These bibs are highly reviewed by users. The compressive material supports while also wicking sweat. Great for long-distance and endurance riding of any kind. The chamois moves with you to prevent chafing and discomfort.
These are more expensive than most other bibs by popular brands.
These cycling shorts stay cool in most temperatures, and low coverage makes them especially good for hotter weather. They're slim and not bulky, but the chamois is still comfortable. Wide waistband keeps shorts in place without pinching.
These are very short and may not be ideal for those with longer legs.
These simple shorts will get the job done. Though they aren't as comfortable as bibs, their affordability makes them a great entry-level pair for a beginner. Eco-friendly thanks to the recycled nylon fabric.
The waist elastic can be uncomfortable, especially on longer rides.
These performance bibs are suitable for both training and racing. Mesh bib straps help keep you cool. No seams on the inner thighs means less chafing. Memory foam chamois provides relief on longer and more intense rides.
Pricey, though not as expensive as the Assos.
These bibs have a tight race fit, making them aerodynamic and functional. They're also comfortable thanks to the supportive and breathable chamois. Reflective components improve visibility for evening rides.
Some customers found that these stretched over time.
Bicycle seats are designed for rider support and balance first, comfort second. When cyclists go on long rides, even a “comfort” bicycle seat can get uncomfortable fast. Which is where a good pair of cycling shorts comes in.
New riders and experienced road cyclists alike deal with discomfort and soreness around the sit bones (where the rump meets the bike seat). Cycling shorts are designed to alleviate this problem with strategic cushioning.
But today’s performance wear does far more than just ease a sore tuchus. High-tech materials address several factors that cyclists deal with on rides of every distance, including wind, weather, and sweat. Indeed, in the cycling world, there’s no such thing as “just a pair of shorts.”
How can riders pick the best cycling shorts for their needs? Read on for all the stats on the perfect cycling shorts for every situation. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.
Why should you choose a pair of snug cycling shorts over regular shorts or clothes for long rides? Here are a few reasons to persuade you:
An ill-fitting pair of shorts that collects sweat can causing chafing of the skin from the thighs upward, and riders can feel discomfort within just a few minutes. Well-made cycling shorts, on the other hand, wick away sweat from the skin to the outside of the fabric, where it can evaporate. This prevents chafing and helps riders maintain their body temperature.
Ask a daily bike commuter about this problem, and they’ll tell you just how many denim jeans and slacks they’ve had to replace early due to constant contact with the bike seat. Fabrics can also be damaged or stained through contact with the chain, splashing through puddles, or falling from the bike (it happens to the best of us). If you’re headed to the office, wear your durable cycling shorts to work and change when you get there.
There’s a good reason you don’t see anyone wearing pants in the Tour de France. When you need complete freedom of movement, cycling shorts are key. Cycling wear should never restrict the rider’s legs or make it difficult to bend, twist, and pedal. At the same time, the shorts have to fit well so they don’t slip around during the ride.
You can find cycling shorts in a range of distinct styles for both men and women:
Road shorts: The signature look of Tour de France and day commuters alike, these skintight shorts are designed not to slip or chafe the rider and to wick away sweat.
Mountain biking (MTB) shorts: Originally designed to look “rad” in the heyday of mountain biking, “baggies” are worn more loosely than traditional road-cycling shorts but also have an inner liner to provide support and padding.
Casual cycling shorts: Similar to MTB shorts, these look more like everyday shorts but have an inner liner to make riding more comfortable.
Bib shorts: Dedicated road cyclists are often seen in these one-piece outfits that stretch up and over the shoulders. The advantage of bib shorts is that they don’t have an elastic waistband, which can be uncomfortable.
Skorts: Another variant of MTB and casual shorts, skorts combine a padded inner spandex liner with an outer skirt for stylish, casual cycling.
Each of the above styles offers many of the following features:
Chamois pad: This is the cushioning sewn into cycling shorts to protect the sit bones and the crotch. This foam or gel cushion can be very thick (ideal for new riders or those putting in long training miles) or thin (for short rides and hot days) and may extend downward to protect the inner thighs.
Tech fabric: Cycling shorts use a combination of synthetic fabrics to provide comfort, compression, and durability. Nylon fabric holds up to wear and tear, while polyester is comfortable. Spandex yarn woven throughout the main fabric helps shape the garment, so it provides support where needed.
Panels: Today’s shorts are built using either six or eight fabric panels, which is far fewer than the shorts of the past.
Leg gripper: The cuffs of cycling shorts should fit snugly around the leg to keep the shorts in place during a ride, as sliding around or flapping can chafe the skin. An elastic band or a drawstring is sewn into the end of each leg so that the cuffs grip the thighs.
Pockets: While not common on road shorts, pockets are popular on casual and mountain bike shorts.
Inexpensive: Riders looking for their first cycling shorts can choose from nylon/spandex padded shorts as low as $15 to $30 and loose-fitting MTB shorts with all the basic bells and whistles, such as an elastic waistband, for around $19 to $33.
Mid-range: For $39 to $79, cyclists can find a wide selection of good-quality casual, commuter, and MTB shorts.
Expensive: Bib shorts tend to be among the highest-priced cycling shorts, ranging between $120 and $220.
Do not wear underwear beneath cycling shorts — especially cotton briefs. Instead, wear cycling liners or just go commando. (Don’t brag about it, though).
Wash cycling shorts after each ride, including the chamois pad, and air dry completely before wearing again to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.
Look for cycling shorts with at least 15% spandex in its fabric.
A wider elastic band in the shorts leg is less likely to slip or roll, which improves comfort.
Longer legs in cycling shorts — reaching almost to the knee — can prevent chafing and help keep shorts in place.
Still uncomfortable even with a thick chamois pad? The bike seat may need an adjustment. Visit a dedicated cycling shop for assistance.
Mountain biking shorts are made with tougher fabrics, such as ripstop nylon, and should have adjustment tabs at the waist that can be tightened or loosened as needed.
Road cycling shorts are supposed to feel tight, but if the shorts constrict your breathing or are painful to wear, choose a bigger size.
Q. I think thick chamois pads will be uncomfortable. When can I opt for a thinner pad?
A. Thick pads are great for riders who are new to cycling and not as skilled at riding techniques that ease soreness. They’re also very good for long rides of several miles. As you gain experience and confidence, try out thinner chamois pads. The thinnest pads mainly help prevent chafing, and they dry out quickly. That’s why multisport athletes, like those participating in triathlons, prefer thin chamois pads, as they can still be soaking wet after the swim portion but will dry in a hurry.
Q. Are there other options for cycling shorts besides the skintight compression shorts?
A. Of course. Cycling shorts designed for casual riding are available. They look like everyday cargo or Bahama shorts but offer the padding and moisture-wicking that riders need. Pockets are a common feature of casual cycling shorts, often with a cargo flap to keep items from falling out. Those who want a more technical cycling short without the skintight look can also try out MTB (mountain biking) or ATB (all-terrain biking) shorts, which typically combine a stretchy inner liner and chamois pad with a baggy outer garment that falls almost to the knee.
Q. Should I look for cycling shorts with more panels so that they fit better?
A. In the past, cycling shorts constructed with more than six fabric panels were sought after because they fit closely without being uncomfortable. Of course, that often meant paying a much higher price. Today’s fabric blends can do the same job with fewer panels needed, and while shorts made with six to eight panels are still considered good quality, lower-priced shorts are often comparable in fit and comfort.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.