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Every sport has its fan league, dedicated athletes, and unique gear. Cycling is a great sport that can be practiced professionally or recreationally. It can take the form of an indoor spin class or an outdoor track race. Dedicated cyclists need their very own clothing to help them get the most out of their exercise routine. They need padded shorts that will improve their riding experience and help reduce the wear and tear that can occur while their bodies are generating heat and friction on top of the saddle. Discomfort and soreness can be distracting and unwelcome, especially during long-distance rides. Both amateurs and seasoned cyclists need to have at least one pair of quality shorts in their closets. If you happen to be on the hunt for new gear, then this guide will help you find the most comfortable and functional shorts on the market.
Best Cycling Shorts
Our top pick is a very popular option from Sponeed Cycling. Its cycling shorts have several excellent features, including 3D silicon gel padding and premium stretchy fabric for added comfort. The company has seven years of experience researching and designing bike, shorts and it shows. The end product is a lightweight, soft and breathable design that offers support for the body during cycling and paves the way for long and painless rides and competitions. All the above features come together to reduce friction while riding and prevent sweat and moisture from ruining your overall riding experience. This product can be worn indoors and outdoors and is suitable for all level cyclists. It can also be washed by hand or via washing machine.
80% polyester – 20% spandex
3D gel padding for added comfort
Moisture-wicking material keeps you cool and dry
Stretchy fabric does not constrict movement
Suitable for indoor and outdoor cycling
Breathable and comfortable enough for long bike rides
- Weight12.8 ounces
Breathable silicon pad gel
Length is not ideal for shorter cyclists
Tight around the knees
These premium biker shorts from Santic are made of comfortable and close-fitting fabric. One side uses ultra-fine fibers to absorb sweat while the outer side is made of Cool Dry fabric that is both elastic and loose with moisture-wicking properties. The stretchy properties of the shorts were tailormade for this sport. Their 4D Cool Max cushion technology also reduces chafing and saddle sores with more than 38 vents that were designed to keep you cool and dry while speeding towards the finish line. The combination of breathable mesh and silicone leg grippers make these shorts ideal for long rides and avid cyclists.
82% nylon – 18% spandex and lycra
Breathable Cool Max pad with antibacterial properties
Silicon leg grippers to keep shorts in place
Moisture-wicking fabric keeps sweat at bay
Breathable mesh fabric and reflective logo
Comfortable and ergonomic
- Weight8 ounces
12 panel padding
Fabric tends to ride up
Runs one size too small
The Przewalski padded cycling bibs are durable and extremely functional. Their goal is to maximize comfort, especially in and around the crotch area. They are made of a mixture of polyester and elastane and high-density foam that absorbs shock and reduces skin irritation. The perforated foam gives your skin room to breath and pushes sweat outwards and away from your body. This feature can keep bikers cool and dry for hours while they complete their cycling excursion. The back is composed of mesh, adding an extra layer of breathability and comfort. This design also has leg grippers that keep the bib in place and a reflective logo for night safety.
71% Polyester – 29% Elastane
High density foam to absorb shock
Perforated layer allows skin to breath
Moisture-wicking fabric with antibacterial properties
New compression fabric increases sun protection
Suitable for long distance road and mountain bike rides
Silicone leg grippers do not hold onto thighs
Stitching on the straps can cause discomfort
The Nooyme padded bicycle shorts cater to amateur riders who suffer from saddle sores and feature an ergonomic chamois that is breathable and antibacterial at the same time. This series was designed to provide comfort and support to cyclists and minimize chafing between the legs. Each pair is made of stretchy spandex with an anti-slip silicone strip on each leg opening to prevent the shorts from bunching up and getting in the way of riding your bicycle. The Nooyme series is available in a wide variety of color combinations such as white-blue and yellow-blue.
80% Polyamide – 20% spandex
Fabric supports moving muscles
Padded chamois for shock absorption
Two-part spandex leg band keeps shorts in place
Moisture wicking material keeps skin cool and dry
Flat seams prevent friction and promote comfort
Available in several stylish designs
Not ideal for long rides
Waistband cannot be adjusted
The Beroy ladies cycling shorts are designed for cyclists who need padding in several areas. Their three-foam density padding doubles the dose of comfort and allows the skin to breathe. The fabric is also treated with an antibacterial agent that keeps infection at bay. Riding your bicycle for hours can cause your body to get overheated. The combination of spandex and polyester will help take care of sweat accumulation by absorbing this moisture and giving you freedom of movement and dry skin. Chafing and abrasion are also taken care of thanks to the flat seam and overall quality stitching.
80% polyester- 20% spandex
Breathable, quick dry fabric
3D gel padding for added comfort
Three foam density with varied thickness
Suitable for long distance rides and spin class
Non-slip belt prevent shorts from rolling up
Molds nicely to any shape
Tends to stretch a bit over time
Tight elastic on thighs
Canari have 30 years of experience when it comes to cycling apparel and their padded bike shorts are a prime example of this. They come with a wealth of features including ventilation technology and durable fabric that delivers lasting comfort. Both amateur and experienced male riders will benefit greatly from the gel pad liner. This liner is made of silicone gel and was designed to distribute shock while riding down bumpy terrain. It also prevents the saddle region from overheating and becoming unbearable during long distance cycling.
82% nylon-18% spandex
Durable fabric designed for frequent use
Stretchy elastic waistband provides lower back support
Gel pad for absorbing shock and cooling saddle area
Suitable for novice and seasoned cyclists
- BrandCanari Cyclewear
- Model1040 M VELO GEL SHORT
- Weight5.6 ounces
Soft leg grippers
Silicone gel liner
Waistband cannot be adjusted
Slightly loose leg openings
The Sportneer men’s cycling shorts feature a blend of nylon and spandex that take comfort to a whole new level. The inner padding is made of three dense layers that offer major support to the upper thighs. They also absorb shock and help diffuse saddle pressure against the sit bone, especially during long rides. The key to a smooth ride is choosing the right saddle and the most comfortable, ergonomic bicycle shorts to go with it. This Sportneer creation offers this and more with premium moisture wicking fabric and grid ventilation on both sides of the thigh. Stretch and flexibility are also achieved with the use of flatlock seams and the breather holes found in the seat padding keeps your skin dry while exercising.
82% Nylon -18% Spandex blend
Second skin sculpted fit
Premium moisture wicking fabric
Breathable and highly elastic
Triple layer seat padding with anti-bacterial compound
Silicone cuff grip prevents chaffing
Highly visible reflector
Can be a bit snug
The Baleaf cycling underwear shorts deliver comfort and durability on a silver platter. They are the ideal solution for bikers who are in search of cycling friendly underwear. These padded shorts are made with anti-pressure gel that reduces vibrations. This Coolmax padding also helps reduce the pain for medium to long distance bicycle rides. Baleaf underwear shorts are made of quality fabric that facilitates moisture absorption and is quick to dry. They are also extremely breathable and give the cyclist enough room to move on the saddle. This popular option is available in a variety of designs and color combinations.
80% Nylon-20% Spandex
Lightweight, breathable fabric
4-needles flat seam minimizes chafing
3D Coolmax padding
- Weight2.2 pounds
Slides down while riding
Chamois is a bit stiff
Legs can be a bit loose for some
The Louis Garneau padded compression bike shorts are another great option for cyclists who are looking for ergonomic and comfortable apparel. Their Airzone chamois is made of memory foam that pushes out moisture from the inside of the shorts and promotes faster drying. The brushed back fabric also allows the body to maintain its core internal temperature via thermoregulation. Moreover, the combination of stretch trim and elastic waist add an extra layer of comfort to the already non-restricting shorts. Each pair of Louis Garneau shorts comes with reflective accents for night safety and is made in the United States.
Made of a combination of nylon, lycra, polyester and spandex
Moisture-wicking Airzone chamois
Ergonomic and antibacterial memory foam
Seamless inner legs and elastic drawstring waist
Non-restricting lower cuffs keep shorts in place
Thermoregulation friendly fabric
- BrandLouis Garneau
- Weight1 pounds
Great value for money
Only one design available
The Escape Sugar shorts from Pearl iZuMi are one of the best ladies cycling shorts on the market. Their chamois saddle takes comfort to a whole new level with a high-density suspension core and a design that conforms to the body and makes summer rides a lot more tolerable. These cycling shorts for women have a flattering cut and are highly breathable as well. Padding is also available in all the right places. Escape sugar shorts come in six different color combinations including black and white as well as black and green.
Pre-shaped and curved to the body
- BrandPearl iZUMi
- ModelPearl Izumi
- Weight1 pounds
Chamois designed for women
Silicone leg grippers
Legs can ride up
Too short on some cyclists
The women cycling shorts from Eco-daily were tailormade for ladies who want a functional yet fashionable design. Premium tricot microfiber plus a blend of nylon and spandex form the durable foundation of these shorts. This breathable cocktail of fabrics wicks away sweat and dries quickly. The chamois was especially designed for women and is made of six layers of foam. Each layer has different properties that contribute to the overall comfort of these shorts. The 4D structure conforms to the shape of your hips and was designed to move with your body like second skin.
80% Nylon -20% Spandex
Premium durable microfiber
4D density foam reduces pressure in saddle area
Moisture wicking and antibacterial
True to size
Suitable for long rides
Shorts are long
Reflective patches fall off
The Santic cycling shorts for men are baggy from the outside but they offer premium padding on the inside. The saddle is made from 4D Coolmax to reduce sweat and prevent bacteria from accumulating and causing problems down the line. Each pair comes in a loose-fitting style with two side pockets and elastic free legs.
Lycra and polyester shorts
Loose fitting style
4D Coolmax seat cushion
Available in 4 colors
Hand wash -Machine washable
Quality fabric and seams
Thigh grippers can be too tight
High density foam
Ergonomic and highly stretchable
Aero Lazer band provides muscle support
Flatlock seams and vented mesh
Reflective accents for night riding
- BrandLouis Garneau
- Weight7.2 ounces
Comfortable leg grippers
The Hummvee shorts were essentially created for delivery couriers and later became popular amongst mountain bikers who favored their abundance of cargo pockets and their durability. This enhanced model features a detachable liner made of lightweight mesh and a moisture wicking seating pad. Ideal for mountain trails and city streets, the Hummvee II has hand, cargo and rear pockets that are six in total. The fabric of these baggy shorts is water repellant and made of durable nylon as well.
Durable water repellant nylon
Zipped thigh vents with breathable mesh
Adjustable belt and elastic waistband
Available in 7 different designs and colors
Six pockets in total – hands- cargo – rear
- Weight1 pounds
Easy to adjust
Plenty of pockets
Size chart not accurate
Delicate belt buckle
Made of premium Italian lycra
Durable and breathable upper mesh fabric
Heat reduction technology and UPF50
Stretch pad with antibacterial finish
Pre-shaped multipanel construction
Three different pad widths
Size chart is not accurate
Seams are not flatlocked
Best Cycling Shorts Buying Guide & FAQ
The following guide was created to answer any questions that you may have regarding cycling shorts and their various features so you can make an informed decision while shopping for your favorite sport.
Things to Consider When Buying Cycling Shorts
Chamois is the foundation of every cycling short. A durable and comfortable foundation is a must and the key to quality chamois lies in the fabric and padding. Amateur riders who have never purchased a padded seat cushion or chamois will eventually get accustomed to it and will never go back to regular shorts that offer little support and have zero padding. Chamois is typically made of many layers of foam or one single layer depending on the brand and model. Most premium brands are generous when it comes to their padding and their chamois is designed to reduce friction and offer a wealth of support where it counts. Both the sit bone and the groin area need ample support since they are in direct contact with the saddle.
There are many available chamois options to choose from depending on your cycling needs. Seasoned cyclists who take part in regular competitions and long-distance races will feel more comfortable sitting on a high-density foam chamois with multiple layers. Sometimes, these layers have an antibacterial hygiene finish and pores that allow sweat to escape to the surface of the fabric instead of accumulating and causing further discomfort as the race progresses. Others are designed with light and leisurely cycling in mind and have one layer only.
Chafing is another issue that cyclists complain about and most premium chamois pads were designed to reduce friction. Quality padding is meant to be slightly flexible and is not supposed to feel constricting and heavy. It is also important to note that women shorts are different from men cycling shorts. Shorts that cater to women have narrow and short chamois padding when compared to men.
Cyclists have a choice between baggy shorts and loose-fitting ones. Choosing the correct fit depends on the needs and riding style of each individual. Some people ride their bicycle for leisure and others use it for commuting in urban environments such as cities and towns. Baggy shorts are usually the go-to gear for mountain bikers and cyclists who value storage over speed. Form fitting shorts were created with speed and functionality in mind and they are the go-to pair for long distance and endurance rides.
Paying attention to the panel construction will also help you make the right choice. These fabric panels enhance the performance of cycling shorts and contribute to their overall comfort level. Most premium bicycle shorts are made of several panels. The more panels, the better in terms of fit and muscle support. Most high-end designs have a total of eight panels while others have four or six depending on the brand.
Inseam length is also important and choosing the wrong length can cause discomfort while riding. Individuals who plan on wearing cycling shorts for triathlons and spin class will benefit from a short pair that is ideally a few inches above the knee. Long distance riders will find wearing a longer pair a lot more comfortable since it will prevent the saddle from rubbing against their inner thighs.
Dark is the way to go when it comes to cycling shorts. Black is the preferred color since it disguises dirt and can be matched with any shirt color and design. White and other similar lighter shades are not recommended since they can become transparent when wet.
Fabric matters a great deal and most premium shorts are made with a blend of fabrics such as nylon and lycra. Others are made of polyester and lycra. This blend influences the weight and stretchiness of the shorts. Thick shorts provide more compression, and this is considered beneficial for the muscles. Lycra is blended with these other materials to enhance its moisture wicking properties and make it more breathable and comfortable to wear.
Why You Should Wear Padded Cycling Shorts
- If You Value Comfort
We often search for comfort in everything we buy including our sportswear. There is a reason why both beginner and experienced cyclists refrain from wearing jeans and other rigid fabrics. The stitched seams alone are a recipe for discomfort. Regular pants are far from compatible with riding bicycles no matter their size and model. There is a reason why athletic gear was created and one of its main goals is to raise the bar when it comes to comfort. Biker shorts have padded chamois and flat seams that prevent chafing. Therefore, jeans are no match for premium padded chamois that alleviate saddle sores and absorb shock while riding down bumpy mountain terrain.
- Shock Absorption Matters
Every sport requires gear that reduces impact and cushions the blow in case of accidents. This is also true for riding bicycles and the reason why helmets and other protective gear is worn by athletes everywhere. Padding plays an important role when it comes to absorbing shock and alleviating the pressure that goes hand in hand with sitting on a saddle for too long. Regular shorts lack this padding and wearing them will not protect your sit bone and hips while you venture down unpredictable trails and sail over unexpected road bumps.
- Designed to be Durable
Durability is another reason why you should invest in a pair of premium biker shorts. Riding bicycles on challenging terrain requires an adventurous spirit and tough gear as well. The constant cycling motion can take its toll on the fabric and therefore it needs to be durable and designed to meet the needs of seasoned bikers who can spend hours on the trail. More hours mean more friction and sweat and the increased chances of running into tree branches and shrubs while mountain biking.
- Cool and Dry Bike Rides
Cooling technologies are now available in sportswear and they can make a world of difference when it comes to endurance rides and outdoor cycling. Sweating can put a damper on your riding experience, especially in summer when high temperatures and scorching sunlight are at their peak. This is where premium chamois can come in handy with its cooling technology and its breathable properties. Porous fabric allows moisture to escape from the bottom layer and leave your skin. Mesh also allows your body to breathe and keeps air circulating throughout your journey.
Waist Shorts vs Bib Shorts
- Waist Shorts
When shopping for a pair of shorts, you will find that there are two kinds to choose from. The first kind is simple and is the go-to pair for most people who value comfort and simplicity when it comes to their sportswear. Waist shorts are cheap and are suitable for beginners who go on the occasional bike ride or spin class. They are also easy to take off and wear and come in a variety of colors and designs. They can, however, become tight and restrictive around the midsection, especially when worn for long periods of time. These padded shorts are not immune from sliding down the body and exposing your skin to sunlight and summer heat.
- Bib Shorts
Bib shorts are tailormade for professional cyclists who need their shorts to remain in place. These shorts have two straps instead of an elastic waistband. The best bib shorts were designed to hold the chamois in place and provide coverage for the lower back whenever cyclists are in a low, aerodynamic riding position. The straps, however, are not adjustable and finding the right fit might be difficult for tall cyclists.
Best Cycling Shorts FAQ:
Q: Should I Wear Underwear With These Types of Shorts?
A: No. It is not recommended to wear underwear with these types of shorts. There is plenty of padding thanks to the chamois and a wealth of features that make it a lot more sanitary than your underwear. The goal behind wearing these shorts is to prevent chafing and this is made possible by wearing them like second skin. Wearing underwear will ruin the effect these shorts have on your body.
Q: Why are All These Shorts so Tight Fitting?
A: The key to fast cycling is better aerodynamics and this is achieved by wearing tight fitting sportswear. Wearing shorts that mold to your body decrease drag and allow you to speed down the street or mountain trail with ease.
Q: Are Cycling Shorts Water Resistant?
A: Those made of polyester and nylon are indeed considered to be water resistant since they do not absorb moisture. They have moisture wicking properties that send moisture to the surface of the fabric where it naturally evaporates.
Q: Can I wear leggings underneath when it’s cooler?
A: No. Wearing leggings underneath your shorts will also get in the way of the padded chamois. You can wear leg warmers that go up to the thigh instead or you can simply wear your tights over the padded shorts.
Q: How can I make my cycling shorts last longer?
A: Following the washing instructions carefully and allowing your shorts to air dry will make them last longer. You can also buy two or more pairs in order to switch pairs every week instead of wearing the same pair every time you attend spin class.
Our Top Pick
The number one spot on our list belongs to the Sponeed cycling shorts. These shorts offer a wealth of features including fast drying polyester and breathable silicone gel chamois. They were created for both seasoned and amateur cyclists who value comfort and durability. This product allows you to have the best of both worlds in terms of design and premium fabric with enough support provided to the hips, shoulders and sit bone. The Sponeed shorts are made for indoor spin class enthusiasts and outdoor adventure cyclists who are on the hunt for budget friendly sportswear. This number one Amazon bestseller is worth every penny and ticks all the right boxes when it comes to padding and breathability.
- Buying cycling shorts - British Cycling