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The Benefits of Cycling Shorts

Have you looked at the benefits of cycling shorts as your main bottom apparel for biking?

It’s not just about looking like you’re getting ready to compete in the Tour de France. It’s not about trying to bring 1980s fashion back in style.

It’s about more than that. The benefits of cycling shorts range from all kinds.

Comfort. Performance. Style. And everything in between. Cycling shorts definitely play a big role in cycling.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the benefits of cycling shorts and why you should add them to your cycling apparel wardrobe.

The Benefits of Cycling Shorts

The Benefits of Cycling Shorts

There are many benefits of cycling shorts. In fact, there are many benefits and barely any disadvantages. Aside from not liking how they look, from a cycling perspective, there aren’t many bad things to say about them. So, in this article, I’ll be focusing on the benefits and advantages.



Cycling shorts are form-fitting. This means they’re typically skintight. They form to your body, taking its shape. There is a reason for this, too.

The form-fitting construction of the cycling shorts helps to reduce the rubbing of the fabric against your skin. This prevents the shorts from chaffing you during riding activities.

The form-fitting shorts also hold the padding in the shorts against your skin so that it can do what it’s supposed to do. This padding is called a chamois. It’s there to prevent you from chaffing and a variety of other reasons. Bike shorts without padding are often not used for cycling.

The unpadded bike or spandex shorts are typically used for running, hiking, swimming, or casual wear. Real cycling shorts should have some sort of pad in them.

There are different pads or chamois for different activities. You can get super thin pads for triathlons or really thick pads for long-distance riding and everything in between.

Skintight cycling shorts also carry the advantage of helping you stay aero while on the bike. Loose clothing can create drag and cause you to slow down. Spandex clothing will remain skintight, causing you to cut through the wind more easily.

Some experts also argue that skintight spandex cycling shorts help to compress and warm your muscles. This is said to help prevent injury and keep your muscles healthy.

As you can see, there are many benefits of cycling shorts due to their form-fitting nature.



Comfort is among the benefits of cycling shorts.

Cycling shorts are made with stretchy materials such as spandex, polyester, and nylon. This material allows you a nearly full range of motion when wearing them. The fabric doesn’t hang up and cause you to stop at some point. It moves with you as if you’re not wearing anything at all. That’s why they typically call spandex apparel second skin.

The fabric also allows for high athletic use in terms of moisture-wicking materials. The more you bike, the more you might sweat. Most cycling shorts will wicker the sweat from your skin and dry quickly. This keeps you dry. The only downfall is some of the material can stink after a while from moisture residue. Many companies are introducing technologies that help with odor control. Most cycling shorts fabric also provides sun protection.

With comfort also comes pain reduction. When you were a kid, you could ride a bicycle all day without the need for padded cycling shorts. Most adults will ride without them, which results in pain in their but area. The chamois provides padding and friction prevention on your sit bones, and that helps reduce the pain that could occur from cycling.

The chamois also takes pressure off your butt and sit bones. This is because of the padding and flexibility of how the chamois is made. Regular shorts and even most unpadded bike shorts have a seam in the middle that often applies pressure. Wearing those shorts on a bike could result in pain or discomfort because of that seam.

A chamois is useful for many things. As you ride a bike, waves of vibration occur. The chamois acts as a shock absorber on your sensitive sit bones. This prevents pain and discomfort during and after your ride.

Shorts are stylish in the cycling community and very acceptable to wear. Many new cyclists refuse to wear them because they’re tight and embarrassing. However, they are very accepted in the cycling community no matter what sort of body shape you have. Many of us have different cycling shorts and kits with different designs and accept them as part of our clothing cultures.

There are many benefits of cycling shorts that make them ideal to wear during your bike rides.

Types of Bike Shorts

There are many different types of cycling bottoms. In this article, we’re focusing on short options. Let’s look at six different options that most cyclists wear.

Tri-Shorts are cycling shorts made for triathlons. Triathlons are multi-sport competitions that utilize cycling, running, and swimming in one day. Tri-shorts have a much thinner pad and are typically shorter in inseam. This is to make them easier to wear for running and swimming so that the pad doesn’t get soaking wet and create a wet diaper-like feel.

Tri-suits are like tri-shorts but consist of a jersey and shorts as one piece of clothing. These are like bodysuits. They typically zip up and down from the front (chest) or back of the suit to be able to easily put it on and take it off. Some suits have top options with no sleeves, short sleeves, or long sleeve options.

Traditional Cycling Shorts are form-fitting bike shorts with traditional chamois padding. These shorts are typically created with an inseam as short as 3 inches to an 11-inch inseam. Some have pockets, and some don’t. Some are high-waisted, and some aren’t. Typically, they’re created for gender-based users, and the chamois are made to fit a female or male anatomy.

Bib shorts are like traditional cycling shorts but with suspender straps built in. Bib shorts are popular because they remove the waistline of traditional cycling shorts and fit onto the shoulders. Many people feel that bib shorts relieve discomfort on the waist. A disadvantage of bib shorts is that many men have to take their jersey off in order to use the toilet (number 2), while women’s editions sometimes come with a drop-strap system to easily take the bibs down without having to undress. Bib shorts are often the most popular type of cycling shorts.

A skinsuit is like a tri-suit but with thicker padding on the chamois. Skinsuits are often used for bike racing and time trial events. Cyclists rarely use them for general fitness or recreational use.

Liner Shorts are thinner (often transparent and see-through) padded form-fitting cycling shorts that are worn under baggier shorts. These are popular among mountain bikers, commuters, and people who are too embarrassed to wear tight cycling shorts in public. They’re a good option for comfort if you don’t want to wear traditional shorts.

One of the benefits of cycling shorts is that there is usually a perfect short for just about anyone.

How to Wear Bike Shorts

How to Wear Cycling Shorts

You might think that wearing cycling shorts is as simple as putting them on. However, there are some important things to know and consider.

Cycling shorts come in different sizes. These sizes are based on your waist. Not every country is going to match the same size as another country. It’s best to choose the size based on your measurements. There is no one-size-fits-all option typically.

Most cycling shorts are made to fit cyclists based on their anatomy and gender. If you’re a man and you wear women’s cycling shorts, the fit may not feel right. The same goes if you’re a woman wearing men’s cycling shorts. There are also cycling shorts made specifically for juniors and children.

Cycling shorts are meant to be the base layer. This means that you shouldn’t wear anything under them. Wearing underwear under them will often defeat the purpose of the chamois and make it ineffective. It will also likely cause discomfort and chafing.

Many cyclists who bike and often wear cycling shorts will gain the famous cycling tan. If you wear shorts shorter than your cycling shorts while off the bike, it will be easily noticed that you’re a cyclist by your tan lines. Some cyclists see it as a trophy, while others visit the tanning bed to even it out.

The chamois doesn’t always do its job. Longer and more technical rides might end with your butt being in pain. There is a solution, though. The solution is chamois cream. It is a lotion-like cream that you run all over your chamois before wearing them. It adds lubricant to the area, which helps prevent chafing and discomfort. I use chamois cream on every long ride, and I never have issues with discomfort as a result.

One of the most important benefits of cycling shorts is knowing the proper way to wear them.


Features of Cycling Shorts

There are many benefits of cycling shorts when it comes to all the features that are included with many different brands of shorts.

Inseam-wise, most cycling shorts stop at your mid-thigh to right above your knee. Some brands offer shorter cycling shorts for men and women. Most brands made for women offer cycling short inseams varying from 3 to 8-inch inseams.

There are shorts with different types of waistbands and leg bands. Some have higher waistbands. The high-waisted cycling shorts are typically popular with female riders. The leg bands come in different forms. These bands are created in a way meant to keep the shorts from riding up. Some use compression bands, while others might use a gripping material like silicone. Do note that some materials used in leg bands could have allergenic issues for some riders.

Some cycling shorts have pockets, and some don’t. Many traditional shorts had a pocket option on the back that was big enough for keys or a trail bar. Nowadays, people are favoring cargo-styled pockets on the sides of shorts that can carry phones and more gear. I prefer cargo pockets on my bib shorts.

Shorts of 8 panels or more usually fit better but are more expensive. Inexpensive shorts typically have under 8 panels and usually around 4 panels. These still fit but might not be as form-fitting and favor compression like more expensive ones.

One of the benefits of cycling shorts is that there are many different styles these days. Traditionally, most cycling shorts were just black. Then, other solid colors started getting used. In today’s world, you can get cycling shorts in practically every color, with different prints, and even custom ones that you design yourself. Many brighter colors are often good for safety when riding on the road with cars. A lot of cycling apparel brands also offer shorts with reflective features on them, too.

There are cycling shorts for warm months, cooler months, and even for the winter. There are winter bib shorts that are created with thermal materials. They’re typically meant to be worn with leg warmers for people who do not want to wear full tights.

As you have read, there are tons of different benefits of cycling shorts when it comes to the different features that are offered.


Price of Cycling Shorts

There are many different brands of cycling apparel. And because of all the different brands, there are many different price ranges.

Typically, cycling shorts made in the United States, Italy, and Germany have a higher price tag on them. This is because of the quality assurance that was put into crafting them. However, many third-world countries, such as India or China, offer cheaper but less-quality cycling shorts.

In the cycling apparel world, you get what you pay for. You can usually find a cheap pair of cycling shorts for around $25.00. These may last about a year or less for the most part. You can spend up to $300 or more for a pair of high-quality bib shorts that will usually last you for several years if you maintain them correctly. Custom cycling apparel often has a price tag of a few hundred dollars or more, depending on how custom they are.

I’ve had the opportunity to try many different brands of cycling shorts. I’d be more than happy to give a quick review of the ones that I have used to help you with your buying decisions.

  • Aero Tech Designs – I’ve bought from this company more than any other company. Most of their shorts are made in the USA and are of some of the highest quality I’ve ever worn. I would definitely shop with them again. Their prices have gone up over the years, but they have quality cycling shorts with many different options for men, women, and kids.
  • The Black Bibs – This is a newer cycling apparel brand that is made in the USA. They are typically cheaper in price but still outstanding in quality. I just recently purchased quite a bit of winter kit from them.
  • Wildcycler – This company sells USA-made cycling apparel that is really comfortable and fits really well. It’s expensive, but the best part about the clothing is that they’re made with extremely wild coloring and prints. These prints make you really easy to spot by drivers when you’re cycling on the road, and they’re fun.
  • Voler Cycling – This is another USA-made but expensive cycling apparel company. I’ve bought quite a few bib shorts and kits from Voler over the years. I’ve noticed that their apparel fits well and lasts for a long time. I have a pair of shorts from them that I’ve worn since 2014, and they still fit like new.
  • Pactimo – This is another USA-made cycling apparel brand worth checking out. I have noticed that their sizing is on the smaller side. I usually have to order one size up when buying from them. They have a lot of great options to choose from, and they’re not too expensive.
  • Baleaf Cycling – This company is from overseas, probably around Asia. The cycling shorts are cheaper and usually long-lasting. However, they are weird on the sizing and often require you to size up once or even twice. They have a lot of cycling shorts to choose from with modern features.

As you can see, having different brands and prices makes up for some of the benefits of cycling shorts. If you have a budget, you should find plenty of options to choose from for getting the best cycling shorts for your buck.

Different Designs

Benefits of Cycling Shorts FAQ

Let’s take a look at some common frequently asked questions concerning the benefits of cycling shorts.

  1. Do you wear underwear or a jockstrap with cycling shorts?

No. Cycling shorts are meant to be worn alone with nothing on underneath them. Wearing something under them will defeat the purpose of the chamois and likely result in chafing and discomfort from material rub.

  1. Are cycling shorts meant to be worn under baggy shorts?

Yes and No. Yes, if they’re a liner-shorts option or if you do not want to wear skintight shorts in public. But most non-liner cycling shorts are meant to be worn by themselves.

  1. How do you style cycling shorts?

This is different for many people. I like wearing bib shorts with side cargo pockets and then an oversized T-shirt. However, you can wear a full kit by wearing a jersey with shorts or bibs. Other apparel to include might be cycling socks, cycling shoes, warmers, and more.

  1. Is there a cotton cycling shorts option?

No. Cotton is not a good material to wear when cycling or doing exercise activities. The problem with cotton is that it holds moisture and keeps your skin saturated. Spandex and related materials will wicker sweat and moisture from your body and keep your skin dry.

  1. What are the benefits of cycling shorts when it comes to colors?

Cycling shorts that come in different colors allow you to better express yourself and choose your favorite color options. But the main benefit has to be how brighter colors are often quickly noticed by drivers when you’re cycling on the road with cars. It’s a safety feature more than anything.


Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Cycling Shorts

The benefits of cycling shorts outweigh any disadvantages of wearing them for cycling.

I’ll always wear them when I bike. In fact, I wear them so much that I have more cycling apparel than regular clothing.

I think it’s important to have cycling shorts as part of your riding apparel and overall cycling gear.

You’ll notice the benefits of cycling shorts the moment you start wearing them on a ride.

Thank you for reading my article today, and consider sharing it with other cyclists to help support my efforts in creating it.

If you want to further support me, feel free to give me a one-time donation for providing this article for free. Your support is very appreciated.

I also recommend you subscribe to my free weekly newsletter that gives you exclusive beginner cycling tips and more delivered right to your email inbox.

Shawn Gossman

About Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman is the author of this post and founder of the Beginner Cycling Tips Blog.

Shawn has been an avid cyclist for around 12 years. He road, gravel, mountain, and trail bikes. He likes adventuring more than racing.

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