The Best Cheap Padded Cycling Shorts for Beginner Cyclists

by lostcyclingdude

Oh, that first, long, bike ride in athletic shorts. Talk about chafing! Here's my favorite pair of long-lasting padded shorts that won't chafe the wallet.

I am a bike short fanatic. The crazy passion is actually a self-preservation technique. After all, when you spend 20 hours a week in the saddle, you become a little obsessed without becoming overly sore "down there".

There was something about those horror stories about pro riders who went in for surgery on their "saddle sores" that stuck with me, I never wanted to become one of them .

All the sales reps probably thought I was weird to spend so much time grilling them on the true effectiveness of their new "anti-bacterial" cloth or the importance of 12 panel vs 8 panel shorts (don't even worry about that right now). But in the end, it helped me make the right choice for my riding.

And, sure, I've enjoyed the luxury of $200+ cycling shorts. But you don't need to spend that much. In fact, if you are a savvy shopper and know how to take care of your cycling shorts, you can get away with spending as little as $50 (Such as the Pearl Izumi Quest Short which we discuss in more detail). Check it out!

Three Things To Look For When Choosing Your First Pair Of Padded Cycling Shorts

Quality Material 

I have sold a lot of padded shorts for around the $30 mark, mostly to new customers.  And it makes sense, these riders know that they want something other than the chafing that they get when they try to ride in their running shorts.  

However, new riders tend to be a little, well, heavier.  And the material in these cheaper shorts don't hold up, but stretch, snag and tear in the first 18 months of riding.  Sure, I've worn holes in the $50 shorts, but I had a lot fewer warranty claims by customers who paid the extra $20.

Good material lasts.  That matters.  

Good material hugs the body without snagging or bunching.  That prevents chafing. 


Don't Miss....

Ewww. Ok, so we need an effective way to keep our shorts clean and bacteria-free, while simultaneously getting as much life out of them. Here are more secrets from the bike shop.

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Quality Seams

This matters for two reasons.  If you buy really cheap shorts, you will find that they are just doing their best to get them to the public with no real product testing.  And there are some places on the insides of your legs where you simply do not want a seam rubbing you raw during your first century ride. 

If you, instead, purchase shorts from a quality company that also sells a lot of high-end products, you will discover two things:

  1. The company creates a better low-end short because they want to protect their reputation.
  2. The company has a better knowledge about those little, important details such as seam placement to make sure that the seams do not chafe, since they also use these tecchniques on their high-end shorts as well. 
Strong seams last longer.
Well-placed seams chafe less.


Quality Padding

And now we get to the important - if overemphasized - part: the padding. You see, all the padding in the world won't help if it doesn't flow smoothing with your body.  And the padding can't flow smoothly unless the shorts are well constructed with quality seams and strong, supportive compression material. 

However, if you have all of that, then getting the right padding is easy.  Just make sure that you are buying the correct gender type of shorts and you should pretty much always end up with the right padding.  And, just like when buying shorts with good seams, you can "get lucky" by purchasing from an established company with a lot of high-end shorts.

In fact, you will often find that their technology "trickles down" so what used to be "high-end" will eventually become "entry-level" after about 5 years... giving that new rider an even better deal.

My Recommendation

You asked for it, so here it is: The Pearl Izumi Quest padded cycling short.

Almost 200 cyclists can't be wrong. Click here to read more Amazon Reviews on the Pearl Izumi Quest short. 

The Pearl Izumi Quest - Best Beginner Cycling Short

The Pearl Izumi Quest Short Combines Functionality With Price
The Pearl Izumi Quest Short Combines Functionality With Price

Sure, I mostly used the Pearl Izumi Attack shorts, but then I was also consistently in the saddle for 20+ hours a week. 

But one of my first pairs of shorts I ever bought was a pair of Pearl Izumi Quest's.  And I rode the heck out of them, finally killing them in a bike wreck. 

Unless you are consistently riding more than 100 miles every week - this should be all the short you need!

Like I said earlier, they are $20 more than the others, but they are worth every penny.  In fact, if you aren't willing to shell out the $50 for these shorts, you are probably better off toughing it out on your bare rear-end and just harden yourself up.  

Because I haven't seen a $30 pair of shorts that was worth the cost. 

Pearl Izumi also makes a women's version of the Quest that is guaranteed to make your butt look fat. 

Updated: 06/13/2012, lostcyclingdude
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CyclingFitness on 10/09/2012

Clearly a cycling noob- Bibshorts are far more comfortable and will hold in place better. They will also keep your backside covered up and provide protections from chills to your lower back

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