For optimal cycling wear on your bike, you’re going to need a pair of cycling trousers or shorts. Cycling shorts are a crucial piece of clothing for a rider. Similar to a good saddle, a well-designed pair of bike shorts can mean the difference between whether your ride will be a pleasure trip or torture. If you’re often sitting in your saddle for hours on end, you’ll definitely appreciate the comfort enhancing and multi-functional performance of padded cycling shorts or bibshorts. The sewn-in cushion pads or chamois pads provide much-needed relief from hours of potential pain and chafing. A wide range of lightweight performance materials – including breathable mesh, nylon, Lycra and Eyelet fabric – have already proven their worth in the sportswear industry and are very popular choices for bike trousers and shorts. Cycling pants should be:
These characteristics are mainly achieved by using breathable, skin-friendly and hygienic anti-microbial foam or chamois pads. These should have as few seams as possible (meaning fewer friction points) and provide excellent road vibration damping and cushioning abilities. Their job is to reduce friction and pressure that might otherwise ruin your ride.
Bike shorts are available in two types: form fitting and looser fitting shorts.
Form-fitting bike shorts
Form-fitting bike shorts offer the best aerodynamics. Your bicycle shorts should fit snugly to your legs, whilst still remaining comfortable and allowing you freedom of movement. With this style of bike pant, patented microfiber materials have direct contact with your skin, enabling them to provide the best possible moisture-wicking abilities. This type of cycling short (or trouser) comes available in many different lengths for all kinds of weather conditions. They also come with or without ‘bibs’. Bibshorts feature mesh suspender straps which keep your shorts up and prevent them from flashing flesh or shifting around whilst riding. Bib-less bike shorts – as you’d expect – don’t have these braces.
Baggy bike shorts
For those who’d like to avoid tight-fitting cycling shorts, but still appreciate the advantages of the more classic padded riding shorts or pants, there are so-called ‘baggy’ bike shorts. These looser-cut bike pants offer the look of casual shorts, but come equipped with integrated undershorts and padding. Baggies offer a similar wear comfort to form-fitting shorts, but the style is 'cooler' and more casual looking.
As a general rule of thumb, road riders usually choose the tighter-fitting bib or bib-less shorts – as riding in baggy shorts at high speeds in an aero position or ‘on the drops’ will most likely result in annoying flapping and an exposed lower back.
On the other hand, MTBers usually tend to prefer the ‘baggy’ style short. These are more comfortable and practical for this type of riding. They also come in more durable and hard-wearing fabrics which are better at taking knocks and falls on the trails.