26 June 2011 ~ 0 Comments

How to Pick a Chamois Short

This past week I got in a pair of Origin 8 TechSport cycling shorts to review. This is the in-house brand of J&B Importers, one of my main cycling suppliers.
First I did a 2-hour training ride, then a 3+ training ride, and finally on June the 25th, I did an 8-hour 200K ride (125 mile, self-supported “permanent”). In all cases I was using a rather new unpadded Gilles Berthoud leather saddle, which, with each ride, was feeling more broken in (I pre-softened it using tons of Mink oil). On the 200K it felt very comfortable with no apparent chafing or sit bone pressure.
As a taller-than-average person (6′ 4″), my biggest worry is that the inseam would be too short. A pair of Airius bibs (another J&B brand) I purchased previously fit like a ladies garment — way too short for a guy, especially a tall guy. The length of the TechSport short was fine and actually appeared to provide just a little more coverage than my 9″ Craft Active Shorts (which, by the way, they feature a stretchy chamois in every model they offer). The fit of the waist seemed comfortable. The “large” size fit my 35-inch waist fine. It has perhaps a slightly looser fit, compared to my Craft shorts or bibs, but felt similar to the fit of Canari products I have. The chamois appeared adequate in size, or perhaps a little on the large size, which is fine, as I am using a wider-than-average saddle. For the shorter rides, the TechSport was very comfortable and I experienced no issues. For my 200K ride I used Lantiseptic Skin Protectant for my chamois creme, applying it to both my skin and a little to the chamois. On  this ride, it felt comfortable all day, until I got home. I had a large abrasion rash on my right-hand side sit bone area. It was about 4 x 6 cm in size. My right side is an “area” where I have known problems, and, for whatever reason, is always more sensitive — but I have never had such sizable rash there before.

After comparing the chamois found on my Craft shorts (& bibs), I discovered what appears to be perhaps a design flaw of this generic “Made in China” product: the fold points in the chamois are poorly placed. Look at the photo of both shorts. I have drawn a line where there SHOULD be another crease in the chamois of the TechSport. I believe those wrinkles chafed my skin during this all-day ride. The true test will come later next week, when I do yet another long ride, using same saddle, but using a different pair of bibs. UPDATE: 3 days later, I did another (solo, self-supported) 200K with the same bike, saddle and chamois creme, but wearing a pair of Craft bibs — big difference with no chafing whatsoever,  just some very minor redness.

CONCLUSION: I cannot recommend this product for long endurance rides, but it might perhaps be OK for shorter training rides only.

So when looking at any prospective chamois shorts or bibs, hold them in curved shape, as if it was on your body, and view the positioning or shape of the wrinkles, if any!

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