What is Chamois Cream and Why Should You Use It?

Palmful o chamois cream

Squirt a good sized dollop of chamois cream into your palm and enjoy!

If you’re a new or intermediate rider, chances are that you’re not thrilled with your comfort-level in the saddle, and that you’re not using a chamois cream. Those two things might be related. Chamois cream developed back in the day when your cycling shorts (you do own and use cycling shorts, right?) had a leather pad, or chamois (say sham-ee), in them to soften your ride. Without regular conditioning, the pad could get dry and stiff, which was kind of like riding around on hard beef jerky (interesting historical fact: riders way way back used to put uncooked beef steaks “down there” to prevent saddle sores). Chamois cream solved this problem of conditioning the saddle, with the bonus of lubricating the rider’s skin.

Lucky for modern cyclists, you don’t have to sit on a dead animal anymore. Now chamois creams are less for chamois conditioning and more for friction prevention. Chafing is bad, mmkay. I don’t know how else to say it. Repeat after me, “chafing is bad.”

Like most things in cycling, we can make this either really simple or really complicated. I vote simple. So modern chamois creams can be divided into two categories: Euro style creams, which have a cooling sensation created by menthol or eucalyptus or other natural oils; and standard creams without the cooling sensation.

How to apply: squeeze some chamois cream into your palm. Think about where your saddle touches you, and then slather it all over that area liberally. Like lotion, it is absorbed into your skin over time, so you don’t want to lightly apply. Most of the labels say you can put it on the pad itself, but since it’s really for you and not the pad, just put it directly on your skin and enjoy that tingling sensation (if you’re into that). Now pull up your shorts like a big boy/girl and go ride your bike.

You didn't really think we'd show you how to apply, did you?

You didn’t really think we’d show you how to apply, did you?

At The Great Bicycle Shop we stock several brands and quantities of chamois cream, including Chamois Butt’r, DZ (pronounced “deez”) Nuts and DZ Nuts Bliss (for the ladies), Hoo-Ha Ride Glide (again, for the ladies), and Enzo’s Buttonhole. We don’t make up the names, but we do get to have some very interesting phone conversations:

Caller: What chamois creams to you carry?
GBS: Um…we carry Chamois Butter and DZ Nuts.
Caller: Oh really? How much is DZ Nuts?
GBS: DZ Nuts is 25 dollars.
Caller: Great! I’ll be right there!

That really happened.

We have samples of Chamois Butt’r and Buttonhole in small portions ($1-$3) so that you can try it out on the cheap. A fuller serving will set you back anywhere from $16 to $25. Try something. All you stand to lose is an uncomfortable crotch.

Chamois Cream Selection

Chamois Cream Selection

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About Josh Bolick

Josh Bolick works at Florida State University Libraries in the Office of Scholarly Communication.
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