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If you like to ride for a long time, and especially if you're out in wet conditions, then Chamois Butt'r Ultra is a high quality all-natural solution for saddle comfort. If you can put up with the faff of getting it on your nethers it's about as long lasting as they come, especially when it's raining.
A majority of chamois creams (including other Chamois Butt'r products) use some kind of liquid paraffin and water base, with an emulsifier to help them to mix. This is an entirely different beast. Steve Mathews, the founder of Chamois Butt'r, originally formulated it for himself for longer distance rides, and over the last six years the mix has been tweaked to what now comes in the (recyclable) tin. It's been under the likes of ex-pro Phil Gaimon and Iditarod winner Rebecca Rusch in that time.
The base is a mix of oils and waxes, with coconut oil the biggest single ingredient, and beeswax, castor oil and shea butter in the mix too. There's peppermint oil in there to give it a nice fresh and minty scent; Chamois Butt'r claims that it's not a tingly 'eurostyle' balm, but it is, a little bit.
It's set hard in the tin at room temperature and has a bit of a gritty feel in the hand; really, you need to get it warmed up a bit before you apply it to either chamois or skin, depending on your preference.
You can rub the excess into any exposed area; Chamois Butt'r says it's also good for protecting your skin, especially bits that are healing. Which is good, as you will have some left on your hands, because this stuff is pretty difficult to apply compared with a standard chamois cream. I mean, it's not like you need a doctorate or anything, but it takes a bit of time and care to warm it up and get it where you want it. It's not the kind of stuff you can slap on in a rush as you run out of the door.
In UK winter temperatures, then, you'll need even more time to get it to a consistency that allows you to apply it. I can imagine that reapplying it in the freezing cold somewhere in the middle of your Festive 500 would be, well, tricky.
You might not need to, though, because once it is there it stays put. Chamois Butt'r says that one application will last all day, and certainly it's still been well in evidence on chamois and skin after some long rides.
Because it's oil- and wax-based it's especially good in the wet, where it both protects your skin and adheres well to your chamois without getting diluted by the rain. It's about as tenacious as anything I've used in the past: Sportique Century Riding Cream is probably my reference for long-lasting protection, and the Ultra is on a par with that, and Veloskin chamois cream, which is also a predominantly oil-and-wax formulation but feels more like a standard cream and is a bit easier to apply.
The oil base might in theory mean it's harder to wash out of your shorts at the end of a ride, but I haven't really noticed any problems with that, washing my shorts as normal.
Because it's not the easiest to apply, I tended to take a bit more out than I thought I'd need, and this is an expensive balm even without having to over-scoop, so in terms of value it's not the best out there.
Veloskin Chamois cream was well liked by none other than ultradistance legend Dr Ian Walker when it was reviewed in 2018, and like this cream is quite oil- and wax-rich but at a significantly lower price (£14.99). It's less good value in sachets, but for a while that's been my go-to solution for rides long enough to worry about re-applying.
I suspect the Chamois Butt'r would prove to be a bit more tenacious than any of these in the most extreme riding conditions, so if you're planning some really epic rides then you probably won't be sorry that you picked the Ultra balm for that, and to be fair to Chamois Butt'r that's what it says it's designed for. As a bonus it's all natural and you can recycle the tin as a stash for your expedition bits and bobs once you finally manage to get through it.
Good quality balm for the toughest conditions – quite difficult to apply, though
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chamois Butt'r Ultra
Size tested: 142 g
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From Paceline/Chamois Butt'r: "This versatile balm is made for the most demanding conditions (think your longest rides or the wettest, hottest conditions). Our founder, Steve Mathews, originally made this product for himself to fill a need for longer distances, to be longer lasting than our creams so he didn't need to reapply as much, AND be easier to carry than an 8 oz tube of Butt'r.
"Ultra is very different from our other Butt'r creams (and for some rides, that's a good thing!). We spent six years perfecting Ultra balm's formula to be thicker than our anti-chafe creams for advanced protection and longer lasting comfort. Basically, Ultra is made to be applied and stay where you put it. We worked to perfect this formula with a select group of experienced long distance and ultra endurance cyclists as well as everyday cyclists and bikepackers to ensure this balm was up to the test (Thanks to Phil Gaimon, Rebecca Rusch, Jay Petervary, Brooke Goudy, Charon Smith, Matt Acker, Eddie O'Dea, Alison Tetrick, Yuri Hauswald, Raequan Wilson, Amanda Nauman, Brian McCulloch, Taylor Lideen, Dave Sheek...)"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Chamois Butt'r lists:
Solid balm, softens to touch
One application lasts all day
Made with natural ingredients
Made for the most demanding anti-chafe needs, but protects any skin areas (great to cover healing skin!)
No petroleum! Made with high quality natural ingredients like beeswax, coconut oil, shea butter, and peppermint oil
No tingle! Natural peppermint oil smells great, but contains no skin tingle.
Help us recycle! These 5 oz cans are made to be reused. The lid screws tight so you can stash your cash, zip ties, or snacks on trips or recycle to be repurposed.
No doubt about it: it's expensive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's very good once you have it on.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lasts a long time, really good in wet conditions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Expensive, difficult to apply, especially in cold conditions.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's very much a top-end product. Some long distance balms are about half the price of this.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe for something epic.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? The ones that do ultradistance stuff, sure.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The performance is excellent once in place. it's quite hard to apply, and the benefit over something a bit more traditionally chamois-cream-y is only going to kick in for really epic stuff. So if you really need that, it's a good choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.