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Published Jan. 8, 2021

If you’re an avid cyclist or mountain biker, you might dread the impending end of your cycling season once colder temperatures start to set in. Not to worry — wearing a high-quality, durable pair of cycling pants can be a game changer when it comes to extending your cycling season and making the most of it.

Today’s cycling pants are made from high-tech, breathable, rugged materials that not only keep you warm on colder days but also wick away moisture to keep you dry. They’re specially designed to prevent bruising from the saddle and chafing from constant peddling so that you can ride comfortably for as long or as far as you want. There are a lot of great options when it comes to cycling pants, so our convenient and informative review and buying guide will help you weed through the options and pick a pair (or two) that will suit your individual needs and style.

The Best Cycling Pants

When it comes to the best overall combination of quality, functionality, and price, we like the Souke Sports Men’s Bicycle Pants. This lightweight, full-length cycling pant is an ideal choice in cool-to-moderate conditions. It’s constructed from 80-percent nylon and 20-percent spandex, giving you a glove-like fit that stays put no matter how far you ride. The breathable and quick-drying moisture-wicking fabric lets you stay dry, even on longer rides.

These well-made cycling pants feature 14-panel construction and durable four-way stretch fabric that moves with you easily and minimizes friction while you ride. They’re enhanced with 360-degree reflective print for safe and easy visibility. An extra-wide elastic waistband ensures these pants don’t fold over while you lean in toward the handlebars. While these pants aren’t suitable for super cold weather, they’re great for fall riding or winter riding in above freezing temperatures.

Key Features
  • 80/20 nylon/spandex construction
  • Zippered ankles for easy on and off
  • 4D padded crotch for comfort and protection
  • Breathable, moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dry
Specification
  • Brand Souke
  • Weight 8.32 ounces
PROS

Snug fit that won’t budge while you ride

Flatlock seams prevent chafing

Aerodynamic and sleek, stylish design

CONS

Not suitable for very cold weather riding

Limited color options

Some reports of padding moving around during long rides

If you’re looking for a great mix between cost and quality, the Baleaf Men’s Bike Cycling Pants 4D are going to be right up your alley. Available in five separate color accents and constructed from 80/20 nylon/spandex, these pants are perfect for cooler temps ranging from 45 to 60-degrees Fahrenheit. Their high-performance fabric with moisture management technology efficiently wicks away moisture to keep your lower body dry and comfortable. A unique air-hole design allows for both freedom of movement and optimum ventilation.

An uber comfortable 4D gel padding in the crotch provides extra protection and reduced chafing during longer rides. These cycling pants also feature three handy utility pockets that can hold your mobile phone, keys, credit cards, and more, so that you can be sure to keep your essentials handy without sacrificing aerodynamics. Zippered ankles allow for easy on and off of these pants and a reflective design makes sure you’re seen by oncoming traffic.

Key Features
  • 80/20 nylon/spandex construction
  • Elastic waistband with inner drawstring
  • Silicone leg grippers to keep you secure on the bike
  • 4D gel padding for comfort and protection
Specification
  • Brand Baleaf
  • Weight 9.98 ounces
PROS

Comfortable and breathable

Easy to get on and off

Multiple pockets to keep your essentials

CONS

Not great for really cold temperatures

Only offered in basic black with slight color accents

Cushioned padding is thinner than on some other models

If you’re looking to stay warm during rides in colder weather, check out the RockBros Winter Cycling Pants. These rugged and warm pants feature three layers of thermal insulation to provide water and wind resistance while riding in the winter. High-tech stitching and specially designed elastic fabric at the knees provide a chafe-free ride with decreased pressure and tension on your joints.

These cycling pants also feature a comfortable and fully adjustable elastic waistband and smart, highly reflective strips to improve your visibility in darker conditions. Straps at the leg openings adjust so that you can easily put these pants on or take them off over your cycling shoes. Multiple wind- and water-resistant pockets allow you to safely stow your cell phone, keys, and cash while you ride. These are excellent cycling pants, but also suitable for winter running, hiking, and walking.

Key Features
  • 92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex construction
  • Adjustable waistband and ankle openings
  • Triple-layer thermal technology
  • Water- and wind-resistant
Specification
  • Brand RockBros
  • Model Chasing the Wind
  • Weight 1 pound
PROS

Keeps you warm and dry in colder temperatures

Suitable for multiple sports

Roomier and less constricting than some other models

CONS

Available only in black

Water-resistant, but not waterproof

Pricier than some other pants

The three-layer Sponeed Men’s Bicycle Pants are super soft, comfy, and made from 80/20 polyester/spandex with a warm and dry fleece lining. These pants allow you to the ultimate in flexibility and movement while wicking away moisture and keeping out the cold. They’re ideal for rides in the 40 to 55-degree Fahrenheit range.

These pants also come without fleece lining and are offered in several color accents, allowing you to customize them to your fit and needs. They feature a special zippered design and a silicone lining at the ankle that conforms perfectly to your body and prevents the pants from getting caught in your bike chain while riding. The 4D silicone gel-padded crotch ensures a comfortable and more protected ride that also promotes cooling airflow. A high elastic waistband helps the pants stay put no matter what riding position you prefer.

Key Features
  • Warm and cozy fleece lining
  • 80/20 polyester/spandex construction
  • Silicone-lined ankles for added security
  • 4D padded crotch for protection and breathability
Specification
  • Brand Sponeed
  • Model QXFM5NSS004-31FL-Blue1
  • Weight 10.4 ounces
PROS

Super-sleek and stylish design

Can choose from fleece-lined or not

The snug fit won’t get caught in the bike chain

CONS

Not suitable for really cold weather

Some concern that the padding is too thick

Some concern that padding placement is not optimal

If you’re not in the market for an overly flashy cycling pant, but one with a more low-key design, the Qualidyne Men’s Cycling Bike Pants are a great choice. These pants are made from 90 percent polyester with 10 percent spandex and feature a 3D ergonomic chamois padded crotch that helps eliminate hip and lower back pain while you ride. Anti-friction wings on the inner thighs decrease chafe and help further minimize saddle pain on long treks.

These pants offer a comfortable, but stable level of compression to promote proper blood flow and joint function during cycling that helps reduce fatigue and muscle damage. Zippered ankles allow you to easily change in and out of the pants, even with your cycling shoes on. Silicone lining at the ankles helps prevent the pants from riding up during aggressive cycling sessions.

Key Features
  • 90/10 polyester/spandex construction
  • Zippered ankles for easy on/off
  • Silicone-lined ankles make pants stay put while in use
  • Reflective accents for added visibility
Specification
  • Brand Qualidyne
PROS

Unassuming, straightforward design

Fits well under other layers for added warmth

Suitable for use with multiple sports

CONS

Limited reflective striping compared to some other models

Less crotch padding than other models

Limited color options

The 4ucycling Mens Fleeced Windstopper Cycling Pants get a nod for being a versatile, multi-sport pant. A double-layered synthetic polyblend material in the front makes these pants water-repellent while still being a slightly loose, roomy, and comfortable pant that gives you plenty of mobility and flexibility. These uniquely designed pants feature a breathable material in the back that’s made from 85 percent polyester and 15 percent spandex that’s engineered to improve aeration and prevent excessive sweating.

A cozy inner thermal lining keeps you toasty in colder weather conditions, making these pants suitable for running, hiking, or even skiing. Zippered pockets securely hold your accessories, while zippered ankles prevent excess cold and moisture from getting in near your feet and let you quickly remove the pants without removing your shoes if you get too hot. Substantial three-needle, five-thread stitching ensures durable and reliable wear for a long time.

Key Features
  • Fleece-lined interior for added warmth
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Zippered ankles
  • Polyester/spandex blend for stretch and water-resistance
Specification
  • Brand 4ucycling
  • Model 4UVC-wuji-XXL
PROS

Room and comfortable pants

Suitable for use over multiple sports

Can fit a spandex base layer underneath

CONS

Sizing runs quite small compared to most other models

Only suitable for temps in the 40-50 degree Fahrenheit range

No crotch padding for long cycling sessions

An ergonomic design and anatomically oriented 4D high-density padding make the XGC Men’s Long Cycling Pants a top choice for longer rides. These highly breathable pants are constructed from top-of-the-line moisture wicking four-way stretch fabric that acts like high-stretch compression shorts to keep you secure and comfortable during any type of cycling activities.

The 4D crotch padding is amply padded with a 0.7-inch thickness of cushioned, yet breathable material for decreased chafing and saddle sores. A comfortable waistband sits at the natural waist and won’t pinch or bunch in various riding positions. Elasticized silicone ankles help prevent the pants from bunching or riding up and getting caught in your bike chain or gears. A reflective logo and accents help oncoming traffic see you in darkening conditions.

Key Features
  • 80/20 polyester/spandex material
  • 4D crotch padding that is breathable and comfortable
  • Zippered ankles
  • Silicone lining around the ankles to prevent shifting
Specification
  • Brand XGC
PROS

Super lightweight and breathable

Great for fitting underneath other layers in colder temps

Anatomical padding limits chafe

CONS

Not suitable for really cold weather 

Not super water-repellent or waterproof

Sizing runs small

Best Cycling Pants Buying Guide & FAQ

Check out our favorite cycling shorts here

Now that you’ve seen some of our top picks for cycling pants, it’s time to learn why we chose certain brands and styles over others. Not all cycling pants are created equal and whether you’re just getting into cycling or mountain biking, or you’re a seasoned veteran of the sport, you want the money you invest in a high-quality pair of cycling pants to be worth it. What’s the point of a cycling pant that breaks down after a few uses or doesn’t fit you perfectly and make you want to wear them each time you go out? This buying guide will help you to know exactly what to look for when selecting your perfect pair of cycling pants. 

Do You Need Cycling Pants?

Just because the weather’s getting colder doesn’t mean your cycling season has to come to an end. Winter cycling can be an amazing and rewarding experience. The trails and roads are quieter and breathing in the cooler temps can be exhilarating and energizing. You can improve your skills as a rider if conditions are even slightly wet or snowy, adding a whole other dynamic to your cycling repertoire. 

Let’s not forget how fun it can be to shop for new cycling gear too. As the weather gets chillier, you get to expand your cycling kit and wardrobe with a whole new line of gear. Oftentimes, this gear can also be suitable for use in multiple sports, not just cycling. Pants, gloves, jackets, face masks, hats, glasses, socks, and shirts can be used for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and much more. They can make great base layers for winter sports since they’re often versatilely designed and made from the same materials as other sporting gear.

  • Many cycling pants are water-resistant or waterproof to allow you to ride in the rain and snow.
  • Made from specially designed moisture-wicking materials, cycling pants help draw damaging sweat and moisture away from the skin to avoid chafing and rashes.
  • High-tech fleece lining can be thin and super cozy so that you don’t sacrifice mobility for warmth while riding. 

Learn what our top choices are for padded bike shorts here.

cyclist wearing black cycling clothing in a wood
Cycling pants are versatile and effective.

Types of Cycling Pants

Bib Tights

Bib tights are a type of cycling pants that feature a breathable bib with thin straps that go up and over your shoulders kind of like overalls, or a wrestling uniform. Their primary purpose is to prevent shifting and bunching of the tights while you’re riding, which can lead to chafe and blisters and general overall annoying discomfort. The legs go all the way to the ankle and some of them may be lined with fleece so you don’t have to wear knee or leg warmers. They feature thicker fabrics that are suitable for colder temperatures.

Cycling Tights

Tights usually sit at the natural waist and extend either 3/4 of the way or down the leg to the ankle. They are usually made from a combination of polyester/spandex or nylon/spandex to be simultaneously compressive, flexible, breathable, and water-repellent or waterproof. 

Cycling tights come equipped with a well-padded, cushioned crotch that’s made from either a gel or foam material that protects your butt from blisters and chafing during long rides because let’s face it — bike saddles aren’t usually built for comfort. 

Tights can work great on their own as a barrier in slightly cooler temperatures, or they can be the perfect base layer when temps drop seriously low and you need to add more clothing. They’ll also have some kind of reflective accents to help you be seen by passing traffic for added safety.

Cycling Pants

True cycling pants are looser fitting and much less compressive than cycling tights. However, like tights, they may or may not be lined with fleece for added warmth in colder temperatures. They’re water-repellent, if not completely waterproof, and also wind-repellent. You can wear cycling tights underneath them for added layering and warmth if you wish. Some riders will wear their cycling shorts underneath them as well.

Most of the time, cycling pants do not come equipped with a padded crotch, thus the need to often layer them over your padded shorts or tights. They’re great on their own for shorter rides, but can also be a great option for running, walking, or hiking in cooler temperatures. 

What to Look for When Buying Cycling Pants

When you’re weeding through all the available options for cycling pants that are on the market, consider what your primary purpose for wanting them is. Are you hoping to slightly extend your cycling season by a month or two, or are you looking to have the option to ride all year long?

Are aerodynamics super important to you? If you want to limit wind resistance and go as fast as possible, then tights may be a better option for you than traditional cycling pants. Are you a long-distance cyclist? You’ll want a padded crotch and seams that prevent chafing. Clarity is key in choosing the perfect pair of cycling pants.

If mountain biking is your thing, click here to see our top recommendations for mountain biking knee pads.

Key Features of Cycling Pants

No matter which type of cycling pants you’re looking into getting, there are a few key features that will be universal when selecting durable, reliable, and super comfortable cycling pants. Checking these boxes will help ensure that you get the biggest bang for your buck when buying your cycling pants and don’t waste your money on something that’s only going to hold up for a few rides, or worse, not protect you against the elements on your first day out. 

High-Quality Materials

Reliable and comfortable cycling pants will be made from a combination of high-tech polyester/spandex blend or nylon/spandex blend. Having pants that offer slight or moderate compression will help prevent them from shifting and bunching too much during your ride. 

The material should offer protection from wind and rain or snow, being either waterproof water-repellent. The base materials of the pants should also be moisture wicking to help draw sweat and moisture away from all your cracks and crevices. This will help prevent the dreaded chafing or rash development and it will dry super fast if you do sweat or get caught in the rain.

Padding

If you want a pair of cycling pants that come with padding in the crotch, look for high-quality gel padding that is ergonomically and anatomically well thought out so that the saddle of your bike isn’t going to cause you bruises, blisters, or chafe.

Also check to see that the padding is either 3D or 4D, which is thick enough to protect you. Thinner, lesser quality padding can shift during the ride or can cut your ride short if there’s not enough cushion between you and your bike seat.

Also, look for padding that is covered in a chamois material or features an antimicrobial coating to help deter unsanitary conditions that can lead to either bacterial or fungal infections. 

Reflective Accents

Even if you plan on cycling mainly during the light of day, choose a pair of cycling pants that feature a good amount of bright and noticeable reflective accents. The best set-up is when the reflective accent runs from the hip to the leg to ensure that you will be seen by passing motorists.

You never know when a ride is going to go long, or a breakdown might cause a delay that catches you out on the road past dusk. With many motorists being so distracted nowadays, you want to do anything you can to be seen and noticed.

Care and Maintenance for Cycling Pants

Because cycling pants encompass several different fabrics and materials in their designs, and because they can be a pretty substantial investment financially, you’re going to want to care for and maintain them to ensure longevity and proper function. 

Always wash your cycling shorts in cold water with a mild detergent. Pretreat tough stains and mud before washing to fully remove stains each time. Do this relatively soon after your ride is over. Leaving wet or dirty cycling pants in the hamper for days on end can degrade the materials faster and can make it harder or almost impossible to get out stinky odors that have decided to set into fabrics.

Never dry your cycling pants in the dryer, especially if they have a padded crotch. Drying them will not only shift the padding around or cause it to become bunched up, but it will also cause the padding to break down much faster, making it a protective cushion. Drying on high heat will also break down any antimicrobial treatments that may have been done to the fabric.

  • Wash your cycling pants immediately after your ride, or as soon as possible to prevent set-in stains and odors.
  • Hang cycling pants to dry to ensure that padding, zippers, seams, and liners all settle properly for continued comfort and functionality, as well as longevity.
  • Store cycling pants carefully to ensure materials stay dry and well laid out; don’t leave them bunched up in the bottom of your kit bag.
Two mountain bikers resting outdoors in winter
Cycling pants can be used in all types of weather.

Best Cycling Pants FAQ:

As we near the end of our buying guide, you should be getting more familiar and comfortable with what to look for in great cycling shorts. That being said, here are some comprehensive answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we came across.

Q: Do padded cycling pants make a difference?

Depending on how far or long your plan to ride, padded cycling pants can make a world of difference. Not only do they provide much appreciated cushioning between you and your hard bike saddle to prevent painful bruising, blisters, and chafing, but they also promote airflow and deter the build-up of bacteria and fungi which can lead to dangerous and uncomfortable infections in your nether regions.

Q: How do I choose cycling pants?

Deciding what your primary purpose for needing cycling pants is key to making the right choice. After narrowing down the type of cycling pants that will suit you best, doing an online comparison and reading user reviews will greatly help you to determine if the pants you’re looking at are worth the money, or if their manufacturers are just making empty promises.

Q: How often should you wash your cycling pants?

You really should wash your cycling pants after every single ride. This will prevent smelly odors, stains, and damaging chemicals from permanently setting into your pants and causing materials to break down faster than they normally would. Remember to always wash in cold water with a mild detergent and ALWAYS air dry them to ensure the greatest longevity. Learn more about these high-quality options for motorcycle riding jeans here.

Our Top Pick

Now that you know what we know, it’s easy to see why our top pick for the best cycling pants is the Souke Sports Men’s Bicycle Pants. This lightweight, full-length cycling pant is an ideal choice for cool to moderate conditions. It’s constructed from 80 percent nylon and 20 percent spandex, giving you a glove-like fit that stays put no matter how far you ride. The breathable and quick-drying moisture-wicking fabric lets you stay dry, even on longer rides. The generous 4D padding will keep you comfortable and protected on even the longest rides.

Final Thoughts

Having a comfortable and durable pair of cycling pants is a great way to extend your cycling season, whether it’s just for a few weeks, or all winter. With so many great options out there, like the Souke Sports Men’s Bicycle Pants or the Baleaf Men’s Bike Cycling Pants, there’s something to suit every style and budget. We can’t think of a reason not to invest in a pair of cycling pants.

Let us know in the comments what your favorite go-to cycling pants are and why, we love to hear from you.

Sources:

  1. Cycling Shorts – Wikipedia

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