Best Biker Shorts for Men

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best biker shorts for men

You’ve got a bike that can hold up to the rigors of the road or trail and a helmet to protect your head, just in case. The next item on your list enhances both your comfort and performance: a decent pair of biker shorts.

Men’s biker shorts provide extra padding in the seat to keep you comfortable on long rides. They are designed to reduce saddle sores and limit chafing while not restricting your movements on the bike.

When looking for a pair of men’s biker shorts, you will encounter a wide variety of features. Should you choose a looser or tighter pair of shorts? What size and length should you select, and what material is best for you? What should you expect to pay? Answering these questions will help you choose a pair you'll be happy with.

biker shorts for men
If you plan to wear your biker shorts in the hot sun, consider investing in a pair that is UV resistant to improve longevity.

Key considerations

Loose vs. tight biker shorts

Your first consideration when selecting a pair of men’s biker shorts should be whether you wish to go with a pair of loose shorts or tight ones. Personal preference can play a role here, but there are some valid reasons for gravitating toward one fit or the other.

  • Loose biker shorts: These often consist of two separate layers, a tight inner layer and a looser outer layer. Loose biker shorts are often worn by mountain bikers, who tend to ride more slowly, stop more frequently, and engage in more casual downtime than road bikers.
  • Tight biker shorts: These consist of a single layer of fabric that is more aerodynamic and faster for road biking. Because these shorts usually have just one layer, they tend to be more comfortable in hot temperatures.

Padding

Padding is standard on the majority of biker shorts and is often the one element that sets the shorts apart from running shorts and general athletic shorts. Biking is a unique sport in that a seat is involved. A type of padding known as a chamois has been a staple of biking for over a hundred years.

Chamois padding is all about adding comfort during a long bike ride without restricting movement. This padding runs the gamut from simple layers to high-tech molded gel pads that can be removed from the shorts.

Size

Size is another important consideration when choosing a pair of biker shorts. You want to avoid getting a pair that is too small, as this could result in an uncomfortable pair of too-tight shorts. On the other hand, you don’t want a pair that is too large, as too-big shorts may provide little support, slide around, and increase chafing.

A reputable seller should provide a sizing chart so you can zero in on your size. They should also provide a return policy that allows you to easily send back shorts that don’t fit just right.

Length

One more sizing element to consider is the length of the shorts. Biker shorts for men typically range in length from mid-thigh to knee-length. The length you choose is a matter of personal preference and comfort.

Color

Some sellers offer biker shorts for men in a range of colors, but black is still the most common option by far.

One downside of looser-fitting biker shorts is that they can produce an annoying “swishing” sound every time you pedal.

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Features

Material

Biker shorts are usually made from solid cloth, although some are made from mesh. Polyester is a common material, as is nylon. Where polyester tends to be softer and available in more color options, nylon tends to be more durable and fit better. Materials such as elastane and spandex are often blended in to promote elasticity. For more stretch, consider selecting a pair of biker shorts containing at least 15% of an elastic material.

Men’s biker shorts typically are not only stretchable but also breathable, with the ability to wick away moisture from the skin. The majority have at least partial water resistance built into them for a more comfortable ride if you get caught in a quick summer shower. Some also offer UV protection.

Waistband

The waistband on men’s biker shorts will either be elastic or in the form of a drawstring. Elastic is more common in tight-fitting shorts and can help provide a secure fit. Drawstrings show up more often in loose-fitting shorts and shorts used for multiple sports.

Compression cuffs

Also known as grippers, compression cuffs are available on some men’s biker shorts. These provide a snug fit at the hem of the shorts, which can help reduce leg pressure and keep the shorts from riding up.

Pockets

As smartphones become more commonplace in the biker’s arsenal for everything from route mapping to trail sharing, pockets to keep them secure are also more common. Some biker shorts do not have pockets, but others – often those with a looser fit – include one or more pockets so you can take your phone, keys, snacks, and other valuables along for the ride.

biker shorts for men
DID YOU KNOW?
The chamois padding in a pair of biker shorts often has antibacterial qualities that help keep the shorts fresh.
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Pricing

Inexpensive: Entry-level biker shorts start between $20 and $25. In this price range, you will find basic shorts made of polyester or nylon with little added elasticity. These often come in the form of single-layer tight shorts with simple, layered padding, and they are best for occasional bikers.

Mid-range: In the $25 to $30 range, you will find shorts that incorporate more spandex and elastane. They may be tight or loose, and they may have molded gel inserts for padding. Shorts in this price range are suitable for frequent bikers who travel moderate distances.

Expensive: If you are a biker who lives in the saddle and likes to tackle long routes, shorts in the $30 to $40 range are for you. Both tighter and looser shorts in this price range will be of higher quality. Molded inserts are common. Shorts in this range are designed to limit chafing, to maximize longevity and elasticity, and to fit well. If you bike with a phone or other valuables, note that these pricier shorts often have generous pockets built in.

For maximum eco-friendliness, go with biker shorts made from recycled polyester.

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Tips

  • Keep breathability in mind, but balance it with durability. Although biker shorts made from mesh can be more breathable, they can also be less durable than solid cloth options.
  • Choose a size based on your physical measurements. For the best fit, go with a seller that offers a sizing guide that includes a height measurement.
  • If you are going to be racing with your bike, consider a pair of bib shorts. Bib biker shorts have an integrated suspender system that can help keep your shorts in place during a race and promote better breathing by keeping pressure off your abdomen.
  • When choosing the length of shorts, take into consideration the bike itself. The more suspension your bike has, the longer your shorts should be.
  • Due to their unique design, it is often recommended that you avoid wearing underwear with biker shorts. One of the primary reasons for this is that the added layer can increase chafing.
biker shorts for men
For the best resistance to chafing, choose biker shorts with flatlock seams.

FAQ

Q. Are biker shorts machine washable?
A.
To keep bacteria and sweat odors from building up, it is important that you wash your biker shorts after each use. Some shorts are machine-washable; others must be washed by hand. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions when washing your biker shorts. To help your shorts last longer, also be sure to air dry them after laundering.

Q. Do biker shorts stretch out over time?
A.
Because they are made from stretchable material, all biker shorts tend to lose their elasticity the more you wear them. Paying up for higher-quality shorts is one way to minimize this problem. Shorts at higher price points usually succumb to worn-out patches in areas like the seat long before they lose their elasticity.

Q. Why are the majority of biker shorts for men black?
A.
Bikes used to break down more frequently than today’s high-tech marvels. As such, grime and grease from tire and chain maintenance were an integral part of riding. Black became the color of choice to hide the dirt from the road and was quickly adopted as the standard for bike racing. Black shorts were so ingrained in bike racing that fines were still being handed out not that many years ago to professional teams who adopted a non-black color. While black is still the most common color, other colors are also now available (and you won’t be fined, we promise).

 

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