Your choice of mountain bike shorts can make or break your trail ride. While the general idea is to pick apparel that complements your style, you must also consider functionality. It wasn’t long ago that cycling shorts resembled slacks. Nowadays, you can buy multi-panel wonders with high-tech padding material tailored to cyclists.
There are hundreds of decent mountain bike shorts, and picking the outright winner is not easy. Nevertheless, we reviewed some exciting cycling apparel available on the market. You can take comfort in knowing that you won’t be slogging through a mountain pass in hand-knit wool shorts.
There are a variety of shorts available with different qualities. You can buy protective versions for downhill riding or lightweight models for cross-country riding — and everything in between.
Our roundup of the best mountain bike shorts includes differently priced products. We’ve outlined a few high-end options for experienced riders. Additionally, there are entry-level alternatives for newbies who are easing into the world of mountain biking.
1. Endura Singletrack Short II
Endura’s Singletrack II shorts have been a staple of the company’s collection for many years. This latest model has a generous length with knee articulation for pads.
There is a convenient ventilation slit with an added zipper on each thigh. Also, the short has incredibly deep pockets secured using a zipper for holding valuables. If you overload your short compartments, you can quickly use the added waist adjusters to modify the fit.
The Endura shorts have soft nylon for maximum riding comfort. Still, the seat of the shorts in contact with the saddle has rugged fabric. The robust material increases the shorts’ overall durability. Also, this seat has a deeper shade that gets around the markings from bike seats.
- Durable nylon fiber
- Double-needling stretching
- Knee pad allowance
- Soft nylon padding
- Small front pocket
2. Fox Women’s Ranger Shorts
The women’s Ranger shorts from Fox Racing merge a minimalistic and baggy design. You can buy this super-stretchy apparel in several colors with a comfortable dual-density lining. This feature gives the product excellent value for money as it is detachable.
If you are going on a mountain trail, you shouldn’t worry about dirt. Water droplets readily bounce off the shell, and bits of mud hardly stick onto these shorts. Fortunately, the Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment on the shorts keeps you dry in the wild.
There is a sturdy metal popper that fastens the apparel. However, you can only adjust the fit around your waist using sliders and straps. Nevertheless, these shorts have a 12-inch inseam that sits low on your hips. This allowance permits the use of knee protection during a mountain ride.
Generally, the shorts are well-made with excellent pockets to boot. Nevertheless, the adjustment mechanism could be better, and as a result, you must get the correct size.
- Zipped pockets
- Various colors
- Suitable on and off the bike
- Knee pad allowance
- Durable Water Repellant (DWR)
- Available in two sizes only
3. Troy Lee Designs Skyline
The successful Skyline trail shorts seamlessly blended style and function. This pair features clean lines that deliver a casual look for bike rides when you’re off two wheels.
The Troy Lee mountain bike shorts have short inseams for a closer fit. There are multiple pockets secured with zippers. You’ll also appreciate the waistband for making adjustments before hopping onto your bike.
With the added chamois lining, you’ll be hard-pressed to find such excellent value for money. The pair carries a premium look and feel that’s perfect for dates and events. Therefore, get ready to pair the Skyline shorts with a charming tee-shirt after a session in the wild.
The major downside, however, is ventilation in the Skyline. The pair doesn’t have vents mainly because of its versatility. Additionally, the cloth is thicker and tends to get clammier with sweat. Still, Troy Lee’s mountain shorts are fashionable and can handle the rigors of outdoor riding even with the breathability issue.
- Quality liner short included
- Trim fit
- premium look and feel
- Minimal ventilation
- Heavy material
4. Endura Singletrack Lite
One of the oldest mountain bikes shorts in this roundup is the Endura Singletrack Lite. However, such longevity has withstood time with a handful of crucial features for trail riding.
For starters, the material on this pa4ir is lightweight and water-resistant. Riding is exhausting, and your sweating thighs tend to make things uncomfortable. Fortunately, Singletrack’s shorts features laser-cut ventilation holes. You’ll enjoy cool summer rides without any buildup of sweat in the process.
There are two front and back zippered hand pockets. The hand pockets tilt toward the front rather than their sides. While you won’t enjoy pocketing, the pouches are handy storage spaces for your valuables and other nifty biking equipment. The added zippers keep all your items safe from slipping off.
These shorts have the best fit, a reasonable length, and a lovely taper at the knee. If you want to adjust the fit, there’s a hook-and-loop waist cincher. Also, the design includes two snaps and a front zipper. You can opt for liners that attach to the Singletrack Lites or secure your underwear against the snaps. If you are riding on an appropriate saddle, you’ll enjoy comfortable rides.
- Rear security pocket
- Multiple zipped pockets
- Durable, lightweight fabric
- Only suitable for men
5. Fox Head Ranger Shorts
The newly updated Fox Ranger shorts offer great value for money. These shorts have a casual and straightforward style that works well on and off the bike. The pair is comfortable and versatile enough for a variety of uses.
The shorts bear a slimmer fit with an articulated waistband. The low-profile goggle strap closure and waistband provide a secure all-day fit. Additionally, these shorts have a built-in chamois liner. The material isn’t the best, but it gets the job done.
The apparel is durable and includes a lightweight 2-way rip-stop. You will notice the three-pocket design on the shorts for ideal pedaling. On the flip side, the Ranger lacks proper ventilation. This flaw made trail riding a little hotter as opposed to other shorts.
The hand pockets have a mesh lining which causes items to move back and forth while riding. In a nutshell, these shorts tolerated maximum performance and looked the part.
- Chamois included
- Good value for money
- Good material construction
- Secure closure
- No ventilation
- Unsecured pockets
6. Zoic Ether Shorts + Liner
The Zoic short and liner combo has been a fan favorite for many years now. While the pair doesn’t equal other mountain bike shorts, you’ll get the best bang for your buck.
The Zoic shorts have a roomy and pedal-friendly fit. There are mesh panels on the sides and offer absolute breathability while cycling. Furthermore, this design solidifies the apparel’s lightweight nature.
Zoic’s Ether shorts employ a 4-way stretch fabric. Initially, the pair missed a chamois interior. This model, however, has the comfy liner short and is perfect for long and short trail adventures. Moreover, an external waist adjustment allows you to fine-tune the fit of these pants. Lastly, the shorts have significant leg openings to incorporate knee pads.
Zoic’s shorts don’t have a dialed-in fit like some of our favorite models. Also, the run-of-the-mill liner quality would make you think twice about buying the pants. Nevertheless, Zoic has made a comfy and battle-ready outdoor apparel for its price.
- Affordable price
- Various pockets
- Removable chamois
- Average chamois liner
7. Endura Women’s MT500 Spray Shorts II
You’ll often encounter rough terrain and wet patches when you hit the wild outdoors. Therefore, you need a degree of waterproofing to maintain your cycling tempo. The Spray Shorts II are a capable pair when you need to remain dry under terrible weather.
The Endura Women’s MT500 Spray Shorts II is your best bet when to withstand nature’s challenges. The Endura has waterproof back panels and DWR-treated fabric. This material allows you to prevail over mud and harsh weather
Besides a tough exterior, the Endura shorts have an excellent fit. You can work through a wide range of adjustments using the Velcro tabs. Additionally, the front hem can accommodate knee pads.
- Tough exterior
- Two pockets included
- Stretchy materials
- Suitable for women only
8. Race Face Indy
The wild outdoors calls for rugged equipment. Fortunately, the fabric on Race Face’s Indy shorts is pretty tough. This pair can sustain a lot of wear and tear. Additionally, the model has critical features for enduro adventures
The shorts have extra material to pull past your knees for added protection. Also, the inner leg-slip panel keeps the extra length in place as you peddle. There’s double perforation lining the insides to keep things cool.
There are multiple storage options to hold your equipment on a trail ride. First, there’s a high back panel with a tiny but secured compartment. Moreover, the front has plenty of pocket space with zippers to secure your items. Except for the wrap-over tab at the top, all the zippers have a unique exposed design.
- Zipped front fly
- Grab tab
- Snap fastening
- Long-lasting, tough exterior
9. Sweet Protection Hunter Slashed Shorts
While you require some comfort while cycling, it shouldn’t compromise your riding shorts. The Sweet Protection shorts have a snug fit as you explore nature trails.
These shorts have a high back waist. Furthermore, the pair feature an elastic belt to keep everything in place. The internal lining usually bears soft and stretchy material that feels good against your skin. This construction ensures that the apparel adjusts when pedaling on an outdoor trail.
Sweet Protection’s shorts are robust and can take anything your throw at them. While the pair seems longer than average, the high waist normalizes the length. You’ll find the handwarmer pockets on each side. Additionally, the zippered thigh pocket holds a decent amount of minor equipment.
- Good ventilation
- Comfortable lining
- Waist adjustment
- Suitable for women only
10. POC Essential Enduro Shorts
You can never go wrong with a simple pair of mountain bike shorts. These all-rounders are lightweight, stylish, and rugged enough for a trail ride.
The POC Essential Enduro shorts feature just two zippered pockets. Since you’ll only be hauling essential tools, this keeps the weight down as you cycle. The elastic fabric used also compounds the weight savings. Still, the pair is rugged enough to withstand stray bushes in the wild.
This apparel accommodates knee pads for extra protection. Additionally, you can easily adjust the waist and lumbar fit with elastic bands. The pants are pretty straightforward, and you can slip on a pair on lazy weekends and still look stylish.
- Perfect length for knee pads
- Flexible materials
- All-round shorts
- No ventilation holes
Mountain Bike Shorts Buying Guide
It’s essential to have mountain biking shorts that can withstand the rigors of off-road riding. Mountain biking apparel features a broad category of products. You’ll need to sift through a range of riding techniques for the perfect pair.
Nevertheless, consider the following factors when selecting the best mountain bike shorts.
When looking for a new pair of cycling shorts, first consider the quality of the pads. Additionally, think about how you’ll use the shorts – whether for road or mountain biking.
You shouldn’t wear underwear with cycling shorts to avoid chafing and moisture buildup. Pads are usually soft and improve your comfort while cycling. Nevertheless, it will take some time to get cycling without your briefs.
All pads include grooves and portions. Higher grade pads have more contours that allow greater mobility. Also, some linings employ thicker cushioning for performance and improved ventilation.
Liner shorts enhance the benefits of mountain bike shorts minus the aesthetics. A liner is typically a lightweight mesh fabric that increases ventilation.
You may use liner shorts beneath any baggy shorts or trousers. This combo will keep you warm and comfortable when riding in the city. You can also include the piece on your mountain bike for extra protection and warmth.
You can get liner shorts that mirror boxer shorts with padding. These briefs enhance cycling comfort while remaining undetectable. Nevertheless, baggy cycling shorts with a built-in liner give you the best of all worlds.
Shorts, like many cycling items, have a lower front section and a higher back. This construction eliminates lumps of loose cloth while you’re leaning over the handlebars. Unfortunately, you won’t win any style awards with the tight fabric.
Stretchy fabric makes it simple to buy the incorrect size short. Make sure you order the right fit, especially if you decide on bib shorts. A tight pair will pull down your neck and compromise your movement. Therefore, find a balance in the fit to avoid stretching the cloth excessively.
Leg grippers are located at the bottom of each leg to hold the short in place. Wider braces distribute the stress to keep your thighs comfortable.
Chamois – or shamy pads – are seat-shaped cushioning on cycling shorts. These magical features ease pressure on your sit bones while riding. Multiple shamy pads are available on the market, depending on your budget. Typically, the pricier options are long-lasting and vice-versa.
Baggy shorts are your first line of defense in the wild. Typically, mountain bikers ride slowly with frequent stops, hence the widespread use of baggies.
You are better off with loose shorts that have a separate inner piece. You can wash each one separately combine it with the rest of your collection. Additionally, you can wear bib shorts underneath a baggy shell.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What makes mountain bike shorts unique?
Mountain bike baggies have a different cut than regular shorts. The apparel features high rear waistbands for a snug fit when bent over the handlebars. Additionally, the shorts have a lower front cut than behind your knees. This shape reduces any interference with knee pads and chafing.
2. Is padding included in mountain bike shorts?
Most mountain bike shorts have strategically placed cushioning. The padding will enhance your comfort so that you extract the maximum from your bike. The last thing you need is a sore bottom that will force you to call it quits.
3. What should I wear under my mountain bike shorts?
Both men and women should wear mountain bike shorts directly against their skin. Mountain bike shorts with an in-built chamois do not need underwear. The pad creates a non-irritating, moisture-absorbent surface for skin contact.
4. Do mountain shorts need to be washed regularly?
Sweaty shorts are excellent breeding grounds for bacteria. You have to wash your pair after hitting the trail to avoid damaging the material on your mountain bike shorts.
Hand washing a bib short is a hassle even though it is the best way to clean one. However, soaking the pants makes things easier.
While a machine wash gets the job done faster, your riding apparel won’t last as long. For optimum cleaning, you are better off using a washbag. After that, use the ‘Delicates’ setting on your washer.
5. What causes cyclists to get saddle sores?
These are painful skin lesions that develop on your bottom. An improper bike seat will cause pressure and friction on specific points on your bum. Additionally, moisture buildup has a compounding effect on the lesions.
On the flip side, you can treat saddle sores. Firstly, take a break from riding to allow the sores to heal. Usually, the sores start as chafing and become severe over time. You should apply topical ointments to minimize the damage.
6. What is the ideal length for mountain bike shorts?
Choosing the inseam length for a pair of pants is a personal choice. For most individuals, the shorts should sit just above the knee. To eliminate tan lines, you are better off with a shorter piece.
Modern mountain bike shorts combine a snug fit onto a baggy exterior. These designs mimic some of the style and protection of motocross equipment. However, biking pieces have a tighter fit and use significantly lighter fabric.
The material used in bike shorts enhances your comfort while riding. Also, the apparel is less prone to catching on your saddle or rubbing against your knees. Sweat buildup, especially under the dense fabric, can cause saddle sores. Manufacturers will typically fit ventilation pores onto bike shorts to keep things cool.