Seat pad replacement. It seems it’s a fairly common requirement amongst people who ride a lot or race; changing the worn or uncomfortable seat pad (or “chamois”, if you or your clothing are of a certain age) in your shorts and so extend the life of the garment whilst increasing the comfort factor, and there are a number of options available to you to achieve this – but fewer than you would imagine in this consumerist, throwaway culture.
Many folk buy a separate pad from eBay and then either organise sewing it into their clothing themselves or pay a tailor or seamstress to do it for them, and from personal experience this can be a somewhat hit-or-miss exercise if the person with the sewing machine isn’t used to handling stretchy sports clothing or if the replacement pad isn’t of great quality and begins to break down after a little use or even just a few washes. I’ve used seat pads which have started to delaminate after just two washes (where the gel or foam parts detach from the pad base).
Of course the pros and riders on sponsored teams usually only have to get a season out of a pair of shorts at most before the sponsor changes or the model is updated, but for the rest of us replacing the seat pad can extend the life of the garment a lot. Still, some riders we know find that it’s more economical to just buy a new pair of shorts and bin the old pair.
We’re happy to report that we’ve found a company who are able to replace your seat pads for a minimal cost and who have an extensive range of quality pads available to suit pretty much every requirement and body type; Dr. Pad.
Dr. Pad is an Italian company, operating out of Montebelluna in the north east of the country, not far from Venice, and it’s no coincidence they’re close to the Sportful and Castelli factories either.
They were set up over 17 years ago and are specialists in the design and manufacture of pads specifically for cycling clothing, continually developing new materials and production methods to meet the changing demands of the sport. They’ve built most of their own machinery to be able to offer a large amount of variations and use numerous leading edge technologies.
Technologies that Dr. Pad have developed are many, and include;
- Antishock Gel – “100% silicon gel injected into the soul of the pad.“
- Thermoforming – “Thermo-adhesive films which bind together the different layers by melting, maintaining elasticity and transpiration.“
- Carbon Antistatic – “Carbon threads are woven into the fabric giving birth to a new antistatic pad. This material can absorb and disperse electrostatic charges created by friction. Carbon becomes this way a sort of shield for the body, protecting it from electric smog.“
- and Sublimated Graphics – which presumably are for the larger clothing manufacturers to be able to ‘brand’ the pads in their shorts – I didn’t enquire about the pricing for this option.
Dr. Pad’s seat pads are made in Italy from start to finish, using only Oeko-Tex certified materials (manufactured using environmentally friendly processes) such as polyamide or polyester microfibres which help ensure freshness and are friendly to the skin, which dries quickly due to the highly breathable construction used. The materials are also treated with a bacteriostatic agent which helps to “preserve the skin’s natural flora” and prevents potentially harmful bacteria.
They supply seat pads to clothing manufacturers Castelli and Sportful, of course, but also to Trek, Safetti, Nike, 2XU, Hincapie, Craft, Leda, Champion System, and many more, which is what prompted me to contact them and ask if they provided a replacement service to the public too.
To my surprise they said they do!
There’s nothing on their web site to suggest this, other than a “contact us” email address, so to help riders looking for a seat pad replacement service here’s my experience of Dr. Pad.
After a prompt email exchange with Serena Dametto, one of Dr. Pad’s sales reps, to make sure my requirements were able to be met and to understand the pricing, I had two pairs of bib-shorts and a skinsuit parceled up and posted off to Italy.
Using the refiners on Dr. Pad’s site to filter the myriad of options – there are 28 different seat pad styles to chose from – to just Mens\Long Distance, I had opted for the Doc-40 Team pads with gel, in green (six colours are available) to be installed in my bib-shorts and skinsuit.
Serena was very proactive and once she found out about the milage I do she suggested I might like to try the Doc-74 3D pad with gel too, “best for long distance”, so I agreed to have this pad, in red just for a change, put into one of my bib-shorts.
Whilst Dr. Pad can fit new seat pads to ’empty’ shorts, Serena asked me to leave the original seat pads in so that the new pads had a placement reference once “in the laboratory”. Of course it would be possible at this point to ask them to, say, move the new pad back and up a bit, or whatever adjustment is required.
The cost of the seat pads with gel I was interested in was only 6€ supplied or 20€ fitted, plus 22% VAT, making a cost of 24.40€ per seat pad fitted. I thought this was pretty good value for money.
There’s a shipping cost to return the items, but for two pairs of bib-shorts and a skinsuit this was only 20€.
Serena kept in touch with me via email to let me know the package had arrived with them, explain the process and to confirm my delivery address to ship the shorts back, as well as a phone number in case the courier needed to contact me.
Once Dr. Pad had received my parcel and before any work was carried out, a proforma invoice was prepared and emailed to me. I paid the bill via BACS transfer – quick and easy.
The End Result
A week later my rejuvenated shorts and skinsuit arrived, looking like new and with the seat pads fitted perfectly.
The Doc-74 3D pad is one of Dr. Pad’s more popular items. It’s 22cm wide x 35cm long, and it’s thicker than anything I’ve used before, the gel in the seat area changes thickness from 2 mm to 15 mm at the seat bone area, with the two thinner gel areas either side running to the front. The ‘side wings’ mean there’s little bulk where moving legs could rub and there’s plenty of protection at the front.
I wasn’t sure about it at first and thought I may have to lower my saddle a couple of mm’s to accommodate things, but having used the shorts for my 2-3 hour commute most days over a few weeks I’ve become used to them, don’t notice any discomfort at all and actually find them very comfortable. They’ve been washed a lot and aren’t showing any signs of wear or tear.
The Doc-40 Team pad is the same width as the Doc-74 3D and uses the same gel parts, it’s 3 cm longer and thinner, varying in thickness from 3 mm to 6 mm to 10 mm at the seat bone. This pad was incredibly comfortable right from the first use; Dr. Pad seem to have the shape and thickness required exactly right. It’s a surprisingly sophisticated object for something so simple, constructed in three layers using three of the proprietary technologies (‘Cutting’ in the high density areas, expanded foam and the injection of ‘hollow medical gel’ in certain padding areas). Dr. Pad say it’s used by the pro’s at the Tour and Giro, which I can believe.
When you want to replace your short’s seat pad, whether it’s because it’s faulty, not performing as it used to or even if the seat pad is still viable but you’re not happy with the comfort it provides, replacing it with a Dr. Pad seat pad is a great cost-effective option, backed up with first class service and support.
VeloVeritas is not affiliated with Dr. Pad in any way
and we paid full price for the seat pad replacements mentioned in this review.