Let’s be honest. There’s really only one thing that’s important when it comes to comfort on the bike, and that’s how comfortable your junk is. If that’s not feeling good, the ride is affected, and we all know that sucks. When that happens, the first thing we do is blame the chamois. There’s not enough padding…the seams are rubbing…it’s shaped wrong…and so on and so on. Unfortunately, finding the right chamois is a bit like finding the right anything. It takes some time and testing to make sure it’s the perfect one for you. But did you know that the way a chamois fits and performs has less to do with the chamois itself and more to do with the overall design of the bibshort? Yeah, we figured you didn’t. So here’s the deal. Sure, it makes sense to start with a chamois that has all the technical wizardry that appeals to you the most, and then make sure you consider the following, too. Because, after all, if that fancy chamois doesn’t stay snug where it’s designed to stay, it really doesn’t matter how cushy it is.
Four Things To Consider Besides The Chamois To Make Sure You’ll Love Your Chamois
A Supportive Upper – If your bib upper feels tight when you’re standing, you’re probably on the right track to a great fitting chamois. The job of the upper is to make sure that the chamois is held firmly, yet comfortably, in place in the riding position. Do you ride standing up? We thought not. When you try on a pair of bibs and decide that they are too tight in the crotch while standing, your natural reaction is to size up. When you do that, you might be sacrificing the design the bibshort manufacturers had in mind for a comfortable fit in the riding position.
Bottom line: get in the riding position before you decide your bibs are too tight, because it’s only in the riding position that you will really know that your chamois is in the right place to support you, and that it will stay there.
Good Quality Panel Construction – All Lycra is not created equal, and there’s a reason for all those panels on your bibshort. Sure, you often hear that panel construction is there to provide compression to help squeeze your muscles into higher performance, but that’s not the only reason. They’re also there to keep the bibshorts in place. You need just the right balance of stretch in your Lycra coupled with the compression of panel construction to make sure that you can move the way you want to move when you ride, but your shorts don’t.
Bottom line: look for the highest quality panel construction you can afford to assure that the short doesn’t slide around on you, causing your perfectly performing chamois to move around.
Leg Gripper Strength – There’s been a lot of research and experimentation where leg grippers are concerned lately. It’s one of the first things we think you should look at in a bibshort. Why? Well, its only job is to keep your shorts from bunching up. And if your shorts bunch up, where does the excess fabric go? Right to your crotch, which makes your chamois, and your junk very unhappy.
Bottom line: choose a bibshort with a properly designed and sized leg grippers with the correct anti-slip technology, so that the bibshort stays in place and doesn’t ride up, causing irritation that’s not your chamois’ fault.
Proper Sizing – Here’s the straight up deal. You can ignore everything we’ve told you so far if you don’t get the sizing right. It’s never a good idea to guess at what size you should buy in a bibshort, or in any piece of serious cycling apparel. Read the sizing charts and measure yourself – yes, with a tape measure. Don’t order a medium just because that’s what all your t-shirts say. Think of it this way, you choose the size of your clothes for comfort, not for performance. If you choose your cycling clothing strictly for comfort – especially the comfort you feel while standing – then you may be comfortable if you’re planning on wearing your Lycra to that cookout you’re planning on hitting later, but chances are high that you won’t be comfortable in the riding position, where performance is what matters most.
Bottom line: know your measurements (not “your size”), check the sizing charts, and get in the riding position before you decide it’s too tight for you. Remember, you need things comfortably snug in order for your chamois to do its job right for you.