The 8 Best Bike Shorts of 2021

Stay cool and comfortable on the bike

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Our Top Picks
It’s designed to be comfortable, cooling, and offers additional functions like a side zip pocket.
Designed for longer rides, but 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 and comfort many riders are looking for.
Customers tout comfort and breathability as two key factors that have sold them on these shorts time and time again.
The seven panel design reduces the number of seams and potential for any rubbing.
Made with the “flex air tour chamois with highest level of padding, soft wing technology & perforated foam for breathability."
Essentially a padded short underwear, they can be worn on their own or under other less fitted shorts.
The breathable chamois also helps reduce the amount of sweat against your skin and few seams keeps 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 Shredly.com
Include invisible zipper thigh vents to increase airflow on warmer days.

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 Rick, Founder and Head Coach at EventHorizon Endurance Sport. This is the padding that provides comfort on the hard bike seat. You’ll also want to choose a short that fits snuggly but not too tight, and is a comfortable length for you so that you avoid any chafing while riding.

Many bike shorts also boast moisture-wicking capabilities, which is important for sweatier riders as well as triathletes who may be wearing their shorts to swim, too.

While most bike shorts are designed for the outdoor long-distance rider, if you’re an indoor cycling enthusiast, there’s nothing to say you can’t reap many of the same benefits from investing in a good pair of cycle shorts to make your ride more comfortable.

Best Overall for Women: Terry Touring Bike Short

Touring Bike Short/Regular
Pros
  • Available in multiple lengths (5,8, and 10-inch) and sizes (XS - XXL and Plus Sizes)

  • Terry chamois made specifically for female body

  • Moisture wicking technology designed for multi-day rides

  • Antimicrobial material to reduce odor and bacteria buildup

  • Flat seams to reduce chafing

  • Side zip pocket that fits a smartphone or fuel for the ride

Cons
  • Higher price point

  • Only come in black

Made for women, by women, the Terry Touring Bike Short truly has everything you look for in a quality bike short. It’s designed to be comfortable, cooling, and offers additional functions like a side zip pocket. It’s no wonder why reviewers say it’s not only worth the higher price-tag, but many also own multiple pairs.

These shorts feature the signature Terry chamois and offer the most padding of any of the brand’s shorts, which helps reduce any discomfort on longer rides. The different lengths make it a great option for both short and tall riders, and for those looking for more or less leg coverage. The fast-drying and wicking material adds to the comfort and reduces any sweat odors. Lastly, they feature an elastic-free waistband, reducing any digging or marks on your belly.

Material: Nylon, Polystester, Spandex | Length: 5, 8, and 10 inches | Sizes: XS - XXL + Plus size | Pocket: Side zip pocket | Leg gripper: Soft woven

Best Overall for Men: The Black Bibs Black Shorts Plus

The Black Bibs Black Shorts Plus
Pros
  • Available in a range of sizes from XS - 3XL

  • Moderately priced

  • Chamois pad rated for up to 8-hour rides

  • Folded leg opening for comfort

Cons
  • Only come in black

  • No pockets

“No Label. No BS. Undeniably Affordable,” is the motto that perfectly describes Black Bibs shorts, which are custom-quality shorts at an affordable price. Customers rave about the comfort and comment that they are “as good, if not substantially better than the name brand shorts.”

They’re designed for longer rides, but the price point makes them accessible to even novice riders looking for some comfort on the bike. They’re made with fewer seams to reduce chafing and the folded leg opening keeps the shorts secure without the discomfort of the non-slip materials that are used in some shorts. Overall, the Black Bibs Black Shorts Plus are a solid option for any level rider looking for comfort and support at an affordable price.

Material: “High Compression” | Length: Varies depending on size (24.5 cm - 27 cm) | Sizes: XS - 3XL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Budget for Women: BALEAF Women’s Bike Short

Pros
  • Very affordable

  • Wide waistband

  • Material offers UPF 50+ protection

  • Multiple colors available

  • Gel padded chamois

Cons
  • Only come in 9” seem length

  • No pockets

For this price point, you really can’t do better than the BALEAF Women’s Bike Shorts with 3D Gel padding. They offer all of the basic features you’d look for in a short for short to mid-length rides. The 3D gel padding provides the support and comfort many riders are looking for, though some customers find it to be a little thicker than desired (a personal preference). The wide waistband is designed to keep the shorts from rolling down and the anti-slip silicone grippers around the leg openings keep the shorts from riding up.

Material: Nylon/Spandex | Length: 9 inches | Sizes: XS - 3XL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Budget for Men: Sponeed Men’s Cycling Short

Pros
  • Very affordable

  • Available in multiple colors and sizes S - 3XL

  • 4D gel for those looking for maximum padding

  • Soft, breathable fabric

Cons
  • Waistband rides low, which may roll down on some riders

Much of choosing a bike short is finding the one that fits you well — and a higher price point doesn’t always equate to a better short for you. With tens of thousands of positive reviews online, the men’s Sponeed short has proven that you can find a comfortable, functioning bike short for a fraction of the price of some of the more prominent brands in the industry. Customers tout comfort and breathability as two key factors that have sold them on these shorts time and time again.

While the branding may be a little on the heavy side for some, the shorts do offer a little more from a design standpoint than many other men’s shorts. Overall, it’s a great short for those that don’t want to sacrifice function and comfort in the name of budget.

Material: Spandex/polyester | Length: 9 inches | Sizes: S - 3XL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best Splurge: Pearl Izumi Women's Pro Short

Pros
  • Flexible, breathable, and soft fabric

  • Minimal seams for reduced chafing and added comfort

  • Reflective elements for low-light riding safety

  • Silicone leg grippers to keep shorts in place

Cons
  • High price tag

  • 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 their luxurious Italian fabric, which has a soft, buttery feel that also offers just enough compression. The seven panel design reduces the number of seams and potential for any rubbing. Reviewers comment that these are more comfortable than competitors, especially on rides lasting a few hours.

Material: Luxurious Italian pro transfer fabric (nylon, polyester, lycra elastane) | Length: Women’s 8.5 inches | Sizes: XS - XXL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

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

Terry Touring Bike Short/Plus
Pros
  • Terry chamois padding designed specifically for female body

  • Moisture wicking technology designed for multi-day rides

  • Antimicrobial material to reduce odor and bacteria buildup

  • Flat seams to reduce chafing

  • Side zip pocket that can fit a smart phone or fuel for the ride

Cons
  • Higher price point

  • Only comes in black

Just like the regular touring bike shorts, these shorts are designed to fit the female body. Customer reviews tout the perfect fit — not too snug but fitted enough that there’s no rubbing or extra fabric. They are made with the “flex air tour chamois with highest level of padding, soft wing technology & perforated foam for breathability,” a signature of the Terry brand shorts. Most importantly they are a high quality short created to fit riders in all body sizes, which can be challenging to find.

Terry also makes this short (and it’s regular touring short) in a green energy-certified sewing facility.

Material: Nylon, Polystester, Spandex | Length: 9 inches | Sizes: Plus size 1X - 3X | Pocket: Size zip pocket | Leg gripper: Soft woven

Best Padded: BALEAF Men's Padded Short

Pros
  • Padding designed for hours on the bike

  • Can be worn under regular shorts

  • Lightweight, breathable material

  • Affordable price point

  • Multiple colors and sizes (S - 3XL) available

Cons
  • Short inseam

If you’re looking for a padded short, but you’re not into the traditional bike short look, these are for you. Essentially a padded short underwear, they can be worn on their own or under other less fitted shorts. Customers rave about the additional comfort both for indoor and outdoor cycling. The lightweight, breathable material adds to the comfort and provides important sweat-wicking capabilities.

Of course, an extra pair of shorts increases warmth and decreases aerodynamics, so this may not be appropriate for a competitive rider or on extra warm days.

Material: Polyester/Spandex | Length: 4.7 inches | Sizes: S - 3XL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Elastic

Best Cooling: Pearl Izumi Men’s Elite Escape Shorts

Pros
  • Fabric designed for most wicking

  • Reflective elements for low-light riding

  • Minimal seams for reduced chafing

  • Silicon grip at leg openings to secure shorts

  • Chamois is highly breathable to keep skin dry

Cons
  • Higher price point

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 keeps 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. These run small, so size up.

Material: PRO transfer fabric (Polyamide/Polyester/Elastane) | Length: 9.5 inches | Sizes: S - XXL | Pocket: 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 are for you. They’re perfect for going from studio to street or for a leisurely bike ride along the beach or in the neighborhood. The material is buttery soft and designed to flatter all body shapes and sizes. Plus, they come in fun and vibrant colors (as well as black). Because they aren’t a traditional bike short with padding, they may not be comfortable for a long ride, but you sure will look good!

Material: Polyester/Spandex | Length: 7 inches | Sizes: XS - XL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: None

Best for Mountain Biking: Shredly MTB Curvy Short

Shredly MTB Curvy Short
Pros
  • Comfortable, breathable material

  • Zipper vents for additional air flow

  • Come in multiple colors and designs

  • Wide waistband

Cons
  • Chamois is sold separately, increasing the investment

Hitting the trails instead of the street? These Shredly MTB Curvy Shorts are designed specifically for you. Available in a variety of patterns and sizes ranging from 2-24, making them accessible to most riders. The lightweight fabric paired with a wide waistband is designed for ultimate comfort on the 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.

The best part? They’re made with 100% recycled materials, so you’re taking care of the environment while enjoying the great outdoors.

Material: Lightweight, durable 4-way stretch | Length: Varies by size | Sizes: 2-24 | Pocket: Velcro leg pocket | Leg gripper: None

Best for Triathlon: Roka Men's Tri Short

Roka Men's Tri Short
Pros
  • Aerodynamic material designed for race day

  • Material works well in the water and on the bike

  • Low profile chamois good for swim and run

Cons
  • Only available in one color and length

  • Higher price point

Triathlon or “tri” shorts are specifically designed to work well in the water, on the bike, and on the run. The Roka tri shorts are known for their quality material, lower-profile chamois that still provides comfort, and aerodynamic design made for racing. They’re lightweight, adding to the comfort, and contain just enough compression to make them flattering, but not too snug.

Material: Italian and proprietary fabric | Length: 7.5 - 9.5 inches | Sizes: XS - XL | Pocket: None | Leg gripper: Silicon

Best with Pockets: Terry Wayfarer Bike Short

Wayfarer Bike Short
Pros
  • Soft satin compression-fit material for style and function

  • Signature Terry chamois designed for female body

  • Side pockets large enough for a smartphone or fuel

  • Antimicrobial material with optimal wicking

Cons
  • Higher price point

Designed with comfort and function in mind, the Terry Wayfarer short is worth the premium price. As with other Terry shorts, it’s designed specifically with the female rider in mind, ensuring the right fit of both the overall short and padding. The large pockets on each leg make carrying your phone or extra fuel easy and the luxurious Italian material creates a comfortable short 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 is the short for you.

Material: Meryl nylon with a satin matte finish and high spandex | Length: 11.5 inches | Sizes: XS - XXL | Pocket: Side pockets on both legs | Leg gripper: Zig-zag stitch, elastic-free

Best for Long Rides: Beroy Padded Women’s Shorts

Pros
  • 3D padding designed for extra comfort on longer rides

  • Multiple colors available

  • Available in sizes XS - 4XL

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Narrow waistband, which may not be as comfortable

For those looking for extra cushioning for longer rides, the Beroy padded women’s shorts fit the bill (and budget!). It comes in a variety of colors and designs, which can be hard to find in a bike short, and a wide range of sizes. The design also includes a reflective element great for early morning or evening rides. While the material is a standard polyester and spandex mix, the price point, design, and comfortable padding are what get these shorts rave reviews from over 10,000 riders.

Material: Polyester/Spandex | Length: Varies by size (7.2 inches - 8.6 inches) | Sizes: XS - 4XL | 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 retailer) checks all the boxes that we look for in a quality short — comfort, design, and function. Among men’s shorts, Black Bibs (view at retailer) stand out for their custom quality and design at an affordable price.

What to Look For in Bike Shorts

“The old saying ‘buy well, buy once’ is definitely true when it comes to cycling shorts. Your shorts are your body's point of weight contact to your bike. The key points are pretty simple: fit, chamois pad, material quality and leg gripper,” says Jon Fearne, cycling and run coach at E3coach.com.


Material

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 (aka the “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. “But don’t automatically think that more padding is better,” says Fearne. Too much padding 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.


Leg gripper

You want a short that has some sort of gripping capabilities so that it stays in place around the leg openings to reduce any rubbing or movement of the shorts while riding. 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

Another design area that is of personal preference, but wider waistbands tend to 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; 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. Most cyclists and triathletes go without underwear, since wearing underwear could result in chaffing,” adds Rich.


How should you wash bike shorts?

This will vary by short, but most brands will recommend washing immediately after use on a delicate cycle and hanging to try. 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 is not the goal, such as while mountain biking, then comfort might trump aerodynamics.


Can you run in bike shorts?

In short, yes. But 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 on the run.

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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