A common dilemma for urban cyclists and commuters is 'to lycra or not to lycra?' Around South London I've noticed that about half do and half don't. Personally I never get lycra-ed up to go to work or for a jaunt around town. This is partly because there are so many red traffic lights it's almost impossible to get sweaty, and partly because I'm embarrassed to waddle around with a huge chamois pad between my legs, click-clacking on the floor and sliding and around in my cleated road shoes like a demented duck!
I bought a new bike which happens to be a man's bike, not a unisex or women's specific, like my other two bikes. It's very comfortable to ride with a nice spongy saddle too, but the forward riding position means that regular women's undies are out. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think the phrase is 'hungry bottom' and believe me it's painful!
So the purchase of my beautiful retro, The Light Blue St John's has required a couple more purchases: some new chamois panties. The idea is, you can wear normal clothes to cycle to work, to the pub, to your mate's place etc but at the same time receive almost the level of comfort from these babies that you would from proper cycling shorts. And no hungry bottom either.
I have to say I was slightly sceptical, not only of the price which is almost as much as a pair of new cycling shorts, but I was certain that the chamois would stick out - announcing to all and sundry that there was something untoward going on in my nether regions. I was also sceptical of the manufacturer's claims that the panties are 'sexy'! Google 'sexy underwear' and I'm sure the results will look nothing like these monsters. And when I modelled them for Mr Ride Velo for the first time, his face showed a slight look of disgust. No, sexy they are not.
Ok, so they may not look as though they've been designed by Ann Summers, but on the other hand there's nothing sexy about riding 20 miles with a lace wedgie! There's a lot to be said for comfort, which is why I was happy to spend £42 a pair for The Bettie and £45 for The Brigitte. And apart from the 'sexy' bit, they have lived up to their promises; they are" designed to be functional and discreet for the fashion conscious... with a breathable, quick drying, moisture wicking fabric and you are set for your next ride in freedom and style." Absolutely. They are a pleasure to wear.
The Brigitte comes in lots of colours and patterns but is substantially larger than the sexy Bettie, with a wider pad too. Brigitte wasn't as comfortable as Bettie but probably fares better for a 15+ mile ride or even worn under a skirt; the striped pair having the feel of a Victorian bathing suit about them. Either style would be excellent for spin class too.
The instructions were particularly helpful, advising: "Don't leave soiled underwear unwashed, as residual sweat will damage the garment." Funny that, I always leave my soiled underwear unwashed.....NOT. But they can be machine washed which is good because I'm far too lazy to wash anything by hand. The only confusing thing was the recommended sizing which is completely different for the two styles, with a whopping 5" variation, though in reality the size Medium was identical. My advice - just go for your usual size and it will be fine.
Apparently manufacturers Urbanist Cycling are releasing more styles in the near future including a padded cycling thong - so stay tuned if that appeals. In the meantime you can pick up your panties from Velo Vixen and they were certainly selling like hot cakes at Spin London last week. As for me, I love my new Bettie pants, but I have to put them on when Mr Ride Velo's not looking. And for the record, my bottom doesn't feature in any of these photos!