This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.
I don’t want to hear any giggling while I’m talking about this, ok? I don’t want to see anyone passing each other dirty notes or naughty pictures. Let’s all just be grown-ups for a minute. Can we do that? Ok, good. Because the BN3TH North Shore Chamois is actually a rad little piece of tech, even though naming a mountain bike product “North Shore” is a little 1998. Regardless, if I’m gonna review this chamois properly I’ll need to be… descriptive. So, if it will help us all stay calm, I’ll use the word “boys” when talking about the scrotum, because I’m going to be sayi—dammit, is someone out there laughing?
BN3TH (pronounced “beneath”) is an apparel brand that started primarily in men’s underwear under the name “Mypackage.” Mypackage pioneered a concept in boxer briefs that essentially separates one’s boys in a sort of pouch that’s significantly looser than the rest of the brief. That approach wasn’t entirely new, but there’s also an envelope of fabric around the rim of that pouch that puts a layer of protection between your boys and your thighs. You’ll see the same concept on other popular fancy underwear brands like Tommy John and Saxx. And they are fancy. Sometimes $25 for a set. But they’re worth it. I’ve had briefs like this in steady rotation for a few years now, and they’re always top of the drawer. It never occurred to me that they would work in a cycling short, but it occurred to BN3TH.
In many ways, the North Shore Chamois is a lot like any other liner. It’s stretchy, breathable and almost see-thru, with an even stretchier, breathable-er, see-thru-er panel across the rear to better accommodate movement and aggressive riding positions, and to prevent sagging. Around the leg “cuffs,” the fabric is doubled up for a little extra durability and to add some tension to keep them in place. Also keeping them in place are just enough small, sparse silicone traction pads, and there’s a slightly denser pattern of traction pads around the waist. The structure is held together by flat stitching, the pad itself is low-tech but adequate and the overall build is thin and light but not, like, disposable. It’s a liner. You’ve seen them before.
Except for one very very important part. The BN3TH North Shore has that distinct pouch for your boys and the distinct envelope of fabric around it. BN3TH had to rethink the cycling short to do this. Instead of the uneven hourglass shape we’re used to seeing our pads take, these lop off the pad right at the narrow part. The pad extends about an inch into the base of the pouch, just enough to reach to the nose of most saddles, and then there’s just this loose, stretchy three-dimensional little tent that allows whatever will be to just… be. At its base, where the pad on a traditional liner would be, there’s a panel of the thick, soft fabric that envelops the pad, just no real pad. And the pouch itself is constructed of two layers of fabric a little thinner and stretchier than the rest of the short. And of course, on the inside where the pouch meets the rest of the short, there is an inch-wide flap running around the entire seam. Pull on the shorts, and your boys are totally separate from your thighs. Skin does not touch skin. And it’s a big deal.
On my first ride, the moment the heat started to build up in there, I was sold. I’d describe it like going for a run on a hot day with socks versus going without them. Unless there’s an extra layer of fabric to absorb sweat and heat as it builds up, you feel every bit of that heat. It’s why we wear socks in the first place. The BN3TH North Shore adds that same sort of layer, but between the boys and the thighs. There’s so much heat generated at our core, and we feel that heat so much in the boys, that we sort of take it for granted that they’ll be uncomfortable. But adding that tiny thin fabric buffer brings a little comfort to a region we really like to be comfortable.
And then there’s the pouch itself. I was a little worried about this part because I feel secure knowing that everything is held tight against my body when I’m hucking the rest of my meat down the trail. But I never gave it a second thought. And keeping everything under less pressure was just… nice. I didn’t think about it until I went back to a traditional short, but it pairs well with the extra insulation of the envelope of fabric. Instead of being pinned to your body, everything is kinda out there, able to radiate heat instead of trap it.
It also all but eliminates the need for one of my biggest frustration with rides that stretch past six hours; Chamois cream. Not sure if you’ve ever used Chamois Butt’r or something similar, but on a long enough ride, it is an absolute necessity. It allows everything to move more freely, especially your boys and your thighs. Every pedal stroke rubs at least a little bit of that very sensitive skin against those very mobile legs. But when there’s an always perfectly placed layer of fabric, you don’t need a layer of cream. I’ve only had the BN3TH North Shore for about a week, and I’ve maxed out at just a 7-hour ride so far, but I have no doubt I could go for another three without getting bothered by friction.
And it helped that the pad itself isn’t bad. I mean, it’s not all that advanced. You can tell by looking that there’s no fancy shaping or contouring, though most of those contoured pads are sort of just for show. Most of the time, the foam just compressed to get their shape, not carved, so they’re all the same once you sit on them anyway. But it’s comfy. It’s a bit on the thick side, but it’s got an almost gel-like firmness. It doesn’t just disappear at the pressure points and let everywhere else gather heat. It’s a nice chamois, especially for a $65 liner that packs this much innovation.
The hardest part for me, though, was riding without a bib. And although the rest of the liner is as well-designed as they come, the BN3TH concept alone doesn’t do much to eliminate the extra pressure on the waist and the occasional need to re-adjust that got me off of traditional liners years ago. They’re experimenting with the bib concept, so we may see that eventually and I’ll be first in line when that happens. But if there’s any bit of praise I could give to stand out above everything else I’ve said so far, it’s that in the meantime, I’m still going to wear these. Bib or not, these are what we’re taking on my next big ride. We, meaning me and my boys.
Wanna get briefed on these briefs? Want the skinny on these skivvys? go to bn3th.com/north-shore-bike-chamois
[$65; bn3th.com]Get it
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