Bicycle saddles, like beds, should be firm, with pressure mainly on the sit bones. Lying down on a bed, the pressure is spread throughout our bodies, but on a bike, a good percentage of our upper body weight is bearing down on the saddle area. The problem with a soft bike saddle is that it can create pressure in places where it’s not healthy to have pressure. Numbness and other problems can stem from that. A padded short, combined with a firm saddle that fits your dimensions, puts targeted cushioning only where you need it, and minimizes pressure in sensitive areas.
I ride in different ways at different times. Slow, less slow, with groceries, out to dinner at a nice restaurant, for a three-hour stretch or for a quick 15 minutes away from my computer. It’s been my experience that the longer I spend on a ride, and the harder I’m exerting myself, the more I appreciate highly technical clothing, commonly referred to as Lycra or a pro kit. The skintight stuff. The contoured, articulated padding (or chamois) in high-end cycling shorts by makers such as Pearl Izumi, Castelli and Assos, can go a long way toward increasing comfort for those who ride road and mountain bikes for hours at a time.
However, a lot of people don’t like the look of Lycra, and not everyone can get away with skintight bike clothing. And not everyone needs to. Some riders like to have padded shorts, but also to appear civil when they dismount their bikes and enter a business or their office for the day’s work. There are plenty of padded shorts intended to be worn under regular clothing, but I’ve found them to be generally flawed. They’re designed as scaled-down versions of the aforementioned Lycra style and are uncomfortably underventilated.
Andiamo’s garment design approaches the problem from the opposite, um, end. It’s lightweight underwear, with a pad added. I wouldn’t attempt a century in these, or even half that, but I’ve found them excellent for commutes, errands and other plainclothes spins, less likely to make me miserable if I don’t get a chance to change as soon as I’m off my bike. They’re more breathable and lightweight than anything similar I’ve tried.