Bike Shorts: A Beginner’s Primer
BEGINNER BIKE SHORTS
When you’re starting out, you probably only need decent shorts. Something in the $40 range will probably work, though you can find pairs for $20 or more than $100. Order from a reputable brand like Pearl Izumi or Cannondale via Amazon. Start with their cheaper models. Or, you can rely on a mid-range pair from Performance.
You only need to decide between S, M, L, XL. For most people, you can probably use your your Tshirt size as a general guide. If you’re worried about fit before ordering, take yourself into Performance, REI, EMS, or another brick and mortar store. Determining fit isn’t rocket science though:
- You want the shorts to fit as tightly as possible without feeling like your movements (or circulation!) are restricted. DON’T be bashful about the tight fit. If you’re feeling modest, you can consider buying a shell for your regular (tight) shorts. Here’s a combined liner/shell pair.
- You don’t wear bike shorts with underwear. If you’re trying on shorts WITH skivs, you should know that you’re packing in an extra layer.
- Expect the pad in the shorts (chamois or “shammy”) to feel a little bulky. This will be strange, but remember, you’re not going to be walkingin the shorts. Unless the pad feels like it will get in the way of your pedaling, we recommend starting with amply padded bike shorts.
- Note: You can buy gel shorts, which are fine. However, they seem to get mixed reviews from bikers. Especially if they’re much more expensive then the non-gel version, we’d recommend that you start out with pretty basic bike shorts and then upgrade. One possible exception to this rule is for new bikers in very humid climates. You might want to start with gel shorts.
- Women’s specific bike shorts are more than just a marketing gimmick in our opinion. Female riders will want to check out these options.
Some folks will tell you to invest in knee warmers, rain pants, or some kind of tights when you’re starting out. We’d recommend keeping things simple until you’ve committed to the sport.