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How to Buy Bicycle Shorts Online: "The Bottom" Line for Buying The Right Bike Shorts

Updated on June 27, 2011

Buy Bicycle Shorts Online - Protecting Your Bottom End

A wise man once told me, “You can buy cheap jerseys, cheap socks, and even cheap gloves but NEVER buy cheap bicycle shorts.”

Like any other type of bicycling clothing, bicycle shorts have a specific function and play a very important role in rider comfort especially if you’re riding for extended periods of time or racing. There are several different styles to choose from and each has their own advantages and functions. Below are the basic functions most padded bike shorts styles should offer the rider:

  • increase aerodynamic efficiency by reducing wind resistance;
  • protect the skin against the repetitive friction of the legs against the bicycle saddle (seat);
  • provide support to the male anatomy
  • draw sweat away from the skin to prevent chafing and rashes,
  • cool the rider down through the process of moistue evaporation;
  • help combat muscular fatigue by compressing the leg muscles
  • reduce the weight of a riders clothing

Bicycling shorts are often made of Lycra (commonly known as spandex) with a synthetic chamois lining. The chamois linings are made from a variety of shapes and styles to suit the needs (butts) of different riders. For example, the patterns used for the chamois on women's bike shorts tend to be quite different from those used for men's bike shorts.

Descente Cycling Shorts
Descente Cycling Shorts
Descente Leg Band
Descente Leg Band

Bike Cycling Shorts – Overall Construction and Fit

Most quality bike cycling shorts are cut low-rise; shorter in the front, and high in the back. The higher length in the back is to prevent skin exposure while in a typical bent-over riding position. Likewise they are lower in the front to allow the rider to bend forward without constriction.

  • The best are made from a breatheable, wicking material that will help draw moisture away from the body.
  • May include a combination of polyester, spandex or other synthetic materials
  • Avoid cotton. Cotton aborbs moisute and can cause chaffing and rashes.
  • Look for leg grippers. Nothing is more frustrating than shorts that ride up and bunch in your crotch. Leg grippers help the shorts stay down on your thighs rather than riding up. They are usually made of a sticky rubber material.
  • Look for the number of panels. The more panels a pair of shorts has the better they fit and contour to your body. The magic number of panels seems to be at least 8. Everyone has a different body shape, thus some styles, no matter how contoured, still won't provide a great fit. Try on as many pairs as you need to until you find the one that fits best.
  • Quality bike cycling shorts are constructed using flat panel stitching in the seams. This technique prevents abrasion that can cause chaffing and other discomforts.
  • The waistband should be wide enough that it fits comfortably and snug yet not constricting
  • Never try on a pair of shorts while standing straight up, bend over like you are riding and see how they fit.

Bicycling Shorts-The Chamois

A chamois’s function is to provide coverage for the inside seams of the shorts and to provide a breathable pad to ease the interface between your crotch and the saddle.

Important Buying Tip!

Do not try to solve bike set up or saddle problems with a pair of shorts or chamois insert. Always have your bike professionally fitted to your body and riding style. The chamois as a pad cannot make up for a saddle that isn't set up and fitted properly.

  • No two butts are the same! That being said, everyone has a style that they like better. Try out a few pairs and see which one that you like better
  • Most riders who prefer longer rides (35+ miles) might like a chamois with less or thinner padding. Thinner chamois tends to shift less and wick moister better.
  • For shorter rides (35 miles or less) a gel-padded chamois is prefer for most riders. This type of chamois offers a more comfortable fit but lacks protection from shifting and moisture wicking properties due in large part because the “gel’s” are often in plastic compartments that can block moisture and cause excessive dampness and skin irritation.
  • Shy away from a thick padded chamois that can bunch up and cause chaffing.
  • The chamois should be micro-bacterially treated to prevent germ and fungus growth. Nothing will ruin a good day like a germy backside.
  • The chamois should provide you with some level of shock-absorption and moisture wicking properties
  • The chamois should fit the shorts. One size chamois DOES NOT fit all size shorts

Women's Louis Garneau Shorts
Women's Louis Garneau Shorts
Men's Louis Garneau Shorts
Men's Louis Garneau Shorts

Bicycling shorts-Men’s versues Women’s

Bike shorts are not unisex. Men’s and women’s bicycling shorts are designed differently to fit each body type. Women’s bicycling shorts are typically cut higher in the waist and are wider through the hips. The legs of women’s cycling shorts are also typically cut shorter than men’s.

Bike Cycling Shorts- Price Equals Quality

When shopping for bicycling shorts, you should choose them based on the quality of the materials and construction. Also important is how they conform to your unique body type. Sometimes a cheap pair of shorts may work better that a high priced one. With that being said, there is a general correlation between price and quality.

Generally speaking, the more expensive the shorts, the higher their quality. Higher priced bike shorts will be made from better materials, better constructed and last longer. Cheap bicycle shorts are often made of poor quality materials and their construction is substandard. Their chamois may not be large enough, soft enough or sewn without irritating seams. Cheap shorts just aren't as durable. in the long run they really aren't a bargain. You should always compare the cost and the expected longevity of the shorts. Remember that a pair of bicycling shorts that costs $150 over five years has the same value than a cheap pair costing $30 that only last one year.

Buy Moderately Priced Bicycling Shorts On Amazon

Buy Economical Bicycling Shorts on Amazon

Buy The BEST Bicycling Shorts on Amazon

Descente Men's Strata Endurance Short,Black/Black,Medium
Descente Men's Strata Endurance Short,Black/Black,Medium

***Although not as tough as the LG these are my second choice***

Highly Recommend!


Bicycling Shorts- Special Care Instructions

Whether you have a high quality or cheap pair of bicycling shorts neither will provide you their benefits if they’re not properly care for. Cycling shorts work best when they can breathe and the chamois can “fluff”. To ensure top performance, wash them regularly. Wash them using a minimalist detergent with no fragrances, bleaches, softeners or any other additives to remove the sweat and road grime out. Baby detergents are very mild with no additives. Several sport washes are available that have been tested to leave no residue. These types of products minimize retaining anything that might irritate your skin over time. Just sitting on that small space is hard enough without saddle sores or skin irritations.


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    • prodriver08 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Houston, TX

      That's right! Many people who are just starting out in the sport overlook the need for a good pair of quality bike shorts. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like the idea of not going cheap on biking shorts. For me, they are the most important piece of biking gear. The place that takes the greatest wear should be of the best quality. Spend more upfront, less regret on the backside (pardon the pun).


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