The 11 Best Bike Shorts of 2021

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Club Ride Men's Hifi at Amazon

"Although these are marketed for mountain bike riders, they can easily be worn on commutes and casual rides."

Best Budget: REI Co-op Men's Junction at REI

"These affordable shorts have gripper fabric that keeps the 9-inch inseam legs from bunching."

Best for Downhill: Dakine Men's Thrillium Short at Amazon

"Made of a soft-shell fabric for unrestricted movement that compliments downhill riding styles."

Best for Urban Riding: Chrome Men's Folsom 2.0 at Amazon

"They have a relaxed fit so you can wear them while biking or grabbing a bite to eat."

Best for Mountain Biking: Pearl Izumi Summit Shell Short at Amazon

"Provide a comfortable fit without adding excess fabric that could interfere with power-pedaling."

Best Quick Drying: Showers Pass IMBA at Amazon

"Delivers four-way-stretch comfort that dries quickly if you get caught in a deluge."

Best Padded: Louis Garneau Neo Power Art Motion at Amazon

"The chamois' overall shape is reinforced with high-density memory foam that's as plush as a recliner."

Best for Women: Club Ride Women's Eden Short at Amazon

"Made of lightweight polyester and spandex, these versatile shorts are suitable for traveling."

Best for Men: Specialized Men's RBX Shorts with SWAT at Jenson USA

"The chamois is pre-molded to match the curve of your saddle, which reduces wrinkles and hot spots."

Best Bib: Castelli Men's Premio 2 at Amazon

"Provides a seamless fit thanks to the dual-layered lumbar support band and two-layer bib straps."

Our Top Picks

01 of 11

Best Overall: Club Ride Men's Hifi

Club Ride Hifi

Courtesy of Amazon

Most cyclists want a reliable pair of biking shorts that are comfortable, stylish, and functional. And that's what the Hifi shorts from Club Ride deliver. Although these shorts are marketed as a mountain bike-specific product, they can easily be worn on commutes and casual rides. A gusseted crotch and a midweight flexible double-weave mix of polyester and spandex provide plenty of stretch, with additional two-way stretch panels to avoid any cinching during high-octane pedaling. These shorts are made of WR finish to help repel dirt and water, and feature reflective accents so you can be seen while pedaling at night. You also get loads of storage options, including two front and rear hand pockets, two zippered side pockets, and two stretch mesh pockets.

Note that, as with most casual-style biking shorts, these do not come with a padded chamois inside. But Club Ride offers those as well, broken out into helpful “hour ratings” to assure you have the right degree of padding for rides that last for one-, two-, or three-hour increments.

02 of 11

Best Budget: REI Co-op Men's Junction

REI Co-op Junction Bike Shorts

Courtesy of REI

In addition to carrying a variety of leading apparel brands, REI Co-op also sells its own proprietary products, which affords consumers the ability to get something high-quality without having to pay the high prices. And their Junction cycling pants are no exception. A blend of polyester and 22 percent spandex creates four-way stretch for freedom of movement, and moisture-wicking properties will keep you dry for hours. That comfort is further amplified by the integrated Italian padded chamois.

The Junction shorts also excel at the little details. They feature a reflective accent on the back of the left leg and a single drop-in stretch pocket on the right thigh. There's also gripper fabric that keeps the 9-inch inseam legs from bunching or slipping. And though these are geared toward road cyclists who typically want to ride with a streamlined silhouette, you can also pair these with your favorite pair of baggy shorts for a more casual riding outfit.

03 of 11

Best for Downhill: Dakine Men's Thrillium Short

Aggressive riders typically gravitate toward lift-service mountain biking, and they need a pair of shorts that can stand up to this extreme form of cycling. The Thrillium shorts from Dakine offer bomber protection and comfort thanks to the use of Schoeller, a soft-shell fabric that’s stretch-woven for unrestricted movement and shrugs off dirt, dust, and water. The overall loose fit further compliments downhill riding styles, though the integrated belt and quick-release waist buckle assure everything stays in place. The 14-inch inseam also ensures that the shorts' hems overlap with the top of your knee/chin pads for gapless protection. Zippered pockets provide secure storage, while the laser-perforated venting at the inner thighs and waist help keep things cool. The Thrillium comes in electric mint and a traditional black.

04 of 11

Best for Urban Riding: Chrome Men's Folsom 2.0

Urban cyclists yearn for comfort and durability in a pair of shorts, but seldom want to wear something that looks like bike shorts. The Folsom 2.0 from the cycle-obsessed folks at Chrome excels at this, with an overall relaxed fit and an 11-inch inseam that look good while biking or grabbing a bite to eat. Made of four-way-stretch DWR fabric that's water-resistant and quick-drying, these shorts are refreshingly durable. They feature a full-length double-layered crotch to handle wear and tear from the saddle, along with additional double-seam reinforcement at the seams and belt loops. The rear pockets are constructed of flat seams rather than being stitched onto the fabric directly, to avoid hot spots and discomfort while sitting. You also get two front pockets and a concealed five-bar webbing holster to accommodate a U-lock and a reflective rear patch for added visibility.

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05 of 11

Best for Mountain Biking: Pearl Izumi Summit Shell Short

The Summit Shell from Pearl Izumi manages to be both loose-fitting and trim, providing mountain bikers the comfortable fit that they desire without adding excess fabric that could interfere with power-pedaling. Constructed of four-way-stretch Transfer Woven fabric, the shorts are lightweight and durable. They also have an eco-friendly DWR treatment to shed water and a seamless crotch panel construction to avoid chaffing and hot spots while in the saddle. The 14-inch inseam drops to the knees, with bonded lower hems that have been angled to glide with your knee pads and keep the shorts off your calves. Even the zippered side pockets have been redesigned to benefit motion, with a backwards angle to shift contents out of the way while pedaling and allowing easy access while you're riding.

06 of 11

Best Quick Drying: Showers Pass IMBA

Born in the unpredictable Pacific Northwest climate of Portland, OR, Showers Pass has been making some of the best waterproof cycling apparel for more than a decade. Made of a special nylon-spandex blend, the lightweight and breathable shorts deliver four-way-stretch comfort that dries quickly if you get caught in a deluge. Then, when the sun comes back, feel good about the short’s UPF 50+ protection. A 12-inch inseam hits the sweet spot of protection and exposure, with vents at the thighs to enhance cooling.

Named in honor of the International Mountain Bike Association, the IMBA shorts are certainly at home on the singletrack. But other features—like reflective accents on the sides—means they’re equally welcome when cycling in the city or suburbs. You also get four pockets (two side pockets, one vented, and one zippered pocket in the rear) to carry various must-haves, and easy-to-adjust Velcro cinches at the waist will help you get the optimal fit.

07 of 11

Best Padded: Louis Garneau Neo Power Art Motion

Anyone who loves long rides already knows the value of cycling in a pair of shorts that include a chamois—a sequence of fabric and padding that drastically relieves saddle fatigue. The Neo Power Art Motion bike shorts by Louis Garneau employ the brand’s Motion Airgel chamois, and it’s a wonder. The top sheet has been treated with an anti-bacterial solution to combat the effects of retained moisture. The chamois' overall shape is ergonomically designed to provide hours of comfort and is reinforced with gel inserts and high-density memory foam that is as plush as a recliner. Louis Garneau also added vents at the front and integrated a deep slit at the back bridged by vented mesh to amplify breathability even more. And that's just the chamois.

The shorts themselves are constructed of Pro + Lycra compressive fiber designed to fit most muscle shapes and provide support. They also feature laser-finished edges at the thighs and anti-chafing seams to reduce irritation, and have UPF 50 sun protection.

08 of 11

Best for Women: Club Ride Women's Eden Short

Unlike most bike shorts that typically do not include a fabric outer shell and a chamois, Eden from Club Ridge gives you both in one package. The water- and dirt-resistant outer is constructed of a mix of polyester and spandex for ample four-way stretch and has a lightweight feel that makes these versatile shorts suitable for traveling as well as cycling. Women cyclists will also appreciate the short's gusseted crotch, reflective detailing, and the brand's NoCrackBack. The wide belt loops partner with internal Velcro adjustments to customize the fit, with a length that breaks at the mid-thigh to provide ample coverage. In addition to two front and rear hand pockets, you’ll also find a zippered side pocket. Underneath, the removable “Two-Hour Chamois,” a mid-length padded liner, provides enough comfort for rides that last up to two hours.

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09 of 11

Best for Men: Specialized Men's RBX Shorts with SWAT

Specialized RBX Shorts with SWAT

Courtesy of Jenson USA

Comfort is king with Specialized’s RBX Shorts thanks to the soft, four-way-stretch fabric and articulated design that lets the shorts move with your every motion. Silicone-infused fabric at the cuffs assures that the 10.5-inch inseam legs won’t creep up when you’re grinding uphill, and UPF 50+ treatment adds another layer of protection. But the shorts get its most plush elements from the chamois, which as been crafted with Body Geometry Contour 3D technology that’s pre-molded to match the curve of your saddle to reduce wrinkles and hot spots. Two proprietary “SWAT” pockets have been secured to the panel seams on each leg, with clean, bonded edges that stretch to accommodate any items you want to bring with you on your ride.

10 of 11

Best Bib: Castelli Men's Premio 2

Castelli has spent decades crafting ways to make long hours in the saddle more comfortable, and all that research has produced the Premio 2 bib shorts. Crafted of soft-touch high-stretch Forza fabric, it includes 38 percent Lycra to gently compress your muscles without binding. And a nearly seamless construction avoids rubbing or fabric degradation. It provides a seamless fit thanks to the dual-layered lumbar support band and the two-layer bib straps bonded to the breathable mesh back panel; they even lined the raw-edge leg hems with vertical silicone grippers to avoid bunching. The integrated seat pad also breaks from tradition, with a “Skin Care Layer” that adapts to the shape of your body and the bike seat to avoid fabric folds, and "LayerSeamless Integrated Technology” to add plush cushioning underneath.

11 of 11

Best Lifestyle-Inspired: Kitsbow Men's Haskell Shorts

Haskell Short

Courtesy of Kitsbow 

Tailored to be comfortably fitted but not tight, and dropping right at the sweet spot above the kneecap, the Kitsbow Haskell Shorts are the best versatile option on this list. The double-woven nylon proves durable, with just the right amount of stretch to encourage freedom of movement, and inclues gusseting at the crotch that benefits cyclists. Belt loops partner with the high-end button and zip closures, with an inner front snap for a tailored fit. Kitsbow also gives you loads travel-friendly of storage options with the Haskell, including twin hand pockets, two snap-close rear pockets, a zippered cargo spot on the left thigh, and a deep key pocket. They even come with a hidden “hang-dry” hook if things get really wet. But small, subtle details like reflective taping across the back of the shorts to keep you visible at night demonstrate that they really benefit the cyclists looking to up their sartorial game.

Why You Should Trust Us

Nathan Borchelt was biking long before he knew cycle-specific shorts were a thing. Since then, he’s benefited greatly from biking shorts, whether that’s while cruising singletrack in West Virginia and Scotland, bombing lift-service downhill runs in Park City, UT, or punishing himself on a long climb up one of Colorado’s 14,000-plus peaks. He commutes by bike daily and spends most of his free time in the saddle, testing product and humbling his skill set against all types of terrain.

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