If you read MarathonMTB.com, the chances are that you like riding long distances, and pushing yourself in endurance races. While just about any committed endurance cyclist will be used to wearing bike shorts, and probably bibshorts, sometimes that’s not quite enough for complete comfort.
Most of us here at MarathonMTB are fans of chamois cream. The right chamois cream can help reduce friction and increase comfort. A good chamois cream will also create a barrier between your skin and the nasty outside world on wet and muddy rides. They will prevent damage from a hard day, which can stop you riding or racing again the next.
We won’t go so far as how to apply it, but a little can go a long way – many of you will have seen the scene with Erik Zabel’s soigneur in Hell on Wheels. Yes, that really was too much.
While you can use Savlon antiseptic cream, Bepanthan, Vaseline – or even lip balm… but we road and trail tested six popular chamois creams that go the distance, so you can match the right one to your undercarriage.
Aussie Butt Cream
No doubt about where this stuff comes from. It’s Aussie as they come, and smells like it too. The scent of tea tree oil is the first thing that strikes you as you spin the lid of a generous 250ml tub – or flick the cap of the 100ml tube.
That tea tree oil is one of a bunch of anti-bacterial ingredients designed to keep bacteria at bay, boosting the tingle-factor as you settle in to your freshly lathered bibs. Aussie Butt Cream has a lanolin-like consistency. Hardly surprising given Lanolin is one of the chief ingredients. It’s given some staying power through the addition of cocoa butter and beeswax.
The water solubility of the cream is excellent, though longer rides will probably require a spot of re-application. A tub of this on hand at lap based enduros and supported events will be a welcome sight at any supply station.
Aussie Butt Cream is offered up “for cyclists, motorbike riders and horse riding”. We’re short on horses at the MarathonMTB.com service course, but this stuff did a great job protecting our butts on every other type of saddle.
Suits: Riders new to chamois cream, and those looking to open up the airways pre-race (seriously, a good heave on this will open up your sinuses quick smart).
RRP: $29.95 for the 250ml tub and $29.90 for 2 x 100ml tubes
Morgan Blue Solid
A favourite amongst the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team, the Morgan Blue Solid is not actually solid. It is very firm, and has a beeswax appearance. It’s the go-to for stage races and long days in the saddle, especially if it’s wet. The product is so thick that it doesn’t seem to wear out all day, although it has been known to darken a chamois, and add a certain sheen to your saddle. It’s a bit gooey in Crocodile Trophy temperatures, and takes a a little more effort to clean off in the shower… but it is worth it.
Suits: The mile-muncher who rides a dark saddle and shorts and needs all day, all weather performance.
Morgan Blue Soft
This one’s also popular with the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team. It’s packaged in the same large round 200ml container as the solid chamois cream, but the consistency is quite light and smooth. While there is nothing offensive or impractical about this, the Morgan Blue ‘soft’ only loses out due to sibling rivalry. We just prefer the ‘solid’ option. But it’s best suited to dry conditions and shorter rides, tending to lose effectiveness around the three hour mark. And that still covers a lot of different uses.
Suits: Early morning training sessions before work – as long as the weather report’s good.
Attaquer Shammy Cream
One of the premium chamois creams on test, the Attaquer Shammy Cream follows on with the road clothing brand’s style and quality. The plastic is brown, not unlike a glass jar of men’s beard balm or similar. The actual consistency is not unlike any of the lighter chamois creams – perhaps the closest is the Aussie Butt Cream also on test. What really stood out was the menthol smell – which the Shammy Cream delivers fantastically. This is due to the Peppermint Oil in the mixture, which is married with Almond oil to help it last, and Jojoba oil for anti-fungal properties.
It’s still a lighter cream than others, but is perfect for rides up to about three hours on the mountain bike, but was also fine for long road rides. It was very easy to get along with, and easy to wash off after use. While it might not be the choice for a long day in mixed conditions, it’s great for everything else. Perhaps there will be a “Belge” version in the works with a different consistency. Of note, it’s also very good value.
Suits: The brand aware mountain biker who wants to look good, feel good – and smell good.
Squirt Barrier Balm
One of the smallest tubs on test, the Squirt Barrier Balm is a great example of a little going a long way. With a consistency not unlike Manuka honey, it seemed to be less of a balm, more of a paste. That’s no bad thing. The Barrier Balm was used in training and a muddy race in the test, and while it might not have been forcefield strength, there was no discomfort despite a few hours racing in mud. The thick, sticky balm stayed in place.
That same thickness is a little hard to apply, and wash off fingers, but it does deserve mention for being so long lasting, and a small enough pack size to make travelling with it easy. At 100g, it should get you through airport security as well. Of note, it is antibacterial and anti-fungal. Perfect for use in your nether regions.
Suits: The traveller who gets some big miles in, or those who only need a chamois cream in the worst conditions.
Premax Anti Friction
Premax Anti-Friction Cream comes in a generous 200ml squeeze bottle and has a subtle smell of tea tree oil. It’s a smooth cream with a fairly light consistency but we found it out-lasted our expectations in the saddle. While not the best choice in the wet, it’s not a bad choice for a mid-length training ride or race. The tea tree oil has anti-bacterial properties that should help prevent saddle sores. Like any tube it’s a bit hard to get the last bits out, but this one is also very good value – so maybe that’s not a problem?
Suits: Cross country or short endurance events where you’re likely to stay dry.