10 mistakes to avoid when using bike shammies


Is it always the chamois’ fault when we have pain in the perineal area? Absolutely not. In fact, the cause should be found in our lack of attention regarding the shammy, chamois or saddle depending on the circumstances. We must also remember to place considerable attention to the manufacturers of the pads we choose, looking at the brand, the fabrics used, the design and the technology. Don’t rush to buy your bike pad in a casual manner, but always look carefully at the various details, and remember that Elastic Interface is considered to be a leader at world level in the field of shammy pads, thanks to the highest quality of the fabrics and products used, to the constant innovation capacity and scientific research which is continuously developed together with the leading experts in the sector.

We are the only company in the world to have received the ISO 9001:2008 certification for the quality of the pads as well as those relative to the environment, Oeko-Tex® and Bluesign®, and we are the official suppliers of some of the most important brands in the production of garments, helping many professionals to achieve their objectives. Let’s now analyse the most common mistakes in the use of the bike pad and, after having followed these simple tips of advice, you will immediately notice an improvement in your state of health and in your performance. Have a great hike!

1 Top of the range fabrics

Why settle for basic fabrics that might cause irritations, when you can have exclusive fabrics that are delicate on the skin, bacteriostatic, able to drain sweat and dry rapidly? All our fabrics, EIT (Elastic Interface® Technology) marked and produced in collaboration with MITI experts, have bacteriostatic properties, thanks to which the proliferation and reproduction of harmful bacteria is inhibited for the conservation of a normal bacterial flora of the skin. Furthermore, they contemplate many other first class qualities, such as an excellent hydrophilicity (capacity to transport sweat to the outside), a perfect combination of softness and elasticity and an incredible power to prevent skin rashes and allergies, guaranteed by the solidity of the dyes when washed or drenched with body sweat. If you wish to know more about our EIT X-Fifty, EIT Carbonium Flash, EIT Carbonium, EIT Coolcube, EIT X-Tract, EIT Cube, EIT Max and EIT Teamfabric, we recommend you read the page dedicated to this subject on our website.

2 Anatomic design: a chamois for every sport

The design of every chamois must be studied to respect the anatomy of the human body and the areas to protect based on the posture assumed by the cyclist that differs according to the discipline practiced. A mountain bike in fact is completely different to a road bike under many aspects, starting from the geometries of the chassis and the components. Reflecting also, for example, on the fact that the same mountain bike is used for various specialties (such as cross country, enduro, dh…) and likewise with regard to the road bike sector (aero performance bikes, endurance, time race/triathlon, gravel bike…), we can understand the great importance in diversifying all shammy pads depending on the sport practiced. At the page titled “Your perfect choice, your high performance pad”, you can choose the ideal pad according to the sport you practice, and find extremely specific products that can be used for on road or off road activities, products that can be used for both on road and off road, for triathlon and recreational (urban, indoor and kids) activities. Divided into models for women, men and children, we provide a range of over eighty pads of the highest quality and varying design, being the only brand to have reached such a level internationally.

3 Foams suited to the duration of use

Our third piece of advice concerns the attention we give to the type of foam used (carefully read the package insert when you purchase the item or take a look on line before buying in order not to risk asking specific questions to an unprepared salesperson, always send us an email so we can dispel any doubts in advance). That the density of the foams should not be too low to avoid the pad being too soft is a correct consideration but in addition, you must always take into account the type of sport you practice, the length of the routes, the terrain on which you pedal and your level of experience (an expert biker should be more resistant to pain compared to a beginner). The effectiveness of the foam (padding) is indicated by various factors such as high level of breathability to reduce perspiration, an adequate softness to fit perfectly with the anatomy, a good elastic memory to avoid deformation from wear and tear and a valid density and lift for a good cushion effect. We only use open cell polyurethane foams with a density that varies from an average of 40 kg/m³ up to a maximum of 120 kg/m³, and a lift (the foam’s capacity to counter the weight it is subjected to) that is extremely high. For further details, visit our page regarding the density of the foams.

4 A woman should not wear men’s pads and vice-versa

For what reason should a woman not wear a men’s pad and vice-versa? Every shammy padding is designed specifically for the female anatomy rather than the male one and it would therefore be counterproductive to use a padding made for the opposite sex. A fundamental technical expedient dedicated to cyclists concerns the presence of the central channel, whereas for female cyclists, because of the greater distance of the ischial bones due to the shape of the pelvis, softer and rounder forms have been adopted. A sporadic use of an unsuitable model could in this respect cause pain in the perineal area, whereas a continued use would lead to the onset of serious ailments. So, to each his own chamois!

5 Washing the chamois correctly

Remember to wash the chamois immediately after you purchase it and after every time you use it, following the instructions on the label. In collaboration with professor Antonio Paoli of the Department of Biomedical Science of the University of Padova, we tested our chamoises in different washing conditions, reaching the conclusion that the recommended temperature for machine washing is 30°C/86°F. Also, avoid the inappropriate use of softeners, which could reduce the lift of the foams and use neutral and non-aggressive detergents. For further information, see the dedicated page on our website.

6 Don’t wear underpants or boxer shorts under the chamois

Among the typical mistakes made by cycling “beginners”, perhaps at the top of the list we find the use of underpants or boxer shorts under the bike shammy. First of all the chamois is made to be in contact with the bare skin to perfectly fit the body’s anatomy and, in addition, underpants and boxer shorts are not made of materials that are suitable for sports activities.

7 Buy shammies or bib shorts of the correct size

When you’re considering size, don’t think of the chamois, but only of the shammy or the so-called bib shorts. Shammies and bib shorts of the correct size fit better, they are more comfortable and the padding is stable.

8 Watch out for wear and tear

In conditions of normal use and correct maintenance, our chamoises have a greater resistance to wear and tear compared to the shammy. The problem of wear and tear therefore concerns mostly the shorts: if they have been used too much and have consequently lost compression and elasticity levels, they could compromise the comfort of the chamois itself. Furthermore, it is more than likely that wear and tear affects the protection foams more than the fabric on the surface and, therefore, as mentioned above, the first evident factor concerning the cyclist is the loss of comfort and not the presence of lacerations of the skin caused by wear and tear of the fabric.

9 Buy the right bike saddle

You have pain in the perineal area after you’ve been out cycling and you can’t understand the cause? With the understanding that each case should be analysed singularly, the main causes could be the consequence of the purchase of the wrong saddle, one that is not suited to your physical characteristics and technical capacities. A cyclist who is a beginner or not particularly fit, or not interested in competition cycling should, for example, avoid the use of aerodynamic saddles of the latest generation, designed specifically for professionals or those amateurs who are able to reach a high level performance. Do not therefore blame your chamois or fate, but try to focus on other details such as, first and foremost, the saddle.

10 Correctly measure the height and setback of the saddle

And here we have reach the last point. After following the first nine tips, don’t forget to position the saddle appropriately. The height and setback of the saddle are two decisive parameters both from the perspective of performance and that of comfort. In fact, a saddle that is raised too high could cause problems to the back, without considering the considerable reduction in performance levels, whereas if it’s too low this could jeopardize the proper function of adductors and knees. If you want to find out with utmost precision what your measurements are, you can consult a biomechanical centre specialised in cycling. If instead you prefer to work out your own calculations, avoid adopting empirical methods of the past such as, for example the balancing position with the tips of your toes on the ground. Base yourself instead, with regard to adjusting the saddle height, on the Hinault and LeMond methods, which are named after the two super champions of the Tour de France, who underwent a number of biomechanical tests in the course of their careers. The Hinault method, more famous, consists in multiplying the measure of the crank by 0.883 in the case of 170 mm cranks, whereas according to LeMond it should be multiplied by 0.885. For further information on this subject, you can read the relevant article published on the Bicimtbebike.com portal.

Table of the 10 mistakes to avoid when using a chamois

  1. Top of the range fabrics
  2. Anatomic design: a chamois for every sport
  3. Foams suited to the duration of use
  4. A woman should not wear men’s pads and vice-versa
  5. Washing the chamois correctly
  6. Don’t wear underpants or boxer shorts under the chamois
  7. Buy shammies or bib shorts of the correct size
  8. Watch out for wear and tear
  9. Buy the right bike saddle
  10. Correctly measure the height and setback of the saddle

Don’t settle for just any old chamois, but buy one made with the top technology, highly technical and certified by the most important international certifying authorities. You can easily recognise it from the orange label with the two arrows and the Elastic Interface® logo.