I Really dislike padded bike shorts with the cream and sweat and high maintenance.
You should talk to your doctor.
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Old 05-02-17, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by southpier View Post
the best explanation I've read (might have been in one of Grant Petersen's books) went something like this:

sit on a hard surface for a few minutes until you become aware of your sitbones.

slide a pillow under your backside and notice while the pressure goes away on your sitbones, the remaining pillow squishes up between and around your legs.

same goes for padded shorts and saddles. the extra padding, displaced by your body weight, is the culprit causing more problems than it solves. all that padding is for folks that ride for 20 minutes or so at a time when it probably doesn't matter what they're wearing anyway.
Its like work pants with padded knees. Sitting on you knees on a hard floor is immediately uncomfortable because pressure is concentrated to a small spot, but Sliding 1/2 an inch hard foam under you knees instantly releaves the pain. To my mind this i no different than sitting directly on a hard surface with your sit bones. I get that if a saddle i very thick and soft you may "sink in" and move the pressure to the perineum, but Im guessing that is the reason many saddles now come with cutouts to prevent this from happening.

Having more padding in the saddle and none in the pants seem, to me, like the best solution to get rid of heat and wick away sweat that otherwise softens the skin. Just like any other sports garment I can think of.
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Old 05-02-17, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
You should talk to your doctor.
Thank you for our helpful reply
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Old 05-02-17, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Thanks!

"Because padded saddled cause you to sink down into them which causes unnecessary friction and makes them uncomfortable. Unpadded saddles are more comfortable."

"Get a decent pair of cycling shorts with enough padding to cover your sitbones but not too much so that it bunches and causes friction."

This exactly is what Im talking about. Why is it you sink into the saddle and get unnecessary friction when the padding is in the saddle but not if its in the pants? That is the essence of the question. Is it not just old dogma?

I have personally had trouble with sweat, chafing and soreness riding in padded pants. Lots of other riders have too. Thats why Im trying to rethink it a little bit.
Because the padding in the shorts isn't that thick!


Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Personally I Really dislike padded bike shorts with the cream and sweat and high maintenance.
Then stop using shorts with so much padding ... and definitely stop using cream.

Last edited by Machka; 05-02-17 at 04:44 AM.
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Old 05-02-17, 04:53 AM
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No one is calling for Thick padding. I was entertaining the idea of moving whatever padding is in the shorts to the saddle for the various reasons explained above. Guess this is highly controversial subject matter :-)
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Old 05-02-17, 05:13 AM
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Because you can't put the saddle in the washing machine
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Old 05-02-17, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Can someone please explain why, since for ever, the padding is in the shorts and not in the saddle? I have a feeling it is purely tradition from a time when the saddles was just a stiff piece of leather. like a Brooks.

Personally I Really dislike padded bike shorts with the cream and sweat and high maintenance. Seems to me a better, or equally good, less elaborate and easy hygiene, method would be to ride in some seamless tights, maybe runners tights or bike shorts with no padding and seamless underpants/tights and then have the padding in the saddle rather than i the pants?

I haven't tested any of this, just wanted to test the waters and hear what ppl had to say?
A) Hygiene

B) The point is to eliminate all seams that can cause chafing. Remove the pad from shorts and what do you get? Seams that chafe.
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Old 05-02-17, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by southpier View Post
my B-17 is the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden. I use Ibex knickers, old mountain bike knickers (forgot the brand), or khaki shorts in the summer. ex officio boxers under them all with no padding. callous cross scranus for the one seam in the boxers. everybody goes home happy!
This may be a way to go too. I have and old Brooks but I have only used it for a short period. It was way too hard for me without padding in the pants. I may give it an other chance, but Im thinking of trying a saddle with more padding than a traditional race saddle and no padding in the shorts.
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Old 05-02-17, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
A) Hygiene

B) The point is to eliminate all seams that can cause chafing. Remove the pad from shorts and what do you get? Seams that chafe.
Seems to me the hygiene "issue" is easier to manage if you are not placing your naked butt and chamois cream on a sweat soaking sponge that is built in to your shorts. Just get ten pairs of seamless underpants. That way B is solved too. Aside from the seams my experience is that the pad tend fold up some and not be as comfortable as you would imagine.
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Old 05-02-17, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Seems to me the hygiene "issue" is easier to manage if you you not placing your naked butt and chamois cream on a sweat soaking sponge that is built in to your shorts. Just get ten pairs of seamless underpants. That way B is solved too.
Bike maintenance is also easier and faster if you never ride your bike.


Fact of life. Your butt will get sweaty if you actually ride. Fact of life, you will get chafing if there are seams. You want saddle sores-don't listen to us. Be free, my butterfly enjoy your crotch rot.
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Old 05-02-17, 05:51 AM
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Yeah. Whatever

Ill just test it out for myself.
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Old 05-02-17, 05:54 AM
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I still havent heard a real reason for why the location of the padding is shorts, not saddles.

My assumption is so shorts can be sold as cycling specific in addition to saddles, instead of just saddles.
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Old 05-02-17, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Yeah. Whatever

Ill just test it out for myself.
Probably the best idea. My guess is that padded shorts are "better" is that the pad moves with your body so over several hours in the saddle, it's less likely to cause repetitive trauma/injury that leads to soreness.

Since contact points on the body are very personal, your individual response may vary.

That said, I do notice that most "serious" cyclists use padded shorts and a firm saddle, and most newbies use a padded saddle and no padding in their shorts.

The shorter your rides, the less it probably matters but go ahead and try for yourself.
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Old 05-02-17, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Yeah. Whatever

Ill just test it out for myself.
You ask a question...and then argue with the answers from people who rack thousands of annual miles over years and decades. Sorry you don't like the answers.


You want to hop on a bike and go to a grocery store, it doesn't matter. You ride hour+ daily, it does.
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Old 05-02-17, 06:14 AM
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In addition to some of the above reasons, it should be mentioned that padding isn't the only reason for a modern chamois (and for some people, myself included, it's not even the primary reason) - mitigating moisture is a very big role. It may not be a pleasant mental image, but the buildup of butt sweat can have some pretty nasty consequences.
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Old 05-02-17, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
You ask a question...and then argue with the answers from people who rack thousands of annual miles over years and decades. Sorry you don't like the answers.


You want to hop on a bike and go to a grocery store, it doesn't matter. You ride hour+ daily, it does.
Did you even stop to think before replying or was it just the the expected knee jerk reactions? Im guessing the latter.

I really dont care for your snarky replys. Moving on ...
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Old 05-02-17, 06:22 AM
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Nothing high maintenance here...I have 2 pairs of bike shorts, neither was expensive. I machine wash and dry them just like everything else. And no cream either.

One thing I do that helps comfort (for me) is I wear very thin nylon underwear under my bike shorts.
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Old 05-02-17, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post
Because you can't put the saddle in the washing machine
At first this sounds like a joke, but it makes sense. With padded shorts, sweat can be dissipated before it gets to the saddle, but if the barrier between the skin and the surface of the saddle is minimized, then a soft saddle is more likely to absorb the sweat. If the surface of the saddle was a complete vapor barrier, then sweat would not readily dissipate and evaporate, which might keep the saddle clean, but would make for damp shorts if the saddle was soft and squishy. Leather (being skin, after all) is chemically more compatible with sweat than fabric or plastic, and it breathes. If that's all that is, the only issue is how to deal with chafing. But if it is wrapping some kind of foam padding, the padding will eventually absorb the sweat vapors. Eww.

Last edited by kbarch; 05-02-17 at 06:33 AM.
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