Chamois Cream: An Intimate Survey

Nobody talks about this stuff and probably for good reason. Chamois cream is, by its very personal nature, a sensitive topic. I think most riders I know use it, but I only know for sure of a couple (one is Peter, who famously put too much on once and had it squirting out his shorts…you see, this is why we don’t talk about it.).


Rapha: sophisticated bum cream

Why bring this up? Well, I just realized again that I may be an abnormality in the cycling world.


‘Brave Soldier’, my personal favorite

I don’t use the stuff. Never have. Never needed to.


DZNuts – Peter’s nemesis

Okay, I’ve had things go numb on extreme rides before, but I don’t think cream would have prevented that. I just never get sores or hot spots, no matter what saddle I’m using.


Hoo Ha: Presumably how it feels when applied.

I just want to know how unusual I am in this regard. Men (and women!), tell me I’m not alone. Feel free to use a pseudonym…


Interesting tidbit on the name: ‘Chamois’ (pronounced ‘shamwa’ in French) is a type of antelope over here in Europe. The leather from this animal (and other goat-ish creatures), when tanned with cod oil, was found to be exceptionally absorbent in the early 18th century, and was used to polish carriages (it also has almost no abrasive properties), then cars later on.

When cyclists began to realize they needed some kind of protection ‘down there’, a piece of chamois leather was sown into the wool of early bike shorts (raw steak was another popular remedy). The absorbent and non-abrasive qualities were perfect for long, hot days in the saddle. Today, we no longer have any goat in our shorts, but the name has hung on.

In Canada we pronounce this word ‘shammy’, which I assume is universal in the English-speaking world, and if someone could explain why, I’d be grateful.

14 thoughts on “Chamois Cream: An Intimate Survey

  1. Oops, my reply was on the earlier post. I for one thought it was a marketing ploy until I thought what the heck, I’ve faced the challenge of shaving my legs, so really, what do I have to lose? May as well give it a go. Down here, us Aussies are a little more subtle, we have a brand, Aussie Butt Cream. Go on google it! It is awesome. Does feel odd at first, but the day after a long ride you will be thankful. I’m sold after testing it on both a 100 k flattish and 105 k hilly ride. The cream is not so much for hot spots or sores, it is to maintain a level of comfort throughout the ride, which will allow you to back up the next day. For Haute Route, it is a no brainer as far as Im concerned.
    I don’t have an answer for you regarding the continuing use of the word chamois for the artificial material used? All I can offer is that phonetically in Oz it is also pronounced “shammy”

  2. I have the original jar of Assos cream that was given to me over 5 years ago, so that should be an indication how often I use it, and I rode 18,00okm last year. I never seemed to see the need for it. But that just me. As you said, it’s a personal thing. Now ask about “Embrocation” and you’ll get a very different response.

  3. i think the new style synthetic shammys with gel insets are far superior to the old leather ones and that kind of make shammy creams obsolete .For me the the trick to avoiding problems is not to hang around for too long in sweaty shorts after the effort and always try to have a fresh set ready for the next day.if you do run into trouble Sudocrem is your only man and it costs pennies
    i suppose the thing to avoid is the dreaded “gammy shammy”

  4. On rides 100 miles or farther, I’ve found it to be helpful. When those rides are down in the rain, I’ve found it to be ESSENTIAL. Soaking wet kit creates friction in very unhelpful ways. Chamois cream solves that problem for me.

    • Steve, I have just found 3 of your comments in my Spam box. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve just discovered another pimple-like creature ‘down under’, so I might have to resort to chamois cream after all.

  5. Apparently you are not alone. I have never used it, for I never needed it …however if I ride in anything but lycra I will chafe.
    Research has found “shamwa” is the animal; “shammy” is the cloth.

  6. Wow, to think that we can have a real intimate conversation about this very subject. At least it wasn’t raining when I had it in my shorts. I was riding behind a guy once who’s behind soaped up when his shorts got wet. It was a sight I don’t want to repeat. I personally only use it when i have back to back 150 k rides or a big mountain climb like Ventoux 3 days after doing etape, like i did last year. It’s only insurance in my case.

    • I’ll take the few freebies I’ve collected over the years to Haute Route, just in case. I have had the occasional blister/pimple ‘down under’ and a little cream usually does the trick with those. And thanks for not sharing that photo you sent me…if I ever need to bribe you that’ll be the ace up my sleeve!

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