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How to Wear Cycling Shorts Properly – Pro-Backed Guide!

Written by James Jordan
Last Update: August 16, 2023

Cycling shorts are not an absolute necessity for occasional bike riders. But good cycling shorts can provide comfort that can prove to be a great investment, mostly when you use your bicycle for long-distance rides.

However, you might feel confused when looking for the right cycling shorts from the varities available on the market. Moreover, you also need to know how to wear cycling shorts properly to get the best performance out of them.

There are regular shorts, shorts with paddings, shorts with shoulder strips, athletic shorts, and many more to choose from. They have paddings inside with cushions to eliminate pain from seating on the hard surface which reduces chafing.

Different Types of Cycling Shorts

Different Types of Cycling Shorts

  • Lycra road cycling shorts

Lycra or spandex is an elastic polyurethane fiber used in cycling shorts. These road cycling shorts are stretchable which fit like a glove. Most bicycle riders use this type of cycling shorts for regular use. These shorts are modeled with waistband and leg grippers so that they stay in place while riders bend and paddle.

  • Bib shorts

Bib shorts are widely preferable among racers because of the superior comfort they provide. These shorts have breathable straps or suspenders that go around the shoulder like a jumpsuit. So they do not have any waistband which might feel suffocating while moving.

There are different designs of Bib shorts that are both available for men and women. You can also go for gender-neutral shorts as well. However, compared to other cycling shorts, bib shorts are on the expensive side. Nonetheless, they prove to be a great investment in terms of quality material, comfort, and style.

  • Mountain biking shorts or baggy shorts

These kinds of shorts are called ATB or MTB or mountain biking shorts. They have two shorts that might be sewed together or comes in a different liner. The inside part has the padded liner and the outside one is rugged-looking loose-fitting short made of lightweight nylon.

Baggy shorts are appropriate for cold weather as they are warmer. However, the nylon material makes it comfortable.

How to Wear Cycling Shorts Properly in 6 Steps

How to Wear Cycling Shorts Properly in 6 Steps

  • Select your type of cycling shorts

Cycling shorts differ in fabric materials, panels, inseam, elastics, fits, and pockets. Each can play a role in selecting the perfect cycling shorts for yourself.

There are 2 types of fabric material favored among the cycle riders; Nylon and Polyester. Shorts made of Nylon are comfortable as it holds the abrasion well and has an overall great fitting. Whereas polyester material shorts are more colorful and soft. Both these materials are knitted with 15% to 20% Lycra (spandex) which makes them stretchable.

Leg lengths are where you can explore most as cycling shorts come in tall, short, and regular lengths. Athletes and people with thick thighs prefer long inseams around 10 to 11 inches.

You can also choose from elastic waistbands or bib shorts. There are also cycling shorts that have pockets in them.

  • Find the right size

Finding the right size according to your body structure might vary from brand to brand. You can try different companies’ shorts to see the fit and materials.

Through your trial period, you will find that each product has something different to offer.

Try the seating cycling position to see how the material and liners fit around your body. They should not irritate you or make you feel uncomfortable. Rather they should feel like a second skin to your body.

Average cycling shorts are 6-8 inches in leg length. There are ‘hot pants’ that lengths from 3 to 5 inches. If you are cross-training, spinning, or participating in triathlons, then you can try the hot pants.

  • Use leg grippers

Use leg grippers or leg bands that grips your shorts from riding up to your thighs. While cycling, legs, and muscles move in a motion that tugs your shorts upwards. Thus the cloths bunch in the chamois pad.

This can lead to chafing, uneasiness, or cause a hamper in your race. Leg grippers are specially used to avoid those situations. They keep the shorts and chamois in place.

  • Do not wear underwear

Cycling shorts have built-in chamois with the purpose to prevent friction by smoothing out the surface. The synthetic fibers in the chamois keep them dry and keep bacteria away. But when you wear underwear under cycling shorts, it messes up the mechanism of the chamois.

Moreover, wearing underwear creates more heat inside your shorts. Thus making the area more sweaty and forms saddle sores by chafing.

  • Use anti-chafing balm or lotion

You can use anti-chafing balm or lotion to eradicate friction and reduce chafing. Though new generation chamois are made to provide moisture and reduce dryness. Adding anti-chafing balm, lotion or moisturizer adds an extra layer of moist to prevent any dryness.

  • Position the straps under your jersey

If you are comfortable wearing bib shorts but you do not like the look of them, you can cover the straps with your jersey. You can also wear a top to cover the straps.


1. Do I need to wash your bike shorts after every ride?

Ans. Yes. You should wash your bike shorts after every long ride. Sweat and dirt can built-up bacteria inside your padding. Further, this can lead to serious health issues.

If you are taking short trips on your bike, then you might want to wash the shorts after 2 to 3 days of use.

2. Do cycling shorts make any difference?

Ans. Some might argue that cycling shorts do not make any difference. It might be true for those who ride bicycles occasionally. However, if you are a professional racer or training for long-distance riding, then cycling shorts can make a great difference in your overall performance. They provide comfort and help to avoid saddle sores by chafing which ultimately leading to a better experience.

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.

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