I have a pair of the MEC Roubaix tights, and noticed they don't have any padding. Not a big deal for short rides, but...

Are you supposed to wear [spandex] shorts (with padding) underneath?
I went for a roadie group ride, and noticed they were all wearing tights (much thinner material), but under the spandex shorts.

2 Answers 2


The "padding" AKA chamois is a vital guard against chafing-related injuries for anyone who intends to ride appreciable miles on a bike, and I would highly recommend wearing some garment with a chamois for any ride you do. For cold weather riding when simple shorts do not suffice, there are a number of different options. You can:

  1. Wear proper cycling shorts under your chamois-free tights. This provides you with an additional layer of warmth without sacrificing the protection a chamois provides.

  2. Buy leg warmers to complement your cycling shorts. Leg warmers are just an insulated sleeve that goes over your leg and runs from the ankle to just below the crotch. When you say you spotted other cyclists wearing tights under their shorts, it is much more likely that they were only wearing leg warmers. This provides them with the added leg protection, without a layer of material in between their body and the chamois.

  3. Buy tights with a chamois. These are designed to fully replace your shorts, rather than complement them.

Riding any extended distances without a chamois is ill-advised because of the numerous health complications (that's a very bad part of the body to develop open sores), and when you do wear a chamois, it should always be the innermost layer, adjacent to the skin. Whatever else you wear to keep your legs warm just depends on your budget, the temperature, and what you find comfortable.

  • 2
    Excellent answer. As far as I know, a short without that padding shouldn't even be considered a cycling short. Commented Feb 26, 2012 at 23:48
  • 1
    That's interesting. On occasion I've ridden with chamois-free compression tights under my chamois-rich bike shorts and haven't had any problems
    – Mac
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 0:25
  • You can also get chamois/padded cycling underwear to go beneath the long tights in the winter. Or to wear under non-cycling pants at other times of the year.
    – user313
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 7:08
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    It'll vary by person too. Some people have chafing issues after just 5-10 miles. Others don't ever seem to have the problem. Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 14:16

I have a similar tights from MEC which I mostly use for commuting and also a thinner MEC spandex tights which I pair with a Patagonia polypro inner layer which I wear when riding the road bike (group or solo). In both cases, I wear spandex shorts outside the tights. The shorts I use in such cases are those with the thinnest chammy. Why do I wear the shorts outside? Mainly because it protects the tights from chaffing/runs. I noticed the material used for the tights are not as robust as those of the cycling shorts. When temps go north of 0 C, I stop using tights altogether and start using leg warmers... much easier to get into.

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