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Cycle & Ride Like a Boss (Mind ya underbits)

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

(Updated January 2023)

Cycling Instructor Sandy Beaches on bike with cycling shorts
Cycling Instructor Sandy Beaches 📷 @georgespictures

Every single one of us has made this cycling mistake when it comes to jumping on a spin bike, going for a ride in the neighborhood or showing up for your first group road cycling ride: wearing underwear or the wrong type of pants.

OUCH... 😭

OK... let’s say you are that rare newbie that has been attending cycling classes at the local RIDE Indoor Cycling Studio where our favorite #ridetribe cycling instructor Sandy Byrne teaches. (This lady is amazing...her internal ride every thing, every where, all time and riding makes her feel like she can accomplish anything!)

📽️Scenario...picture this ...

After a few weeks of regularly attending spin classes, your favorite wonder-woman undies in bright red peek out from beneath your favorite Athleta capris, and the nice lady next to you on bike 6 leans over and says, "Bless your heart, honey, you don't wear undies when you ride your bike indoors or under your bike shorts- that is a no and not good for you."


It happens on the trail and road rides as well - we went out on a scout ride for the PinkStrong Shero Ride, and Irene stated immediately after the ride, "I think I need a new seat - I am raw in all the wrong places💔." After a few probing questions, we found her undies were interfering with her ability to be amazing and she had on running compression pants with thick seams.😱

We'll save you from those awkward beginner moments by providing you with a simple instruction to correctly wear those cushioned, lined or padded bike shorts.

We got you, friend.

Let’s get you riding like a boss and give you a guide on how to wear cycling shorts appropriately for attending spin classes or riding outside on the roads, trails, and gravel cycling paths.

Ride Indoor Cycling  Class Spin Instructor Sandy
Fun Live Ride Indoor Cycling Class led by Sandy

How to Properly Wear & Buy Cycling Shorts

So you've taken the plunge and purchased a pair of bike shorts with a cushioned, sewn-in chamois (pronounced "shammy"). You're left with just one question: How do I put these things on?

Put that one in the category of "Things Nobody Tells You." Whether you're new to the sport or have been pedaling for years without cushioning, you've probably heard that you should purchase some "appropriate" bike shorts. However, the guidance usually ends there, which, to be honest, may lead to some very awkward rider mistakes.

Panties and tightey whites need to be uninvited to every spin class, trainer and bike ride you have planned for the future.

Leave The Undies At Home.

The obvious first step is to wear your bike shorts without underwear. The chamois inside the shorts is intended to drain sweat and dry fast, which not only keeps you cool but also prevents germs from growing, which may cause rashes and blisters.

The chamois is also designed to sit snugly against your skin when you pedal in the saddle, preventing friction and chafing.

That means going commando in your chamois shorts, because wearing underwear adds an extra layer of material—often cotton—as well as more seams and other details that might trap moisture, bunch up, and create friction. Because friction is not your friend, leave the drawers at home.

How To Put On Cycling Shorts

No one ever teaches you how to put on bike shorts. There is a sure-fire simple two-step method you can use to put on your shorts to guarantee your chamois is ready for the ride.

To ensure that they operate effectively, and avoid having an angry kitty kat or raging manly bits full of grief- you should put them on correctly.

What does that even mean? The fabric nearest your treasure box should be smooth and taut throughout - [tight is right most of the time], with no sagging or bunching, and the chamois should fit tightly against your skin.

It should feel like a second skin when you put on your cycling shorts.

Pull on the shorts, then lay a hand over the pad between your legs and bend your right leg up and out, pushing the pad firmly into position, then repeat with the left leg. When finished, the shorts should fit snugly and smoothly over your body, with no sagging, bunching, or bagging.

How To Wear Bib Cycling Shorts

Place the straps beneath your jersey.

If you're wearing bib shorts (shorts with suspender-like straps that keep the shorts in place), the straps are meant to be worn underneath, not over, your cycling jersey. If you're wearing a base layer, slip it into your shorts and tie the straps over it before pulling on your jersey.

For women, the following should be worn in the following order: sports bra, base layer, bib straps, and jersey.

MTCC female road cycling grop
MTCC Austin #GirlGang Photo Credit: Mrs. Thomas

Should You Butter Your Bum?

Some people choose to add chamois cream—an anti-chafing balm or lotion that you apply to your skin or the pad—to further minimize friction and the danger of chafing.

Did you know... chamois cream was required when chamois pads were composed of high-quality leather, similar to a baseball glove, rather than high-tech synthetic material. Today's meticulously made chamois pads, on the other hand, are built to function without them.

Personally, we feel there is something wrong if you need to rub all types of lotion on yourself.

To bike without friction or sores, you shouldn't require a bucket of chamois cream. You most likely have shorts that do not properly suit your physique.

Many on of the cyclists and riders on our team swear with the right shorts for the distance, type of riding and seat setup - they only have to use a minimal amount chamois cream. We welcome a bum check after our next training ride for any of our PinkStrong Events.

Worth mentioning that if you’re going to be riding in wet conditions, especially for a long ride, chamois cream can provide added protection in those more extreme circumstances.

Likewise, if you plan to ride on gravel or rough unpaved surfaces where you may be shifting around in the saddle a lot, a layer of lotion can help reduce friction and keep you comfortable.

Buy the Right Bike Shorts for Your Body

Coeur - All Bodies All Sizes - Cycling Bottoms size chart
Image: Coeur - All Bodies All Sizes - Cycling Bottoms

If you haven't yet made the switch to cycling shorts, or if the ones you have aren't cutting it, these suggestions will help you select the finest cycling shorts for you for spin classes and biking outdoors.

Start with Gender Specific

Everybody is different, but generally speaking, men and women have different proportions and they definitely have different anatomy, which means different cuts, fits, and chamois for men’s and women’s cycling shorts.

Women’s chamois pads are generally wider in the rear to accommodate wider sit bones and have a shorter, rounder nose.

Men's chamois pads are less broad in the back, but have a longer nose cutout, typically with a central cutout, to offer cushioning without putting too much pressure on men's soft tissues.

Men's shorts may additionally have an extra layer and/or insert in the front to support male anatomy and minimize pressure in that area, reducing the danger of numbness or the need to "adjust" throughout the ride.

Thick thighs save lives and need some love too. Having a chamois whose seams and thickness contour to your body is a plus.

Coeur Sports makes a women's cycling short with a terry chammy that has no seams and doubles as a wicking terry cloth that runs down the sides of your thighs, perfect for those that need minimal padding.

Coeur Sports Cycling  bibs for women
Image Credit: Coeur Sports Cycling Bibs

Bibs For Female Athletes Who Love To Cycle

You can wear regular shorts with a waistline or bibs, which do not have a waistband and are kept up by straps that slip over your shoulders like suspenders.

Bibs offer many unique benefits, including the fact that they are better at keeping the chamois in place; they avoid bunching or digging in at the waist when riding in a bent-over posture; and if your jersey rides up, you are not left with exposed flesh in the back.

Many cycling instructors, enthusiasts, and individuals who participate in endurance cycling start out wearing normal shorts and later switch to bibs cycling shorts.

The most significant disadvantage of wearing bibs is during restroom breaks. Women's bib shorts have been enhanced by brands by introducing models with drop-tail choices that enable quick mid-ride pit stops without having to disrobe to slip the straps off your shoulders.

For males, most companies cut the bibs low enough in the front that you can easily take them down for a pee break.

However, some riders prefer the comfort of shorts or prefer not to wear straps over their shoulders. If you fall into such a category, there are lots of high-quality non-bib shorts to select from.

Cheap Shorts & Going The Distance

Lower-end cycling shorts often have a simple, consistent chamois pad all the way around. Higher-end shorts have multi-density foam cushions that place thicker cushioning where it's needed and thinner padding where it's not.

If you simply take short rides, 5 miles or less, you can use pretty much whatever cushioning you want. That was the general consensus when polled in our SBF Fun Club & FastChix groups.

If you plan on taking longer rides, a higher-end pair of shorts with multi-density cushioning is worth the extra money. It will provide superior support and keep you comfortable during the ride.

Female cyclist in PinkStrong Triathlon race
image credit: PinkStrong Triathlon Austin, TX 2022

Bike Shorts Fit & Trying On

Don't wear cycling shorts on your first ride without first trying them on, especially if you bought them from Amazon, Ali Express, or from a new cycling vendor you don’t have history with.

Try them on-and for sanitary purposes and only in this instance-with undies on.

Because everybody is different, one brand's medium may fit like another brand's small, and not every cycling short will fit every rider’s body the same way.

With your tightest undies on to avoid bunching, pull on the shorts.

Bend over, sit down, walk fast, get into "bike position" and check for waistband rolling, crack exposure, sausage leg band gripping or roll ups, and last but not least-make sure the seams are aggravating your lady or manly bits.

You have to select a cut that flatters your shape.

They should be consistently tight all over without being restrictive or restricting circulation in any way. They should also not droop anywhere, particularly at the back, where loose material might snag on your saddle.

Caring For Cycling Pants * Bike Shorts.

Finally, after you've found a pair of cycling shorts you adore, a little care and attention will guarantee that they last.

Hand wash or machine wash on the mild cycle to clean your shorts.

Hang them inside out to dry. The thickest part of the shorts - you want to make sure drys properly.

Female MTB Riders on Trail
Photo Credit: Liv Cycling

How to Wear Cycling Shorts Correctly Guide Summary

While this may seem like a lot of information for a basic pair of shorts to ride your spin bike in or go cycling with friends out on the trail, being comfortable is one of the most essential aspects of riding happily, and having the perfect pair of shorts that fit well and complement your riding style may make all the difference.

Men and women have different proportions and anatomy, which means different chamois for men's and women's cycling shorts.

Men's shorts may have an extra layer and/or insert in the front of the shorts to support male anatomy. Women's shorts are generally wider in the rear to accommodate wider sit bones. If you plan on doing longer rides, invest in a higher-end pair of shorts with multi-density padding.

And remember the first rule: Commando is always the way to go when using cycling and biking shorts.

Every single one of us has made a cycling mistake when it comes to wearing underwear in “workout clothes” and “cycling shorts”.

The chamois inside the shorts is intended to drain sweat and dry fast, which keeps you cool and prevents germs from growing.

Don't be afraid to wear your bike shorts without underwear. There is a sure-fire simple way to put on your bike shorts for ultimate comfort. The cloth should be stretched smooth and taut with no sagging or bunching, and the chamois should be snugly against your skin.

If you're wearing bib shorts, wear them underneath, not over, your cycling jersey. A layer of lotion can help reduce friction and keep you comfortable in the saddle.

Lastly, plans that involve riding on gravel or cycling on rough unpaved surfaces - highly suggest to apply some bum chaffing before you go out for a ride - especially if this is a "new to you" type of riding scenario.

Sending you tailwinds and happy riding good vibes.🚲


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