When riding a bike, there are only a few contact points between the body and the frame, and each of them deserves special care. Your lower back needs to be especially well looked after, since it can become very uncomfortable after long hours full bumps on the road or trail. Regardless of how much padding and comfort the saddle provides, you will find yourself soon enough looking for a better option to take care of your backbone and delicate areas while jumping over hard rocks.
The best mountain bike shorts are what you need to make your ride more enjoyable and fun, without having to contend with uncomfortable and relentless mild pain. They have an extra layer of padding right where it needs to be and can make a significant difference. If looks are what you’re concerned about, there is no need to worry since the designers of mountain biking shorts have also kept fashion in mind while doing their job. Read on to find out what are the best mtb shorts on the market and be on your way towards smoother riding.
How To Choose A Mountain Bike Short – Buying Guide
Any kind of mtb short you purchase will feature some sort of method to let you adjust how it feels around your waist. This is particularly useful for mountain bike shorts since, as we have seen, they can also sometimes be worn without the inner padded lining that sets them apart from regular trousers. The most common system is Velcro straps, and these can be found on the inside or the outside of the waistband. These save you from having to wear a belt, which can feel pretty uncomfortable if you have to scrunch over it while on a bike.
If looks are important to you, then having them on the inside might be preferable since they will not show, but they do risk chafing against your skin. We tend to prefer outer straps because they are easier to adjust quickly, although there is a greater risk that they will snag on your jersey or other pieces of clothing. Other systems might be a hook and loop strap or an elastic waist with a drawstring. These can also be effective, but just keep in mind that any buckle based system faces a greater risk of being damaged in the unfortunate event of a crash.
Pockets are one of the essential features you need on a pair of mtb shorts, since they allow you to keep your valuables safe while you zip along the trails. Unless you are going bikepacking and you need a full sized bike saddle bag, having deep enough pockets will be more than enough to get you through the day. Most good mtb shorts will provide you with various options, and one of the most important features you should look out for is that they can be zipped shut. Velcro closures are also available but just don’t deliver that same feeling of security that you get when you pull a zipper shut.
Another point worth mentioning is the placement of the pockets on your shorts. While cargo pockets are always very nice and deep, they are also often positioned at the lower end of the trouser leg, and this makes them very likely to start dangling around as soon as you start moving, especially if you are carrying something heavy. The best placement for a pocket would be near your waist, and facing towards the front. These provide a bit less storage space but far greater security, especially if, as we said, you can close them with a zipper, and are also less likely to come undone in a crash.
Finding a pair of shorts that fit correctly is crucial in order for the rider to feel free during his or her movements and be able to get the best out of every single pedal stroke. Bike shorts need to fit snug, but do have a tendency to fit smaller than your usual size, so ordering one size up is usually a good choice. That being said, much will also depend on the style of riding you want to do. Cross-country riders will tend to prefer shorts that are more similar to road cycling ones, which means shorter and more tight fitting than average, while downhill enthusiasts or acrobatic riders are likely to enjoy the added protection delivered by pants that stretch down under the knees.
The thickness of the materials used is also something to take into account, since it inevitably affects speed. Again, cross-country cyclists, or anyone that is not planning on very close encounters with tocks or twigs, such as beginner mountain bikers, will feel just fine with thinner shorts. Several other people however, and you know who you are, will need some kind of abrasion resistance in the event of a fall, and will be more than willing to give up some speed to gain a little added protection.
Clean and simple is always better when it comes to mountain bike shorts, so the ideal fly is something that is easy and quick to close and prevents any unwanted stuff from getting stuck in it. Buttons and zippers are good options since they are also very easy to operate quickly. You can also find some velcro closures on the market, but we would not recommend those since the risk that they come undone at the first bump in the road is greater than what we feel comfortable with. Some manufacturers have decided to completely do away with the issue and propose pants without a fly, which may be the best solution especially for certain types of riders.
Type Of Riding
When you’re on a mountain bike, there are three main categories in which your riding style will tend to fall. These are cross-country, sometimes also called trail, downhill, and enduro. Cross-country riding includes parts of smooth trail or road, while downhill means that riders will wear extra protective gear and special helmets since they will be hurtling head first down steep slopes, often on dual suspension bikes. Trail riding is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words “mountain biking” and takes place predominantly on the trails. While a lot of mountain bikes have characteristics that allow them to perform reasonably well in all three different scenarios, the more you specialize the more this will be reflected in the choice of your gear, such as, for example, preferring flat pedals if you’re looking to master acrobatic moves.
When it comes to mtb shorts, cross country riders are likely to be the ones least concerned about durability and toughness, since the routes they take are usually more forgiving when it comes to rocks and branches. They are also less likely to want to stand up on the pedals to push harder, so they might settle for shorts that don’t allow as much freedom of movement as other models. For downhill or enduro riders, on the other hand, being able to ride in different position is crucial to getting the best results, so the shorts they choose need to accommodate for that. Some abrasion resistance is also a welcome feature, especially for downhill riders since they are the ones that expose themselves to the greatest risks. For this category of cyclists, there are also options that descend under the knee and allow from protective inserts to be added, to provide extra cushioning in the event of a skid or a fall.
The length of the mtb shorts you decide to purchase will depend on several different factors, one of which is personal preference. As you have seen in our reviews, several of the shorts we have shown you can be used as normal trousers, so for those you can apply your personal stylistic preference when it comes to length. For riding, you should consider your riding style to understand what short fits best for you. If you prefer flat roads and not too challenging trails even a shorter model will be fine, leaving your knees exposed but remaining nice and lightweight. For those who prefer diving head-first into the thick bush, a longer option might be better advised, since it can prevent a bit more of your body from getting scratched and scraped. Furthermore, if you choose to use knee caps to reinforce an area that is very exposed in case of a fall, you need you shorts to stretch at least to the top of the pad to give a more complete protection, and this will narrow down your choices considerably.
Water resistance is usually not at the top of the list when you consider buying mountain bike shorts, but probably because nowadays it’s almost a given that any pair you will buy will be able to sustain a little humidity. Most rider are over soon enough for the riders to get out of wet clothing before things start to get out of control but having a certain amount of weather resistance is certainly a useful thing to have for your clothes. This is especially true if you are carrying any sort of valuable items, such as a smartphone, in your pockets. Most of the mtb shorts on the market will work fine, since they are all made with synthetic materials that do not soak up water and are quick to dry.
Padding is what sets apart cycling shorts from normal trousers and is what makes the difference between a comfortable ride and one that is a lot less enjoyable. The soft pads that are found in the groin area are made of synthetic materials, such as foam or, in the better models, gel, and can be identified by their density, which gives a good idea of just how much energy they can absorb. This is the most important piece of information you have to consider, before looking at the length or thickness of the pads and is measured in kilograms per cubic meters.
A pad with 80 kg/m3 is usually good enough to carry you through a ride of four hours without you feeling significant discomfort. As you increase the density, you’ll be able to sit longer in your bike and pedal further. It is also important that the padding layers are easy to remove and wash and can wick away the moisture that gathers in the area, since that is the spot where the most humidity concentrates, and it needs to be soft and dry before you start your ride. Finally, be wary that some manufacturers sell shorts and padded liners separately while others propose them as a kit, so be sure to check exactly what you are going to receive when you click “buy” to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Q: Why Do Mountain Bikers Wear Baggy Shorts?
Mountain bikers prefer wearing baggy shorts because they allow for greater freedom of movement that tight road shorts, and they also offer more storage thanks to the pockets they have as well as more protection in case of a fall, since they are usually made with thicker and tougher materials. Also, mountain bikers are less concerned with aerodynamics, and there is a touch of pride in wanting to wear something that sets them apart from road cyclists.
Q: Are Mountain Bike Shorts Padded?
Many mountain bike shorts come with an inner layer that features a padded section around the groin, to reduce the impact of the repeated impacts that your behind experiences while you're on the saddle. Some models sold on the market, however, do not include this layer with their purchase so you need to be sure to already have one before you buy them.
Q: Are Mountain Bike Shorts Worth It?
Yes, without a doubt. Riding a bike without them for long hours or over rough and uneven terrain can make your crotch sore in ways you didn't think possible, and force you to stay off the bike while you recover. You only need to experience this once to understand that it's worth investing in a good pair of mountain bike shorts that will take care of your more delicate areas and leave you free to focus on the road ahead.
Q: What Do You Wear Under Mountain Bike Shorts?
If the shorts you have purchased already come with a layer of padded underwear, you do not need to wear anything else underneath, as they will already provide all the protection you need. If they do not, then we recommend purchasing one of these protective liners before you set out, since, as we have said just above, they can make a significant difference in the comfort with which you ride your bike.
Q: Should I Wear Underpants Under Cycling Shorts?
No, you should not. It might take some getting used to and feel remarkably weird in the beginning, but you will soon realize that wearing cotton underpants under your cycling shorts will only lead to possible chafing and irritations, especially if they become soaked with sweat. So take the leap and do what is right, going naked under your cycling shorts. Your most delicate areas will thank you for that.
Globo Surf Overview
They may not have the catchy look of a bike computer or be as rugged as mountain bike tires, but a pair of mtb shorts can make a much bigger difference in your riding than any of those items. Your health and safety on the bike should come before any shiny gadget, so we warmly recommend that you arm yourself with a top-rated pair of shorts even if you are just a beginner learning about the sport. In this article we have shown you what are the best options on the market, for any skill level and any price point, so you can accurately select the items that fits you best. Riding comfortably is a crucial step to enjoying your time on the bike and finding the courage to push yourself further, so if you choose wisely you’ll be on your way to many hours of fun on your saddle.