So, you want to know what’s up with the most unique bit of cycling apparel? If you’re new to biking, a chamois (pronounced ‘shammy’) might look and feel totally foreign and even a bit uncomfortable when you first try it on. But, these specifically designed padded shorts aren’t made for walking. Like clicking ski boots into bindings, once you put your bum on the saddle, you’ll know exactly why you have a chamois on. Here are the top things to know about wearing some extra cushion when you’re pushing the pedals.
1. All padding is not created equal
The most obvious reason to wear a chamois is that it adds a little extra cushion between you and your bike seat. High performance bike saddles tend to be spartan on the padding to save weight and reduce bulk. That leaves it up to you, the rider, to add a little more squish between your underparts and the seat to reduce pressure points. You might be thinking “the thicker the better,” but added volume can cause discomfort of its own. And, fluffy, low density pads can compress and wear out quickly. That's why we use a high density, long lasting foam in our Yogacham that effectively distributes forces while staying thin and flexible.
Our Yogacham's pad was designed with the goal of ultimate chamois comfort.
2. It’s about reducing friction
Pedaling a bike requires the same motion over and over (and over and over) again. While that will make your quads into honed power houses, it can chafe delicate skin. A properly fitting chamois will be snug and secure, staying in place as an extra layer between your body and the bike. Wearing baggy mountain biking shorts over a chamois will further reduce friction by acting as a sort of sliding layer if you crash. Fun fact: originally, chamois were made from thin, soft leather with no padding to help reduce the chafing of wool or cotton shorts. Padding was only added later as material technology improved.
3. A chamois is your underwear
There should be nothing between you and the chamois for optimal performance. No additional underpants, please. An extra layer will only trap moisture, rub, or get bunchy, none of which feel good.
4. Wear it alone or under baggy shorts
As we mentioned before, a chamois can be worn alone or under baggy shorts. It’s really a matter of personal preference and riding style. Our Yogacham is made with a very breathable mesh fabric and designed to be worn under mountain bike shorts. But, if that’s not your jam, there are many chamois made to be worn as standalone bottoms.
5. We love you, but get out
As in, get out of those chamois asap when you're done riding. Good to the last pedal stroke, but as soon as you’re off the bike find a spot to strip off your sweaty shorts. Hanging out in a chamois post-ride can be an invitation for bacteria. Furthermore, do your best to wash your chamois after every single ride. If you’re on a trip, bring two pairs so you can wash and hang dry one pair while you wear the other. Check out our care instructions for our washing recommendations for the Yogacham - (Machine wash cold. Tumble dry low - BTW).
So now that you know what this unassuming, somewhat awkward looking undergarment is really about, you can feel confident slipping on this base layer knowing your body with thank you!
Looking for more mtb gear tips and tricks? Check out our list of the 10 pieces of essential MTB gear for every ride.