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The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Looking for some new mountain bike shorts? We tested 13 of the best mountain bike shorts on the market to help you find the right pair for your next ride.

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A quality pair of mountain bike shorts is the core of your riding kit. The best mountain bike shorts not only look good but fit comfortably, provide protection from the elements, breathe well, and allow for unrestricted movement and easy pedaling. While spandex shorts were once dominant in mountain biking, baggy shorts are by far the most common for the variety of benefits they provide for most riders.

These days, there are mountain bike shorts designed to meet the demands of all types of riding and riders, from cross-country to downhill. With so many mountain bike shorts on the market, we know that finding the right pair can be a challenge. To help, we gathered 13 of the best models on the market to test and compare side by side.

We spent months riding in these shorts while analyzing important factors like materials, design, fit, comfort, pedal-friendliness, breathability, pockets, and style, switching frequently between models for direct comparison. After hundreds of hours and thousands of miles, we narrowed in on our favorites and those that excel in specific conditions and uses.

Our favorite mountain bike shorts are listed below, followed by the best of the rest which are all solid options in their own right. To see the models we tested at a glance, check out our comparison chart. Our detailed buying advice is a good reference if you need help deciding what to buy, and our FAQ section has answers to common questions. And, if you’ve landed here looking for women’s shorts, we’ve tested and reviewed the best women’s mountain bike shorts too.

The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024


Best Overall Mountain Bike Shorts

Patagonia Dirt Roamer Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $129
  • Material 4-way stretch 86% polyester/14% spandex
  • Inseam Length 12.5 inches
  • Pockets 2 zippered thigh pockets
  • Measured Weight 160 grams (size 32)
  • Available Sizes Even Waist sizes 28 – 44, 31, and 33
Product Badge The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Super comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Highly breathable and quick drying
  • Welded seams
  • Good pockets

Cons

  • Moderately expensive
Climbing in the Patagonia Dirt Roamer mountain bike shorts
Patagonia’s Dirt Roamer shorts lean toward the light and minimal side of the spectrum, but the latest version has updates that make them better and more versatile than the original. (photo: Jeremy Benson)
Best Value Mountain Bike Shorts

Dakine Vectra Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $85
  • Materials 96% recycled polyester/4% spandex
  • Inseam Length 14 inches
  • Pockets 2 zippered thigh pockets
  • Measured Weight 233 grams (size M)
  • Available Sizes S – XXL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Super versatile
  • Good ventilation
  • Light but rugged feel
  • Fair price

Cons

  • No zipper fly
  • Pockets design is okay but not great
Riding in the Dakine Vectra mountain bike shorts
The Dakine Vectra shorts are impressively versatile and reasonably priced. (photo: Heather Benson)
Runner-Up Best Mountain Bike Shorts

Velocio Ultralight Trail Short

Specs

  • MSRP $159
  • Material Italian milled stretch woven fabric (79% Polyamide, 21% Elastane)
  • Inseam Length 13.5 inches (size M)
  • Pockets 2 zippered thigh pockets
  • Measured Weight 135 grams (size M)
  • Available Sizes XS – 4XL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Excellent patterning and fit
  • Breathable
  • Come with a stretchy Arcade belt
  • Minimal and subtle branding
  • 30 day satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No built-in waist adjustment
  • Heavily articulated cut is less ideal off the bike
Riding in the Velocio Ultralight Trail shorts
Super lightweight with a great fit, Velocio’s Ultralight Trail shorts may make you so fast that you end up blurry in all your riding shots. (photo: Heather Benson)
Best Minimalist Mountain Bike Shorts

7Mesh Slab Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $140
  • Material 85% nylon/15% elastane with DWR
  • Inseam Length 14 inches (size S, varies by size)
  • Pockets 1 zippered pocket on right thigh
  • Measured Weight 160 grams (size S)
  • Available Sizes XS – XXL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Slim performance fit
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Clean aesthetic
  • Sustainably-minded brand

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Sizing runs a little different than other brands
  • Only one pocket
Riding in the 7Mesh Slab mountain bike shorts
The 7Mesh Slab shorts are lightweight with a minimalist design and are another excellent all-’rounder. (photo: Jeremy Benson)
Best Mid-Weight Mountain Bike Shorts

Rapha Trail Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $160
  • Material 88% nylon/12% elastane
  • Inseam Length 13 inches (size M)
  • Pockets 2 open hand pockets, 2 zippered thigh pockets with phone sleeve
  • Measured Weight 245 grams (size M)
  • Available Sizes XS – XXL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Pedal-friendly material and angled hem
  • Secure waist adjustment and closure
  • Come with color matched patches and eligible for free repairs

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Locking snap takes some getting used to
Testing the Rapha Trail mountain bike shorts
Rapha’s Trail shorts are a well-made and super comfortable mid-weight option. (photo: Heather Benson)
Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Wet Conditions

POC Bastion Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $200
  • Material 3-layer waterproof fabric
  • Inseam Length 15 inches (measured)
  • Pockets 2 zippered hand pockets, 1 zippered rear card pocket
  • Measured Weight 215 grams (size M)
  • Available Sizes S-XXL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Waterproof material
  • Taped seams
  • Long inseam and large leg opening work well with knee pads
  • Quality construction

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Legs are super roomy
  • Hand pockets hold contents on top of thigh
  • Material is noisy
POC Bastion shorts beading water
POC’s waterproof Bastion shorts are great for riding in the rain or for days like this when the weather can’t quite make up its mind. Over time, the outer fabric will wet out, but the waterproof membrane keeps you dry underneath. (photo: Jeremy Benson)
Best Mountain Bike Shorts for Versatility

Giro Arc Short

Specs

  • MSRP $110
  • Material 100% polyester
  • Inseam Length Mid: 11 inches, Regular: 13 inches
  • Pockets 2 open hand pockets and 1 zippered pocket on right thigh
  • Measured Weight 156 grams (size 32, Mid length inseam)
  • Available Sizes Even waist sizes 28 – 40
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Super versatile
  • Comfy
  • Pedal-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Come in 2 inseam length options

Cons

  • Hand pockets are only useful off the bike
  • Thigh pocket holds items in slightly awkward position
Giro Arc mountain bike shorts
Giro’s super versatile Arc shorts look great on and off the bike and work just as well for other activities as they do for riding. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Best of the Rest

Best Ventilated Mountain Bike Shorts

Pearl Izumi Summit Shell Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $105
  • Material 87% recycled polyester/13% spandex
  • Inseam Length 12.5 inches
  • Pockets 2 zippered thigh pockets
  • Measured Weight 158 grams (size 32)
  • Available Sizes Even waist sizes 28 – 44
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Super lightweight
  • Well ventilated
  • Very pedal friendly
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Not great for riding in cooler temperatures
Best Made in the USA Mountain Bike Shorts

Mission Workshop Traverse XC Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $185
  • Materials US made Mil-spec stretch fabric
  • Inseam Length 12 inches
  • Pockets 2 zippered thigh pockets
  • Measured Weight 219 grams (size 32)
  • Available Sizes Odd and Even waist sizes 28 – 38
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Made in the USA from American made fabric
  • Slim, performance fit
  • Unique waist adjustment system
  • Tough but lightweight material
  • Quality construction

Cons

  • High price
  • Pocket flaps make it more difficult to access zippers

Specialized Trail Air Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $130
  • Material Vaporize woven: 86% polyester/14% spandex
  • Inseam Length 13.5 inches
  • Pockets 1 zippered pocket on left thigh
  • Measured Weight 162 grams (size 32)
  • Available Sizes Even waist sizes 28 – 44
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Airy
  • Material feels tough but light
  • Very pedal-friendly

Cons

  • Sizing runs a tad big
  • Only one pocket
  • No zipper fly

Endura Singletrack Lite Short

Specs

  • MSRP $120
  • Material 85% nylon/15% elastane
  • Inseam Length 13 inches (size M, regular inseam)
  • Pockets 2 zippered hand pockets, 1 zippered back pocket
  • Measured Weight 237 grams (size M, regular inseam)
  • Available sizes S – XXXL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Available in lots of colors
  • Relatively well-ventilated
  • Short and regular inseam lengths offered
  • Pair with Endura "Clickfast" liners

Cons

  • Material is a little noisy
  • Pockets could be better

100% Airmatic Shorts

Specs

  • MSRP $99
  • Material 96% polyester/4% elastane
  • Inseam Length 14 inches
  • Pockets 2 zippered hand pockets, 1 zipper left thigh pocket
  • Measured Weight 251 grams (size 32)
  • Available Sizes Even waist sizes 28 – 38
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Soft, stretchy material is comfortable on the skin
  • Pair well with knee pads
  • Thicker material good for park riding or cooler weather

Cons

  • Heavier weight
  • Not particularly well-ventilated
  • Louder branding

Sportful Sky Rider Giara Overshort

Specs

  • MSRP $120
  • Materials 59% polyamide/41% elastane
  • Inseam Length 13 inches (measured size M)
  • Pockets 2 open hand pockets, 1 zippered left thigh pocket
  • Measured Weight 241 grams (size M)
  • Available Sizes S – XXXL
The Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2024

Pros

  • Super stretchy fabric
  • Unrestricted freedom of movement
  • Very comfortable against the skin

Cons

  • No waist adjusters
  • Size down or wear belt for snug waist fit
  • Phone flops around in zippered pocket

Mountain Bike Shorts Comparison Chart

MSRPInseam LengthPocketsMeasured Weight (size)
Patagonia Dirt Roamer Shorts$12912.5 inches2160 grams (32)
Dakine Vectra$8514 inches2233 grams (M)
Velocio Ultralight Trail Short$15913.5 inches (Medium)2135 grams (M)
7Mesh Slab$15014 inches1160 grams (S)
Rapha Trail Shorts$16013 inches4245 grams (M)
POC Bastion$20015 inches3215 grams (M)
Giro Arc$110Mid: 11 inches, Regular: 13 inches3156 grams (32, Mid)
Pearl Izumi Summit Shell$10512.5 inches2158 grams (32)
Mission Workshop Traverse XC$18512 inches2219 grams (32)
Specialized Trail Air $13013.5 inches1162 grams (32)
Endura Singletrack Lite$12013 inches3237 grams (M, regular)
100% Airmatic$9914 inches3251 grams (32)
Sportful Sky Rider Giara Overshort$12013 inches3241 grams (M)

Why Should You Trust Bikerumor?

The team at Bikerumor has been reporting on the latest cycling-related news, technology, and products for well over a decade. In addition to writing about all things bike-related, cycling is a passion that all of our staff share. Every single member of the Bikerumor team is an avid rider, and it’s a dream come true to be able to test and review products and share our knowledge, experience, and love of riding bikes with our audience. We feel very fortunate to be in a position that allows us to spend time on the bike while analyzing products and providing insight that may help people make more informed purchase decisions.

Our mountain bike shorts review author, Jeremy Benson, has been professionally testing and reviewing mountain bikes, accessories, and apparel for over seven years. In that time, he has tested more than 30 different pairs of mountain bike shorts, including the 13 models in this review. Benson is an avid mountain bike rider and racer who started riding as a youth in the early 90s. He’s spent the past 22 years living in the Sierra Nevada mountains in and around Lake Tahoe, CA, obsessively riding the many hundreds of miles of nearby world-class singletrack, much of which is accessible from right out the door. Benson enjoys all styles of riding, from lung-busting XC and gravel races to massive backcountry epics, shuttle runs, steep skidders, and long hike-a-bikes, you name it. The amount of time he spends in the saddle makes him particularly tough on and critical of the gear he uses, and he’s always searching for the best products to enhance his experience and improve his performance out on the trails. Years spent testing all kinds of gear has helped him develop a keen ability to analyze and scrutinize products and convey his findings in reviews. Benson has also contributed to several other buyer’s guides including mountain bike helmets and the best mountain bike shoes, as well as cycling sunglasses and hitch bike racks for transporting your rides.

For this buyer’s guide, we rounded up 13 pairs of the best mountain bike shorts on the market to test and compare side by side. We spent months riding in these shorts in every weather condition and temperature you can imagine on rides ranging from casual trail rides with friends, all-day suffer fests, big shuttles, and even a few races and gravel grinds. While testing, we focused on important performance characteristics like fit, pedal-friendliness, ventilation/breathability, and pocket design. Each model was worn with and without knee pads to test compatibility, and friends were asked to comment on the style. After hundreds of hours and thousands of miles in the saddle, we honed in on our favorites and those that excel in specific areas compared to the rest.

Author Jeremy Benson testing mountain bike shorts
All of the shorts in this review were tested over the course of several months. Author Jeremy Benson is seen here riding in the Endura Singletrack Lite shorts. (photo: Heather Benson)

Buying Advice: How to Choose Mountain Bike Shorts

With so many brands and models of mountain bike shorts on the market, finding the right pair can be tricky. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your next pair of shorts, and we’ll break down some of the most important elements of mountain bike shorts below. Getting the right fit is the most important, but you’ll also want to get shorts that suit your riding style, personal style, weather conditions, and budget.

What Type of Riding Do You Do?

As there are many different styles of mountain biking, there are just as many different mountain bike shorts to suit the needs of different riders. It stands to reason that a person who rides cross-country has different needs and wants from their shorts than someone who rides chairlifts at the bike park all day. As such, manufacturers design shorts for the various sub-genres of mountain biking using different materials, inseam lengths, and designs. If you participate in several different styles of riding, it may make sense to have several pairs of shorts that you can switch between. Likewise, different seasons have different demands, and having shorts of different weights or weather resistance may be helpful when the temperature or weather changes.

While many cross-country riders and especially racers may prefer to wear lycra for performance reasons, there are baggy shorts that are well suited to high-efficiency, high-output XC riding. Generally speaking, cross-country riders typically opt for shorts that are lightweight, breathable, slim-fitting, and super pedal-friendly, which often feel like you aren’t wearing baggy shorts at all. For trail riding, most riders still prioritize pedal-friendliness and may gravitate towards lightweight shorts, though many prefer a slightly longer inseam to work with light-duty knee pads and slightly more robust fabrics for increased durability. Gravity-oriented riders who spend time riding DH at the bike park or smashing enduro laps generally prioritize heavy-duty fabrics for added protection and durability, as well as longer inseams and looser fits that play well with knee pads and/or protective undershorts.

Velocio Ultralight Trail shorts and proper fit
Getting shorts that fit properly is critical. The Velocio Ultralight Trail shorts are some of the best-fitting shorts that we’ve tested. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Getting the Right Fit

As with any article of clothing, getting mountain bike shorts that fit right is one of the most important aspects of the purchase process. The better your shorts fit, the more comfortable they will be, and the less they will distract you from the important task of riding your bike. Shorts that fit well typically fade into the background and go virtually unnoticed while riding. Too tight and they put pressure on your abdomen or restrict your movement, too loose and they can slip down and require frequent adjustment while riding. If you wear padded liner shorts, or a chamois, it is also important to consider them as the shorts will need to fit over those as well.

Waist size is the primary factor in the fit equation, and most shorts come in a range of sizes to fit the most typical waist sizes. It varies by brand, but many offer their shorts in numerical waist sizes that typically make it easy to find the size that’s closest to your waist measurement in inches. Other brands offer their shorts in what is known as categorical sizes – Small, Medium, Large, etc., with each size intended to fit a small range of waist sizes. With categorical sizing, always be sure to check a brand’s size chart to find where you fall in their size range. Additionally, many shorts feature waist adjustments that allow you to add or remove tension from the waistband to achieve the desired fit.

In addition to waist size, how shorts fit through the hips, buttocks, and thighs is another factor to consider, particularly for those with more muscular legs or larger body structures. Ideally, you want the shorts to be loose enough that they aren’t squeezing any part of your body and allow for unrestricted freedom of movement without being excessively baggy. Some brands provide hip and thigh measurements for their shorts so you can get a good idea of how they will fit in those areas. 7Mesh even sizes their shorts based on hip and thigh circumference measurements to find the best fit.

Waist adjustment systems comparison shot
Different brands use different methods of adjusting the tension of the waistband on mountain bike shorts. While different, they all work to achieve the same goal. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Waist Adjustments

Many mountain bike shorts have built-in waist adjustment systems that allow you to add or remove tension from the waistband to dial in the fit. This is particularly important for shorts that are designed to fit a small range of waist sizes, and they typically offer around 1-2 inches of adjustability. There are a number of different systems that brands use to make those adjustments including external or internal velcro straps, ratcheting ladder straps, locking webbing straps, integrated belt systems, and more. The best systems are low profile, easy to access and use, secure, and pull tension evenly with minimal bunching of fabric. In addition to or sometimes in place of these systems, some brands include belt loops on their shorts so they can be worn with a belt as an alternative method of adding tension to the waistband.

Wearing mountain bike shorts with knee pads
The inseam length of mountain bike shorts varies. The POC Bastion shorts are the longest we tested at 15 inches, virtually eliminating the chances of pad gap when worn with knee pads. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Inseam Length

These days, most baggy mountain bike shorts have inseams that range anywhere from around 11 inches to 15 inches. Shorts that hang down around the knee when standing and rise slightly above the knee when pedaling are the norm for most riders. What length works best for you will depend on your riding style, personal style, height, and whether or not you wear knee pads. Shorts designed with pedal friendliness as the priority often have somewhat shorter inseams that are less restrictive of the pedal stroke, while those designed with gravity riding in mind typically have longer inseams for more leg coverage and better compatibility with knee pads. In terms of knee pad compatibility, longer inseams tend to play nicest as they cover the top of the pad and help to avoid “pad gap” which can be considered a fashion faux-pas in certain circles. Of course, a rider’s height is also a consideration as a 15-inch inseam may fit a taller rider perfectly and look like a pair of capris on a shorter person. Fortunately, some brands vary their inseam lengths by size for a more proportional fit across their size range.

Laser cut ventilation holes on the Pearl Izumi Summit Shell shorts
Laser-cut ventilation holes, like those on the Pearl Izumi Summit Shell shorts, allow for excellent airflow on these lightweight and breezy shorts. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Ventilation and Breathability

Depending on the weather and temperatures you ride in most frequently or even seasonally, how much you perspire, or the level of effort you put in while riding, the ventilation and breathability of your mountain bike shorts may or may not be an important factor to consider. People who live in warmer climates or ride in the heat of the day will generally be more inclined to wear lightweight or well-ventilated shorts than those who live and ride in more temperate regions. If you live in an area where the seasons bring massive temperature swings, it will often be best to have multiple pairs of shorts for different conditions or find the goldilocks shorts that work well enough across a wide temperature range.

Ventilation is approached in various ways by different brands and for different styles of shorts. Most mountain bike shorts are made from technical fabrics that allow for some breathability and dry quickly when wet. Some shorts are made of fabrics that are so light and airy that they barely even feel like they are there, allow air to pass through easily, and dry incredibly quickly. Other shorts combine light or mid-weight fabrics with ventilating features, most commonly in the form of laser-cut perforations on the inner thighs to allow additional airflow. Zippered vents are becoming less common, though some brands still use them, and they work well and allow the rider to regulate the ventilation as needed.

Materials and taped seams of the POC Bastion waterproof mountain bike shorts
POC’s Bastion waterproof mountain bike shorts use technical waterproof fabric, taped seams, and waterproof zippers to keep you dry on the trail. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Weather Resistance

Given that shorts only cover about half your leg and have large openings at the hem by the knee, they are inherently not the most weather-resistant garment. Some brands and models of shorts do have weather-resistant materials or features in their designs, however, which may be of interest to those who ride in wet or variable conditions. While the majority of mountain bike shorts use light to mid-weight fabrics that are intended primarily for use in dry and warm conditions, many of them have a Durable Water-Repellant (DWR) finish applied that works to repel occasional splashes from puddles or very light rain showers and drizzle. When combined with the quick drying properties of the materials, these shorts are appropriate for most people most of the time.

While many people who ride in wet conditions frequently will often wear mountain bike pants or trousers for added coverage and weather protection, there are times when some weather-resistant shorts may be a better option. For those times, there are a number of shorts on the market that are either completely waterproof or have strategic waterproof panels to combat tire spray and/or rain. Waterproof shorts are certainly more of a niche product, but we have tested the POC Bastion shorts which are constructed completely from waterproof fabric and have fully taped seams to combat water from all angles. Endura is another brand that makes several models of waterproof and weather-resistant mountain bike shorts.

Pockets on the Velocio Ultralight Trail shorts
Well-designed pockets, like those on the Velocio Ultralight Trail shorts, allow for easy access and hold their contents securely and out of the way. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Pockets

The number, placement, and design of pockets on mountain bike shorts vary pretty dramatically depending on the brand, style, and intended use. The importance of pockets also varies pretty dramatically between riders and largely depends on how you carry essentials while you ride (fanny pack, backpack, on the bike, in your pockets) and how much you intend to carry in your pockets while riding. Zippers are a common feature on most pockets so you can close them and keep the contents secure when you’re rattling down the trail. While many mountain bike shorts used to have lots of pockets, there has been a general trend towards more streamlined and minimal designs that have fewer well-designed pockets. All of the shorts we tested have at least one pocket with most having 2-3 and one model sporting a whopping 4 places to hold your stuff.

Again, consider what you really need to carry in your pockets on a ride. This varies, of course, but space for at least a phone seems like the bare minimum. Some riders also like to stash a multi-tool, snack, keys, chapstick, and more. If you intend to carry more than a phone in your pockets, then shorts with just one pocket like the 7Mesh Slab or Specialized Trail Air may not have adequate storage for you. One thing that’s great about modern mountain bike shorts is that many brands have been designing really great pockets that are easy to access and hold their contents securely and out of the way. Often these are zippered, back-loading pockets on the thighs or hips, and they can typically fit a modern smartphone with good stability so it doesn’t flop around while pedaling or descending. Not all pocket designs are great, however, and some are not as well executed, easy to use, or pedal-friendly as others.

Style

When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you can ride better. Right? Well, maybe it isn’t that simple, but all things being equal, we think that most people can agree that style matters a little bit. And, if you’re paying top dollar for some fancy mountain bike shorts, they might as well look good and line up with your personal aesthetic. Not too long ago, the mountain bike shorts market was flooded with models that looked like they were better suited to a motocross race than pedaling a bike through the woods. Thankfully, those days are mostly behind us, and while you can definitely still find shorts that have a moto-influenced style, mostly on the DH side, there are now plenty of options that come in more subdued colors and have minimal branding that appeals to a broader range of tastes. Looking at the shorts we tested, it is clear that solid colors and small logos are currently trending. Style is subjective of course, but there’s thankfully lots of variety when it comes to colors and designs that most people should be able to find something they want to wear.

detail shot of a padded liner short or chamois turned inside out
Padded liner shorts, or chamois, like the Patagonia Dirt Roamer Bib Liner (turned inside out to show detail of the pad) have a compressive fit and a cushioned pad that may enhance your comfort on the bike. (photo: Jeremy Benson)

Padded Liner Shorts

Baggy mountain bike shorts are designed to be worn over a chamois/padded liner shorts or bibs. While not everyone rides with a padded liner, lots of folks appreciate the added comfort for seated pedaling provided by the pad, or chamois, in the liner. None of the shorts we tested came with a liner short, although several of the models can be purchased with a liner short included for a slight increase in price, or they can be purchased separately. While an included liner short does add value, these are typically not the highest quality. We recommend finding some good padded liner shorts or bibs that fit well and buying a few pairs to keep in rotation. There are lots of excellent options on the market these days that have higher quality chamois pads and/or special features like bib straps and integrated pockets for storage.

Value

The models we tested range in retail price from $85 up to $185, with most models falling roughly in the middle of that range. Materials, designs, construction methods, brands, and marketing budgets all play a role in the final price of a pair of mountain bike shorts. Often, you get what you pay for, and if you’re willing and able to spend a bit more you get a higher-quality product. Such is the case with some of the more expensive models we tested like the Velocio Ultralight Trail Shorts which are super lightweight, fit amazingly, and have a great design and quality construction. Other models, like the POC Bastion, command a high price due to their completely waterproof construction. At the same time, a more affordable pair of shorts like the Dakine Vectra costs roughly half the price and will cover the needs of most riders and styles of riding while saving you a bunch of cash for more bike parts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mountain Bike Shorts

Why should I buy mountain bike shorts? Can’t I just ride in any shorts?

You can mountain bike in any old pair of shorts you choose, and many people do. There’s nothing wrong with riding in some hiking shorts or old cut-off jeans, but we prefer to wear shorts that are specifically designed to be worn while mountain biking. Durable materials that are lightweight, quick-drying, and stretchy are combined with mountain bike specific cuts with waist articulation and high crotch gussets to provide on the bike comfort and freedom of movement. Quality mountain bike shorts will help you regulate temperature and moisture so you stay comfortable throughout the course of a ride, reduce the chances of irritation and chafing while pedaling, and provide leg coverage and protection from the sun, trailside obstacles, and unexpected encounters with the dirt.

Why are mountain bike shorts so expensive?

The price of mountain bike shorts varies pretty significantly, but like any outdoor apparel designed for a specific purpose, they can be pretty expensive. Technical fabrics, finishes, designs, and construction methods are the primary reasons that they can cost as much as they do. Thankfully, there are lots of options, with less sophisticated, entry-level shorts usually coming in around $80-$100, and more expensive shorts costing as much as double. If you’re operating on a budget, you can often find great deals on last year’s models or during end-of-season sales to save significant amounts of cash.

Should I wear padded liner shorts?

There’s no rule that says you have to wear padded liner shorts when you ride, but they definitely exist for a reason. Given that mountain biking takes place on rough trails and uneven terrain and we spend lots of time seated and pedaling on trail rides, adding a bit of cushioning between your body and your bike saddle can help to enhance and maintain your comfort while riding. By adding some cushioning, padded shorts help absorb some impact, help to avoid pressure points, and can reduce or prevent irritation, chafing, and sores that may otherwise develop. Another bonus is that padded liner shorts are generally pretty snug fitting, and they can help to keep sensitive parts of the male anatomy tucked up and out of the way, reducing unwanted and uncomfortable encounters with the saddle.

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