The 13 Best Bike Shorts of 2021, According to an Indoor Cycling Instructor

Stay cool and comfortable on your ride

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Your bike shorts can make (or break) your cycling experience, especially if you’re riding for several hours every week. When it comes to choosing the best shorts for you, there are a few things to consider—most of which relate to comfort.

“Aside from cosmetic differences like color and style, a key feature to look for in cycling shorts is what's called the 'chamois' (pronounced sha-mē)," says Tony Rich, Founder and Head Coach at EventHorizon Endurance Sport. This is the padding that provides comfort on a hard bike seat. To avoid any chafing, you'll also want to find shorts that fit snuggly but not too tight.

Many bike shorts also feature moisture-wicking capabilities for triathletes, sweatier riders, or those who live in a humid climate. And though most shorts are designed for outdoor wear, they can also be worn inside if you're an indoor cycling enthusiast.

Here are the best bike shorts on the market.

Our Top Picks
They're designed to be comfortable, cooling, and offer additional functions like a side zip pocket.
Designed for longer rides, the price point makes them accessible to even novice riders looking for some comfort on the bike.
Best Budget for Women:
BALEAF Women’s Bike Short at Amazon
The 3D gel padding provides the support that makes long rides more comfortable.
Customers tout comfort and breathability as two factors that sell them on these shorts time and time again.
The seven-panel design reduces the number of seams and the potential for any rubbing.
Made with the highest level of padding, soft wing technology, and perforated foam for breathability.
Essentially a padded short underwear, they can be worn on their own or under more relaxed shorts.
The breathable chamois also helps reduce the amount of sweat against your skin, and few seams keep chafing at a minimum.
The material is buttery soft and designed to flatter all body shapes and sizes.
Best for Mountain Biking:
Shredly MTB Curvy Short at Backcountry.com
Includes breathable material and thigh vents to increase airflow on warmer days.

Best Overall for Women: Terry Touring Bike Short

Touring Bike Short/Regular
Pros
  • Multiple lengths and sizes

  • Moisture wicking technology

  • Antimicrobial fabric to reduce odor

  • Side zip pocket included

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Only comes in black

Made for women, the Terry Touring Bike Short is designed to be comfortable and cooling while offering additional functions, like a side zip pocket. And while they're more expensive than some, avid cyclers say that they own multiple pairs thanks to their comfort and quality.

Featuring signature Terry chamois, they include padding that helps reduce saddle pain on long rides. They also come in multiple lengths—making them great for short and tall riders, and for those looking for more modest coverage. The fast-drying material wicks away moisture and reduces odors, and the elastic-free waistband eliminates digging into your skin.

Material: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Length: 5 inches, 8 inches, 10 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-extra-large | Pockets: Side zip pocket | Leg gripper: Soft woven

Best Overall for Men: The Black Bibs Black Shorts Plus

The Black Bibs Black Shorts Plus
Pros
  • Wide range of sizes

  • Moderately priced

  • Chamois for long rides

  • Folded leg opening for comfort

Cons
  • Only comes in black

  • No pockets

“No Label. No BS. Undeniably Affordable,” is the brand's motto, which perfectly describes their popular, high-quality shorts. Budget-friendly and comfortable, customers say that they live up to the same standards as brand-name options.

Folded leg openings provide security, but since the shorts aren't made with non-slip materials, they won't constrict or cause you discomfort. They also have fewer seams to reduce chafing.

Material: High Compression | Length: 9.6 inches, 10.6 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-extra-extra-large | Pockets: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Budget for Women: BALEAF Women’s Bike Short

BALEAF Women’s Bike Short
Pros
  • Wide waistband

  • Material with UPF 50+ protection

  • Multiple colors available

  • Gel padded chamois

Cons
  • Only comes in one seam length

  • No pockets

For beginners or those on a budget, the BALEAF Women’s Bike Shorts offer all of the basic features you need for short- to mid-length rides. Featuring 3D gel padding, they're supportive and comfortable, though they may be a bit constricting for longer cycling adventures.

The wide waistband keeps the shorts from rolling down and the anti-slip silicone grippers around the leg openings keep the shorts from riding up. Additionally, the fabric offers UPF 50+ protection to keep your skin protected on your outdoor rides.

Material: Nylon, spandex | Length: 9 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-extra-extra-large | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Budget for Men: Sponeed Men’s Cycling Short

Sponeed Men’s Cycling Short
Pros
  • Very affordable

  • Multiple colors and sizes

  • 4D gel for maximum padding

  • Soft, breathable fabric

Cons
  • Waistband rides low, which may roll down

Cyclists love the men's Sponeed short and say it's comfortable, high-quality, and affordable in comparison to more prominent brands in the industry. With 4D gel padding, they're designed to keep you comfortable on long rides while the spandex-polyester-blend material breathes as you ride.

The branding might be too overwhelming for some, but they're offered in a variety of sizes and colors for a customized look. For a short that doesn't sacrifice function and comfort in the name of budget, Sponeed has you covered.

Material: Spandex, polyester | Length: 9 inches | Sizes: Small to extra-extra-extra-large | Pockets: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Splurge: Pearl Izumi Women's Pro Short

Pearl Izumi Women's Pro Short
Pros
  • Flexible, breathable fabric

  • Few seams for reduced chafing

  • Reflective for low-light riding

  • Silicone leg grippers

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Narrow waistband

Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in cycling apparel, Pearl Izumi rises to the top in pretty much all areas from comfort to functionality and design. The Pro men’s and women’s shorts use luxurious Italian fabric, which while compressive, offers a buttery soft feel.

The seven-panel design reduces the number of seams that can rub and chafe, and the reflective fabric is great for riding in low-light conditions. Customers also note that these bike shorts are more comfortable than competitors, especially on rides lasting a few hours.

Material: Nylon, polyester, lycra, elastane | Length: 8.5 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-extra-large | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Plus Size: Terry Women's Touring Bike Short/Plus

Terry Touring Bike Short/Plus
Pros
  • Chamois for female body

  • Moisture wicking technology

  • Antimicrobial fabric to reduce odor

  • Flat seams to reduce chafing

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Only comes in black

Crafted specifically for the female body, these shorts are fitted enough to eliminate rubbing, but not so snug that they're uncomfortable. They're made with the company's Flex Air Tour Chamois, a high level of padding, and perforated foam for breathability.

The eight-panel design offers support in all the right places and the tri-blend material is moisture-wicking and quick-drying. Terry also makes their products in a green energy-certified sewing facility—meaning you can feel comfortable while being eco-friendly.

Material: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Length: 9 inches | Sizes: Extra-large to extra-extra-extra-large | Pockets: Size zip pocket | Leg gripper: Soft woven

Best Padded: BALEAF Men's Padded Short

BALEAF Men's Padded Short
Pros
  • Can be worn under regular shorts

  • Lightweight, breathable material

  • Multiple colors and sizes

Cons
  • Short inseam

If you're not a fan of the traditional bike short look, these low-profile shorts will give you ultimate padding without any restriction. Essentially a mix between shorts and underwear, they can be worn on their own or under other less fitted shorts. The lightweight, breathable material dries fast and provides important sweat-wicking capabilities.

Crafted with padding in all the right places, these shorts will keep you comfortable on the saddle. A wide elastic waistband also keeps them in place to prevent any chafing.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Length: 4.7 inches | Sizes: Small to extra-extra-extra-large | Pockets: None | Leg gripper: Elastic

Best Cooling: Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Escape Shorts

Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Escape Shorts
Pros
  • Moisture-wicking fabric

  • Reflective for low-light riding

  • Few seams for reduced chafing

  • Silicon grip at leg openings

  • Chamois is highly breathable

Cons
  • Expensive

Designed for hot summer rides, the men’s Escape Shorts are made from signature P.R.O transfer fabric for optimal moisture transfer and increased comfort. The breathable chamois also helps reduce the amount of sweat against your skin and few seams keep chafing at a minimum.

Riders note that the padding feels less “diaper-like” than some other shorts, but still does the job of reducing soreness on long rides. Plus, silicone grips at the leg openings ensure they don't ride up, no matter how long you're working out.

Material: Polyamide, polyester, elastane | Length: 9.5 inches | Sizes: Small to extra-extra-large | Pockets: None | Leg gripper: None

Most Stylish: Outdoor Voices Flow 7” Short

Flow 7" Short
Pros
  • Fun design and color options

  • Soft fabric

  • Wide waistband

Cons
  • No chamois or padding

  • Not sweat-wicking

If you’re more interested in fashion over function, these shorts from Outdoor Voices will provide you with exactly what you're looking for. Perfect for going from studio to the street, they're made with a high-rise waistband for unrestricted comfort and security. The material is a blend of polyester and spandex to make them ultra-soft, stretchy, and fairly breathable. Plus, they come in fun and vibrant colors to match your personal style.

Since they're not traditional bike shorts, they may not be comfortable for long rides. However, they're a good option for beginners or those who go on casual, occasional rides.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Length: 7 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-large | Pockets: None | Leg gripper: None

Best for Mountain Biking: Shredly MTB Curvy Short

Shredly MTB Curvy Short
Pros
  • Comfortable, breathable material

  • Zipper vents for additional airflow

  • Multiple colors and designs

  • Wide waistband

Cons
  • Chamois is sold separately

Hitting the trails instead of the street? The Shredly MTB Curvy Shorts, available in sizes 2 to 24, are designed specifically for you. Available in a variety of patterns, the lightweight fabric and wide waistband provide comfort for every ride. They also include invisible zipper thigh vents to increase airflow on warmer days.

An optional chamois liner is available (sold separately) for those looking for a padded option. They’re also made with 100 percent recycled materials, so you can rest easy knowing you're taking care of the environment while enjoying your workout.

Material: Recycled fabric | Length: Varies by size | Sizes: 2 to 24 | Pockets: Velcro leg pocket | Leg gripper: None

Best for Triathlon: Roka Men's Tri Short

Roka Men's Tri Short
Pros
  • Aerodynamic material and design

  • Material made for in-water use

  • Low profile chamois

  • UPF 30+ fabric

Cons
  • Only one color and length

  • Expensive

Triathlon or “tri” shorts are specifically designed to work well in the water, on the bike, and on the run. While comfortable, the Roka tri shorts are known for their quality material and lower-profile chamois that provide optimal aerodynamics for racing.

Made with double-knit fabric and fewer seam lines, they're compressive without being restrictive. Plus, a carbon knit front panel provides thermoregulation for a variety of workouts both in and out of the water.

Material: Proprietary fabric | Length: 7.5 inches, 9.5 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-large | Pockets: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best with Pockets: Terry Wayfarer Bike Short

Wayfarer Bike Short
Pros
  • Satin compression-fit material

  • Chamois for female body

  • Large side pockets

  • Antimicrobial material

Cons
  • Expensive

Designed with comfort and function in mind, the Terry Wayfarer short is worth the premium price. As with other Terry shorts, these ones are made specifically for female riders, ensuring the right fit of both the overall short and padding.

The large pockets on each leg make carrying your phone or other essentials easy, and the luxurious Italian material provides comfort with optimal sweat-wicking capabilities. If you’re riding longer distances—or just want a top-of-the-line short with all the bells and whistles—this compressive short won't let you down.

Material: Meryl nylon, spandex | Length: 11.5 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-extra-large | Pockets: Side pockets on both legs | Leg gripper: Zig-zag stitch, elastic-free

Best for Long Rides: Beroy Padded Women’s Shorts

Beroy Padded Women’s Shorts
Pros
  • 3D padding for extra comfort

  • Multiple colors available

  • Wide range of sizes

Cons
  • Narrow waistband

For those looking for extra cushioning for longer rides, the Beroy padded women’s shorts will fit your bill and budget. In addition to a variety of sizes from extra-small to extra-extra-extra-large, these shorts are offered in multiple colors and designs. They also include reflective elements, which are ideal for low-light conditions.

While the material is made with a standard blend of spandex and polyester, they feature quality padding and a non-slip waistband to keep them in place during your rides.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Length: 7.2 inches, 8.6 inches | Sizes: Extra-small to extra-extra-extra-extra-large | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Non-slip belt

Final Verdict

For women, there truly is no better brand than Terry. And the Touring Bike Short (view at Terry Bicycles) checks all the boxes that we look for in a quality short—comfort, design, and function. Among men’s shorts, Black Bibs (view at The Black Bibs) feature few seams to reduce chafing and breathable material for maximum comfort on long rides.

What to Look For in Bike Shorts

Material

Jon Fearne, cycling and running coach at E3coach.com, says that fit, chamois padding, material quality, and grip are the most important things to note prior to buying a pair of bike shorts.

While most bike shorts will suffice for shorter rides (or indoor cycling), premium materials can make a difference on longer rides because of their superior wicking and antimicrobial capabilities. Most lower-end shorts are made from a mix of polyester and spandex, which may not be as breathable as higher-end options that contain other materials like lycra, silk, and nylon.

Padding (chamois)

“The chamois, which can vary by size and cut, is designed to alleviate pressures when you sit on the saddle. It also reduces friction and chaffing,” says Rich. “How much padding will be a very personal choice,” adds Fearne.

While padding where the sit bones meet the saddle is most important, padding in the front can help with comfort too. “Some chamois even have antimicrobial properties that reduce odor and bacteria,” notes Rich. However, Fearne explains that more padding isn't necessarily better—too much can leave you feeling like you're wearing a diaper.


Length

This is ultimately a personal preference, but longer shorts tend to offer more comfort as there is less chance of them riding up and allowing chafing against the bike seat. With that said, longer shorts can also be more restrictive, so note the length of your rides or the type of workout you'll be doing when wearing them before you buy.


Leg gripper

To reduce any rubbing or movement while riding, you want a short that has some sort of gripping capabilities so that it stays in place around the leg openings. Silicon leg grippers are most common, but some brands offer a design that holds shorts in place without the need for something to “stick” to your legs.


Waistband

A wide waistband isn't necessary, but it typically helps your shorts stay in place better—especially on women. Choose one that fits comfortably and doesn’t dig into your stomach when you bend over (which is how you spend your time on your bike).

FAQs

Do you wear underwear with bike shorts?

“I would not recommend wearing underwear since cycle shorts are designed for commando wearing and any extra layer can cause discomfort,” says Fearne. Chamois that have moisture-wicking elements and antimicrobial properties that reduce odor and bacteria are designed to be against the skin of the cyclist. Rich adds that most cyclists and triathletes go without underwear, since wearing underwear can result in chaffing.


How should you wash bike shorts?

This will vary by short, but most brands recommend washing immediately after use on a delicate cycle and hanging to dry. This prolongs the use of the short by helping to maintain the integrity of the material.


How are bike shorts supposed to fit?

“Cycle shorts should be well-fitted and cling to all areas of your body,” says Fearne. If they’re too loose and move around, you may experience some chafing, but shorts that are too tight can also restrict movement. “The clothes a cyclist wears can create drag resistance,” notes Rich—another reason to make sure they are well fitted against the body. But if speed isn't your main goal, then comfort might trump aerodynamics.


Can you run in bike shorts?

Yes, you can run in bike shorts. However, you'll want to consider the type of chamois, because thicker padding can feel heavy or diaper-like on the run. Triathlon shorts are designed with a thinner chamois that will be more comfortable for running.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian, indoor cycling instructor, outdoor cyclist, and former triathlete. She has logged many hours on the road and knows how important comfort and function are on the bike. She’s always keeping up with the latest updates to fitness apparel, but more importantly believes that exercise should be accessible at all budget and fitness levels, and knows that you can get a great product in varying price ranges.

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