Do I really need bike shorts? If you are a serious biker, yes. Bike shorts are not your ordinary street shorts. Far from it. Bike shorts have a padded lining in the crotch area to minimize friction and prevent chafing. This lining also wicks away moisture. Secondly, cycling shorts also provide you with the full freedom of movement — thanks to its durable and stretchy construction.
Common Features of Road Bike Shorts
Padded Liner – commonly called chamois, this smooth padding made from synthetic materials helps wick moisture so bacteria will not grow. It prevents chafing and helps cushion against bumps. The chamois is probably the most important part of cycling shorts.
Bike short liners come in many forms:
- Multi-density liners – provides awesome comfort and performance especially for long rides
- Get liners – idea for mountain biking. This liner is not as breathable as multi-density liners.
- Closed-cell foam liners – cheapest of the three but still offers decent performance for the casual biker.
Panels – before, the more panels your bike shorts have, the better it is in terms of flexibility and comfort. Most modern bike shorts today, however, are made of synthetic materials crafted to provide good flexibility, durability, and comfort to the point where the number of panels doesn’t really matter much anymore.
Waist Style – the waistline in most bike shorts is often made of spandex which is stretchy but doesn’t offer much adjustability. For women, there are cycling shorts that sport a yoga-style cut that still provides decent comfort minus the restriction.
Leg Cut – bike shorts with long leg cuts are ideal because they prevent chafing and help keep the cycling shorts in place while riding. If you prefer shorter cut short, make sure they have leg grippers.
Things to Consider when Buying Your Bike Shorts
1. Mind Your Budget
Depending on the features and materials, bike shorts can range from $30 to almost $250. Usually, it all comes down to the chamois. The more expensive the bike shorts are, the better the materials and construction of the padding.
2. Pick the Right Padding
Bike shorts padding range from thin to thick. Usually, the thinnest paddings are used by triathletes so they can bike, swim, and run without changing shorts. Here’s the rule of the thumb: don’t be afraid to spend a couple of extra bucks for better padding. The difference between a cheap chamois and a premium one is night and day. When it comes to padding, every dollar spent is not a waste.
Another thing to keep in mind is that don’t buy unisex biking shorts. The best biking shorts always have paddings that are designed specifically for male and female.
3. No Underwears
Yes, you’ve read that right. Bike shorts are not meant to be worn with underwear. Remember that underwears have seams that create friction when riding. So wearing one defeats the purpose of buying cycling short.
4. Choose Your Inseam
Cycling shorts are not created equal. Some are shorts (no pun intended) while some are long. Those who want a good tan or are into triathlons prefer bike shorts that have short inseam. For the common cyclist, a bike short with an inseam that is just above the knee is a good choice. Inseams that are long help prevent saddle chafing and stay in place better than shorter ones.
5. Do You Want Your Shorts Tight or Baggy?
If you are road biking, go for tight bike shorts as they are designed to be aerodynamic (which helps with speed) and comfortable at the same time. Baggy shorts are ideal for mountain bikers and for those who are bike commuting as the extra pockets can be helpful in carrying valuable items. Plus, baggy shorts come in various designs that look great on the streets.
6. Know the Panel Construction
Premium bike shorts usually come with eight or more panels of fabric for more flexibility and form-fitting. Less expensive cyclings shorts, on the other hand, are made from fewer panels. The more panels your bike shorts have, the better your performance and overall comfort will be.
7. Waistband vs Bib
Bib bike shorts are designed to forego an elastic waistband for shoulder straps. Most professional bikers prefer this style because it decreases discomfort in the midsection area. Bib shorts don’t slide down too when riding. Hobby cyclists usually go for waistband cycling shorts especially women who are after its yoga-style design. At the end of the day, choosing a bib short over a waistband one (or vice versa) is a matter of preference.
8. Choosing the Color
This consideration is also a matter of preference. Choose bike shorts that match your personality and style. Many bikers go for black or dark-colored bike shorts because they can match any type of jersey, have a slimming effect, and are easier to clean.
9. The Overall Fit
When it comes to choosing bike shorts, the rule of the thumb is the snugger, the better. Find the sweet spot between movement restriction and loose fit. High-quality bike shorts will look baggy when you are standing in front of the mirror. But don’t worry because it will mold with your body as soon as you move into your riding position.
10. Leg Grippers
Bike shorts that tide up as you pedal is annoying and uncomfortable. Not to mention that most of the material is now right up your crotch area — creating friction and retaining moisture. Pick bike shorts that have wide leg grippers that are comfortably snug.
There are a lot of bike shorts on the market. Choosing one that fits your style and preference can be daunting so we’ve listed the best bike shorts we can find in this buying guide. Be sure to check it out!