It's just shorts, right? How complicated can it be?
It will surprise you. Cycling shorts come in all shapes and sizes, all with different applications. This cycling shorts guide will help you choose the perfect cycling shorts!
What are cycling shorts?
Whether you ride on road, gravel, or mountain bike trails or all three, a good pair of cycling shorts is essential to get the most out of your rides. Unlike shorts that you wear in your spare time, cycling shorts differ in their construction and materials. Cycling shorts are designed to provide comfort and promote performance.
For example, cycling shorts are made of stretchy fabric that moves perfectly with your body but is firm enough to stay in place.
What are the different types of cycling shorts?
Cycling shorts for road cycling are usually made of form-fitting lycra that is tight against the skin. They feature a chamois for comfort over long distances and they wick moisture away from the skin - more on that later. Mountain bike shorts have a looser fit to handle the strain of rougher terrain. They are made of sturdier materials in case you fall off your bike or trail debris comes up. Some riders prefer to use underpants with their baggy shorts. Undershorts have a chamois like cycling shorts, but the fabric elsewhere is lighter so you don't overheat.
Features of road cycling shorts
The most important features of road cycling shorts are
- Lightweight stretchy fabric such as Lycra and Spandex
- Comfortable chamois designed for your anatomy
- Supportive suspenders or waistband
- Leg grippers
Road cycling shorts have a lot of elasticity (usually a mix of Lycra and Spandex) due to the dynamic nature of riding a road bike. Not only does this keep you comfortable during your ride, it also helps regulate your temperature and wicks moisture away from the skin.
What is a chamois? And do I need one?
Bib shorts also have an important part in them: the chamois. Modern technology has contributed to the development of chamois so that they are now specifically shaped for male and female anatomy. The chamois prevents chafing in sensitive areas and most cyclists would not get on their bike without a good chamois. The chamois often has an antibacterial treatment to reduce infection in sensitive areas.
Braces or no braces?
Some cycling shorts for men have suspenders that go over the shoulders. These cycling shorts are called bib shorts and are most common in road, gravel and cross-country mountain biking. We recommend that you always buy cycling shorts with suspenders. As a result, the cycling shorts stay in place considerably better and offer optimal comfort.
Grippers on the legs
Bib shorts also have grippers to prevent them from riding up on your legs when you press the pedals. These grippers keep the cycling shorts in place and of course make them more comfortable to wear. Some shorts have a wider leg grip than others, but the decision is entirely personal preference.
Do I have to wear underwear with bib shorts?
No! You must maintain direct contact between your skin and the chamois leather. Anything on top of that will chafe and result in blisters, which is the last thing you need after a long bike ride.
Fit and sizing of cycling shorts
Many brands have different options when it comes to the type of fit. From race-focused to others that lend themselves to a more forgiving fit. Race pants will likely be extremely light with aerodynamic fabrics (textures on the fabric that promote airflow). The more technical and efficient the cycling shorts, the more you will pay. For most riders, mid-range cycling shorts will suffice for most of the ride. Manufacturers differ in their sizing. Some brands run small, while others require you to size down. So check the size charts carefully!
What are the differences between men's and women's cycling shorts?
Men's and women's bib shorts are not the same. Common differences are:
- Design strap
- Ease of use at the toilet
As a crucial point of contact with the bike, the chamois must be adapted to very different body parts. Chamois are therefore specifically designed for the male and female anatomy.
Shoulder straps on cycling shorts for women sometimes differ from the design for men. Some brands have a single central band that sits between the breasts. Halterneck designs have also been developed to make sanitary stops a bit easier.
Ready to go racing?
Now that you have all the information about the perfect cycling shorts that suit your style, it's time to start looking for the best cycling shorts. Take a quick look at our webshop where we have already put together the perfect cycling shorts for you!