Monday, December 1, 2008

Friction Freedom Chamois Cream

The fall is my favorite time to try out new products. When my mileage and intensity are down it is a good deal easier to incorporate a new variable into my routines. This fall we were introduced to a number of new chamois creams.

Radio Freddy and I came up old-school, applying Noxema to the undercarriage to ward off saddle sores and miscreant chafing. Back then my issues were always chafing and saddle sores in an around my perineum. Somewhere along the line, pads improved and my trusty Noxema fell out of use.

And then I began using a wardrobe's-worth of team shorts that were poorly cut. As a result, I experienced chafing in some new places and on some pretty sensitive instruments.

Now chamois cream users fall into one of two camps. Either you put it on the pad, or you put it on your skin. I prefer to lather up my personal contact points as it were. I briefly went back to the old standard bearer of Bag Balm, for the simple reason that while I liked the cool feel of Noxema, I had never put applied it to the reproductive apparatus. The menthol effect felt not just alien, but a bit wrong. After being reminded that the active ingredients that produce the Vap-O-Rub feeling are natural antibacterial agents, I knew what I needed to do: Get over it.

The upside to the minty zing is that I know instantly if I missed a spot. The feeling does make for a lively start to the morning.

Since getting comfortable with the magical menthol experience, I've tried a number of new chamois creams. And while I never thought I'd get excited about a new chamois cream the way I can for a new embrocation, Friction Freedom changed my outlook.

I've noticed that a few of the chamois creams out there get absorbed fairly quickly and that my skin ends up feeling like I put a hand lotion on it a few minutes ago. Not so with Friction Freedom. I was three hours into my first ride with the stuff when I made a bathroom stop. I had some trouble with my grip.

Friction Freedom is paraben-free, and while I don't know much about parabens, I'd like anything that's going to be on my skin for longer than it takes to watch a Francis Ford Coppola movie to be controversy-free. These preservatives are cause for concern for estrogenic activity and as carcinogens, so leaving them on your skin all day might not be the healthiest option.

Getting to the end of a 5-hour ride with a surface slicker than a politician's pitch is just my idea of comfort. I kinda wonder if this stuff might not have a second life in a, uh, more amorous application.

Check out Friction Freedom.


Heidi Swift said...

As a dedicated Assos user, I have to say that this review was good enough to convince me to give Freedom a chance.

My experimental tube of Dz Nutz is almost gone and I've moved this to the top of the "try next" list.

Also, as a female cyclist, I might argue that the "just not right" factor for applying cooling elements to nether regions may be even more significant for me! Although, I too, have come to like the "zippy" first few minutes of the ride.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

while I never thought I'd get excited about a new chamois cream the way I can for a new embrocation, Friction Freedom changed my outlook

Statements like this make me realize that the cycling community is not really dorkier than non-cyclists, because our dorkiness is several orders of magnitude past anybody else's except perhaps philatelists and Trekkies, to the point where comparisons aren't really meaningful. The decimal point in our Dork Quotient is so far to the right of the general population's that comparisons don't make statistical sense, just as saying a "micron is like a kilometer" just because they both measure distance doesn't make much sense, and just like comparing mice to whales on the basis of being mammals doesn't make much sense either.

FWIW, I'm a recent convert to Greyhound Juice, which seems to be a nice combination of Noxema and toothpaste. The texture feels funny in your hand but it seems to work for long rides, plus you get that minty freshness.

AH said...

So if Friction Freedon could be used as, uhhh, a personal lubricant, wouldn't the converse also be true? Does AstroGlide or KY (and I don't mean Kentucky) make a decent chamois cream?

Inquiring minds want to know. I may need to "field test" those myself.

Padraig said...

Heidi: I have often suspected that women's issues vis-a-vis chamois cream are way more complicated than ours. I am seriously out of my league on that one.

Jim: Welcome to Nerdopolis. I'll be your guide. Oh, and FWIW: my grandfather was a world-famous philatelist.

AH: As I was writing this, I began to wonder about Astroglide's cycling applications myself.

Thanks for reading!

Unknown said...


The Greyhound Juice salves are worth a look. Even the original strength stuff provides a nice burn.

I personally didn't like the GJ anti-friction stuff, but their other products have worked well for me. I have even sometimes put a layer of their warming salve on and then used the Elite Ozone warming spray to further enhance the heat and make sure coverage is 100%. This was especially nice in muddy 'cross races, considering that the "deodorant stick" container doesn't always make for easy coverage without significant effort.

Psst, Greg and Sirikit, if you're reading...put the warming salves in the same jar you use for the anti friction creme. :)

Astropilot said...

Great minds think alike. I have actually tried Astroglide as chamois cream in a moment of desperation. The results were rather sticky and disappointing, after the initial thrill of application, of course.

That's not to say that a different kind of personal lube that is less moisture dependent might not work better, but overall I'd stick with noxema or even generic skin moisturizing lotion in a pinch.

jza said...

There's probably 5 different chamois creams out there that all come in this little white jar. My guess is that it's all the same stuff.

Watts said...

I laughed out loud with the "reproductive apparatus" line. Good stuff.

Oh, still using Bag Balm cuz I can get it for nearly nothing at any drug store.

Tandemist said...

I ran across Bontrager's personal recipe a couple years ago. It is:

13 oz. petroleum jelly
1 oz. lanolin
1 oz. triple antibiotic ointment
1 oz. hydrocortisone cream

When mixed together it yields a cream that is cheaper per ounce than prepared ones, though that initial post-application buzz factor is less pronounced. Another benefit is that it seems to soak so deeply into the chamois that it's good for a 2 hour + ride, a laundering, and another 2 hour + ride.

Jim said...

I tried this stuff. It's great. I've been using Assos and NuButte. Assos on the chamois and Nubutte on the "taint", as they say. Friction Freedom is perfect right out of the jar. I've had a chronic saddle sore of some kind for years (400,000 plus life time miles so far), and I can ride for hours with this stuff with no discomfort.