Some of my upcoming posts are going to be dedicated to reviewing various bike shorts and helping the bigger dudes try to find the right size… because the companies aren’t necessarily all that helpful in that regard. But before I do that I just wanted to touch on one topic. Yes, you need to get over it and join the ranks of the MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra).
One point, my posts are all about road cycling. If you’re riding around on a beach cruiser or mountain bike, things are different. I am making some assumptions here. You are on a road bike, you want to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and you want to get in shape. As you keep doing that, you will keep pushing out farther and farther. That’s kind of the point and it’s definitely where some of the enjoyment of cycling comes from.
Why am I talking about what kind of riding you do when I said we were talking about tight-ass shorts? Those tight-ass shorts serve a purpose. They have a function beyond making you feel self-conscious or making you look like the product of an inexperience butcher who does not know how to use the sausage stuffing machine. One thing you will hear about the skin tight clothes is that it makes you aerodynamic. I’m sure that’s true; however, in my case, I imagine losing 60 pounds would probably do way more for me than a pair of tight shorts! At this stage in the game, I’m not super worried about aerodynamics.
Here’s the real gig. Road cycling shorts have padding built into them, first off. You probably need that padding. Road seats are hard on backsides, especially for us heavier guys (yes, you also need that road seat, I’ll explain that in another post). The padding built into road shorts is custom made for that type of cycling. MTB shorts won’t do, nor will cheap, generic shorts. You really do need some quality road shorts – I’d go so far as to say the bib style shorts, which I’ll explain further in a moment. There is also another important point beyond the padding; to me, the most important point! Skin irritation, saddle sores, etc. If you start pushing your rides out beyond about 50 or 60 miles, this becomes a very real problem. That repetitive action of just pedaling over and over can be hell on your skin, especially if you are a heavier guy. Baggy shorts or plain athletic shorts will wrinkle, fold, etc. One little wrinkle or fold in your shorts over a long ride will absolutely cause you a problem, it’s a pressure point that will just keep rubbing and rubbing. Trust me, this will ruin your day, and probably an entire week! The lycra type shorts are form fitting specifically so that no folds or creases can happen – they stay a smooth surface.
I said above that I recommend bib shorts. I started out in baggy MTB shorts, then went with cheap padded shorts, then a pair of good, road, non-padded shorts. I’ve already explained the problem with the first two, but the non-bib shorts, despite being very high quality, did not work well for me. I’m 5’9″ and 230 pounds. I’ve got about a 40″ waist, so yeah, I’m round in the middle. This causes the shorts to keep rolling down under my gut when I ride. That isn’t so comfortable, the shorts shift around, and having a lycra donut around my mid-section isn’t my favourite look, either. Bib style shorts take care of this. They stay in place, and yes, they do make them in sizes that fit.
I don’t have a 100% list of recommendations right now. I’m still exploring all the options. I can say thet I have bought a couple pairs of Garneu bibs, and they are quite comfortable, but I’m not convinced about the longevity of them yet. I also really like Assos but they cost a tonne of loot. You can generally get decent deals from their factory outlet, but the choices are fairly slim from that website.
It really comes down to reading reviews. It’s hard to find reviews from the perspective of a FGOB which is why I’m writing these articles. As I keep trying new products, I’ll keep posting!
What do you think? Are you a FGOB scared to make the leap to spandex? Maybe you have already discoveered the perfect pair of shorts? Let me know in the comments!