Muffin Top, sausage leg, chaffing, numbness, and saddle sores all have one thing in common: your shorts. Some of these issues can be remedied by a proper bike fit, but in most cases are attributed to the kind of shorts you are wearing. Turns out there is more to a pair of cycling shorts than patterns and colors! Shockingly, the process is very similar to finding that pair of jeans that seems to understand your body’s geometry.
Muffin Top: The much dreaded and absolutely terrifying term that we, as ladies, hope is never associated with us. How can we avoid this in lycra? I’ve got a couple options for you to explore.
- Waistband: Luckily we are living in a post Lululemon world where the yoga waistband has crossed over into cycling. There are several versions of this style from Pearl Izumi, Giordana, Specialized, Capo, Castelli, and Louis Garneau.
- Paneling: It’s simple; more panels mean a more personalized and comfortable fit. Anatomically-correct paneling optimizes the garment’s ability to bend and flex with your body freely.
- Bibs: For some reason women have largely ruled out bib shorts—“But I won’t be able go to the bathroom!” Well, my friends, I am here to tell you, that you can, in fact, take care of business at any time, and that bibs are undoubtedly the most comfortable and flattering shorts option. Bibs are the Spanx of cycling shorts, and therefore the best solution to the muffin top.
Sausage Legs: Defined as: The effect of one’s quadriceps getting sectioned off just like sausage links. If you are putting in any sort of time on a bike you will notice your quads increasing in size and becoming more firm. Even the most defined quads can fall victim to this in a poorly fit short. How does one then avoid it?
- Try them on: Maybe, this is an obvious solution, but we have all fallen prey to a hasty purchase. Take your time, and try them on. If ordering online order two sizes. Art’s Cyclery has free return shipping so you can easily send back what doesn’t fit.
- Elastic check: If you try to stretch the elastic on the short in question you can get a pretty good idea of its potential to expand with your body instead of against it.
- No elastic: There are brands that are deciding against the use of an elastic hem altogether. Our team kits, made by Voler, have this option.
Chafing/Saddle Sores: Saddle sores and chafing almost always plague the new rider, but can also be a result of an ill-fitting garment and seams in the wrong places. Both of these uncomfortable and even painful ailments of cycling can best be avoided through short selection.
- Sizing: Chafing and saddle sores can be a result of having loose fitting shorts. Cycling shorts are form-fit in part to hold the chamois in the correct place. If shorts are loose, then the chamois will rub against your skin instead of being held snugly against your body. Add moisture from sweat, and you have the perfect conditions for painful saddle sores.
- Chamois: The chamois is extremely important for the prevention of saddle sores. We will cover this in depth at a later date, but essentially you want a chamois that is breathable, flexible, and dense in the right areas.
- Chamois Crème: Not imperative, but a good idea none-the-less. Applying chamois crème helps with friction caused by contact with the saddle. Women’s-specific chamois crème includes Paceline’s “Her Chamois Butt’r,” and DZ Nuts “Bliss.” Even men have been known to use women’s-specific chamois crème because of its added anti-bacterial qualities and pleasant smell.
From a woman to a woman, you have now been armed with knowledge on how to select a proper pair of cycling shorts. May the chamois gods be ever in your favor.