The Chamois is one of the most critical components of a cycling bibshort. Using a chamois’ that has been custom designed by a boutique firm based in Italy, every chamois follows specifications using a mixture of Italian foams and proprietary technical fabrics. This makes a RedWhite pad something truly unique. By offering our customers a ride that can’t be found elsewhere.
This technical article will cover the following characteristics of our chamois’ :
A RedWhite cycling chamois is made of 6 different materials :
- Anti-bacterial technical fabric (for the top layer that contacts the body)
- Medium density foam
- High density foam (The RACE bibshort) OR Ultra-high density foam (The BIB bibshort)
- Backing foam (used at the base of the chamois)
- Super-elastic lycra (the final layer that comes in contact with the saddle)
- Elastic Mesh Cup foam (the black insert in men’s chamois for groin support). This feature is removed for the women’s bibshort – The BIB (Women)
A long distance cycling chamois constitutes relatively high density.
When you hold a RedWhite bibshort and give the chamois a squeeze, you’ll notice how resistant the material is. This differs from most other cycling bibs you own, in which the chamois feels softer and more compliant. When you’re out on a long ride, the chamois takes a lot of abuse. As the miles roll by, your weight eventually causes the chamois to “flatten out”. This is inevitable. Perhaps it’s also a source of discomfort for you. We ride long distances and know this.
A denser padding feels firmer at first. But as the miles chalk up, you’ll notice that the material doesn’t progressively flatten out and continues to provide support. This is important because a material that maintains its shape provides a high degree of protection from road-buzz. This keeps your posterior fresh when out on a long day. Nothing is worse than getting back on the bike after a cafe stop, only to feel your sore sit-bones.
Both The BIB & The RACE utilise identical foam densities throughout except for the mid-layer of the chamois. For The RACE, this layer is 30% less, allowing the rider to roll forward into the drops more easily for hammer-time.
For The BIB (Women) , we utilised the same foam densities and layup as The BIB, to give our female customers an indentical riding experience (as enjoyed by the men using The BIB). The women’s chamois does differ from the men’s version in The BIB in 3 ways :
- No elastic mesh cup (required for cupping men’s genitalia only).
- Minimal raised features on surface that contacts the rider (to reduce chafing).
- Shorter and narrower perineum padding than men’s version (customised for female anatomy)
A high density chamois is pretty uncomfortable without a degree of plushness to it. One of the biggest problems with high density chamois’ is that they can be too firm, causing any vibration (road-buzz) to be directly transmitted through them. We wanted to use a dense material for our chamois’ to prevent it from “flattening-out“, but at the same time, we didn’t want it to feel like a hard piece of thick fabric.
Density and Thickness
The answer was to achieve a delicate balance between density and thickness.
Its’ no secret that our chamois’ are thick. In fact, that’s the first thing all our customers notice. However, if you squeeze it, you’ll notice that the shaped padding on the sit-bone area is made up of 2 layers :
The Top-Layer comes into immediate contact with your sitbones is less dense than the Mid-Layer below. The foam here compresses slightly more to provide that “armchair” feel that we are well known for. The Mid-Layer on the other hand is 50% thinner and 200% more dense than the Top-Layer and acts as a primary support layer that prevents the chamois from compressing too much over the course of a long ride. It gives our chamois it’s meaty feel.
The combination of low thickness, high density and high-thickness, lower density creates a thick and comfortable chamois that is extremely plush, yet resilient enough to keep on supporting you throughout your long-ride without compressing.
For The BIB (Women), we retained the same architecture, foam densities and layup. However, we changed the order of the foam layers by placing the thinnest layer on top with the mid and top layers coming below that. This was done to reduce the raised features on the contact surface and keeping it as smooth as possible.
By doing this, we limit the possibility of chafing and “pinching”, common problems with raised features on many women’s chamois.
There are many ways to take all the different fabrics and put them together to create a cycling chamois. At the basic level, every high-end cycling chamois is made up of between 3-4 layers (possibly more) of top quality foam of varying densities. On top of that, the fabric that comes in contact with your skin is laid. These layers of foam and fabric are then cut into the appropriate chamois shape and pieced together. Traditionally, these cut and shaped layers of material are glued together and heated to set the glue.
A RedWhite chamois is constructed differently.
A Different Sort of Chamois
The layers of super-elastic lycra, foam and antibacterial fabrics are fused into a 1-piece chamois using a proprietary process called “Thermic Moulding”. In this process, the layers of shaped material and placed into a custom mould which compresses and heats the layers to 190 deg C gently. The compression and the heat causes the foams and fabric to fuse together, creating a chamois that does not have distinctive layers. The chamois feels like a 1-piece construction rather than multi-layered and also lasts much longer without flattening out and feeling “fatigued”.
How Effective is Thermic Moulding?
The results speak for themselves. We are still using the chamois’ from the 1st production batch from back in July 2014. Though the fabrics aren’t as red as they were (from multiple wash cycles), the chamois still feel plush and fresh.
A thermic moulded chamois will not also have issues from extreme hot washes causing delamination. This is due to the construction process resulting in a 1-piece construction without any exposed layers. However, we still strongly recommend handwashing every RedWhite bibshort in cold water.