Jewel by Club Ride.
As anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve been on the search for the perfect undergarment for cycling for years. I’ve tried a multitude of underwear options – boy’s cut, thongs, seamless, going without any, and I’ve never found the magic bullet until now… but let’s start in the beginning!
Here is what matters to me when it comes to cycling shorts.
- Moisture Control – My “problem” with being in the saddle for long periods has never been about pressure it’s about moisture. I don’t get sore sit bones, I get boils and skin irritations so wearing a heavily padded cycling short, or worse yet, a liner is a recipe for disaster.
- Quick Dry – I love to go bike packing (self-supported mountain bike trips) which means having access to amenities is a rare treat. I need something that washes out easily by hand using cold water from a stream/lake and is sure to dry overnight.
- Fashion and Efficiency – I prefer to wear “normal” clothes when riding which makes packing more efficient because every item I bring serves several functions on and off the bike.
- Seam Placement – No matter which brand of padded cycling shorts I’ve tried the seam of the pad always hit the edge of my saddle. Ouch!
Nothing I tried met my criteria so I took to wearing “yoga” shorts without underwear. It works fine for riding at home because I have access to laundry, but for camping I only want to bring one pair of shorts. Which means I have to have underwear that I can wash out and still wear the shorts. The shorts also need to be attractive and comfortable enough to wear in town or hanging out in camp.
Let me save you several years of experimentation with my ratings for all the short/underwear combinations I have tried:
- 1 Star – Boy’s cut underwear. Bunches around your legs and creates a multitude of problems – circulation, moisture, and rubbing.
- 2 to 3 Stars – Thong. Not all thongs are created equal thus two ratings. The plus is that there are no seams to worry about! However they didn’t “protect” my outer shorts and I find them uncomfortable. I learned quickly how to “adjust” their placement – it only takes one wrong move!
- 1 star – Men’s (because they didn’t make a woman’s version) quad short performance underwear. Oh my, I still remember the seams! Though they are very similar in fit to a bike short the legs just don’t stay put so in very short order you have a bunch of fabric right where you don’t want it. They weren’t breathable and I’m scared to think where the “moisture transfer” went.
- 3 stars – Nothing. In this case less was definitely more, no seams to deal with. No added material to add moisture. The downside – it required that I wear specific shorts that likely wouldn’t dry overnight.
- 4 Stars – Jewel by Club Ride. A pair of lightly padded, bikini briefs – hallelujah! Club Ride recommends these underwear for rides of about an hour because there is minimal padding but with my Brooks saddle I see no reason to wear anything else no matter the length of the ride.
I’ve taken them on a hilly 50-mile ride on a 90 degree day in jean shorts – yes, jean shorts! – and though I wouldn’t recommend it the underwear did an amazing job for the first 30 miles. After that the seams on the jeans became a bit, though not horribly, uncomfortable. Since then I’ve paired them with Club Ride’s Ventura shorts and have finally found near bliss. The Jewels are lightweight, easy to wash out, and dry quickly. Don’t despair men there is a version for you too – the Pistol.
Perfection could be attained with just a few changes:
The waist band is too wide and comes up higher than I would like. I fold it over and find it to be much more comfortable.
There are also two seams close together in the crotch area – one on the edge of the material and the other attaches the padding – which can rub on a longer or hot ride. Though I can feel the seams I haven’t gotten a boil or skin irritation.
If you don’t need a lot of padding when you ride check them out!