Best Cycling Shorts for More Comfortable Rides

Last updated: April 07, 2020
BEST OVERALL
Durable, Mesh Pockets and Grippy Silicone Waist
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Best Budget
3D Cushion Pad, Interior Gripping and Silky Soft
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BEST FOR KIDS
Antibacterial Chamois Pad and Elastic Waist
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BEST FOR WOMEN
Durable, Perforated Chamois and Elastic Waist
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BEST FOR MEN
Four-Way Stretch, Quick Drying and Silky Soft
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Your guide

Just like we look for a new helmet or new cycling shoes, it’s great to look for a new pair of cycling shorts too. When looking for a new set of riding shorts, two key features come to mind: comfort and fit.

You want something that will allow you to feel as comfortable as possible on that (relatively hard) saddle, so that you don’t feel so much pain after a ride. In addition, the fit is very important too. You don’t want something so tight that it restricts movement, but also don’t want too much movement that you get chafe.

When searching for the top cycling shorts out there, we also looked for shorts that have features which cater to other aspects of riding which one may not have thought of. This way, while you are thinking about comfort and fit, we are making sure a few of those other aspects also get ticked off the list once you actually get the shorts.

Top 5 Shorts for Cycling

If you have ever ridden a bike, chances are, you are no stranger to the pain that comes after having been sitting on the saddle for a moderate amount of time. Sure, you may have had experiences where everything felt fine, but let’s be honest here, you were probably on a beach cruiser, not a mountain or road bike.

Cyclist Wearing a Bib Bike Shorts

After your original experience of riding, you probably thought to yourself “No way am I ever doing that again just to feel so much pain in me rear-end!”. But we say persevere.

Take a look around at what options you have to possibly end the era of butt pain once and for all, whilst still getting in the ride of a lifetime in the mountains or along some beautiful, winding road with a view. In-fact, it won’t take much looking before you realise that bicycle shorts are the way to go.

Sure they might look a little weird when you’re standing, but for how long will that even be when you’ve got your bike right at your side and a good ride ahead of you?

To end the era of butt pain for you sooner than you may have expected, we searched the web and found the 5 best cycling shorts to suit your needs. So, to accommodate your ride as much as possible and give you the best seated experience you could ask for on a bicycle, check out our top picks for best cycling shorts below.

1. Best Overall - Rapha Core

Specifications:

  • Fabric – 82% Polyester, 18% Elastane
  • Padding – Rapha classic chamois pad
  • Waist – Soft-silicone gripping

Key Features:

  • Hard-wearing mesh pockets
  • Laser-cut, soft-silicone gripping
  • Rapha Classic Chamois
  • Compressive support

Rapha Core Cargo Shorts Review

In order for a pair of cycling shorts to make it to the top of our list and ultimately win the category of “Best Overall”, the shorts needed to meet and exceed all of our expectations when looking for bike shorts, as well as offer something that most bike shorts simply don’t offer.

The Rapha Core Cargo Shorts not only gave us something new to consider, but the high quality and overall feel of these shorts are what put it in the top spot by far in our “Best Overall” category.

Mesh Pockets

Before we get into the other features of these cycling shorts, we thought we should address the elephant in the room – those mesh pockets. These are, after all, one of the major features which put these pants at the top of the list.

Pockets, in any shape or form, are fairly difficult to find on Lycra shorts, but Rapha has managed to add them with elegance and efficiency.

The pockets sit closely to the leg of the shorts, meaning when you aren’t using them (and if you are looking at aerodynamics), they don’t get in the way or create a deadly amount of wind resistance.

When there is nothing in the pockets, the shorts look like ordinary streamlined Lycra shorts. They are large enough to fit anything from snacks to a cellphone in, so you can take these things along with you on the ride.

Try not to put anything too sharp in the pockets though, you don’t want them to tear and then you have to go back to storing everything in a cycling shirt again.

Quality and Comfort

The Rapha Core Cargo Shorts have been designed with quality in mind. They are both durable and comfortable, with black dense-knit fabric for compressive support and flatlock stitching, which allow the shorts to fit snug on your waist and legs without becoming restrictive.

The chamois is very comfortable as well, and is the same Rapha chamois that is used in all of their Classic range cycling shorts, so, if you have used any other Classic Rapha shorts before, you know exactly what you are getting in terms of comfort.

Gripping

Rapha has implemented laser-cut, soft-silicone grippers to both the leg openings of the pants as well as the top waist area. This will prevent the pants from moving around and causing chafe, as well as prevent them from riding upwards and becoming uncomfortable.

Available Styles

The Rapha Core Cargo shorts are available in two options for men – bib shorts and non-bib shorts. So, if you prefer the bib option, it is there. Women are only able to get the non-bib option, however, this option is still great.

Once you have heard about all the features of the Rapha Core Cargo shorts, it is easy to see exactly why they are our number one pick in our list of cycling shorts, but this quality does come at a price; that price being $130.

As hefty as you may find this price, sometimes putting in that extra bit can really pay off in the long run. So, if you have the cash for it and really like the look of these shorts, we suggest you get them.

Pros
  • High quality
  • Extra storage with pockets
  • Grips nicely
  • Comfortable chamois and fabric
  • Compressive support
Cons
  • Pockets might tear with sharp objects
  • Expensive
  • Women don’t have bib option

2. Best Budget - Nooyme 3D

Specifications:

  • Fabric – 80% Polyamide, 20% Spandex
  • Padding – 3D multi-density foam chamois
  • Waist – Silicone gripping

Key Features:

  • 3D multi-density foam chamois
  • Silicone gripping
  • Multiple colour options
  • Silky soft fabric

Nooyme Men/Women 3D Padded Shorts Review

Choosing the “Best Budget” category for cycling shorts doesn’t come down to simply the cost. We wanted to ensure that you still get shorts that are of good quality when buying. There is no point in spending a small amount of money on something which doesn’t work, after all.

So, the chosen shorts for best budget, thanks to the quality, comfort, and price, are the Nooyme 3D Padded Shorts (both men’s and women’s options).

Pricing vs. Quality

Jumping straight into it, you can pick these shorts up for as little as $18.99, depending on the size that you are going for. As we’ve mentioned, the affordable price of these shorts doesn’t mean that quality is disregarded.

These shorts are both durable and comfortable, with silky soft fabric which is very flexible, providing a comfortable, tight fit whilst still allowing for optimum movement during your ride, whether it be on a spin bike at home or riding outdoors.

The Nooyme 3D Padded Shorts (as described in the name) have a 3D chamois pad which is made with multi-density foam to allow for a breathable, comfortable ride.

With that being said, there is an inner seam which runs along the inside of the padding which some may find a bit uncomfortable.

If you are used to inner seams and this doesn’t bother you, you will find these shorts quite comfortable.

Gripping

In terms of the gripping for these shorts, there are silicone dots inside the leg openings and waist opening to prevent the shorts from riding up or moving around too much and causing chafe.

This, accompanied with the right size, allows the shorts to fit snug on your body, making your ride more enjoyable and comfortable.

Look and Design

The Nooyme 3D Padded Shorts come in a variety of colours for both men and women, allowing you to pick the style and colour you like most. Some options also come with reflective material to allow other people to see you more effectively.

However, in some cases, individuals have found this reflective material to peel off after having been in the washing machine. The shorts also come in plain black, so if you aren’t one for colour, you can go for the plain style.

As you can see, the Nooyme Men/Women 3D Padded Shorts are a great buy for their price. Not only do you get good comfort, but you can choose a style which looks good too.

While there may be some flaws here and there in terms of inner seams and the reflective material, these are small prices to pay for these affordable pair of shorts, and you are bound to enjoy them.

Pros
  • Decent quality
  • Soft chamois padding
  • Multiple styles
  • Silicone gripping
  • Low price
Cons
  • Inner-seam might be uncomfortable for some
  • Reflective material could come off in the washing machine

3. Best For Kids - Aero Tech

Specifications:

  • Fabric – 84% Nylon, 16% Spandex
  • Padding – High density foam, antibacterial chamois
  • Waist – Elastic

Key Features:

  • High density foam chamois
  • Six-way stretch
  • Bright colours
  • Good Durability

Aero Tech Child’s Padded Bike Shorts Review

When looking for cycling shorts for children, the main things that you want are durability, comfort, and as an added extra, some bright colours to satisfy your child’s eye for the shorts.

These are just a few of the reasons that the Aero Tech Child’s Padded Bike Shorts are the chosen pick for our “Best For Kids” category.

Comfort & Padding

These cycling shorts are made with fabric which is silky smooth and has six-way stretch, to allow for maximum comfort and mobility while your child rides their bike, as well as prevents chafe.

The chamois pad is a 6mm high density, open cell foam pad, adding to the comfort of these shorts while your child sits on their bicycle saddle. While some may find that this padding is good enough for their child, others may find it to be a little too thin and might want something with a little more padding.

The seams of the shorts are sewn with a smooth, flatlock stitch, creating a soft feeling up against the skin, rather than rubbing and causing discomfort.

Design and Gripping

These shorts are fairly durable, as they should be when made for children. They also come in a variety of colours, giving your child the option to choose from a selection and feel more excited about the shorts that they are getting.

Some of these options even match those of the adult pants, meaning that you can match with your child for a fun added extra.

In terms of the gripping on the Aero Tech Child’s Padded Bike Shorts, there are no silicone grips like in some of our other options, however, the waist is elastic, keeping the shorts comfortably on your child’s waist, and the leg hems are cover-stitched to feel smooth and avoid discomfort.

With features that let your child have fun by picking a colour, keep them comfortable with quality and design, and are durable enough to last through their rough activities, the Aero Tech Child’s Padded Bike Shorts are a good choice.

Although some may feel that the padding isn’t quite soft enough, your child might think otherwise, and letting them try the pants out more than just once will give you a better idea of this. If you are wanting to buy these shorts, you can pick them up for $29.99.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Multiple colours
  • Stretchy and soft
  • Elastic Waist
Cons
  • Some may find there isn’t enough padding
  • No silicone gripping around leg area

4. Best For Women - Terry Bella

Specifications:

  • Fabric – 74% Meryl Nylon, 26% Spandex
  • Padding – Breathable, four-way stretch, high density chamois
  • Waist – Non-elastic

Key Features:

  • Muscle compressive fabric
  • Four-way stretch chamois
  • Elastic-free waist
  • Silicon Gripping

Terry Bella Women’s Shorts Review

The Terry Bella Women’s Shorts take the cake for our “Best For Women” category, thanks to the comfortable and breathable chamois, the soft fabric and gripping, the elegant design, and more. While there were many close contenders for this position, the Terry Bella Women’s Shorts appeared to deliver on their promises with the highest consistency and standard.

Quality and Comfort

The shorts are made at a high quality, ensuring both durability and comfort when riding. The chamois is perforated and breathable, meaning it does not hold too much moisture which can become uncomfortable if it did.

It is also a four-way stretch pad, meaning it provides freedom of movement on the saddle whilst protecting sensitive areas as well as doesn’t creep up when you walk around.

The fabric contains a high spandex content, which allows for muscle compression, giving you the ability to ride further and have faster recovery times with less pain. This thick material does, however, come at a slight cost, as some may feel that it causes these shorts to feel a bit hotter than usual.

Gripping

The gripping on the Terry Bella Women’s Shorts are the silicone Terry leg grippers, which prevent the shorts from moving around on your legs, much like other high-quality leg grippers.

At the waist, the shorts are designed with an elastic-free front waist yolk to avoid being too tight around the waist, whilst also avoiding a “muffin-top” effect which some may appreciate greatly.

Design

These shorts are designed specifically for women, meaning the fit is good for a variety of women’s body types and everything has been placed accordingly with women in mind. In addition to this, the stitching on the shorts come in a dark grey or a dark pink, adding an elegant colourful touch to the look.

If you are looking into cycling shorts for women, we highly recommend getting the Terry Bella Women’s Shorts. As we have mentioned before, paying for quality can be a bit hefty and these shorts do not steer clear of that statement.

They will cost you $115.95. If you are looking for good quality shorts, that are designed specifically with women in mind, this price might not worry you.

So, to wrap up, if the price doesn’t worry you, you like the sound of comfort and quality, and don’t mind the potential to feel a little hot, go ahead with these shorts, they are well worth it.

Pros
  • Made with women in mind
  • Breathable, four-way stretch chamois
  • Compressive support
  • Elastic-free front waist yolk
Cons
  • Might get a bit hot
  • Expensive

5. Best For Men - Sponeed

Specifications:

  • Fabric – 80% Polyester, 20% Spandex
  • Padding – 3D gel pad
  • Waist – Elastic

Key Features:

  • 3D gel padding
  • Silicone leg gripping
  • Four-way stretch
  • Elastic waist

Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts Review

Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts not only take the spot as “Best For Men” due to their quality and comfort, but they come at a fairly affordable price as well of $30.99, depending on the size. So, without further ado, let’s get into the final cycling shorts in our list – the Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts.

Quality and Comfort

These shorts have been made at a fairly good quality and are very durable. The stitching is great, and the fabric has chafe prevention qualities, as well as has four-way stretch so that your movements are not restricted.

The chamois is a 3D gel pad which has been positioned in key areas for comfort. Although this is the case, some have found this pad to be a bit uncomfortable in some areas if it doesn’t sit quite in the right spot. The material of the shorts is also breathable and you stay relatively cool while riding.

Gripping

Within the shorts, there are silicone leg grippers to allow the shorts to stay in place without too much movement. The waist of the shorts is elastic to allow for further grip and prevent the pants from riding up too much.

Some have found the pants to sit a little high for shorts, but not too high that it is unbearable.

Design

These shorts come with a selection of stylish, eye-catching designs on the sides which not only look good, but can help people spot you a little easier while you are riding. Just like choosing the right bike size, it is important to choose the right size of bike shorts.

The sizing of these shorts is usually given as Asian sizing, which runs a little smaller than US, so make sure you take this into account when buying them.

The Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts provide a generally good overall performance, with good comfort and padding, cool, stretchy fabric, and a stylish design. Where some may find a few features to not quite suit them, others may find these features perfect.

Their quality, look and feel have put them at the top of our “Best For Men” list, and the price is just the icing on the cake for these shorts.

Pros
  • Stylish Design
  • 3D Gel Padding
  • Breathable Fabric
  • Silicon Leg Gripping
  • Low Price
Cons
  • Some may find the padding to be uncomfortable if shifted
  • Asian sizing might make picking a size a bit difficult

Cycling Shorts: Frequently Asked Questions

Do Cycling Shorts Stop Chafing?

Good quality cycling shorts do prevent chafing, as the material wicks moisture. A lot of cyclists also like to use a cream which creates a layer to avoid any chafe if it is possible with their shorts. You should also avoid wearing underpants with these shorts, as this can cause chafe.

What Are Cycling Shorts Made Of?

Modern cycling shorts are mostly made with Lycra (or spandex), as this material is stretchy and good for wicking. The chamois is usually synthetic and these are made in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Do You Wear Underpants Under Cycling Shorts?

One of the first rules of cycling shorts is that you do not wear underwear under the shorts. These can cause chafe and discomfort as well as negate all other benefits of cycling shorts, as they are designed to be worn without underpants.

How Tight Should Cycling Shorts Be?

Cycling shorts should feel tight when you first put them on, but not so tight that the circulation in your legs are cut off. They need to stay in place when you ride, but still provide enough stretch that your movements are not restricted.

Are Bib Shorts Better Than Normal Shorts?

This comes down to personal preference. Some find that bib shorts ride up a little higher than regular shorts, as well as make bathroom stops more difficult to deal with. While others find that these aren’t an issue and bib shorts offer better comfort around the waist area.

Best Cycling Shorts for More Comfortable Rides in 2020 — Bike Hacks