While you might think all cycling shorts are created equal, that’s simply not the case. In fact, there are many different types and styles of cycling shorts available on the market today. So, if you’re looking for a new pair of best mountain bike shorts, this buyer’s guide will help bust some myths and walk you through the process of finding the perfect pair for your needs.
What are mountain bike shorts?
A good pair of cycling shorts is key to an optimal experience whether you bike on the road, gravel, or mountain trails biking. Unlike basic baggy shorts, those meant for mountain biking use unique construction and materials. Rather than being focused solely on style, comfort and performance are top priorities for MTB shorts.
Baggy mountain bike shorts are usually made from tougher materials to handle the rougher terrain and in case you have a spill. Some riders like to wear lighter undershorts under their baggy shorts for extra comfort. Mountain bike shorts are often paired with knee pads when mountain biking, to help protect the lower body against nasty crashes.
Features of Mountain Bike Shorts
Mountain biking is much more rigorous and demanding than road biking, so the associated clothing must be able to accommodate these differences. For mountain bikers who ride trails or enduros, baggy shorts are a common article of clothing because they allow for more movement around the bike.
MTB shorts usually have extra features not found in their road counterparts, such as:
- Zippered pockets
- Adjustable waistbands
- Belt loops
- Integrated or detachable chamois liner
- Padded Liner
Many Mountain Bike Shorts usually have different structures between men and women’s mountain bike shorts such as the padding and Velcro Waist Adjusters that most mountain bikes have. You should also wear knee pads with them because having baggy and lose mountain bike shorts expose more of your skin.
Less emphasis is placed on aerodynamics and speed in mountain biking, so MTB shorts are often baggier. The fabrics used are also more durable to deal with the rougher terrain typically associated with mountain biking. If you happen to crash while wearing MTB shorts, there’s a higher likelihood that your clothing will remain intact compared to if you were wearing Lycra bib shorts. But most of them also have lightweight fabric.
What should you consider when looking for the best mountain bike shorts?
When shopping for mountain bike shorts, it’s important to consider your budget. There are many different types and styles of MTB shorts available, with a wide range of prices depending on the quality and features. The best way to find the best pair for your needs is to do some comparison shopping online, reading reviews from other riders, and trying on different shorts at local bike stores.
Fit and Functionality
Finding the best MTB shorts is also about finding a pair that fits well and works for your riding style. Some general considerations to keep in mind include the length, shape, and type of padding used in the chamois liner. Hip pockets are also essential features for a mountain bike shorts as they will help secure the little things you bring with you on a mountain biking trip.
Trail shorts often have deep zipper pockets and include knee pads for more protection.
Tough / Lightweight
Yes, baggy shorts are a style choice, but they also come with lots of practical benefits that mountain bikers find useful. They’re usually made from tough but lightweight nylon fabrics, which provide better protection against things like thorns and branches than thinner Lycra materials. Cooling air vents and multiple pockets are also helpful features to have.
Most baggy shorts come with a chamois, except for those garments meant for DH and FR. These are usually only worn during long hours of riding when pedalling isn’t an issue. The chamois can either be part of the shorts or, as is often the case with more expensive items, a removable liner. This second option is useful because it means that you can wear the shorts without the liner on or wash them separately. A quality liner should also have leg grips to hold it in place and prevent it from flapping around or ride up.
Easy Adjusted Waistband
An adjustable and comfortable elasticated waistband is key, as is a secure closure that can be easily operated with gloved fingers. Lycra stretch panels provide an optimum on-bike fit, while cooling vents may appeal to hardworking riders. The most popular types of adjustable waistbands are velcro and essential MTB women’s shorts.
Though cargo and zippered thigh pockets can hold various items, it’s not comfortable or wise to ride with stuffed pockets or to keep dangerous objects in your pocket where they could cause injury if you fall.
You should also consider getting durable water repellent mountain biking shorts that will secure you on the wettest rides that you will encounter.
Many shorts will feature additional bells and whistles some of which will be useful – such as adjustable straps to tighten around the legs and prevent the fabric flapping or fouling, reflective panels for night-time commuting – and some of which will be not.
The style of riding you choose will help to indicate the type of shorts that would best suit your needs. If you’re looking for a short that allows for more movement while pedaling, XC-type shorts may be form-fitting and slightly shorter in length, made from lighter materials. On the other hand, if you prefer Gravity riding which often includes rougher terrain, then consider heavier material shorts that are longer and baggier to provide more coverage as well as space for armor protection, if desired.
Mountain biking is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature, while also getting a good workout. And, what could be better than enjoying the ride in some great mountain bike shorts? There are many different types and styles of MTB shorts available, so it’s important to do your research before purchasing a pair.
So consider what you need most in a pair of mountain bike shorts before making your purchase, and you’re sure to find a pair that best suits your needs and style of riding. With the right shorts, you can enjoy hours of fun on your bike in comfort and style!