You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

These Bike Shorts Will Keep You Comfortable During Any Workout

Runner’s World Logo By Maggie Slepian, Gabrielle Hondorp of Runner’s World | Slide 1 of 11: Editor's Note: Updated June 1, 2022. We updated this piece to replace out of stock links, but kept the original tested products. Cycling is one of the best cross-training exercises we can do as runners. It’s a low-impact blend of cardio and strength training and offers plenty of variety whether you’re riding on the road, soft-surface gravel routes, or wooded trails on a mountain bike. Even for shorter outings, a good pair of bike shorts will make your ride more comfortable. Traditional spandex cycling shorts have body-mapped padding called a chamois. This dense cushioning foam is sewn into the shorts or liner to protect against chafing, reduce pressure while you’re in the saddle, and wick moisture. When I started doing tougher mountain bike routes and riding longer distances on road and gravel, I felt an immediate benefit when I invested in some cycling shorts. Here’s how to choose the right pair for you.Best Bike Shorts What to Consider When Buying Bike ShortsBibs vs. Waist Shorts vs. BaggiesWhen we talk about cycling shorts, we’re really discussing two main options: bib-style shorts with straps that go over your shoulders and waist-style shorts that look more like typical shorts. Both options are typically tight-fitting and often made from from moisture-wicking nylon or polyester with elastane to keep you cool and dry. There’s also a third type of short, often worn by mountain bikers or gravel riders, that fits over the other two types (though sometimes it’ll come with its own waist-style liner short). These are often referred to as shells, or baggies, even though most modern ones have a slimmer fit. Waist shorts are more convenient for going to the bathroom, but some people find the waistband can pinch or cause irritation when spending hours in a riding position. Some cyclists prefer bibs for longer rides because they better hold the chamois in place, don't have a constrictive waistband, and eliminate the gap between short and shirt that can form when you wear a shorter jersey. Indoor Rides Count, Too: This Peloton Instructor Will Convince You to Get in on the Indoor Action | Peloton’s Bike Plus Review: Sleek Features and a Quiet Ride Pick Your InseamMost bib- and waist-style bike shorts come in three standard lengths: Long inseams are around 11 inches, regular inseams are between 8 to 9 inches, and short inseams measure 4 to 7 inches. Some shorts come in more than one length, and the right one for you mostly comes down to personal preference. It’s common to wear shorts a few inches above the knee, but some might want shorter or longer options for style or comfort reasons.How We EvaluatedMy garage is a veritable stable of bikes, including the commuter bike I’ve had since 2010 and my newest gravel bike. I enjoy cycling as a cross-training activity for running and backpacking and as a sport of its own. I’ve worn road and mountain biking shorts for everything from short cross-training rides to a five-day bikepacking trip.Below, I recommend a variety of cycling shorts based on what I’ve used, what my cycling and triathlon acquaintances swear by, and models with high customer ratings on retail sites like Amazon. These shorts offer variety—in terms of effectiveness while riding, overall style, and budget. I also included a couple liner options for maximum versatility with shorts you already own.For more great workout gear, check out our picks for the best moisture-wicking shirts, hot weather running gear, and gear for running in the rain!

Editor's Note: Updated June 1, 2022. We updated this piece to replace out of stock links, but kept the original tested products.

Cycling is one of the best cross-training exercises we can do as runners. It’s a low-impact blend of cardio and strength training and offers plenty of variety whether you’re riding on the road, soft-surface gravel routes, or wooded trails on a mountain bike. Even for shorter outings, a good pair of bike shorts will make your ride more comfortable.

Traditional spandex cycling shorts have body-mapped padding called a chamois. This dense cushioning foam is sewn into the shorts or liner to protect against chafing, reduce pressure while you’re in the saddle, and wick moisture. When I started doing tougher mountain bike routes and riding longer distances on road and gravel, I felt an immediate benefit when I invested in some cycling shorts. Here’s how to choose the right pair for you.

Best Bike Shorts

What to Consider When Buying Bike Shorts

Bibs vs. Waist Shorts vs. Baggies

When we talk about cycling shorts, we’re really discussing two main options: bib-style shorts with straps that go over your shoulders and waist-style shorts that look more like typical shorts. Both options are typically tight-fitting and often made from from moisture-wicking nylon or polyester with elastane to keep you cool and dry. There’s also a third type of short, often worn by mountain bikers or gravel riders, that fits over the other two types (though sometimes it’ll come with its own waist-style liner short). These are often referred to as shells, or baggies, even though most modern ones have a slimmer fit.

Waist shorts are more convenient for going to the bathroom, but some people find the waistband can pinch or cause irritation when spending hours in a riding position. Some cyclists prefer bibs for longer rides because they better hold the chamois in place, don't have a constrictive waistband, and eliminate the gap between short and shirt that can form when you wear a shorter jersey.

Indoor Rides Count, Too: This Peloton Instructor Will Convince You to Get in on the Indoor Action | Peloton’s Bike Plus Review: Sleek Features and a Quiet Ride

Pick Your Inseam

Most bib- and waist-style bike shorts come in three standard lengths: Long inseams are around 11 inches, regular inseams are between 8 to 9 inches, and short inseams measure 4 to 7 inches. Some shorts come in more than one length, and the right one for you mostly comes down to personal preference. It’s common to wear shorts a few inches above the knee, but some might want shorter or longer options for style or comfort reasons.

How We Evaluated

My garage is a veritable stable of bikes, including the commuter bike I’ve had since 2010 and my newest gravel bike. I enjoy cycling as a cross-training activity for running and backpacking and as a sport of its own. I’ve worn road and mountain biking shorts for everything from short cross-training rides to a five-day bikepacking trip.

Below, I recommend a variety of cycling shorts based on what I’ve used, what my cycling and triathlon acquaintances swear by, and models with high customer ratings on retail sites like Amazon. These shorts offer variety—in terms of effectiveness while riding, overall style, and budget. I also included a couple liner options for maximum versatility with shorts you already own.

For more great workout gear, check out our picks for the best moisture-wicking shirts, hot weather running gear, and gear for running in the rain!

© Staff, Courtesy of Nooyme

More from Runner's World

Runner’s World
Runner’s World
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon