Cycling shorts are the number one piece of kit in any rider’s wardrobe – a good pair of padded cycling shorts can ensure you’re able to put the time in on the bike, a bad pair can lead to a lot of discomfort, taking the joy out of your ride.
The best cycling shorts include a quality chamois (the pad), quick-drying and high wicking material, a stretchy fabric so that there’s no flapping about and a comfortable fit.
Shorts for cycling can cost anywhere between £20 and £300+. Generally speaking, expect to pay more for the best cycling shorts as these usually results in a more flattering fit and high tech pad, reducing the risk of saddle sores, and sometimes handy add ons like radio pockets and compressive or aero fabric.
Cycling shorts come in two distinct forms: bib shorts and waist shorts. There’s more detail on this below – but for most riders the ideal cycling shorts are the bib option, as more often than not these provide greater comfort preventing waistband compression round your middle and prevent any jersey to shorts gaps appearing when on your bike.
If you opt for waist shorts, you’ll want a pair with a high and wideband to prevent tummy discomfort. But these can be the perfect cycling shorts for popping under casualwear for a more pleasant saddle experience when hopping on a comfort bike for a gentle spin
There are many, many pairs of shorts out there and there’s a lot of good options. We’ve had the opportunity to test many pairs of cycling shorts and we can’t include every good option in this list (you’d fall asleep) – so we’ve cherry-picked our favourite cycling shorts for you here.
If you’re in the market for a whole new outfit, check out the best men’s cycling jerseys buying guide for help on selecting the right summer top for you.
Best cycling shorts
While much of the buying guide will ring true for both men and women, the shorts we’ve included on this page have been tested by men, although there are often female versions of the same shorts, we can’t vouch for their comfort. We’ve a dedicated a page which just includes the best women’s cycling shorts detailing exactly what to look for and hand pick our favourite pairs.
If your specifically looking for more affordable riding attire? Check out our round up of the best cheap cycling clothing to help you on your bike for less.
With each product is a ‘See more’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Attaquer All Day bib shorts
Review score: 9/10
Best for: Long days in the saddle
Price as reviewed: £189.95
These race fit pair of bib shorts from the Sidney, Australia, brand manage to balance a truly all day chamois pad with a lightweight pair of shorts.
The six panel velvet soft shorts providing enough compression to keep your muscles happy and supported, while the the mesh straps are stretchy in all directions to prevent any pinching or chafing on the rest of the body.
Available in sizes XS to XXL and male and female fits in both black and navy colours. It’s a considered choice, but delivers performance you’d expect to see in much pricier pair of the best cycling shorts.
Read more: Attaquer All Day bib shorts review
See more: Attaquer All Day bib shorts at Attaquer
Velocio Concept bib shorts
Review score: 9/10
Best for: All-out comfort
Price as reviewed: £249.00
Velocio’s aim with the Concept bib shorts was make bibs that a pro rider would wear if they weren’t contractually obligated to pull on shorts from their team sponsor.
After clocking up the miles in them, our tester confidently confirmed that the New England-based company not just met its objective, but surpassed it, finding quite simply the most comfortable bib cycling shorts he’s ever ridden.
The sizes range from XS to XXXL, and male and female fits in both black and navy colours. The only down side the price you have to pay for such a superb pair of cycling shorts.
Read more: Velocio Concept bib shorts review
Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts
Review score: 10/10
Best for: Every day riding
Price as reviewed: £110
Having spent a fair amount of time in the Rapha Core Cargo bib shorts the practicalities have shined through and they’ve become one of Cycling Weekly’s go-to pairs for all types of riding.
Coming with four pockets, two on the legs and two on the back, there’s easily room for a plus-sized phone inside a riding case, wallet, keys or a pump between them, without any sagging issues.
Built around the brilliant Rapha Core bib short, the Core Cargo adds versatility to an already comfortable package.
There’s sizes XS to XXL to choose from, and as it’s Rapha, rest assure that there’s a female option too, but both come in black only.
Read more: Rapha Core Cargo bib short full review
Assos Cento Evo Bib Shorts
Review score: 9/10
Best for: High-end chamois features
Price as reviewed: £225
Cento is Assos’ premium comfort label and is designed for those long days out in the saddle. The shorts certainly lived up to the specified brief, they were quick wicking and left no feeling of clamminess, while the chamois pad dispatched multiple back to back 100km plus rides without causing any issues.From strap to leg gripper, the Centro are one of the best cycling shorts on the market. Compression is spot on, and the S7 Evo chamois is probably the best we’ve tested, balancing all day comfort with suppleness of a much thinner pad, staying put in or out of the saddle.
Sizes XS to XL are available, and a practical black only colour.
Read more: Assos Cento cycling shorts review
Assos Equipe RS Bib Shorts S9
Review score: 8/10
Best for: Minimal seams
Price as reviewed: £175
The Assos Equipe RS bib shorts S9 have paid special attention to the construction of the shorts, aiming to keep the pad stable and in one place.
The two panel construction has enabled the Swiss brand to keep seams to a minimum, but it’s so called ergoBox structure keeps the shorts body contouring making these one of the best cycling short options for minimising friction rubs.
Taking design cues from race car roll boxes, the internal anti-sway bar on the bid straps helps secure the shorts in place, although our tester did find the legs did roll up at times.
There are excitingly four colours to choose from in sizes XS to XXL
Read more: Assos Equipe RS bib short S9 review
Endura Pro SL
Review score: 10/10
Best for: Performance on a budget
Price as reviewed: £119.99
Endura’s newly revamped Pro SL short achieved top marks, with our tester concluding that ‘Endura has really put in the homework when re-vamping the Pro Sl short. The fit, aesthetics and comfort really are second to none right now.’
We found these impressive cycling shorts for the money, in fact we loved them so much we gave them a Cycling Weekly Editor’s Choice award.
Available in sizes XS to XXL with two leg length options and three pad sizes, but just black only.
Read more: Endura Pro SL bib short review
Gore C7 Long Distance bib shorts
Review score: 9/10
Best for: Going the distance
Price as reviewed: £179.99
As the title suggests, these bib shorts are made for long days out in the saddle.
Being part of the ‘C7’ range, they also boast ‘Central Core Architecture’ – which means that the shorts are shaped around the all important chamois, rather than having it slotted in.
This means the Cytech pad stays put and offers plenty of comfort, and we liked the lack of hem on the leg grippers too. The fabric is light and breathes well, these only lost marks for being quite short, and on the pricey end.
There are both male and female fits available om sizes XS to XL in colours black or blue.
Read more: GORE C7 Long Distance Bibshorts full review
Assos T Equipe EVO bib shorts
Review score: 10/10
Best for: Swiss quality on a budget
Price as reviewed: £150.00
We appreciate this guide is starting to read like a Best of Assos album, but it’s a testament to the Swiss brand’s exceptional cycling short range.
The Assos T Equipe EVO bib shorts had to make the best cycling short list, as were a clear choice for one of the Cycling Weekly Editor’s Choice Awards.
Featuring the now superseded Assos’s Equipe_S7 pad, which boasts its ‘goldenGate’, it’s still delivers impress comfort as the chamois is stitched just at the front and back to allow a degree of float.
Now they’ve been on the market for a while, you can pick up this race cut pair of cycling shorts for much less than the newer top end Assos ranges (see above) making these a great purchase for anyone wanting Assos comfort and quality for less.
Available in black only in multiple sizes, but be quick as once they’ve gone they’ve gone.
Read more: Assos T Equipe EVO bib shorts full review
Rapha Core bib shorts
Review score: 9/10
Best for: Out and out comfort
Price as reviewed: £85.00
We’ve said it before (above) and we’ll say it again, the Rapha Core shorts are one of Cycling Weekly’s favourite cycling shorts built around its Classic chamois, used across the whole Rapha Classic range. It doesn’t have the technical build of some of the pads in it higher range shorts, but the simple design is extremely comfortable.
Compared to the Rapha Pro shorts, which run quite tight, the Core shorts have a secure fit that wasn’t too tight, while remaining secure, but you may want to consider sizing down in the Core shorts compared to the Pro versions.
A perfect pair of shorts for every occasion that won’t cost your right kidney and firstborn child.
Read more: Rapha Core bib shorts full review
Cuore Pioneer cargo bib shorts
Review score: 8/10
Best for: Cargo capacity
Price as reviewed: £185.00
The Pioneer bibs are an amalgamation of a few of the Swiss brand’s other models, tying together the best bits from each to create a pair of the best cargo cycling shorts we’ve seen.
Placed on the legs and back, the well supported and secure pockets are huge, you’d struggle to fill to capacity.
The chamios pad was comfortable for many hours on the bike, but did pinch slightly at the hike-a-bike stage up steep inclines.
Available in sizes XS to XXL and male and female fits. There’s either black or green camo in off the shelf colours, or a fully customised team kit option.
Read more: Cuore Pioneer cargo bib shorts review
See more: Cuore Pioneer cargo bib shorts at Cuore
Rapha Pro Team Training
Review score: 9/10
Best for: Pro performance in a cheaper package
Price as reviewed: £140.00
The recently released Rapha Pro Team Training bib short is essentially a re-imagining of Rapha’s original and well-received Pro Team short. Now that the Pro Team II has been released, this ‘Training’ model boasts trickle-down technology from the flagship original.
Narrowly being beaten into second in the most recent grouptest the short was found to be ‘reassuringly compressive and fitted with a very comfortable chamois pad; the Rapha Pro Team Training bib short is a great companion for longer rides.’
Like all Rapha, you can be assured there’s male and female fit options in sizes XS to XXL. There’s even two colour options of black or black and white to choose from.
Read more: Rapha Pro Team Training bib short review
Turbo-Specific Cycling Shorts
With the huge rise in the number of riders heading inside, some brands have dedicated ranges, and we’ve even selected our best indoor cycling clothing kit for indoor sessions in a separate buyers guide.
These generally come with a slightly more voluptuous chamois, to counter spending more time in the saddle, have significant breathability and sweat-wicking properties.
Although there’s still an ongoing debate as to do you need indoor cycling specific clothing many riders are seeing the value of these targeted cycling shorts.
If you’re debating the best home training option for you, then our guides on the best exercise bikes or best turbo trainers will answer all your questions, as well as recommend the ideal indoor riding equipment for you.
Madison Turbo bib shorts
Stripped of all unnecessary features, Madison says the Turbo bib shorts are fast wicking and contain anti-bacterial properties, and can be washed at 60 degrees to help reduce sweat odors. Open mesh straps and leg panels provide breathability and a specifically designed TMF chamois should provide the comfort.
Read more: Madison Turbo Indoor Training Shorts review
Rapha Core Shorts
The Core shorts use the same collection-specific materials and technology as the best-selling Core bib shorts, but without the shoulder straps to help reduce the build-up of heat that occurs when riding indoors.
Le Col X Wahoo Indoor Training bib shorts
Review score: 10/10
Le Col say compared with regular bib shorts, the indoor training optimized bibs offer increased temperature regulation throughout their construction and a pad that offers extra protection in the areas that you most need it when in an indoor training environment.
Our testing found these high quality shorts achieved this and made indoor training a more attractive proposition for our tester.
Why wear padded cycling shorts?
The number one job for a pair cycling shorts is protecting the rider from saddle sores and chafing by providing a layer of padding which is shaped to suit the riding position.
Cycling shorts are also constructed from high-wicking, quick-drying fabrics that encourage sweat to leave the surface of the skin thus keeping the rider dry and stank-free on hot days and helping to reduce the discomfort associated with riding in the rain.
How much should I spend on cycling shorts?
You can pick up a pair of cheap cycling shorts from as little as £25.
These will meet basic needs, coming with a chamois pad and will be constructed from lycra, which won’t flap in the wind, and shouldn’t bunch up when riding. These will be a marked improvement over jeans or non-padded sports shorts, but the difference between super cheap and a branded pair is like night and day.
The middle ground for a pair of quality cycling shorts is around $100 – $150/ £70 to £100 and for that you can expect to buy a high quality pair of bib shorts that will provide several seasons of cycling in comfort.
Spending more, around the $200/ £150 price point will provide you with more durable fabrics and extras such as compressive materials, more flattering fits thanks to the use of multiple panels and carefully constructed leg grippers. The chamois will often offer more breathability and multi density padding that provides more targeted comfort.
Cycling Shorts vs Cycling bib shorts
At Cycling Weekly, we test predominantly bib shorts, as in the main we find this style to offer the best cycling shorts for comfort, fit and performance. These have bib straps attached to the main body of the shorts.
The bib straps mean there’s no need for a tougher piece of fabric at the waist to hold them up, eliminating any digging in at the stomach. It’s also impossible for them to fall down – so there’s no need to worry about plumbers crack or an unfortunate sunburn. Finally, the straps mean that the material stays put, and the chamois can’t move around.
Shorts or waist shorts are, however, still popular. There is a simplicity in just pulling on a pair of shorts – and pulling them down for nature breaks.
Waist shorts are also generally cheaper, and often a good ‘first cycling short’ option for those new to the sport, who aren’t totally onboard with padded shorts — yet.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to know that you are not meant to wear underwear with padded cycling shorts. The chamois is designed to sit against your skin.
How to dress for hot conditions
The best cycling short materials
The choice of materials for designers is huge, from thicker, fleece-backed leg material used on thermal bib shorts for chilly spring conditions to well-ventilated back panels to combat the summer heat.
It’s a good idea to have a selection of bib shorts in your collection, with varying options depending upon weather conditions.
More expensive bib shorts will use fabrics which aid blood circulation through compression. Those aiming for the aero edge may also feature technologies said to slice through the wind faster than skin.
Cycling short fit
Cycling shorts should be constructed from multiple panels of fabric. In general the more panels used, the better the fit, although the more advanced cycling shorts will use more technical fabrics which are capable of delivering a second skin fit from less panels.
You need to ensure the shoulder straps are comfortable. Some come up short, feeling a little restrictive, even for a rider of average height. Wherever possible, try on bib shorts (over underwear) and — as silly as you may feel in the dressing room — adopt a riding position to get a clear idea of how they’d really feel on the bike.
Styles vary as well – some riders like cycling shorts that reach almost to their knees, whilst others prefer them to finish mid-thigh.
Cycling short chamois
The other details are important to consider, but the chamois is the absolute key bib short component. Get it right and your shorts will offer years of comfortable miles. Get it wrong and the pad can be like a mid-evil torcher device.
The best cycling short chamois pads are shaped to suit different sorts of riding — often the product description will give you an insight into the pad sewn into a pair you’re looking at.
Endurance focused chamois pads will be thicker to cater for longer hours in the saddle and will usually have denser foam at the rear to cater for an upright position.
A chamois that’s designed for short, hard, race efforts will often have more padding at the front as riders on the rivet will usually rotate more to sit on the end of the saddle.
Many brands buy in their chamois from an external company, such as Cytech, and can often use the same pad as a competitor.
The chamois often comes with some additional features, such as perforation to provide breathability, and an antibacterial treatment to keep the shorts fresh.