Choosing a pair of bike shorts is not as big of a decision as choosing a baby name — but it comes pretty close if you’re a serious biker. Any biker or spinner will tell you that what you wear determines how your ride goes. Yes, your workout outfit can literally make or break your workout. The reason bike shorts are called bike shorts (or cycling shorts if you’re referring to the ones professional cyclists where) in the first place is all thanks to peddlers from the 1800s.
During this time in history, most people used bikes as a mode of transportation. People wore shorts up to the knee so it wouldn’t interfere with their peddling. Riders wore wool shorts, which were typically black to cover the sweat they’d accrue from sitting on the bicycle seat all day. When people realized the wool material caused chafing in their inner thighs, they added a piece of leather to the butt and crotch area of the shorts (AKA chamois). In the 1950s, cyclists started experimenting with other materials that suited them much better for biking, including nylon, polyester, lycra, and silk. It wasn’t until 1979 that shoulder straps (instead of suspenders) were introduced to hold the shorts in place.
Today, bike shorts are a lot more comfortable and innovative. We no longer use sheepskin for the chamois and we use lightweight materials for the shorts. We no longer use suspenders and some cyclists prefer bib shorts, which is a one-piece combined suspenders and shorts. Still, bike shorts today are not completely foolproof. You can still buy a pair of shorts and find them to be uncomfortable or bunching at the bottom.
How can you prevent this from happening?
Learn about which shorts are less likely to ride up and what qualities to look out for in a bike short.
Bike Shorts Vs Cycling Shorts
First, let’s get this out of the way. What’s the difference between bike shorts and cycling shorts? Cycling shorts typically refer to shorts that professional or serious cyclists wear, which have padding on the butt area. They’re typically more durable than trendy bike shorts. Bike shorts and cycling shorts are interchangeable words. But today, bike shorts typically refer to the trendy shorts women wear while working out or lounging.
Qualities to Look For in Bike Shorts
Bike shorts are different than running shorts, which are typically shorter and looser. Here are a few things you’ll want in a bike short for exercising and especially when using the bike indoors or out.
Tightness: According to Aerodynamics.com, cyclists wear tight shorts for a reason. “One of the reasons that cycling shorts are so tight is for aerodynamics. It goes without saying that the closer something is to your body, the less air-resistance there will be, therefore allowing you to ride further, faster, and with less effort,” they wrote. However, if you just plan on doing a workout that doesn’t involve a bike, you can opt for something that isn’t as tight. For example, you can get a more casual bike short for pilates or yoga.
Your bike shorts can also be called “compression shorts,” which can limit chafing and other discomforts. Baggy shorts like Bermuda shorts can slow you down.
Stretchy: Just because something is tight, doesn’t mean it can’t be stretchy, too! In fact, you’ll want your bike shorts to be stretchy for circulation and comfort. Stretchy materials also give you a range of motion to easily ride your bike. For example, you’d never wear jean shorts to go biking because they’d gig into your skin and not be comfortable in your crotch area.
Chamois: If you’re a serious biker and not just a beginner, you’ll want shorts that have silicon padding (AKA a chamois) that softens the seat area of your shorts.
Quality: You can find quality bike shorts on Nike, REI, Amazon, and more depending on your budget. If you’re looking for something trendy for a more casual workout, Back2Basics has tons of bike shorts to choose from.
How to Prevent Bike Shorts From Bunching
The millionaire dollar question! The answer? Here are a few we’ve come up with from the experts.
Use silicone boning: This is a popular way to prevent shorts from riding up. You can sew or tape boning in the inseam so your shorts stay put.
Ensure they’re longer shorts and the right size: The shorter the shorts, the easier it is for them to ride up. And if your shorts don’t fit properly, you may experience bunching.
Bib Shorts: These are suspenders and shorts in one that holds up the shorts.
Here are some of our favorite bike shorts on Back2Basics.
Shop the P.E Nation Momentum Short here.
Shop the Running Bare Studio Ab-Tastic bike shorts here.
Shop the Beyond Yoga Spacedeye bike shorts with pockets here.
The bike shorts we carry are easy to match because they’re typically in a neutral color. You can find plenty of black high-waisted shorts that can be worn as workout shorts or loungewear.