Best Men's Cycling Shorts

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

48 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
395 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best men’s cycling shorts

Last Updated December 2019

Men’s cycling shorts, or bike shorts, serve several purposes: they improve aerodynamics, provide comfort, and protect you in the case of a fall. There are many types of shorts available for different types of biking and different riding styles.

Bib shorts provide an extra layer that keeps your back and chest warm. Tights are well-suited to cold conditions. Waist shorts are a popular choice for casual bikers and short rides. Most bike shorts are made of either Lycra or nylon, both of which allow for different degrees of breathability and moisture resistance. Most also have a chamois pad in the seat and crotch to reduce friction and prevent both chafing and infection. Making the transition to bike shorts from loose clothing can be awkward, but this comfortable garment will help you stay in the saddle for longer.

Cycling shorts can make a major difference in your comfort level and are one of the first purchases new cyclists should make. There are many factors to think about before purchasing a pair of men’s cycling shorts. We’ll cover them in this shopping guide.

Most cycling shorts have flat stitching that doesn’t rub against your skin as you pedal.

Key considerations

Your men’s cycling shorts should be suited to the type of riding you plan to do, as road bike shorts are quite different from mountain biking shorts. You should also choose shorts that you are comfortable in — comfort is the most important factor.

Shorts styles

Broadly, there are two types of cycling shorts: waist shorts, which are relatively low-rise, and bib shorts, which are similar to a wrestling singlet.

  • Waist shorts are a popular choice among beginners and casual bikers who need something to reduce drag and prevent chafing. These are a cooler option since they leave most of your skin exposed and don’t cover your torso at all.

  • Bib shorts are a good choice for road bikers. The over-the-shoulders design discourages bunching, and the extra coverage can keep your torso warm in cold weather. They can be difficult to get out of when you need to make a pit stop, however.

  • Tights cover your legs to keep them warm in cold conditions. As a result, tights are usually worn in the spring, fall, or winter. There are winter-specific tights that are made of thicker, more insulating materials. Tights may also have bibs, or they may end at the waist.

  • Baggies are used by mountain bikers for their extra protection against falls and tree branches. They extend almost to the knee or beyond the knee and are much tougher than traditional waist shorts or bib shorts. The thick, durable fabric of these shorts can help to protect your knees and thighs in case of a fall.

The chamois

The chamois is the padded part of cycling shorts in the seat and crotch area.

While the original chamois pads were made of chamois leather, that is no longer the case since more suitable synthetic materials have been devised. In most cases, the padding is made of a foam or gel. Since this is the only part of your cycling shorts that makes contact with the seat, it is extremely important to your comfort and endurance.

Some high-end cycling shorts have removable chamois pads, but in most cases, they are built in. While washing a removable chamois pad separately (and replacing it separately) is convenient, built-in pads are the classic choice, as they cannot shift around while you ride.

More padding is not always more comfortable. The best chamois pads should provide enough padding to reduce soreness but not so much that the pad feels squishy and reduces the transfer of power through your seat.

Just like your cycling shorts, your chamois pad should be washed after every ride. In addition, you should use chamois cream before each ride for added comfort and to protect the padding from drying up or collecting bacteria — the latter of which could lead to an infection known as a saddle sore.

EXPERT TIP

When it comes to bib shorts, the amount of upper body coverage varies. For a cooler bib, look for one that is low cut in the front and back.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Men’s cycling shorts vary in materials, breathability, and overall style.

Materials

Bike shorts are made of flexible synthetic fabrics that offer varying degrees of flexibility and breathability. The materials used are the biggest factor in the price of bike shorts.

  • Lycra is the most common type of fabric. It’s extremely flexible and comfortable but may lack the breathability of other fabrics unless it is specially treated. Some Lycra bike shorts may have ventilation or special weaves that aid breathability. Lycra may be combined with cotton, polyester, or nylon to improve comfort.

  • Nylon is less flexible than Lycra but also provides more protection in the case of a fall or getting nicked by a stray tree branch. Most baggies are made of nylon.
     

Both Lycra and nylon cycling shorts may be treated to wick moisture.

Color and visibility

While some brands offer a range of colors, most men’s cycling shorts are black or gray.

For safety and visibility, consider a pair of cycling shorts that have reflective strips on the back or sides.

Pockets

Some cycling shorts have pockets, allowing you to carry a few small personal items. While this is a useful feature, you should never carry anything that could harm you in a crash, such as keys.

Men’s cycling shorts prices

Inexpensive: Basic men’s cycling shorts cost between $10 and $30 and often have low-quality padding that doesn’t hold up well over time. If you are a weekend rider, these may do, but more serious cyclists should consider shorts with better padding and breathability.

Mid-range: The higher quality shorts that you can purchase for $30 to $60 are typically tights, waist shorts, or baggies, but a few bib shorts fall on the higher end of this range. These shorts may have durable chamois pads that can hold up for a season or more.

Expensive: The best cycling shorts cost from $60 to $100+ and come in a variety of styles. These are made of advanced, breathable fabrics that prevent sweat from absorbing into the shorts, and the chamois pads are likely to last for a few years if taken care of properly.

DID YOU KNOW?

The chamois pad in bike shorts is curved specifically to fit the male anatomy, as a flat cushion would provide little support.

DID YOU KNOW?

The original leather chamois pads have been forgone for modern foam pads, which provide support and reduce friction just as effectively as traditional chamois.

Tips

Cycling shorts can certainly take some getting used to, but these tips will have you feeling like a pro in no time.

  • Don’t wear any underwear with bike shorts. You read that right. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the fabric of cycling shorts (as well as the chamois pad) is designed to be right against your skin.

  • Turn your bike shorts inside out when you wash them, which should be after every ride.

  • Most cycling shorts cannot be tumble dried, but you should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your shorts.

Other products we considered

Though we believe our top recommendations are the best men’s cycling shorts available, there are a few other pairs worth calling out. One low-priced pair of bib shorts that we love is the sponeed Men’s Road Cycle Bib, which is made of a mixture of polyester and Lycra. Customers love this pair of budget bib shorts for the high-quality chamois and comfortable straps. Another excellent deal is the PHTXOLUE Men’s Cycling Jersey Set, which includes a jersey and a pair of bib shorts. Both are lightweight and breathable, and there are several color combinations available. For a pair of bib shorts that can double as a jersey, consider the Urban Cycling Apparel Men’s Urban Cycling Short Sleeve Jersey. Though some customers found the fit inaccurate, they liked the fact that these shorts have generous pockets and reflectors on the thighs and back. Read the reviews before you buy so you can select the right size for you.

Cycling shorts are usually treated with antimicrobial agents to prevent a bacterial buildup that could lead to infection.

FAQ

Q. What are “3D padded” cycling shorts?
A.
This description simply means that these shorts have more padding than most. 4D padded shorts are similarly designed. While the idea may be tempting, just remember that more padding does not always equal a more pleasant ride.

Q. How do I know when I need a new pair of cycling shorts?
A.
When your shorts start to become uncomfortable — believe us, you’ll know — you should look for a new pair. In most cases, the part that wears out first is the chamois pad, which becomes compressed over time.

Q. Why isn’t more padding better?
A.
Aside from the possibility of discomfort and chafing, super soft padding is likely to flatten out and become useless over time. The best padding is thin and dense, giving it the robustness it needs to hold up over time. This is why inexpensive bike shorts often have the most padding.

Q. How vital is chamois cream?
A.
While you don’t absolutely have to use it (and you may feel self-conscious applying in front of your fellow bikers), its antimicrobial qualities will greatly reduce the chance of infection.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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