Any cyclist will understand where I'm coming from — discomfort in the nether regions can really put you off your ride.
To avoid this pain-in-the-butt issue, the best bike shorts are the solution.
Here are my picks of the best bike shorts around:
Why You Should Wear Bike Shorts
If you’re hitting the road on a cyclocross, in the saddle for an extended amount of time, or you’re doing some high-speed cycling — the right type of bike shorts can make a difference to how streamlined or comfortable you are on the bike.
The benefits of cycling shorts over regular apparel include:
- Prevents discomfort.
- Lowers the chance chafing.
- Doesn’t restrict your movements.
- Encourages air to circulate.
- Cushions your butt/behind.
Here’s what you should look for when shopping for the best bike shorts:
In my opinion, this is the factor that makes or breaks a good pair of shorts for biking. The design of the padding — also known as the chamois — reduces friction and chafing (great for long rides) and absorbs moisture — keeping you as dry as possible and preventing saddle sores.
It’s also worth bearing in mind when selecting your products that, as we know, the male and female anatomy is quite different. The same goes for the shape of the chamois between women-specific and men’s shorts — it’s ergonomically designed by gender.
The material of the pair you choose should be moisture-wicking and lightweight to allow for the easiest, driest ride. Commonly found materials are Lycra, nylon, and spandex.
Types of cycling shorts available are split by riding discipline:
For roadies, there are two types — bib or bike shorts.
Shorts, as you might expect, are waist-to-thigh style apparel. They’re straightforward to slip on, yet the waistband could irritate if you don’t get the fit quite right.
A bib includes suspenders that go over the shoulders — the shorts in this style usually ride a little higher up and have a more snug fit. As it's an all-in-one type outfit, they’re more difficult to take on and off. This also means that leaving a bathroom break to the last minute could have embarrassing consequences.
Ultimately there is no right or wrong when choosing. Both have their pros and cons — it really is down to personal preference.
For the technical trail-finders among us, mountain bike shorts — aka “baggies” — are very different in appearance to their road biking cousin. They’re a casual or loose cut to allow movement and usually come with either a fitted or removable under short that includes padding.
Cut, Fit and Size
The best road bike shorts should be skin tight. The chamois should sit right up against you, with little room for moving out of place. For mountain bike shorts, make sure they fit well around the waist and include a reliable fastener, to prevent them from slipping down.
Most bike short products will have a sizing guide for you to view. You should know your inseam measurement, waistline, and thigh circumference to work out which would be the best size for you. If you select a bib, you’ll also need to know your height!
Here are a few other features to look out for:
- Seams — how your clothing is sewn together can lead to chafing. Look for seams with flat-stitching that don’t protrude.
- Panels — the more sections the shorts are made up of, the better the fit and the more naturally they will move with you.
- Grippers — a band of silicone or grippy material found around the waistband and the legs to keep them in place. Some garments may cause a “sausage-like” effect on your thighs — make sure this edging isn't too constricting.
"How To Style Biker Shorts?”
Bike shorts may be plain and simple, but it’s all about how you wear them!
If you’re wondering — what to wear with biker shorts?
While it may be tempting to wear just your bike short in hot weather, it’s a good idea to pair them with some other items. In addition to the best bike shorts, you’ll need to select a high-quality cycling jersey.
“Where To Buy Biker Shorts”
You can shop for a pair of bike shorts at any sporting goods store, or find them online.
Bear in mind that you won’t be able to try before you buy online, but you can find some great deals — you might find the price high when you shop in-store. They also offer a handy sizing chart, to make choosing the right size for you as straightforward as possible.
The Best Bike Shorts
The Sportneer brand is my pick for the best budget bike shorts. I feel these could be a great choice if you’re looking to purchase a pair of biking shorts to serve the purpose without a high price tag,
These shorts are a simple design — you’ll find them only in one color — black, but on the plus side, it matches everything.
Their “second skin” fit should make these biker shorts aerodynamic, as well as comfortable. The nylon/spandex blend allows moisture to escape, helping you stay dry and reducing the chance of chafing on longer rides.
I feel the padding is more than adequate for those who bike short to medium distances. It consists of three layers of high-performance spongy cushion, which is breathable and ergonomically designed for maximum saddle comfort.
Another feature I like is the silicone grippers on each leg — preventing the shorts from the annoying ride up. They also feature mesh grids on either side, which could make a difference in keeping you cool on the road.
Each leg sports a reflective logo, adding to the safety element for night riding. In short, I feel this bike short provides high price features with a price low as can be.
- “Second skin” fit.
- Nylon and spandex blend.
- 3-layered high-performance cushion.
- Reflective logos for increased visibility.
- Price low — value for money.
- Bike short size runs small.
- No women’s specific version.
In my opinion, the cut of these Pearl Izumi brand bike shorts makes them super-flattering for women cyclists. The waistband is extra wide and should provide extra comfort while on the bike as it’s spread over a broader surface area.
They’re made of a mix of 88% nylon and 12% Lycra elastane — this allows a tight fit with a bit of a stretch while being both breathable and moisture-wicking. The PI Transfer moisture management system, spreads perspiration across the surface to help it evaporate faster and cool you down.
The 1:1 chamois is designed to curve with a women’s body and uses edge-free blending technology to make it as comfortable as possible. I find this helpful, especially on long rides, as it should be well-cushioned and discourage irritation in sensitive areas.
The silicone grippers on the leg bottoms should keep them from bunching up while you’re pedaling. The reflective elements on either side of the thigh offer added visibility in low-light conditions.
Choose from black, navy blue, or black phyllite texture, which has a slight pattern to it.
- Blended, edge-free cushioning.
- UPF 50+.
- Silicone leg grippers.
- Wide waistband for extra comfort.
- Chamois may feel too big for some in the larger sizes.
- Price high enough — which may put some cyclists off.
Santic is a well-known brand, and these stylish half-leg biker shorts are my choice for the best men’s cycling shorts.
Consisting of 82% nylon and 18% Lycra/spandex blend, they should breathe well for a cool ride, as well as wick away moisture to keep you as sweat-free as possible.
They also feature mesh patches on either side, which are meant to create extra ventilation. These feature a 12-panel anatomically-designed shape for a better fit.
The 4D Coolmax cushioned pad is designed for the male anatomy and features 38 vents, which should increase ventilation and reduce moisture. With four layers of cushioning, help reduce friction and offer your butt relief. However, when walking around, they could potentially feel diaper-like to some.
These stylish biker shorts sport a couple of reflective strips as an added safety feature, and anti-slip leg openings — so you can concentrate on riding and not constantly adjusting your gear.
- 12-panel anatomically-designed padding.
- Breathable mesh on either side of the waist.
- 10 color options available.
- Reflective logos for added safety.
- Size runs small.
- Hand wash only.
Riders who love to tackle technical trails on two wheels may appreciate these shorts. They look like a pair of casual, everyday shorts. You’d never know they were padded and aimed at bicycle use, just by looking at them!
The outer shorts are a loose-fitting style, with an elastic waistband and inner drawstring, allowing for adjustment. The polyester/elastane material is lightweight and breathable.
The shorts have two zippered pockets, suitable for carrying and securing those small valuables with you. There’s also an additional Velcro pocket on the leg.
The undershorts contain the 3D chamois, which is ergonomic and antibacterial. It’s shaped from foam, but it should be thick enough for short to medium-length rides. If you’re mountain biking and spending a lot of time with your butt hovering over the saddle, these could appeal.
They come in three color combinations — black, and two variations of black and gray. You can also choose to buy them with separate undershorts, which could make washing easier. Simply remove the padding, and throw the outer shorts into the washer.
- Two designs — with or without undershorts.
- Made from polyester and elastane.
- 3D padded undershorts.
- Two zippered pockets, one Velcro pocket.
- Tighter undershorts would be an improvement — to keep chamois in place better.
The Przewalski brand produces high-performance cycling products. With the fabric geared for diffusing water effectively and a mesh back — this combo should increase ventilation and cooling properties. I’d venture to say it would be great for taking a ride in summer!
Its multi-panel, compression design should be suited for streamlining and supporting your muscles for performance. It can also add to the comfort as it moves freely with your body.
The 3D ergonomic Coolmax pad is also breathable and includes its own ventilation holes — ensuring air flows to all vital areas. The high-density foam should also reduce impact, absorb shock, and reduce friction while riding.
- Back mesh construction for extra breathability.
- 3D anatomical perforated padding design.
- Multi-panel, flat-seam stitching design.
- Suitable for those who bike long distances.
- No female-specific equivalent option.
Bike shorts should make your ride more comfortable, no matter the distance.
They both offer quick-drying, comfortable material, ergonomic foam padding, and anti-slide leg grippers to prevent your shorts from riding up as you pedal.
If you prefer a bib, I suggest the Przewalski Men’s 3D Padded Cycling Bike Bib is worth a look, or for mountain biking the EZRUN Men's 3D Padded Mountain Bike Shorts gets my vote. My budget choice is the Sportneer Men's Cycling Shorts.