Mick's Tips - Lycra Shorts

Yeah, I know how self concious many of us feel about Lycra shorts, but as the mileage increases there is simply nothing else which comes close in terms of function, comfort and performance.

LYCRA is a DuPont owned brand name of "spandex" (an anagram of the word "expands"). It is available in many different grades and the materials grade combined with the complexity of each garment which determines the retail price. It's used in cycle shorts in one of ten or so grades.

Grade 1 is thin stuff used for girls lyotards and other pink crap. Grade 10 is heavy duty of the kind used to line protective pads and the like. If in doubt when comparing two pairs of shorts - choose the heavier grade - it's more durable, so lasts longer. In general terms the higher the grade the more expensive the shorts.

Garment complexity is to do with the tailoring. Cheap shorts use only four panels to keep the costs down. Four panel shorts are very two dimensional and have great difficulty conforming to the shape of your three dimensional butt. Six panel shorts are not much better - 21 panel shorts are great. In general terms more panels = better fit = more expense. Coz they just take longer to make.

Chamois, (pronounced 'shammy') (the padding in the crotch) were once made from chamois (pronounced 'shamwa'). Not any more. Almost every modern chamois is a multi layered anti-bacterialogical synthetic material designed to pad your harse against pressure from the saddle, to wick away perspiration. The shorts are really only there to keep the chaomois in place. keeping your dignity intact is secondary.

Be very wary of (unless you are a sponsored rider), purchasing shorts with a coloured panel. Such panels are usually printed on white lycra, the very cheapest grade. The coloured panel is the short's weakest link. It'll fail soonest.

Chamois cream keeps old style leather chamois pads nice and supple but it has another function which is often forgotten. It sticks the pad to your bum. By doing so it transfers any movement away from the interface of bum and pad. Instead, movement occurs between the outside surface of shorts and the saddle. Reducing chafing, friction and the generation of heat.