Cycling Shorts – Cycling shorts differ from street clothing by the added stretch for freedom of movement and a padded crotch liner that reduces friction and wicks moisture. If possible, try several on to determine what style best fits your anatomy and your typical seat position while riding. Note that all of the cycling shorts padding in the world will not make up for an uncomfortable or poorly adjusted bike seat.
Cycling shorts for road-bike use features:
Panel construction: It use to be that a greater number of panels correlated to a more comfortable fit. While generally true, fabric technology has recently progressed to the point that the number of panels doesn’t necessarily mean “better” for everyone.
Padded liner: A smooth, soft pad of synthetic “chamois” that minimizes friction, wicks moisture, prevents bacterial growth and helps cushion bumps. It’s the most complex part of cycling shorts. You will find a multitude of shapes, thicknesses and materials among brands and genders. Multi-density, open-cell foam liners deliver high-end performance and comfort for long rides. Gel/open-cell foam liners offer greater recreational or mountain-bike cushioning but tend to be less breathable on long, hot rides. Closed-cell foam liners offer good performance at a lower cost.
Legs: Longer-cut legs and leg grippers prevent saddle chafing and keep shorts in place.
Waist style: Most road shorts feature stretchy but non-adjustable spandex. A yoga-style cut offers less-restrictive comfort and is available in some women’s shorts.
Other styles of cycling shorts include:
Mountain bike shorts: These cycling shorts are sometimes called “baggies” and they have a loose outer short in addition to the spandex chamois liner. The waist is fastened by a button or hook-and-look patch for loose-fitting comfort. Pockets are also common. Choose these cycling shorts by their features and quality of construction, but also make sure the cut of the outer shorts feels comfortable and allows for full leg rotation and flexibility.
Bib shorts: These cycling shorts are popular with cycling enthusiasts but a comfortable option for any rider, these don’t have an elastic waistband that can restrict breathing. Worn with a jersey, they look like any other bike shorts.
Skorts: For women, some brands make cycling skorts, where the spandex short is covered by a skirt. Skorts can be worn on the road, mountain or even around town as substitute cycling shorts.