We love cycling chamois. That thin piece of foam has a dramatic effect on your ride comfort and quality. It can be the difference between pain-free riding and bibshorts ending up in landfill with residual anger and resentment from an unhappy cyclist radiating from it.
So we thought it was time to talk chamois so you can understand how we choose what to use for Spin bibshorts, but also to give you a little crash course in why chamois are so important.
There’s a lot at stake for the humble bike chamois. For most people the wrong chamois for them will be uncomfortable and they won’t want to ride in those bibshorts anymore. For the very unlucky few it can get much worse. A bad chamois, or a diabolically incompatible chamois for the individual, can end in physical damage.
Cycling has always had a cult of suffering about it. We’re all for hard earned leg fatigue from a long, and hard ride but your contact points should be helping your ride and not hindering it. So we thought it was time to talk chamois! What makes a good chamois? How do we choose them? What do we use? In the end we want you to be confident that your experience on the bike is the most important thing to us. We choose the chamois we think give you the best chance to never have to think about your chamois.
HOW CAN IT ALL GO WRONG
The first problem is that chamois can get blamed for discomfort that originates from somewhere else on the bike. A poor bike fit or no bike fit at all, the wrong saddle, or cleats positioned wrong can all lead to saddle soreness and some might attribute that to the chamois; it being the closest thing to the pain. The World’s best chamois can’t fix poor positioning on the bike.
A chamois can cause discomfort from:
- Being too thick and low density. It turns out less is more when it comes to chamois and thicker isn’t necessarily better. Thick chamois generate more heat and disperse sweat poorly. Thinner, higher density is the way to go.
- Having too much texture. Chamois touch very sensitive areas of the human anatomy. Texture creates friction and you definitely don’t want that.
- Density ledges. Multi-density chamois have been in-vogue for the last few years. They’re not inherently bad, but they can clash with some individual’s anatomy. Some riders can find themselves sitting right on top of a “density ledge” where it goes from thick to thin, causing discomfort.
- Stitching. The way chamois are stitched into shorts is something to be aware of. Ideally you want the stitching far from the pad itself, and for flatlock stitching because it doesn’t create friction. Certainly avoid any chamois with stiching connecting different layers together inside the pad itself.
- Chemicals. Some chamois are not made to stringent chemical testing standards and can have irritating substances in them when they reach the customer. This can result in chemical burns once they get hot and sweaty. Large, reputable chamois makers are open and transparent with their chemical testing to reassure customers of their product quality.
Just a note that the list above was adapted from an article I wrote for La Velocita in conjunction with Meraki Australia’s Sarah Thompson who’s an expert on chamois. Check out the article, and be sure to check out Meraki because Sarah is awesome.
Many brands won’t say what chamois is in their bibshorts, and will choose to give it a generic name. It’s a little funny because they’ll almost always have the manufacturer’s logo on them when inspected. So they might be listed on a brand’s website as Super comfort ultra-mega performance evo-X 5000 but an Elastic Interface logo printed on them is a bit of a giveaway of its origin.
We always spruik the third party chamois we use. Why wouldn’t we? We aren’t a chamois company and we’re proud of the pads we choose. We want you to know what it is and why we chose it.
OUR APPROACH TO CHAMOIS SELECTION
Spin’s always considered the chamois to be the most important component of bibshorts so we make sure to put the best one we can. It’s always our goal to have the highest specification chamois at our price points. Some brands will put very cheap chamois in very expensive shorts. We don’t. It’s just not something we’re willing to compromise on.
So with that in mind it’s time to talk about our chamois.
Now, that’s a little difficult because we can’t say what’s in our Core 1 bibs. It’s a high-end product that we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to use. We can say that it adheres to all of the best practices listed above. In both men and womens it’s; single high-density, low thickness, un-textured, flatlock stitched, and chemical free. It’s a race-oriented chamois but still rated for up to 7 hours in the saddle. We’ve personally tested it on longer rides than that and it’s still damn comfortable.
Core 2 is a little different; we can say that it’s Elastic Interface’s Endurance 2.5 chamois. Again, it’s single-density, un-textured, flatlock stitched, and chemical free. We went thicker with this pad because of our customer diversity. We’ve always been involved in endurance mountain biking and we wanted a chamois to suit long road and off-road rides. The Endurance 2.5 is rated for over 7 hours in the saddle and they’ve done everything up to 24 hour XC mountain biking.
OUR FUTURE CHAMOIS SELECTION
We’re already casting our minds ahead to future products and we’ve sourced some very cool new chamois that we’re making into prototypes. There’s some emerging brands that are pushing boundaries with ultra-thin, weight-specific chamois that we’ll start testing soon. It’ll either be good fun, or end in a sore arse for our testers. Either way, we’ll make sure everything that ends up for sale to you is something we endorse and tested ourselves.