In a post I wrote the other day I made mention of purchasing a pair of Specialized RBX Pro cycling shorts on sale. I have been riding on bottom of the line shorts (<$35 per pair) for the last year or so.
So, are a pair of shorts worth another $115 per pair (or less, I got mine on sale at my LBS)? A qualified ABSOLUTELY. Now, I’ve never tried anything middle of the road so this is like comparing a Ferrari with a Mazda. The Mazda will technically do everything right and be fast but a Ferrari is, well, a Ferrari – it’s faster than hell but smooth about it.
That said, having ridden in the cheap shorts for somewhere around 4,000 miles, after one ride in a good pair of shorts, the guy at the bike shop was right – at least as far as going from the affordable shorts to a more expensive pair… The difference is comparable to this: Riding a hundred miles and riding a hundred miles whilst getting a nice massage about the bum and thighs.
I love riding centuries but they'll be a lot more fun without a sore ass afterwards. The cheap shorts did their job, riding on a saddle with maybe a millimeter or two of padding is impossible without a chamois, be the difference between an expensive chamois and a cheap one is huge.
Now, it must be stated here, when I picked my new shorts the chamois felt way too stiff. Trying them on felt odd and walking in them felt foreign… BUT once my butt hit the saddle, all was forgotten. It was absolutely surprising how comfortable they felt – and the strangest part was that I could feel the saddle better too. I was able to instinctively find my happy spot on the saddle rather than having to search for it with my derrière – or sit bones, if you prefer the less humorous but more accurate description…
For the future, I’ll check with my shop owner to see if there’s anything out there comparable but maybe a little more affordable, if there isn’t, the shorts will follow my normal theory of cycling relativity: Buy the best you can afford but never try any upgrade that you can’t – because once you find out what you’ve been missing it’s too hard to go back. It’s all relative, baby.