When competing in a triathlon, it is very common to lose precious seconds in the transition areas, either from the water to the bike, or from the bike and into the run. This is especially true if you insist on using specialized equipment or clothing for each leg of the race. Just imagine if you come a very close second place in a triathlon, and realize that you could have won it, if only you hadn’t been constantly changing your clothing. Of course, for the longer competitions such as the Ironman, it might be best to use proper kit for each leg, as they are longer and less comfortable stages, but for the short events, wearing race clothing that is satisfactory for all three stages is a definite benefit.
This is where triathlon shorts can be advantageous. Unless you are racing in very cold conditions, you will not necessarily need a wetsuit for the swim. You can stick to wearing the triathlon shorts – often called tri shorts. They will also be perfectly fine for the bike ride, as they have a padded chamois in exactly the same way that proper, dedicated cycling shorts have one. So you should be comfortable on the bike and not get any rubbing or painful chafing in your sensitive areas. Then when you make the transition to the running part of the triathlon, if you are using tri shorts, you’ll immediately notice that the chamois, which looked after you on the bike, is actually narrower than you’d find in regular cycle shorts, and so it will not interfere with your running action.
A lot of thought and technology have gone into the design of the best triathlon shorts, so that they perform in a very satisfactory way during each stage of the event. Of course, you will always find a swimsuit is best for swimming, or a cycling jersey and cycling shorts best for riding; but you need to combine these disciplines for a triathlon without wasting your time in the transition changing areas. Most good pairs of tri shorts will be made from material that dries extremely rapidly, so you will not feel soggy and uncomfortable on the bike for very long after the swim.
Remember though, as with all moisture wicking technical fabrics, to take special care when washing your triathlon shorts. They usually require a lower wash temperature, and they prefer to be hung to dry rather than being put into a spin drier, which will stretch them out of shape. And finally, never wear them in chlorinated pools, as they can become see through or simply disintegrate, so be careful to follow all the care instructions.