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How to Choose: BMX Padded Shorts

by Jim Bartlett June 15, 2016

Why Wear BMX padded shorts?

If you're BMX racing, dirt jumping, or vert or street riding, you may want to throw on a pair of padded BMX shorts to give you some impact protection when you fall. Regular cycling shorts will not offer any protection to your hips, thighs, or tailbone, and neither will cargo shorts or jeans. Protective BMX padded shorts are made with lightweight, breathable fabric and incorporate padding for your hips, thighs, and/or tailbones.

Things to consider when choosing BMX padded shorts

  • Pad thickness can range from a quarter to half an inch. While thicker pads are going to provide more cushioning, they can also be a little bit bulkier. Let the crash potential of your riding (racing vs. street vs. vert) guide the pad thickness
  • Look for padding in the hip, quad, and tailbone areas, which are the areas you're most likely to hit in a crash or fall on when practicing/perfecting a trick
  • If there's a mirror handy, make sure to look at the pad coverage as it will be on the bike (i.e., seated) as opposed to standing
  • Find a pair with a snug fit--padded shorts that slide around will chafe against your skin
  • Some riders don't like the tight-fitting Spandex look; a lightweight pair of padded BMX shorts work well under a pair of light soccer or cargo shorts to keep you protected while you ride but still keeping a look you like
  • Remember that cycling shorts are designed be worn without underwear. The chamois liner does not have a seam on the crotch; underwear generally does. No seam=no pressure.

How to Choose BMX Padded Shorts

padded shorts for bmxWhether or not you need protective BMX padded shorts depends on the type of riding you're doing. If you're new to BMX or to cycling in general, you may wonder about the difference between BMX padded shorts and regular cycling shorts or why you even need a pair of "cycling" shorts in the first place. A pair of soft cargo shorts or soccer shorts may feel great when you put them on, but regular shorts are sewn with a seam in the middle of the crotch. This design makes them great if you're walking or running, but tend to be uncomfortable after a couple hours in the saddle or if you're continually jumping and coming down hard on the saddle. Cycling shorts are designed with a lightly padded, chamois-lined crotch area so that you're sitting on cushioned material instead of a sewn seam when you're in the saddle. The liner can also be more comfortable if you're repeatedly coming in and out of the saddle and/or coming down hard on the saddle after a jump.

Types of Padding in BMX padded shorts

Most protective clothing for BMX or any type of cycling features padding made from EVA foam. However, some manufacturers use other advanced protective technologies to provide flexible impact absorption. For example, POC has developed a visco-elastic polymer dough (called VPD) that is soft and comfortable but stiffens upon impact to absorb an extreme amount of energy. Each type of padding is designed to dissipate the force of a hard impact. The type of padding you choose is probably less important than the placement of the pads. Pad placement in BMX shorts Your BMX shorts should have padding where you need it most, and that depends on what discipline you're in. If you're BMX racing, you're most likely to go over the handlebars in a fall, so you'll want to find padded BMX shorts with thigh and hip coverage. If you're into vert, you're just as likely to fall on your rear end as to go over the handlebars, so padded BMX shorts that also have some tailbone protection might be a good idea.

Considerations for Female BMX Riders

padded shorts womenMost BMX shorts--protective or otherwise--are designed to fit men--slim in the hips and thighs and possibly hitting higher on the waist than you prefer. Some manufacturers, like Vigilante, and Crash Pads make padded shorts with a female-specific design. The level of protection and the quality of the material is the same, but the shorts are cut differently. Generally the waistband will be a bit lower than on a men's cut and there will be a bit more room for hips and thighs. Check to see if the brand you like comes in a female-specific design.It might also be worth checking out roller derby padded shorts. While they may not cover as much of your thigh as standard BMX shorts and don't have a seamless liner, they will offer advanced protection with a proper fit.


Do I Need a Chamois Crotch Pad?

chomois liner

The chamois liner in cycling shorts reduces pressure on your rear/crotch area by removing the sewn seam you'd normally find holding the shorts together. In addition, the wicking material in the chamois keeps moisture away from your body, which helps to reduce bacteria that could cause infection and helps prevent chafing. Cycling shorts frequently come with a bit of padding under the chamois liner to offer a bit of comfort during long hours in the saddle. If you tend to do long sessions, spend a good bit of time in the saddle, or do a lot of tricks where you are continually coming down hard on the saddle, you might be more comfortable in padded BMX shorts with a chamois liner.

Are You Ready to Buy Your BMX Padded Shorts?

Hopefully, the above information will give you a good idea of what type of BMX padded shorts will be best for your needs. XSportsProtective carries a wide range of BMX shorts--you can check out our full selection of BMX Padded Shorts here. If you still aren't sure what you want, or if you have questions about a specific pair of BMX padded shorts, please give us a call.

Jim Bartlett
Jim Bartlett


Founder of XSportsProtective, snowboarder, mountain biker, father of four young kids who love action sports.

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