So I am going on a 200mi ride (over 3 days) soon. I was at the bike store getting my bike a once-over before I go, and I was told by the bike specialist, that I would really want to consider buying some bike shorts (the tight spandex kind) with padding. While that is fine, and I am going to take his advice, I dont know anything about wearing said bike shorts.

Do you wear underwear with them? Can I wear shorts over them? Do I really need them?

  • 19
    If you are going on a 200 mi ride and are asking about bike shorts then yes you need them. Nothing under. For dressy occasions I wear a tutu over the top.
    – paparazzo
    Apr 21, 2015 at 22:40
  • 2
    Go for MTB Baggies if you don't like the idea of Lycra. if you must buy Lycra, get black (coloured side panels are fine).
    – mattnz
    Apr 22, 2015 at 1:05
  • In my younger days I rode 80-100 miles/day in plain old lined jogging shorts (which used to really be shorts, before "baggies" became popular). However, I now need every advantage I can get, so I wear the spandex shorts (with nothing under them). Apr 22, 2015 at 1:34
  • 1
    On a long ride a chamois padded seat will save you a lot of pain. MTB baggies are great - if you're a middle-aged man (or anyone but an athlete really) you're doing the world a favour by not riding in sheer Lycra, and you get pockets.
    – user1914
    Apr 23, 2015 at 0:33
  • 2
    I wear normal street pants over the top of my biking pants... Gives a belt and pockets and it feels "normal"
    – Criggie
    Sep 18, 2015 at 0:43

4 Answers 4


Do you wear underwear with them? Can I wear shorts over them?

Absolutely not. Nothing over or under, just the bike shorts.

Do I really need them?

For 200 miles? Hell yeah. Your ass will thank you.

  • 8
    Absolutely nothing under them. If for modesty sake you feel you must cover them, use light weight nylon or other quick drying material. You want something with the flattest seams you can find.
    – mikes
    Apr 21, 2015 at 23:26
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    This answer is essentially just "No. Yes." Although it's been accepted, it provides very little actual information. Why Should one not wear things under or over bike shorts? Why are they needed for a 200-mile ride? Even if you think those things are obvious, remember that the question was asked by somebody who clearly doesn't know these things, or they wouldn't be asking. Apr 22, 2015 at 7:43
  • 1
    Wearing something underneath will cause chaffing. Seatpads are designed to be next to the rider's skin.
    – Carel
    Apr 22, 2015 at 12:34

Yikes. 200 miles, just like that? Have you been training for it at all? I'm not talking about the endurance aspect -- I'm assuming you're in good enough shape to even consider it -- I'm talking about the physical act of your rear end being on a bike seat for 15-20 hours.

Yes, you need the bike shorts, 'taint no question about it. You also need to be ready for the very strong possibility that all your below-the-waist parts will be very angry at you. From the chafing, to the weight of your body on those parts for many, many hours... especially if you're a guy, they way your seat feels after an hour or two may be nothing compared to hour 12.

Don't wear anything over or under, but for that long a ride (especially if I'm gonna be sweaty) I like to shake a good healthy dose of Gold Bond down there to keep too much sweat from getting trapped. Please note that the experience of Gold Bond on your privates isn't something you dive right into the first time. Try a tiny bit first to make sure you don't have a bad reaction.

Seriously consider buying Chamois Buttr (your bike shop probably has some) and applying it liberally inside the shorts before putting them on, to reduce friction.

And most importantly, if at all possible, take as many long rides in these bike shorts as possible before your 200 mile multi-day trip.

  • 7
    Also consider getting multiple pairs of shorts. If you're riding for three days, the last thing you want to be doing is wearing the same sweaty shorts from the day before (and I don't imagine you'll have time to wash them).
    – Holloway
    Apr 22, 2015 at 8:35
  • 1
    Yes to butt butter. There are several good brands, so it doesn't have to be Chamois Buttr. (Be sure you have some paper towels handy when you apply it, especially if doing so in a tent.) Apr 22, 2015 at 11:59
  • 200 miles in one day would be a lot, but the OP said it's over 3 days so it's not that much.
    – Nik
    Apr 22, 2015 at 15:07
  • 3
    Honestly, this seems to be a bit of exaggeration. First trip I took was the same daily distance (about 70 miles a day), but just for two days using normal bikes wearing normal clothes and the only rides I was used to was from and to school... and it wasn't a real issue. Honestly, I guess it's a different story if you're talking about the mountains or something, but here in the Netherlands anybody who is young and healthy would be expected to be easily capable of such a trip~ Apr 22, 2015 at 15:48
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    @DavidMulder well I guess it depends greatly on the bike and the circumstances. Many cruiser bikes have very comfortable padded seats that you could probably sit on forever. It also depends on the exertion level.. is this a nice leisurely ride or is he riding 15+ mph with a group? I'm a 3x amateur Ironman (which is 112 mi for the bike leg) and have known many people who trained for this race (myself included) who were in good shape but building up to that distance was brutal due to the factors I mentioned. Without more context from the OP I wanted to prepare him for the worst :)
    – Tobias J
    Apr 22, 2015 at 16:29

Wow this is getting some discussion.

Yes for a multiple day trip you want bike shorts.

Nothing under as you don't what anything that will bunch up or have seams.

As for over if you don't want the tight shorts there are mountain and commuter shorts with a baggy shell (with pockets). That is probably what you want.

Ideally you would a have clean pair for each day. What can happen is the bacteria will build up and then if you chafe things go bad. At a minimum turn em inside out and let them dry.

At the end of the day get out of the bike shorts as soon as possible and lets things air out. If you can take a shower as soon as possible (and I like baby powder after the shower). Other wise use like a baby wipe.

Take a few 40+ miles rides just to get your butt used to it.

Also form, saddle, and bike fit are factors. A big cushy saddle is more friction. A smooth cadence not rocking on the seat is good. Come out of the seat every once in a while and let things breath. On a downhill you can rock to the side and let things breath. OK no way to say this pretty but pull your junk up get it out of harms way. Be aware of your butt. I have seen people get fatigued and just pedal and pedal in one position.

Things cannot go that bad in 3 days but on longer rides things can really go bad and you can't recover on the ride. Has not happened to me but I have seen people with miserable multiple days rides due to poor crotch maintenance.

I bike a lot and for me I put on bike shorts over 40 miles and clean them after each ride. You don't want to chafe with a lot of bacteria in you shorts.

I am not a fan of the ointments / butters but I know a lot of people are. If you cannot shower what happens is they hold bacterial.


Do you need the special shorts? Definitely yes.

Is it really bad to use underwear? I digress.

I have tested several combinations of clothing, several grades of saddle cushioning and quality (low to mid-range) and even gel covers. I came across the "no underwear" advice far too long after I started riding, so I used underwear all the time and never ever had a problem with it. However, I use briefs rather than boxers.

The best combination I've found is a good quality bike short on a medium range saddle. The amount of cushioning I use is very little for when I'm in top shape and my muscles are well tonified. A little bit more cushion for MTB or when I'm out of shape.

(Gel covers are virtually useless, I only mention them because I have used then a fair amount. I'd only recommend them for very short commutes while using regular clothes on a saddle with no cushion or very little cushion. For any serious riding, get rid of the cover)

I'm primarily an MTB rider with some experience in Downhill. I'm no road rider but I have done several road trips on a hybrid, no suspension bike.

My longest continuous time on the saddle was about 8 hours on MTB (dual susp, low cushion saddle). Was using regular bike shorts with underwear and a baggy short on top.

My road trips have been 6 contiguous days, with max 120km (about 75 mi.) per stage. Did them with bike shorts and bike shorts with tights over them. The only day I used a baggy short I had trouble with rain, as when the short was soaked, It caused stiction against my legs, adding too much effort to pedaling.

These stages where about 4 hours of pedaling, but due to the logistics of the trip I usually had to remain on cycling clothes for another 4 hours before I could take a shower, however, never had trouble with all the layers I use.

Regarding other clothing layers: I have used a lot of extra layers for many purposes. On top of bike shorts I often use "baggy" shorts for MTB, for protection, for the looks and for the pockets.

For DH riding, I use a thing (I don't know the name) that has a lot of padding around the hips and other parts where the usual bike short doesn't. It also does not have the regular padding so it's not redundant with the bike short. On top of that I use a DH pant or short.

For cold weather, I have had success using a runner's tights specially for the thermal characteristics of it. Protects from cold, does not overheat when ambient temp rises, kind of balances temperature among different parts of the leg. (I know there are full leg bike tights, but I've been unable to find ones not made of lycra. I have a pair of lycra ones, and they are ok for protection against sunburn, but no use against cold air.)

For commuting I often use the bike short under the regular pants. No trouble at all. I have never used chamois butter, and almost never had chafing problems. The only times I had mild cases, where precisely while using gel covers rides longer than 2 hours, or when I borrowed a bike with a saddle too wide and too padded.

That being said, I'd never attempt a long ride using a bike, or a saddle type or a clothing combination I have never tried before. On the road trips I mention, I had some novice partners having all kind of small trouble, some of them due to clothing and many due to thinking "more padding is better", poor bike fit and relying gel covers or similar things.

In their case, they had never been on their bike for long enough to notice the fit problems.

Have you ever ridden for as long as your planned trip longest stage? On the same bike or similar one? With the same type of saddle/handlebar/grips or bar tape?

  • I can agree that verythin sport elastic underpants will may not do much harm. I can even agree that in some cases they may actually save one from some bad experience - many cycling shorts case quite significant chaffing on their own. Even well-known brands. Many manufacturers are afraid of showing stitches on the outer sides so they hide them inside the crotch - where they can cause very significant chaffing, even if they are of the flat type. Some additional layer maybe able to cover that. But I do not wear anything, it just feels wrong. Oct 3, 2022 at 8:53

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