I've read online not to wear underwear with bike shorts. Unfortunately, I don't have cycling specific attire. What would be a best clothing to wear (below the waist, specifically) for first time 75 km ride on the road? Riding "Ride For Heart" in Toronto this Sunday, using Norco Cyclocross bike.

Update: Thank you all for the advice. The ride went well and we finished in about 3.5 - 4 hours. Avg Speed was ~20 km/h. Highest recorded - 37.5 km/h :) Used normal synthetic gym shorts with synthetic undies. No rash, but my butt hurts a bit today :)

  • 3
    Just wear comfortable shorts.
    – Max
    Jun 1, 2018 at 16:25
  • 2
    Comfortable "mowing the lawn" shorts, and inside them some jockey style underwear. Or lined jogging shorts. The main thing is to not have the shorts binding as you move your legs up and down. Jun 1, 2018 at 20:08
  • 2
    It might be too late to be making major changes before a big event.
    – Criggie
    Jun 1, 2018 at 23:36
  • I've been wearing basketball shorts for years for way longer than 75 km, usually with a pair of compression shorts for longer rides rather than boxers/boxer briefs.
    – Batman
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:00

6 Answers 6


I'd invest in a pair of bike shorts.

Casual riders going short distances on big comfy saddles can get away with casual or regular sports clothing. You won’t be able to do that riding significant distance on a sports saddle.

Bike shorts have padding, obviously, but are also constructed so there is no seam between rider and saddle. Regular sports shorts have a central crotch seam that is painful to ride on.

The reason to not wear underwear under bike shorts is to not re-introduce seams between rider and saddle.

  • 2
    I wear a pair of general spandex shorts under my bike shorts. That way they don't get as dirty, don't have to be washed as often, and wear out less. Jun 1, 2018 at 20:06

I didn't get proper bike shorts until I was routinely riding over 100km. Before that (and still for commuting) I just went for whatever I would wear in the gym. However cheap gel-padded (not foam-padded) shorts from ebay have been very good for me. I haven't seen them in real shops but tend to avoid real shops if possible.

If you're in gym shorts, it's probably a good idea to wear something underneath, to avoid draughts etc., though fully lined shorts designed for some sports are also good without.

I do suggest that on both halves you wear something that doesn't hold too much water, whether sweat or an unexpected soaking. You can get very cold even on a warm day riding wet.

  • 2
    Additionally get a good chamois cream from your bike shop, to apply generously to the skin where your bottom is going to touch the saddle. It is worth the money.
    – Carel
    Jun 1, 2018 at 14:32
  • 2
    @Carel I wouldn't bother with chamois cream unless wearing padded shorts (and not even then for less than about 100km)
    – Chris H
    Jun 1, 2018 at 19:08
  • 1
    Not only does riding wet get you cold--loss of energy can too. I've been shivering on 80 degree days simply because I run out of energy to keep my body heat up with my clothes just slightly damp from sweat. My only advice here is--don't replicate my stunt.
    – user31272
    Jun 2, 2018 at 14:23
  • @Hosch250 that's certainly true. I've done the same a few times but only after at least 150km/100 miles so I didn't think of it in this context
    – Chris H
    Jun 2, 2018 at 16:36
  • I'm not in nearly as good shape as you. It happens to me on a 20mi ride with hills in the 80s/90s.
    – user31272
    Jun 2, 2018 at 18:21

You don't wear underwear under cycling-specific shorts because they have a cushioned pad in them that's designed to sit against your skin. If you wear underwear, too, things supposedly slide around too much and chafe. (I say "supposedly" as I've always just followed the advice so I've no personal experience of the effects.) Non-cycling-specific shorts don't have the pad, so there's no particular reason not to wear underwear with them.

Consider how far you've already ridden that bike in one go and how you felt after that. When I got my road bike, I started riding in regular gym shorts and that was fine for me until I started riding about 65km, at which point the hard saddle made my butt ache enough that I went out and bought some proper cycling shorts. However, that was just the tipping point where I decided to get the proper gear. 65km got a bit uncomfortable so I spent some money to avoid that. It's not like I was in pain or dying or anything so I'm pretty sure I could have done 75km with nothing worse than discomfort.

However, for commuting (5–25km, depending on what route I take), I still just wear the gym shorts, because they're completely fine at that distance and nobody in the office needs to see me in MAMIL* mode.

Long story short, if I was going to cycle 75km, I'd prefer to get some padded cycling shorts, but I'd be OK in gym shorts. You have a different butt on a different saddle and possibly different financial priorities.

* Middle-aged man in lycra.

  • Padded boxers to wear under normal gym are available, still more comfortable than just standard underwear.
    – Carel
    Jun 1, 2018 at 19:36

You don't necessarily need bike shorts for a long ride. I have never owned a pair, and haven't thought that I needed them on longish rides.

Try to find a pair of gym/exercise shorts that is:

  • thin
  • loose
  • short (bottom falls above your knee)
  • stretchy

Most big box/department stores sell a pair Hanes or Fruit of the Loom shorts that fit this description for dirt cheap.

The best part is that you can get 2 pairs, and change shorts when you take a break half way through the ride!


I guess there are two choices: elastic, or loose.

It's likely to get wet (from sweat), so tight and inelastic (and wet) isn't a good combination ... that would cause chafing.

I guess bike shorts are tight and elastic (and synthetic) -- stereotypically lycra or spandex.

I wear cotton shorts (which other users on this site are almost sure to downvote), which aren't elastic, and not tight either: they're like dress shorts or cargo shorts, I wear them with a belt. Also loose cotton "boxer" underwear under that (with an elastic waist but no elastic around the legs).


Relatively new cyclist here. Cheapskate, too.

For short rides (up to 40 miles) I wear denim short pants and boxers underneath. By the end I am usually glad to get off of my bike.

This past April I rode the MS150, wearing the padded cycling shorts. It would have been impossible to do this ride without them.

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