Knicks – Why wear them?

I know we talk alot on this blog about not having to wear lycra, and often, for a short jaunt around town, I don’t.  However, I have to confess, on longer rides (upwards of 40 kms), there’s one bit of lycra I’d hate to have to live without – my knicks.

What are knicks, I hear you say?


Knicks are bike shorts, with a padded rear (the padding is called a chamois).  The make it more comfortable to sit on the bike for long periods of time.  They were traditionally made of wool, with a leather chamois (hence the name chamois), however with the advent of synthetic fabrics, they are now normally made of lycra with some sort of synthetic chamois.


They range in price, from about $20 to upwards of $300.  The variation in quality is usually due to the quality of the chamois.  Cheap knicks often feel as if you are wearing a nappy, whereas the more expensive ones mould the padding to where you need it most.

If you are a bit uncomfortable with wearing straight lycra (I know I am), you can just throw them under a pair of shorts or a skirt.  Alternatively, you can buy shorts/skirts with inbuilt knicks in them.

When you buy them, make sure they are tight.  The last thing you want is a pair of knicks that are too loose, rubbing and causing chafe in places you really don’t want chafe.  If you are unsure about a sizing, err on the side of too small.  They are made of lycra, so will stretch.

Try and buy gender specific knicks.  This is definitely a part of the anatomy that differs from XX to XY, so women’s specific knicks will feel much better then a generic (men’s) knicks.

When you wear them, DON’T, and I repeat, do not, wear underwear with them.  The seams in your underwear will not agree with your riding, especially under tight shorts.  In addition to that, you don’t want your underwear rubbing on your sensitive parts.

All in all, lycra is certainly not mandatory for riding – I’m definitely not advocating that.  However, I’m too old, and my bum is way too soft (or maybe it’s me that’s soft) to be riding long distances, and backing up day after day, without wearing padding!


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