Best Cycling Shorts in 2017 – Top Models Compared By Experts

Unless you want the lycra clad look of road cyclists and cross country racers, a pair of cycling shorts is what you need for riding in every season but the cold depths of winter. A good pair of cycling shorts will keep you comfortable and offer other features that will make your ride a more enjoyable experience.

Just as there are many different styles of cycling, there are also different styles of shorts available. This article will teach you what you need to look out for when considering a pair of cycling shorts and suggest some of the best shorts available.

Please note, this article only covers baggy style shorts, as lycra bib shorts or liners deserve an article of their own. It is recommended to wear a liner under your baggy shorts to ensure you stay comfortable for many hours in the saddle. Some shorts come with a liner.

How to Choose Best Cycling Shorts

Fit

You will be spending a lot of time pedalling while wearing your shorts, so it is crucial that they fit properly. This refers not just to the waist size but the overall cut and shape of the shorts. If your shorts are too loose, they will slip down when you stand up on the pedals. Too tight and they will be uncomfortable before you have even got on your bike.

Cycling shorts are cut differently to hiking shorts because they serve a different purpose. A good pair of cycling shorts will have a raised waist at the back and shorter at the front to adapt to the cycling position.

The majority of shorts have some kind of waist adjustment so you can get the exact fit you need. The adjusters are commonly buckles or hook and loop fasteners. Something that you can adjust easily while riding is handy after a lunch break!

The legs should be loose fitting and the material stretchy to allow movement. Shorts should not be too baggy around the crotch so as not to snag on the saddle. Riders that wear kneepads will want a slightly wider leg measurement to allow the shorts to move easily over the pads.

Material

What season and weather conditions will you be wearing your shorts in? For summer there are light and thin shorts available and for winter you can find warmer shorts with waterproof material. You can also find everything in between the two as well.

Whatever you go for, the material should be reasonably durable so that the shorts do not wear through quickly or get ripped up as you brush past bushes. The shorts should be able to withstand at least some of the abrasion caused by the occasional crash.

Most shorts are even thicker to act as a layer of protection. Choose your shorts to match the style of riding that you do and how much protection you need.

Pockets

Pockets are the most common feature found on cycling shorts. If you do not ride with a rucksack or hydration pack then it can be useful to have somewhere to store your phone and keys. Some shorts will have a zippered pocket to stop items getting lost. You may also find a larger map pocket useful.

Use

What your ideal pair of shorts look like will depend on what kind of riding you do. If you are going on a long cycling holiday, you will need a different pair of shorts from someone who spends all weekend at the bike park.

For touring you will want some shorts that are just as comfortable off the bike when you are checking out the local tourist attractions. A map and other pockets will also come in handy. Mountain bikers need a bit more protection from their shorts and maybe a longer and wider cut for pads. Downhill and freeriders will need to look for even more protection.

If you ride with a hydration pack then pockets might not be necessary. For anyone that goes on short rides then think about what you might be able to stuff into your pockets. Some shorts have zippered and secure pockets for valuables or specifically shaped pockets for tools and snacks.

Consider the kind of riding you do and think about what features you need from your shorts based on the above considerations. Also think about the season and weather/trail conditions that your shorts will need to put up with.

A lightweight pair of summer shorts probably won’t keep you happy for too long in winter mud and rain. Once you have an idea of what you need, have a look at the suggestions below.

Cycling-shorts

10 Best Cycling Shorts in 2017 - Reviews

We have looked at many different shorts and read hundreds of reviews so you don’t have to! We have sorted out a selection of the best cycling shorts with a variety of riding styles and seasons for you to choose from.

1. Endura Men's Hummvee LITE Cycling Shorts

Endura Hummvee Baggy Short

The USA military uses its Humvees to get anywhere and these shorts are no different!

Packed with handy features, you will be comfortable wearing these shorts on all but the warmest of days. The material is durable ripstop nylon that has a water resistant treatment.

This means that scrapes, scratches and light rain showers pose no problem. Each side has a large map pocket at the rear and a deep pocket at the front. One of the front pockets also has a smaller zippered compartment large enough for a cell phone.

The waist is elasticated at the rear and there is an integrated belt to get the fit perfect. Although not the coolest on warmer days, there is a zippered mesh vent on each leg. Built to last and back you up in the mountains, these shorts come with a liner so everything you need for many hours of riding is included.

Due to their impressive durability, map pockets and casual style, these shorts are a great choice for cycle touring. Mountain bikers will also find them to be very comfortable for rides of all lengths. In the height of summer or when touring in very warm countries you may want to consider a more breathable material.

Pros

  • Water resistant and very durable.
  • Vents and large pockets.

Cons

  • Liner attachment is hard to use.

2. ONeal Grey-White Stormrider MTB Shorts

ONeal Grey-White 2015 Stormrider MTB Shorts

Not a pair of shorts for the feint hearted, the Stormriders are designed for heavy duty abuse.

Protection and (dry weather) comfort for enduro racing and days at the bike park was the focus when O’Neal designed these shorts. The material is thick to protect you when you inevitably hit the ground and the length is perfect to fit over pads.

The thickness of the material also makes these shorts very durable and able to withstand tearing from impacts.

You won’t want to wear these in summer. Microfleece inserts are there to keep you warm on cool days and the thick material is warm anyway. Although the name may suggest it, the Stormriders are not waterproof or even water resistant, so if it rains, you will be getting wet.

Storage is not an issue if you don’t want to take a pack with you. There are six pockets with either a zipper or hook and loop fastener. The pockets are well designed with compartments to hold your phone, tools, snacks and even your lift ticket for the bike park. The waist has adjustment tabs and belt loops.

The Stormrider shorts offer a lot of comfort, protection and durability for hardcore riders.

Pros

  • Very durable.
  • Good protection and warmth.

Cons

  • Not water resistant.

3. Troy Lee Designs Skyline Plaid BMX Bike Shorts

Troy Lee Designs Skyline Plaid Men's BMX Bike Shorts

Great for summer trail riding but maybe not enough pocket security.

The Skyline shorts are made from breathable and stretchy spandex with a long and wide cut to make room for kneepads. An elasticated back panel keeps the fit snug once you have adjusted the hook and loop waist adjustment tabs on the sides.

This back panel works well with the stretchy material to allow you all the movement you need, whether just pedalling along a woodland trail or hitting the big jump line at the bike park.

If you decide that the cut is too long, there is a double hem so you can cut them down a couple of centimeters. When adjusted properly the shorts sit nicely on your waist and there is no extra material around the crotch, preventing any snagging on the saddle when pulling shapes on the trail.

Their lightweight nature makes them unsuitable for wet weather or winter riding as they will neither keep you warm nor dry.

The Skyline shorts feature a deep pocket on each side. This is not zippered or closed in any way so you may want to put your phone and keys in a rucksack. This is just a suggestion though, as no one is yet to report losing anything out of the pockets. The fly has a hook and loop closure rather than a zipper, which some people may not like.

These shorts have a clean and functional design, typical of Troy Lee Designs. They fit well and are comfortable enough for full day missions at trail centers or in the mountains.

A women’s version is also available.

Pros

  • Stretchy, light and comfortable.

Cons

  • Hook and loop fly.

4. Fox Racing Demo DH

Fox Racing Demo DH

Built for the rigours of downhill and gravity riding, these shorts will keep you comfortable and protected.

The cut is designed with an aggressive riding position in mind. Fox call this cut Rider Attack Position). The elasticated waist can be fine-tuned with a ratchet closure and there are no buttons (which are prone to popping open mid run).

The material is stretchy to conform to your body movements as you throw yourself down the trails and is made from a fast drying polyester with stretchy mesh panels to keep air flowing. You won’t be getting too warm in these shorts, no matter how much the trail makes you sweat!

The shorts are thick enough to offer a good amount of protection when you crash. All your tools, phone, keys etc will fit easily into the zippered pockets. The cut is long and wide enough to fit easily over your kneepads.

Built not only to last, but also to protect you while keeping you comfortable for a whole day of summer shuttles or laps at the most hardcore of bike parks. If that is the kind of riding you do, then the Demo DH shorts are perfect.

Pros

  • Designed for aggressive riding.
  • Well ventilated.

Cons

  • None.

5. Pearl Izumi Women’s Canyon Short

Pearl Izumi Women's Canyon Short

Perfect for casual cycling or touring.The Canyon shorts are designed to feel free and be comfortable on and off the bike.

You will be comfortable in these on long tours and they will not look out of place when you go sightseeing or come across a market that needs exploring.

The cut is slim yet loose without being at all baggy. A liner is included so you don’t have to worry about comfort.

The material stretches to allow movement and is breathable. No water resistance is on offer. The waist can be adjusted at the back. Two pockets give you somewhere to store small items.

Pros

  • Casual look and great comfort.

Cons

  • None.

6. ZOIC Men's Ether Cycling Shorts

ZOIC Men's Ether Cycling Shorts

Great value for money, these shorts have useful features at an affordable price. The Duraflex material stretches to allow free movement and is very resistant to abrasions.

The back of the waist is elasticated and the fit can be adjusted with hook and loop fasteners on the sides. Well placed vents help to keep you cool and the water resistance keeps you dry in wet weather.

The cut is comfortably loose without being baggy and you won’t have to worry about snagging on the saddle. The length works well with kneepads.

The two front pockets are open and there is a zipped pocket on the front of each leg as well as a smaller zipped pocket at the rear. One side even has a media pocket complete with headphone loop so you can listen to music while riding.

A liner is included, maximising the value for money.

At the end of the day, these shorts are adaptable and perfect for all kinds of riding. Whether you like long weeks of touring, backcountry freeriding or laps at a trail center, the comfort, fit and durability make these shorts a favorite with all kinds of riders.

Pros

  • Well ventilated and water resistant.
  • Headphone loop.

Cons

  • Inconsistent sizing.

7. Pearl Izumi - Ride Men's Elevate Shorts

Pearl Izumi - Ride Men's Elevate Shorts

A fantastic pair of trail shorts with all the features that you need. The fit is relaxed and the stretchy nylon and spandex complements the hook and loop waist adjusters to give a secure and comfortable fit.

The slightly thick material has an element of water resistance to shrug of splashes from puddles and stream crossings but you will still get wet in a downpour.

The cut is long enough to reach kneepads without being overly long The pockets (one on each side and one on the rear waist) have zippers to keep the contents secure. The back pocket is small but there is enough room for a phone. No liner is included but what you do get is a pair of high quality, comfortable and well designed shorts that will last for a long time.

A women’s version is also available

Pros

  • Not too baggy

Cons

  • Sizing can be large.

8. Gore Bike Wear Men's Fusion Trail Shorts

Gore Bike Wear Men's Fusion Trail Shorts

Pricy but comfortable shorts for any season. These shorts are made from a combination of heavy stretch and lightweight panels placed where they need to be.

This makes the Fusion shorts a perfect combination of light cross country shorts and trail/freeride shorts.

The cut and fit is perfect (loose but not too baggy) and can be adjusted. The adjusters themselves are out of the way so will not snag on jerseys or anything else. The legs are long enough for kneepads.

Vents keep you cool and the side pockets will hold small items securely despite not being zippered. One of the pockets has a sunglasses cloth.

The water resistance will help keep you dry and if you do get wet from rain or a failed river crossing, the Fusion shorts dry out quickly. In hot weather the material is very breathable to keep you cool and move sweat away from your skin.

A good and durable choice for all year trail riding.

Pros

  • Well ventilated and water resistant.
  • Good for using all year round.

Cons

  • None.

9. Royal Racing Storm Shorts

Royal Racing Storm Shorts

If you absolutely have to go riding in the pouring rain but don’t want to get wet, these shorts are for you.

Made from fully waterproof (10,000-mm WP ratiing) and breathable (10,000 MVP rating) polyester, these shorts will keep you dry when the weather turns ugly. Despite the waterproofing, the material is surprisingly thin.

Buckles on the waist help to customise the fit and the cut is designed with kneepads in mind. There is a taped and zippered pocket on each side to keep you valuables dry and secure.

The Storm shorts will keep you dry in the wettest of weather. The only downside is that the baggy legs can flap around at speed. You should also be aware that these shorts are not designed to keep you warm, so if you will be riding in the cold as well as wet, an insulated liner will keep you happy.

Even when the weather is warmer any internal moisture build up clears quickly. If that wasn’t enough, the Storm shorts are very durable and will hold up for at least one winter of mud and dirt being ground into them.

Trail, enduro and gravity riders are the usual target group for Royal, but anyone going on a long tour through a wet country would get some good use from these shorts as well.

Pros

  • Waterproof and breathable.

Cons

  • Legs can flap around.

10. Fox Head Men's Ranger Cargo Prints Shorts

Fox Head Men's Ranger Cargo Prints Shorts

A relaxed pair of shorts for the trails and the post-ride beers. The casual style of these shorts mean that they do not necessarily look like a pair of cycling shorts.

For this reason you will be just as comfortable wearing them in a bar after a ride, or walking around the local sites on a long tour.

That is not to say that they are not suitable for cycling. In fact cycling is the first task that Fox had in mind and the Ranger shorts come with a liner.

The material is breathable and stretchy to keep you comfortable on the trails and never restricts your movement. The cut may be too short for some trail riders but it is long enough to work with kneepads.

The three open pockets do not hold items securely, so it is better not to keep things in them while you are riding. The waist is elasticated and the fit can be adjusted with hidden hook and loop adjusters. Hiding the adjusters in the waistband prevents them from snagging on jerseys and rucksacks and is a great feature.

The Ranger shorts come at a very affordable price and will last a long time. Cycle tourers and casual trail riders will find them perfect. Anyone doing some more serious riding may want a longer cut and something with a bit more protection. If you do choose these, keep your valuables somewhere secure and not in the pockets!

Pros

  • Casual look.

Cons

  • Pockets are loose, too short for kneepads.

11. Altura Black Cadence Baggy MTB Shorts

Altura Black Cadence Baggy MTB Shorts

Affordable choice for road and light offroad use. The AlturaDry™ material moves sweat and moisture away from your skin and a liner is included for extra comfort.

The material is also water resistant to keep you dry in a shower. This also makes the shorts a little bit noisy when in use.

An open pocket on each side will hold a phone and keys securely enough. The fit is snug thanks to an elasticated waistband.

The loose but not baggy fit makes these shorts ideal for road cyclists that do not want to wear tight lycra. Cycle tourers and commuter will also find them a good choice.

Pros

  • Loose shorts for road cycling.

Cons

  • Noisy

12. Tenn Outdoors Loose Fit Cargo

Tenn Outdoors Loose Fit Cargo

Casual styling ideal for commuting and touring. They would not even look out of place in the mountains.

The elasticated fit can be customized with waist adjusters. The stretchy material (95% cotton) allows free movement and the four zippered pockets hold your phone or other valuables securely.

There is no waterproofing and they will not dry too quickly if they get wet. There is towelling in the seat area to prevent sweat building up.

These shorts are casual enough for non-cycling activities so would be perfect on a touring holiday. The feature that stands out the most is the very low price. These shorts offer comfort and practicality at a price that won’t break the bank.

Pros

  • Great price.

Cons

  • Perfect for commuting and touring alike.

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About the Author Matthew R. Duncan

I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle for bike advice. I take it personally when someone I know buys a new bike without consulting me first!

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