Chamois -aka- shammy -aka- the padding in your cycling shorts or pants.
If you’ve been pronouncing this word as “sham wah”, you’re not technically wrong. Chamois is a French word, however, in English, it’s pronounced as “shammy”.
Your shammy should literally be the best thing since sliced bread. This padding affectionately stands in between you and a long, enjoyable ride. It provides comfort, protects against road friction, and alleviates pressure, allowing you to focus on and enjoy the ride. However, not all shammies are created equally.
Here are the top 3 things you should consider when purchasing cycling shorts or pants with a shammy:
1. Is it designed for men or women? Yes – sex does matter. Women and men are anatomically different. A shammy designed specifically for a woman will have different contact points, and be smaller in size. Your shammy should not feel like a diaper.
2. What is the material? Thicker and softer is not always the answer. Shammies are made with varying materials, including foam and gel. This is a personal decision. What’s most important is its antimicrobial properties and sweat wicking abilities. Keeping you dry and comfortable are important for those longer rides.
3. What is the intended distance and type of ride? A light, recreational ride under 10 miles may not require the same comfort as a 50-mile ride. A triathlon will likely require a triathlon suit (tri-suit), which typically has a much lighter and thinner pad than a cycling skinsuit. A rockier ride and terrain will likely need more protection and comfort to go the distance.
There is a science to designing a shammy. However, choosing one shouldn’t be. What are some best practices you use when choosing cycling short or pants?