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No but(t)s about it.

Posted by Lexi Miller on

When I first started cycling, I was a little apprehensive about wearing shorts with padding in the seat.  I mean, who wouldn't be?  I was also really confused about why it was called a "chamois".  After a ride or two, the necessity for the "buttpads" was clear.  The name "chamois" wasn't, however.  

So, why is it called a chamois?  Add this to the list of questions I had when I started riding a bike (e.g. What to I need pockets on my back for?  What's a tire lever and OHDEARLORD I hope I never have to use it?)  

I knew that a chamois was something used to dry cars, and something you see those Olympic divers use to dry off quickly because it is soft, porous and absorbs moisture quickly.  But really, back in the day, that's what people had in their shorts??  Yes, really!  But there's more.  A chamois is a kind of a mountain goat, and their skin is what was used to make primitive cycling shorts "comfortable".

Picture it: black wool shorts, an oiled leather saddle, and nothing but a piece of leather to keep you comfy.  Thus, chamois cream.  Cyclists would apply it directly to the chamois itself so it would soften.  Yikes.

We've come a far way.  But would you believe that the evolution away from a natural chamois to what we know today didn't happen until the 1980's?  Enter microfibers: nylon, polyester, and spandex.  Also, enter women into the sport.  

Today's chamois is highly evolved, meticulously researched, and designed to fit our bodies and cycling disciplines.  It accounts for at least one third of the cost of our materials.  It's what sits between you and good day on the bike or a rotten day on the bike.  It is important.  Quality matters.  So how do you know if your chamois is high quality or a pile of rubbish?

*Pssst, we're letting you behind the curtain a bit here.*  But really, whether you love our shorts or someone else's chances are *if* you love them, they too source from THE industry leader, Elastic Interface.  You, the rider should know what to look for when you are buying cycling shorts. 

When you see this logo, you know you're in good hands...I mean, you know what I mean.  

xo Alexis

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1 comment

  • joany c. on

    I bought my first bike in the mid-’70’s, which was pre-chamois. How clever I thought of myself when I finally started to fold a small kitchen towel or bathroom hand towel into thirds length-wise and then in half, and placed this mass into my underwear. The shorts I wore to ride the bike were the same shorts I wore running: cotton with probably a 3 or 4 inch inseam. Oh, and they were men’s shorts. Women’s athletic gear wasn’t around then, except for the 1940’s style gym suits we wore at school, leotards for gymnastics and tutu’s for ballet and figure skating.

    When chamois shorts arrived, my first thought was that someone had stolen my towel-in-the-pants idea and I should have patented it. Anyway, the chamois changed my [cycling] life and here I am 43 years later. I retired as early as possible from an incredibly stressful and tedious administrative management position in the Oakland area and I moved to Spain in March 2018. So far, I’ve ridden the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain, completed a 6 day cycling tour of the Italian Alps which included Mont Zoncolon and Passeo Stelvio, and I’ve been to the French Pyrenees twice. This is in addition to the 3 or 4 rides a week in Girona, Spain, where I can roll from my door to some of the best cyclinfg in Europe.

    Thanks to people like Lexi, we now have beautiful, functional and WOMEN’S ONLY cycling gear. I love my bike and the joys that cycling brings to my life. If I’d let that initial discomfort stop me, where would I be today?

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