One thing I dislike about cycling

One thing I absolutely do not like about cycling

Besides rain and getting stuck in branches with my helmet when I search for a place to camp, it is the cycle short. A tight synthetic underwear kind of garment with a thick patch of foam. It feels unnatural. It looks strange. It is not hygienic.

It sticks to my skin in warm weather. It rubs. It hurts. It’s ugly.

I have tried all options: a padded cycle short from a known brand, a padded cycle short from an unknown brand, a synthetic seamless short for fitness without padding, the same one in cotton. I tried normal underwear but the tiniest seam or thickening rubbed too much on the insides of the legs. And I tried a combination of all above.

I have taped myself with cheap Indian paper duct-tape, with soft elastic expensive European tape. I have put petroleum jelly, talcum powder, titanium nappy cream and anti-chaff gel on my bottom and thighs. I was forced to stop. I had burning sensations where I could not get off the saddle anymore. I experienced open skin. I cursed. I ignored cycle shorts with and without padding. And I longed for it equally…

As much else, cycle shorts tend to have evolved over the last couple of years. The padding in front, the pubic bone area and below, is usually wrong designed. As if the designers used a man to come up with a short for women?

I won’t vent my thoughts about the look or the decency of a cycle short, the hygienic point of view is already terrible enough. For how can you wash a cycle short with padding every day when you are in the desert, or on red earth tracks, or stealth camping day after day? It’s impossible. I tried. It doesn’t work.

Pain in the bottom bones, irritations, chaffing, front itching, sweatiness everywhere

What worked for me, to reduce pain on the saddle, to reduce soreness, to do away with front itching due to too much front padding, was less cycling or shorter days.

There is no perfect cycle short for me, and I think more women experience this. So I thought about it while on the saddle and came up with this:

Designers, here are a few tips

  • Broad waistband in front, high in the back, elastic, not too tight. Double lined so there’s no need for an uncomfortable elastic string pushing your  intestines to mush.
  • Long leg part without anti-slip dots or -strip, double conducted plastic strips hurts, it leaves sores.
  • Foam in front minimal thickness as women sit on their bottom, even if that is a front forward leaning position on a touring bicycle.
  • Foam at bottom bones thick and airy. The padding in a cycle short should be tick on the sit bones and minimal on the pubic bone. Simple.
  • Foam must anticipate according use; thick at bones, thin towards sides. Make it a gradual degradation. Try to have the foamy part merge in with the material of the short.
  • Why must it b.e synthetic? Make it in highly absorbing cotton, or else at least an absorbing cotton liner.
  • No need for an inner pocket plenty of pockets around.
  • No use of reflecting ribbon stitched in the seam this is underwear!

The saddle might be partly to blame. Perhaps suspension might work? A nose-less saddle? Less cycling? I came across an article recently, and I think the solution might be another saddle. Here’s a little (of course very commercial) test.

I am a bit hesitant as a saddle doesn’t come cheap. I hoped with the Brooks B12 saddle I would have found a solution for the Terry Liberator, but to no avail…

The Brook saddle feels comfortable like a cloud but it’s the feel of a marble one.

Not many people bother about their cycle short. I do. I cut off waist bands which are too tight. I do the same with the tight, plastic lined anti-slip on the leg part. While cycling I stop to take them off, in an angry mood. Or I stop to pull them on, equally irritated. AARRGGHHH!!!!!!

Is there something you strongly dislike about cycling?

By Cindy

Years of traveling brought me many different insights, philosophies and countries I needed to be (over 90 in total). I lived in Pakistan, went over 15 times to India and when I stopped cycling the world, that was after 50.000 kilometer through 45 countries, I met Geo. Together we now try to be more self-sustainable, grow our own food and live off-grid. I now juggle with the logistics of being an old-fashioned housewife, cook and creative artist loving the outdoors. The pouches I create are for sale on

30 replies on “One thing I dislike about cycling”

Ouch! I’m sure you already looked at many solutions to the shorts and saddle dilema …FWIW I suspect bike set up/position & saddle choice are important. Bike position I guess you have nailed, so perhaps a new saddle. Have you looked at female specific noseless saddles? There are a few touring models.

Just a thought.

Liked by 1 person

Bike position and angle of saddle are perfectly fine. It’s really the design of cycle shorts that lack thoroughly specific design. Not that my drawing is good. In the beginning of the trip on bicycle I met another female cyclists with a noseless saddle and rode on it for a very short bit. So I can’t say if that’s it?

All I am trying to convey is that it’s a problem among women and something I dislike in an otherwise great lifestyle.


..I think that if you designed your ‘ideal’ shorts and maybe had a prototype made up and sent it to Endura or ALtura, they may even make a ‘signature’ line ? I mean you are one of the the most prevalent Lady tourers on the planet right now & I’m sure other Lady cycle tourers (especially new ones) would be very interested in the ‘Cinderella’ range of female specific cycle touring shorts.

The only thing I ‘hate’ about cycling is the dangerous attitude of some drivers especially here in the UK. Oh and the ‘strava is everything’ brigade!

Anyway…have a great day!

Liked by 1 person

I guess the option to not wear them is out? I’m anatomically somewhat different, but I never wear cycling shorts. Can’t stand them. Like wearing a hot, sweaty diaper. I’ll have to wear one of those soon enough, so, the longer I can delay, the better.

I wear regular underwear boxers and a pair of loose-fitting outdoor pants with zip-off bottoms so the pants can be 3/4 length, just below the knee, or a pair of shorts. I have a Brooks B-17 that is as smooth as can be and my bottom never complains. Lucky, I guess.

I hate the rain covers for your shoes. They are designed by people who don’t cycle. They are always too short. They are not waterproof at all. And they are outrageously expensive. Now, if I have to cycle in the rain, I wear hiking boots with gators and rain paints over top. My feet remain toasty warm and dry.

Bottoms up!


Most cycle shorts, as far as I know all of them, are designed for women who race. So they either have hard muscled upper legs because of a very balanced diet. Or they are just slim legged. Me, and many more every day cyclers, start to become rather fatty on the upper legs! It’s muscle too but fat as well.


Hey Cindy,

Ik heb na de terry, de b17 brooks gehad en dat zat allemaal voor geen meter. Nu de brooks b67 pre aged en daarmee heb ik een zadel voor het leven gevonden !

Echt top, wellicht ook iets voor jou ? Liefs Isa


Hoi Isa,

Toch ben ik daar ook terughoudend mee hoor; weer een Brooks? Het zijn telkens prijzige aanschaffen en hoewel de Brooks goed zit mis ik, denk ik, zo’n uitsnede in het midden. Ik mis denk ik ook een beter ontwerp in zadel algemeen. Brooks heeft die ronde schroefplaatjes, die storen me ook. Maar wellicht heb je gelijk.

Het duurt maanden eer je weet of het dat is en dan of het überhaupt iets is?!

Dank je wel toch! Liefs Cinderella


I think the topic is too personal focused, in order for me to find the right short and saddle. It listen so closely. But I am glad you found your fit! I think I will get a new saddle and short after thoroughly analyzing those two over again.


one company I like for cycle shorts is Shebeest. The mesh liners are great, and the foam liner isn’t too bad, thinner than most. The elastic isn’t too tight around the thighs either. I have tried several brands, and I keep coming back to these. might be worth a shot…I was even thinking of trying merino wool mens briefs 🙂


Thank you Simone, but nowadays I cycle without padded shorts again. I use synthetic runners shorts. I don’t like synthetic but guess what…. I shifted my saddle a bit backwards and the problems are mostly gone! I really hate padded shorts so much. Though, if I ever need them I will check out this brand, I have never heard of it. Where is it made? Thank you for the tip : )) It might be useful one day : )


its an American company, and hard to find in Canada. They do on-line orders though. I’m not one for padded shorts, or anything tight around the legs, I was thinking of ‘modifying’ my old mesh ones (holes all over them now, after 5 years!) haha… and cutting down the padded area to cover just what I need, and see what happens 🙂 thanks for the tip of shifting your saddle backwards, I will give that a go.

ps…….love your blog!!


Thanks for your compliment Simone! I tried cutting out the padding too ; )) but then it leaves you with thick seams where you don’t want them. Now my problems have solved mostly by tight synthetic running shorts (I dislike synthetic though but couldn’t find cotton in Bolivia) and the saddle in a better position. It also helps when I cycle not more than 60 km a day…


Since I found the Selle SMP saddles, my saddle discomfort is gone. I have the Trek Large for longer tours, and the Plus Lady (which requires padded shorts) for commuting. The Brooks B17S was not for me, felt like torture and never got broken in even after several hundred kilometers. The Selle SMP saddles have big cutouts and are one of the most anatomical saddles on the market. They have different sizes to fit your body type. I’m heavily built and this makes it extra difficult to find a comfy saddle. Now this sounds like I’m paid by the saddle manufacturer, but that’s not the case, just so happy to have found a saddle that fits my body!

Liked by 1 person

Hi Lemstbr (?), I think I started with a Selle, not sure. It was rather soft and had an opening in the middle. When I got the Brooks, I could finally get rid of the padded cycle short, which I dislike very much. When on a long tour, lasting for years, a cycle short doesn’t make much sense, since you can’t wash it.

So, the Brooks. I had quite some troubles with it. Until, after 3 years or more on it, some one told me to adjust it slightly more backwards, so I would not touch the potruding revets with my sitbones. This helped much and since then, I have less problems.

Yet, I shove too much on the saddle, in general. I tend to get irritation quickly, since I am (was) often in warm climates. I clean the saddle area after every ride, but keep the short on for 4 days on end (underwear in the night though). So, I guess, it was my saddle story, a sensitive saddle area. Less kilometers (max 50) a day certainly approves much!

Thanks for your feedback, have a good day. Regards Cindy


I also don’t like saddle pains. It’s somewhat less riding in a 45° position but this brings more tension to the neck and to the wrists. Climbing mountain roads also brings less weight to the buttock. But since one year I use a recumbent travel bike (not trike) and I never have regretted. However, for Alpine pass roads I prefer my standard travel bike. The recumbent makes me faster not so much by speed but I can ride pretty long without needing a break.
BW Carl

Liked by 1 person

Hi Carl, thank you for sharing your opinion.

I think there is no one who likes, or is okay to endure saddle pain and I think quite a few people suffer from it. Perhaps it depends on the built of a person?

A recumbent looks fun to me but I guess it is not possible to take any luggage for camping out? For me, camping is essential: I cycle to camp. I mean, I cycle because I want to camp out. Cyling in itself is not so special to me. So the kikbike came as a very pleasant alternative for me. A kickbike can handle quite a lot of gear and never do I suffer saddle pain ; ) though it is harder on the ankles… also, unlike you on the recumbent, I can not make more distance than by bicycle.

Anyway, the distances are not so much important anymore: but the camping is ; )

Wish you happy cycling in a laying position, it does seem fun to me. A very different angle of seeing the route. Greetings Cindy


Standard cycling, I have the choice of sitting nicely upright, but full weight on the ischial bone and the wind straight against me. Or to go into a strange fighting position, my arse riding higher than the head. Or a bit of both.
With your kickbike you probably found one of the most natural positions.
However, on my recumbent pedaling flying carpet I enjoy watching the kites, the herons and the geese flying above and the nightly bats, and I still see enough of the ground. Other talk about wood bathing, but I am gliding like in a bathtub.
Some ride recumbent torpedos that may be twice as fast, on good roads. But I don’t enclose myself in a space capsule.
If you want it more poetical, take not lying but flying bike. Look up for „Gustav Mesmer Flugrad“ and have fun!

Liked by 1 person


Nice to read your thoughts. I think it must be different for each person: some don’t have any saddle pain, others suffer. Short rides are no problem, long race tours MUST be terrible. But racers are not going for comfort but for winning, even when alone ; )

I met with a couple who has a recumbent, one with 3 wheels and one with 2 wheels. Both can attach Ortlieb panniers and actually I think that is really nice to tour… but… the inevitable but… it depends where one want to ride? Forest, tracks, roads, cycle paths?

So, a recumbent with a capsule around it, would not be for me. It might be fast but what can I gain with fast ; ) It\s like a racer perhaps.

As one tours and grows into a certain lifestyle, so does the vehicle change. A kickbike for me seems good, as I can go on soft tracks and just push the vehicle, without having my calves it by the pedals. I suffer no more saddle pain and can make 40 km a day if need be (or much more on roads).

Greetings Cindy and enjoy your flying gliding carpet!


Don't just stop here, I appreciate your thoughts too : )

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