Gearbikesreview is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


Best Padded Shorts for Cycling: 3D vs 4D Padded Shorts!

3d vs 4d padded cycling shorts
Written by James Jordan
Last Update: August 16, 2023

Riding a bike require some specific continuous movements in your lower body (like paddling). Those who are new in cycling quickly realize that the paddling motion can cause friction between your skin and your pant, creating irritation or discomfort (chafing).

If you’re feeling puzzled about choosing a pair of cycling shorts with the right thickness, this article is for you. Join us as we explore two of the most widely used padding types; 3D padding, and 4D padding.

Hopefully, this article will help you make a better-informed decision. Let’s get started.

3D Padded Shorts

3D Padded Shorts

If you ride for a long time, your groin area will become more vulnerable. It may eventually develop various skin issues. That’s why padded shorts have become an essential equipment of cycling. The “D” refers to the thickness of the short, which can range from 1 to 5.

1D cycling shorts are the thinnest and 5D are the thickest. 3D padded shorts have 3 layers of foam cushioning inside the padded area. As you know that the padding is places strategically to reduce pressure and friction in your private area, thicker 4D shorts provide better protection.

4D Padded Shorts

4D Padded Shorts

4D cycling shorts have a thicker padded cushioning than 3D padded shorts. As a result, they also weigh a little more. They are used to reduce chafing or sliding in your sensitive areas significantly. The additional weight might make many people uncomfortable. That’s why it’s crucial to buy cycling shorts that fits your preference.

When you sit on your saddle, most of your weight gets distributed across your nether regions. 4D pads are equipped with chamois cloths sewn strategically into different places so that the energy your body received from shocks and bumps gets minimized and your weight gets distributed evenly across the shorts, reducing the risk of chafing.

3D vs 4D Padded Cycling Shorts: What’s the Difference

The only differences 3D and 4D cycling shorts share is in the thickness of the padding and the feel. As the 3D shorts are thinner, you’ll feel more comfortable wearing them beneath your regular cycling attire. However, that won’t provide better protection against chafing.

On the other hand, The 4D cycling shorts are equipped with a little bulkier pads. It might not be as comfortable as the 3D shorts, but will provide better protection against friction and pressure in your nether region.

Additionally, 3D padded shorts are a bit tighter than the 4D shorts. As a result, many people may feel uncomfortable getting used to them. But once they do, they’ll probably start searching for excuses to wear one.

Which one to choose

That greatly depends on your riding style, your preference, and the type of terrain you’re cycling on. If you’re looking for comfortable shorts and ride your cycle over flat terrains most of the time, a pair of 3D padded shorts will do just fine for you.

However, if you are looking for extra protection riding over a bumpy/rough terrain and are okay with a little less comfort, a pair of breathable 4D cycling shorts will be more effective for you.


Q. How tight should cycling shorts be?

Ans: Just a little tighter than snug fit. Cycling shorts should feel tight the first time you put them on, but not so tight that they constrict blood circulation. As you wear them and move around, they can be expected to stretch slightly.

Q. Do you wear undies with bike shorts?

Ans: No. Bike shorts aren’t designed to wear with undies. If you wear bike shorts with undies, that defeats the whole purpose. Also, it can become hard for air to reach your nether region, making you feel more uncomfortable.

Q. What is the best material for bike shorts?

Ans: if your goal is to maximize durability and protection, Nylon spandex is the best material of choice. Most cycling shorts use this material as base because it is sturdy and has a great stretch.

Q. 3D vs 4D padded cycling shorts: which one is better?

Ans: 3D cycling shorts are better for flat terrains whereas 4D shorts work better in bumpy areas.

It also depends on personal preference. 3D shorts provide more comfort and 4D shorts offer better protection.

About the author

James Jordan

As a kid I inherited the love for mountain bikes from my father who used to ride for weeks through the Colorado trail in the city of Denver. He had his gang, and I followed pretty much the same track.

Later on, my interest in biking grew more after joining the Enduro race back in 2013. My buddies and I also participated in the Downhill racing for the third consecutive year, and it’s been an amazing experience.

Leave a Comment