The Signs of Pain ... Is your Apparel to blame?

The Signs of Pain ... Is your Apparel to blame?

At Chainsmith we're eternally looking for gear that best suits your riding. What does that mean exactly?

Remember when you just started out? There was so much to learn about cycling that the task of knowing what to wear or what to take on a ride wasn't the priority.

But after the weeks and months go by, and you've caught the cycling bug you begin to look around and realise how important kit is for performance, comfort and to maintain motivation.

What can happen when you wear civi clothes, inappropriate kit badly constructed, or kit that simply doesn't fit?

You may well feel resistance to spending dollars on kit, or feel you shouldn't have to resort to lycra for evening laps around the park. But lets look at what can happen when you wear civi clothes, inappropriate kit, or kit that simply doesn't fit.

Here are 3 reasons your kit can keep you from getting the best out of your cycling goals.

1. Sore butt

Yeh, you needed to get used to the saddle or the position on your bike. Most riders blame position or their saddle for pains. But assuming you bought your bike from us and received a bike fit, the problem likely lies in the pants you're not wearing....


I'm assuming you bought chamois pants because if not, thats another conversation. But did you get the right fit?

If your shorts or bibs are too big the chamois will move around and the result can be rubbing, bruising and worst of all saddle sores. If you don't know what a saddle sore is, you've never had one. They can get so painful riding is impossible. Too tight and, well, similar results in the sores can develop. Worse still, I know people who've torn very intimate anatomy, and that can have you off the bike for weeks.

If you've been tempted by cheap kit, chances are the chamois turned into a flat cement patty cake before you even had the chance to do your first Bobbin Head trip. And if you bought them the wrong size because they were on sale, you'll definitely regret the purchase on a long ride.

It took us time to decide on the kit we held at Chainsmith. Thats because we're perfectionists and know what works on a practical and performance level. Velocio and Q36.5 are absolutely our go to with unbelievable fabrics and details that blow competitors out of the water. They promise longevity and comfort.

Answer: Get decent Bib shorts and Chamois Cream!

2. Sore Shoulders

Ladies. Firstly I speak with you. The amount of times the wrong bra in size or style create shoulder pain is astonishing. Eliminate this by noticing when/where you get the pain and which underclothes you're wearing.

If you're not into wearing a bra, and Im guessing that's predominantly men here, then look at the fit of your bib shorts or anything you wear beneath them such as base layers.

While shoulder pain is often caused by position on the bike (contributed by incorrect bike size, bike fit, or just not engaging the core), there are a number of times where neck and shoulder pain are caused by clothing. This includes tight bib short straps, and even the weight of a jersey pulling at the neck by full jersey pockets.

Answer: Get fitted for a proper bra in the ride position. Or, get fitted for correct bibs. This can be understood by the amount of slack the shoulder straps have. Too much slack and the chamois will move around, and too tight means they'll pull on the shoulders. Secondly, get a saddle bag to hold the important things for long rides. Reduce the amount you hold in your jersey to reduce the drag on your neck.

Shoulder straps on the nerves can also contribute to numb hands. As well as noticing bike fit, be observant as to what you wear and how it fits when you get this sort of pain.


Underpants on the bike is a no-no. From an aesthetic point I guarantee the eyes of those behind you will be gravitated to your seam lines. But more importantly, we know chamois are designed to breathe and to wick. Everyday underpants are not. They stay wet longer, and thats when things grow in places they really shouldn't. This is a culprit for saddle sores and worse still, infections.

If you absolutely can't go without them, we suggest a pair like Q36.5 Intimo pant. No seamlines and woven with fabrics designed to dry quick.

And lastly, if you've worn those bibs for years its time to let go. Get yourself a new pair. Cement chamois, see through fabric, or stretched shoulders is the giveaway its time for a bib burial.

3. Pain in the Shoes

This is a fascinating topic. Yes, cleat position is definitely a main contributor. However, think outside the box here. Firstly, a horrendous amount of people spend time in shoes too big for them. The idea of the perfect shoe is : no movement within the shoe itself. Thats why you have "float", which is the degree of movement between the shoe and the pedal. This allows for some flexibility in the knee position which can eleviate or prevent pain. The colour of your cleats will dictate that. So do yourself a favour, ask a reputable bike shop member with plenty of experience on the bike to provide advice about your perfect shoe fit.

Rule of thumb, if your foot swims in your shoe it equates to lost energy which eventually increases early onset fatigue. It may or may not also contribute to niggles in knee pain or feet soreness but regardless, its not the right fit.

Beyond size and cleat position I've found small feet are especially prone to burning and numbness. There's sadly no solution for some because cleat position for smaller feet is restricted. The size of cleats themselves cannot change, and the width and length of the shoe is generally reduced simultaneously reducing the position a cleat can be installed. However ...

Vittoria offer the best options for small footed clients wanting excellent performance shoes. We've been able to order carbon soles for size 38! PLUS, we can have the shoes made in wider models offering up to an extra cm in width.

Beyond new shoes, there are several changes you can make inside your current shoe that may help relieve pain. Try replacing the inner sole with a cheap thinner pair bought from the supermarket, or if you need support then the Vittoria Moldable Insoles are a dream. They offer comfort but they also boast an increase in pedal power efficiency. Win win!

In conclusion ...

The best thing I've learnt in the years of cycling is that you get what you pay for. The brands we proudly hold don't spend their money on marketing, instead they invest in research and development. Look at Q36.5 if you're after simply the most advanced technically engineered cuts and fabrics in cycling wear.

We love to pass on experience. So drop us a line for any further information.



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