Best Cycling Shorts
Since most bike riders need a good pair of shorts, and there are so many choices out there on the market, we’ve put together a list of some of the best cycling shorts available on the market to help save you time. We’ll also cover some of the ins and outs of what you should look for before you purchase your shorts. When considering options for the best cycling shorts, you need to consider exactly how you plan to use the shorts, what you need and what you can live without, and exactly what your budget is. Once you know where you plan to ride and what you really need, you can save a bit and still purchase a good pair of high-quality cycling shorts.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
- Good padding
- Sugoi Evolution Bike
- Zoot Active Tri
- Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2
- Gore Power 3.0 Bibs
- Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool Bibs
- Castelli Free Aero Race
- Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 3D
- Craft Active
- Santic Men's Pro 4D Padded
- Castelli Inferno
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Sugoi Evolution Bike
- Good padding
- Leg grippers can slide up
- Seams could be placed better
If you want a pair of stylish, breathable shorts to make your bike rides smoother, then Sugoi’s Evolution Bike Shorts are made with all of these benefits in mind. These bike shorts are made of 68% nylon, 18% polyester, and 14% spandex, which helps create a comfortable fit.Read more
The materials that make up the Evo Plus help make the fabric both breathable as well as moisture-resistant, which creates an extra layer of skin protection that also allows you to perform better as you ride. There is also a mobile mesh bib on the shorts, which adds extra ventilation and also provides support.
The front of the Sugoi Evolution bike shorts has an updated RC Pro Chamois with 3D design, plus poron foam around the sit bone for extra support. The design of the shorts. includes a mab power band silicone leg gripper, helping you avoid any slipping for more safety, but also without restricting your thigh movement.
With the Sugoi Evolution Bike Shorts, you get a lot for the price, including a nice style, good breathability, extra padding, a good fit, extra efficiency and great durability. Considering their affordability and benefits, they’re a good choice for any avid bike rider.
2. Zoot Active Tri
- Sun protection
- Could be more stylish
- Could have better padding to help on longer rides.
Zoot’s Active Tri Bike Shorts come in styles and sizes for both men and women, and bring a variety of great options for the price. Zoot’s shorts are made from 74% nylon and 26% spandex, and the combination of materials makes these shorts comfortable and durable.Read more
Zoot designed their Active Tri Bike Shorts with Performance Endura fabric, which brings both comfort and great moisture management. They also have an Italian gripper that brings you breathable and still strong compression features.
Zoot’s Active Tri Bike shorts have an internal drawcord at the waist, making it easy for you to adjust them at the waist and fit snugly. Also, the pants are seamlessly stitched, meaning there is less of a chance of chaffing.
With UPF 50+ sun protection, you’ll also get an extra level of skin help whenever you wear these shorts. If you need to buy something on a budget that has good durability, performance, and comfort features, then these might be the shorts for you.
For their price, these Zoot shorts bring you enough durability to last for several seasons, and also offer a lot of comfort and protection. You’ll enjoy how comfortable you feel each time you wear these shorts.
3. Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2
- Sun protection
- Drawstring could be better
- Leg pads can ride up
With Louis Garneau’s CB Carbon 2 Bike Shorts, you’ll get a pair of shorts with some of the latest bike riding technology features designed into your gear. These shorts are great for even the longest of rides and come ready to help you on your next bike riding adventure.Read more
The CB Carbon lycra fiber material in the shorts are made to help increase your blood flow as you ride, and to further help your tired muscles, you also get Endurexx inserts that compress and support fatigued areas. These shorts also have highlander mesh panels, which keep sweat away and also improve breathability.
Louis Garneau’s CB Carbon 2 bike shorts also have Coldblack treatment technology in them, meaning the shorts can reduce surface temperature when the days are very hot, keeping you cooler overall. You’ll also get a 4Motion chamois insert that helps to add extra cushioned comfort as you ride, and decreases chafing.
These shorts also have the Highlander mesh airflow system, helping to keep the airflow going as you move. Plus, you’ll also get an elastic waist and drawstring to help improve your chances of making the shorts fit well each time you ride.
4. Gore Power 3.0 Bibs
- Excellent year-round benefits
- Great support
- Additional bonus products available for purchase
- Seat fits tightly
- Could be more stylish
Gore Power’s 3.0 Bibs bike shorts brings bikers benefits they can use year-round. If you are an all-season cyclist, then you’ll enjoy some of the features offered by these shorts.Read more
Gore’s Power 3.30 Bibs bike shorts come with a strong seat bad that is flexible for movement, and also provides you with great cushioned support. Also, you’ll get extra options to purchase with these shorts, since these shorts are part of the Outfit System that allows you to add additional features and products to the shorts to improve upon the design, so you can outfit them to fit your needs.
With a two-layer padded insert you can use with the shorts, you’ll get plenty of extra protection and comfort when you need it. Also, the seat pad is designed to work with your pelvic rotation as you ride, while also adding an extra layer of support where you need it.
The Gore Power 3.0 Bibs Bike Shorts are also made with high-density open-cell foam material, which is very breathable and also dries quickly. The soft microfiber cover on the shorts also help manage moisture control, and the design provided by these shorts makes them both waterproof and wind resistant.
5. Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool Bibs
- Sun protection
- Not flexible
- Padding could be firmer
- Could be more stylish
Pearl Izumi’s Elite In-R-Cool Bibs bike shorts are made from 80% nylon, 12% Lycra elastane and 8% polyester, which brings a comfortable, durable combination of materials for any bike rider. The shorts include an ELITE 3D Chamois, which is shaped specifically for cycling comfort.Read more
The shorts include reflective elements on them for cyclists that enjoy riding when the sun is not up or has already set, creating more visibility and safety as you move. Also, these shorts include UPF 50+ sun protection, helping add extra safety benefits for those with sensitive skin.
Pearl’s shorts are also made with ELITE Transfer In-R Cool fabric, which is composed of a cold black material to boost the cooling technology in the shorts while also making the material reflective and sun resistant. There are Direct-Vent panels designed into these shorts as well for better ventilation and breathing as you ride.
The multi-panel design of these shorts have ELITE Transfer fabric at the leg opening, helping the shorts to stretch and move better, and also include silicone to help with grip as you ride. The design of these shorts is made for maximum durability, and part of that comes from the panels on the shorts.
6. Castelli Free Aero Race
- A lot of comfort and support
- Very durable
- No chafing
- Ventilated airflow system
- Better for those taking longer rides
If you are trying to stay in a particular budget, you may need to note that these shorts are not as affordable as some other options on our list. However, Castelli’s Free Aero Race Shorts are extremely comfortable and durable, and well worth the money if you can afford them.Read more
While Castelli’s Free Aero Race Shorts are expensive, they are probably the best shorts on the market for both a comfortable fit and a durable quality. For those of you taking long rides, you’ll find that they feel great throughout the duration of your ride, because they have no inner-leg seam, meaning you won’t chafe at all.
Also, on the inner legs of these shorts, you’ll find vortex dimpled fabric, which increases aero performance as you move. The Forza fabrics on the inner legs are also formed with 30% Lycra material, to create the perfect, comfortable fit.
These shorts also bring you GIRO AIR mesh leg grippers, so you get a high-quality grip as you ride. The front of the shorts is made with Doppio V construction, which provides great support and increases the comfort of the fit.
The air pad on the seat on these shorts is made from Progetto X2 padding, improving both comfort and airflow as you move. There is a ventilated skin care layer on this padding to help keep you both cool and comfortable as you ride.
7. Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 3D
- Inner padding could be stronger.
- Could have a better fit range.
If you prefer a nice set of shorts that won’t hurt your pocketbook too much, then consider a pair of Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 3D Shorts. These shorts are both stylish and comfortable and come from a manufacturer that’s well-known for making excellent quality products.Read more
For the price range, these Fit Sensor Shorts are some of the only shorts that are more affordable and also bring bikers a seam-free inner leg and a 10-panel pad. Plus, the durability of these shorts means they are also made to last, so you are getting a bang for your buck with these.
The Fit Sensor’s material is designed with UPF 50 sun protection, nylon on the front of the shorts to prevent abrasions, brushed polyester on the back to prevent moisture build up while boosting thermoregulation, and Lycra to help support your muscles with extra comfort. These shorts also have antibacterial resistant treatments in the material, meaning you’ll have less bacterial issues while wearing these.
These Fit Sensor shorts are also designed with double the vents, but the vents on these shorts are smaller, so you get a lot of breathability and comfort. You’ll also get a great fit out of these shorts since they have an elastic waistband and adjustable drawstring.
8. Craft Active
- Very comfortable
- Great padding
- Not very stylish
- Sizes can run small.
Craft’s Active Bike shorts offer a decently priced option for a good pair of shorts that works well for a wide variety of cycling conditions. These shorts are made with a seamless chamois pad, which is exceptionally comfortable, a 9-inch inseam, and leg grips that are also made with an emphasis on comfort.Read more
While these shorts have a very basic style, with their black color, they’ll match anything. If you aren’t particularly worried about style when you ride, which isn’t important to all cyclists, and want to focus on comfort, that’s pretty much what these shorts are designed for.
Craft’s Active Bike Shorts are made from 80% Polyamide and 20% Elastane materials, making them elastic, soft, durable, and adaptable to a wide variety of cycling pursuits. Plus, the design of the waist is very soft and comfortable, making these shorts very easy to wear for long periods of time.
Although the shorts aren’t fancy in appearance, they are a great value for the money and are emphasized to maximize your cycling comfort while cutting out the other items you might not need, making them a good option. You’ll feel good throughout the duration of any ride in these, which is the most important thing for any cyclist.
9. Santic Men's Pro 4D Padded
- Great support and comfort.
- Great ventilation and cooling.
- Could be more stylish.
- Sizes run small.
Santic Men’s Pro 4D Padded Cycling Bib Shorts are another great, affordable option for some comfortable, versatile shorts minus some of the other fancier options you’ll find with a more expensive pair. These pro-grade bib shorts can handle medium to long rides just about anywhere, and bring you a lot of versatility.Read more
Santic Men’s Pro 4D Cycling Bib Shorts are made from a quality fabric that stretches in four directions, allowing the shorts to both fit you well while supporting and insulating your muscles while you ride. The design of these shorts includes a body-hugging focus, helping you to boost your cycling performance.
These shorts are also made with a professional standard pad to help boost your comfort as you move. The bib area of these shorts has flat locked seams, so the material won’t chafe your skin. Plus, the open mesh back on the bib’s back brings you better ventilation and cooling.
The breathable fabric material on Santic Men’s Pro 4D Padded
Cycling Bib Shorts also helps to boost ventilation in the shorts, while preventing moisture and cooling your skin. You’ll also like the silicone leg grippers on these shorts that help keep these shorts in place as you ride.
10. Castelli Inferno
- Brings great compression benefits
- Great flexibility
- Excellent ventilation
- Sizes can run small.
For those riders that want the best and are willing to spend a bit more on their shorts, then Castelli’s Inferno Bib Shorts might be a great option for you. Castelli’s Inferno Bib Shorts offer great compression with their design, and also give you gear that’s designed for boosting your cycling skills.Read more
Castelli’s Inferno Bib Shorts are designed with a similar paneling typically used in compression gear and wetsuits. This means these shorts give you great flexibility as well as superior body temperature management.
These bib shorts are also made to fit you well, shaping to your form so that you get the compression and support you need. Designed with six different types of fabric, your body will get excellent cooling and ventilation throughout the shorts area.
Castelli’s Inferno Bib Shorts are also made with GIRO AIR mesh leg grippers to prevent the shorts from riding up. Also, these bib shorts have the Progetto X2 Air seat pad, adding an extra level of comfort.
Castelli’s Inferno Bib Shorts are made for racing in hot weather and over long distances. With their compression, ventilation, and comfort level, they give you a performance-enhancing alternative for those cyclists willing to spend the money.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Before you even start researching what type of cycling shorts you might want to purchase, you need to first define exactly what your purpose is for these shorts. If you know how you plan to use the shorts, you might be able to save a little. Plus, you don’t want to wind up with a pair that won’t suit your needs.
When you try to define what your intentions are when you wear your shorts, you need to think about how you plan to ride. Some shorts are better for mountain biking, others for road riding, and still others for long distance rides.
Also, some cycling shorts are made for triathlon events, which makes them more of a combination design that can adapt to swimming, biking, and running all in one outing. So, you need to consider the type of cycling you are doing, and if you also need shorts that are intended for multi-purpose uses.
The more basic your cycling intentions, then the better off you’ll be on the affordability scale. However, if you really need a pair of shorts that do more, then you’ll be happier spending a little more. You need to factor in exactly what you can sacrifice, and what you can’t if you are trying to save a bit of money. We’ll cover some of the other things you can probably let go of—like style—if you are on a budget, but also mention a few things you shouldn’t sacrifice—like comfort and fit.
The quality of any product is always important when you’re looking into purchasing cycling gear, and this is also certainly true of buying cycling shorts. You want to make sure you purchase cycling shorts that are made to be durable and use strong material. Strong stitching is important because you’ll be wearing and washing your shorts often, but you also want to make sure the stitching stays flat against your skin to prevent chafing.
The fabric is an important factor to consider when looking into the quality of your bike shorts. Most cycling shorts on the market are designed with stretchy fabric to support your body and avoid any hindrance of movement. But the quality and purpose of these stretchy fabrics can vary.
Spandex is a popular stretchy fabric you’ll find in many cycling shorts. One reason spandex is commonly used is because it is flexible, but it also can hug the body to provide compression, which helps boost your riding performance and increase muscle support.
While what features you really need or want to get out of your bike shorts are really a matter of opinion, you do have a lot of options here for cycling shorts. It’s probably a good idea to get shorts that have 8 inches on the inseam because you’ll get more sun protection and decrease your chances of abrasion as you ride since you’ll have more coverage. Also, having a pocket is always great, since it helps you access certain items easily. You can also decide if you want a bib style pair of shorts, which tend to be a bit more expensive, but also provide better support and comfort. Also, you’ll need to think about whether or not the style of the shorts matters to you since that can cost you more. If you’re looking to save money and prefer function and comfort, then you probably can save some money by skipping over style.
What really matters when you’re searching for a great pair is the comfortability of the product. Being comfortable as you ride is very important. That means they fit as well as the pad, leg grippers, and the quality of the stitching are all important factors when looking for comfort.
Now, remember, just because another cyclist you know prefers a certain type of bike shorts and finds them comfortable does not mean you’ll like the same shorts. You need to find something that feels comfortable for you, since the better you feel in your shorts, the better you’ll perform.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Cycling shorts that use a combination of nylon and Lycra tend to be more durable and help resist abrasions, meaning they are made with a stronger material design and last longer. Polyester and Lycra combined material shorts are cooler and usually ventilate better, making them better for all seasons and also adding an extra layer of comfort to the shorts. The more spandex content in the shorts, or the better the quality of the spandex, the more compression you’ll get with the shorts. Compression helps boost blood flow in the legs, meaning you’ll feel less fatigue and increase your levels of endurance. Some road cycling shorts are designed with a six-way tricot, knit nylon or polyester. These fabrics are known to be more lightweight, which some cyclists prefer.
Other Factors to Consider
Ease of Use
Leg grips do matter to most cyclists, and if you want or need better leg grips, you’re probably going to have to plan on spending a bit more. Cheaper bike shorts typically don’t have high-quality leg grips, meaning they’ll ride up and restrict your movement as you ride. However, not all affordable options in bike shorts have terrible leg grips. So, if you’re going to purchase cheaper bike shorts, note that you can still get a pair with a decent pair of leg grips, you just need to be careful.
Poor leg grips will rub up and down your leg as you move on your bike, increasing chafing and making your legs very sore and uncomfortable. That’s why you need decent grips, even if you’re opting for a more affordable pair of bike shorts.
Quality leg grips should have enough elastic to make them strong so they hold well as you ride, but also feel smooth when you touch them. Smoothness is important because anything that feels uneven can easily rub and chafe your legs.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you’re trying to measure how much you should spend to get a decent pair of bike shorts, especially if you are on a budget, then you have to consider a few things. First, make sure you know how you will be using your shorts, your cycling skill level, and how much you can actually spend on a pair of cycling shorts.
It’s almost always better to spend a little more if you can because construction and quality really do matter when you’re investing in cycling shorts. If you try to cut back a bit because you need to save money, you might wind up wasting your money since some cheaper pairs of cycling shorts wear out faster than a slightly more expensive and durable pair.
If you’re trying to categorize a price range for a decent style of cycling shorts, then the $50 price range puts you right in the decent quality range. If you can spend around $75, you’ll get better quality and comfort, especially if you plan to do more long-distance rides of around 90 minutes at 20 miles or less.
However, if you plan to ride fast and long, like 50 and 100-mile rides, then you’ll need to get higher-end shorts around $100 or more. The harder, faster, and longer you ride, the better the quality of cycling shorts you’ll need to purchase for your skill and comfort level.
Many people new to buying cycling shorts often wonder if there is a huge difference between cycling shorts made for road biking and those designed for mountain biking. We’ve listed shorts that are pretty standard and versatile for both, with some shorts even made for triathlon races.
There is usually a few differences, however, between road biking and mountain bike shorts. Mountain biking shorts are usually baggier in fitting and made with multiple layers. The inner area of mountain biking shorts typically fit tighter, with the outside part of the shorts hanging with a baggier look.
Also, many different types of mountain biking shorts have a removable chamois liner, making it easier to clean the liners and change them out. Also, mountain biking shorts tend to be made to be strong and durable, since you risk chances of tumbling down a hill if you fall off your bike. Even if you don’t fall, you’re more likely to rub up against hanging branches and other things as you move, meaning these shorts need to be made to prevent abrasions.
Mountain biking shorts still tend to work well for road cycling as well, but since they are designed to be sturdier, they do typically cost more. So, it’s really up to you if you need to invest more in a pair of cycling shorts made for mountain biking if you know you probably only want to ride on the roads.
However, if you know you’ll be mountain biking more often, or plan on combining road cycling and mountain biking, then you’ll probably want to invest more in some sturdier mountain biking shorts. Really, the choice is up to you as the cyclist, but you need to think about how you plan to ride and whether or not you need the extra features mountain biking shorts offer.
Most cyclists tend to prefer bibs if they know they’ll be out for longer rides, as shorts tend to work better for shorter rides. If you’re the type of cyclist that plans to do fifty to sixty-mile rides or race against others for fast, long-distance rides, then bibs are probably the better option.
Bibs to tend to be more expensive, and some cyclists find their usage factor inconvenient. If you plan to be out for a full week’s ride and go 8-10 hours a day on these rides, you’ll be pit stopping in various towns. That means you’ll need to change your clothes, and with that in mind, bibs can be restrictive because you have to take your entire jersey off plus shoulder straps if you plan to take a bathroom break. Of course, these are the downside to wearing bibs for long periods of time, but they also offer many benefits.
Bibs are basically bike shorts made with upper shoulder straps added on to them. The straps on the bibs help to keep the chamois pad in place, meaning that area of the shorts won’t rub as often if you change positions on your bike or take a break to walk around somewhere. That means you’ll experience a lot less chafing, saddle sores, and waistline soreness. Also, you won’t have fabric slipping up around your crotch area, which can be very uncomfortable while you ride or walk. With a bib, you won’t have to worry about problems when you get off your bike and walk around, because you won’t have to worry about adjusting yourself or worrying about where your pad is rubbing or settling.
Bibs also offer an extra layer of comfort around the waist. Regular cycling shorts can put more pressure on your abdomen area, and that can cause a lot of stomach distress that isn’t fun while you are out on the road. Plus, bibs don’t require a waistband, meaning it’s easier to breathe while you are wearing them.
While bibs do have several benefits, many cyclists still prefer shorts as a matter of personal preference. Shorts do have some benefits over bibs. For example, most shorts feel cooler when you ride than bibs do. Bibs tend to trap heat in, while shorts don’t. Some bib manufacturers try to cut back on the heat factor bibs can create, with mesh material and vents on the lower back. Also, most shorts have extra venting features in the legs, which don’t always come designed into bibs.
Many cyclists feel it’s easier to fit into a pair of shorts comfortably compared to a bib. Bib straps sometimes feel tight or loose and can irritate your skin if they rub on your upper body. Also, some shorts are now being made with lower cuts in the front, so you don’t get increased abdomen pressure, making their comfort level competitive with bibs.