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How to choose Mountain bike shorts and Cycling shorts?
Bike shorts are probably the most important piece of clothing for cyclists. What is there to consider when buying?
They're just bike shorts, so it can't be that complicated... Or is it? When it comes to bike shorts, there are sometimes big differences. They come in many different styles and for different uses. In our bike shorts guide, we discuss the most important features and also clear up a few rumors, so you can find the perfect bike shorts.
1. What are bike shorts?
Whether you're riding a road bike, gravel bike, or mountain bike, you'll get more out of it with the right shorts. Bike shorts differ from regular shorts primarily in their cut and choice of materials. They are optimized for comfort and performance in the saddle.
To do this, they must be elastic enough for you to move well while cycling and at the same time fit tightly enough not to slip.
2. What are the different types of bike shorts?
Mountain bike shorts fit looser and are made of sturdier materials to withstand the rigors of off-road use - such as a fall or contact with foreign objects. Many models are designed to be worn with a special pair of cycling underpants with a seat pad. Such inner shorts are comparable to padded road cycling shorts but are usually made of lighter textiles so that they do not get too warm.
Road cycling shorts are usually made of skin-tight Lycra. They feature a seat pad to stay comfortable in the saddle even on the long haul and should be as breathable as possible - more on that later.
3. Mountain bike shorts
Mountain bike use places very different demands on a pair of shorts. So that you can shift your weight quickly, MTB shorts are cut much looser than road cycling shorts, and wider-cut shorts are especially common among trail and enduro enthusiasts.
Mountain bike shorts also differ greatly from road cycling shorts in terms of features. The following features are common:
- Pockets with zipper
- Adjustable waistband
- Belt loops
- Integrated inner pants with seat pad
Since aerodynamics play a subordinate role on the MTB, mountain bike shorts are cut relatively loose. On the other hand, they are made of more robust materials to withstand the rigors of off-road use better. It can happen quickly that you lose your grip - and your mountain bike shorts will forgive you faster than a pair of road bike shorts made of stretch material.
3.2 Do I need underwear with padding?
Most cyclists prefer to ride with seat padding than without. If your loose-fitting MTB shorts don't have an inner short with padding, you can wear them over a separate pair of underwear with padding or a bibshort.
As mentioned, this should be worn without normal underwear. An underpants between the skin and seat pad eliminates the benefits of the pad and can also lead to skin redness and chafing.
3.3 Size and fit
First, every pair of mountain bike shorts should fit perfectly, regardless of the application area. Since the ambitious cyclist also has to stay on the bike for several hours or perhaps even wants to master tours lasting several days, nothing should pinch or pinch here. The pants must fit like a second skin - even in exceptional situations and on difficult passages. Flat seams that do not cut into the skin unpleasantly support the wearing comfort.
3.4 Zipper pockets
As you see, the mountain bike shorts on the market are all with pockets.
This is because most cyclists prefer not to carry a backpack or fanny pack, and pockets then become the best containers, especially those with zippers.
When you're having a great day on the trails, you don't want to think about whether your belongings are still in your pockets, right?
3.5 Elastic waist
This is a great design that expands the waist of the shorts to fit your waistband. You can enjoy mountain biking better.
4. Road cycling shorts
- Lightweight, elastic material such as Lycra or nylon.
- Comfortable and anatomical seat cushion
- Well-fitting straps or non-slip waistband for good support
- Grip leg cuffs
Road cycling shorts are made of particularly elastic material (usually a blend of nylon and spandex) to accommodate the dynamic movement on a road bike. Their close fit not only provides good moisture wicking and comfort; it is also more aerodynamic than baggy shorts.
4.2 What's the deal with the seat pad?
The seat pad is the heart of a good pair of cycling shorts, and the workmanship is crucial. Modern seat pads are specially adapted to the female or male anatomy and different sitting positions. A good seat pad prevents sensitive body parts from chafing, and many cyclists wouldn't ride further than the bakery without a pair of suitable shorts with a good seat pad. Many modern seat pads have an antibacterial treatment to prevent inflammation.
4.3 Bibshorts or strapless?
Many cycling shorts have elastic straps that pull over the shoulders. These shorts are also called bib shorts or bibshorts, and they are especially popular with road cyclists, gravel fans and cross-country.
4.4 Leg cuff
At the leg end, many cycling shorts have special cuffs and anti-slip strips to prevent them from sliding up your legs while riding.
Depending on the manufacturer and model, these areas vary in width, which is ultimately a matter of personal taste.
4.5 Are there also cycling shorts with pockets?
For some years now, there have been more and more bib shorts with small pockets. These models are particularly popular with touring cyclists, as they offer additional space for provisions, spare parts, etc. The pockets are placed relatively low on the thigh and are usually made of mesh material to keep weight and friction as low as possible.
4.6 Do you wear underwear under your cycling shorts?
No! The seat pad should lie directly on your skin, and extra fabric can create wrinkles that lead to extremely uncomfortable pressure points.
4.7 Size and fit
Many manufacturers offer different fits, from performance-oriented racing cuts to more relaxed casual or long-distance models. Bibshorts for racing are particularly lightweight and aerodynamic; some models even help with special surface structures. There are also cycling shorts with compression to support blood circulation. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated the cycling shorts, the more they cost. For most purposes, a pair of shorts from the mid-price segment is quite sufficient.
The size specifications at different manufacturers are different. Some pants fall out very small, you should reach for the next smaller size with others. Here it is worth comparing the bike shorts; in any case a look at our size chart.
Ready to go?
With our buying guide, you know what to look for when buying your next pair of cycling shorts to find the perfect solution for your riding style. Maybe you'll find what you're looking for in our clothing store!