I have a pair of performance bike cold weather tights that have some fabric padding where a chamois normally would be. Should i wear these tights over underwear (worry about chaffing), bike shorts (too much padding) with chamois or nothing at all?

Never had a pair like this before, so I'm wondering what the best practice is with these type of tights?

There is no kind of foam or gel, just a thick piece of fabric.

  • 1
    So, they have a chamois, but it is so bad that you are just calling it fabric padding? Jan 7, 2016 at 22:59
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    Yeah, it's basically like they cut out a piece of sweatpants material and sewed it on where the chamois would be. Could you call it a chamois?
    – Benzo
    Jan 7, 2016 at 23:05
  • Maybe some kind of lycra/spandex short underneath? Depending on how effective you feel this fabric pad is, you could get unpadded lycra running shorts, or padded cycling shorts? Also these "shorts" come in various lengths - over the years I've seen thigh-length, knee-length, even ankle-length.
    – PeteH
    Jan 8, 2016 at 11:49

3 Answers 3


TL;DR If it's got a pad, don't wear anything under it. - Benzo

I've owned several pair of cold weather cycling tights, including some that were questionably "cycling" tights because they had no padding/chamois. I've always found it best to wear nothing underneath when there is any sort of padding. If there is no padding whatsoever (just a tight) putting a set of bike shorts/bibs underneath is your best bet. For anything with a pad/chamois/additional material, any additional warmth requirements should be layered on top (long underwear, shell pants, rain pants, wind fleece, etc).

In your case, I may consider either getting rid of them in favor of something with a real winter chamois (should be thicker) or possibly try to remove the extra "pad" and use bike shorts/bibs underneath.

Seat fit is a dicey enough proposition without mixing pads and hoping the combination is not worse than nothing.

FWIW Disclaimer: I wear bib shorts down to about 10F (usually with over baggy shorts or a wind pant up to 40F). I wouldn't ever wear my winter bib tights at a temperature above 10F, so it's rare that I would ever want to take them off and have something underneath. I won't ever buy a winter tight unless it has a thicker pad in it. I'll take all the insulation I can get sitting on a -20F seat. For that reason I find my lightly "race padded" bib shorts to be inappropriate for actual winter riding.

  • 1
    TLDR: If it's got a pad, don't wear anything under it. So that's what I did last night on a short mountain bike ride. It felt fine, no chaffing or other ill effect. I had previously worn bibs under these tights and it felt like I was sitting on too much padding.
    – Benzo
    Jan 8, 2016 at 15:08

I would try removing the padding since it's so awful.

I try to buy non-padded poly-pro tights, because I care less about speed and more about warmth. I wear those over my padded knicks, and sometimes under lycra tights that I add for their slight wind resistance (better than polypro, anyway).

This is also "try it and see". If you can ride with just the tights do that, if you can put up with the extra padding I'd go with knicks under tights (makes removing the tights if you heat up easier). You might find that lowering your seat 1-2mm when you're using both lots of padding helps, or it might not be worth the hassle.


Of the two varieties of winter tights - padded or unpadded - I prefer the unpadded because it allows for better layering with your favourite padded bib shorts. The tights your have - err towards the unpadded variety and without actually seeing the level of padding - I would guess a pair of padded shorts should be worn with them.

Proper cycling lycra should not be worn with underwear as this would chaff and irritate.

  • This video by GCN is really good - youtube.com/watch?v=mBK4ZyYXrw8
    – OraNob
    Jan 7, 2016 at 23:41
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    I never had a problem with underwear until I lost enough weight to make some slack. Then there were some horror rides! The fix was both no-undies and buying much tighter-fitting pants, instead of cheap $20 chinese ones.
    – Criggie
    Jan 7, 2016 at 23:48
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    Most underwear doesn't have flatlock seams, has the tendency to bunch up in all the wrong places and soak up the perspiration rather than help transport it away from the skin.
    – OraNob
    Jan 8, 2016 at 10:13

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