The 10 Best Padded Bike Shorts of 2023

Giordana FR-C Pro for men and Castelli Prima Shorts for women are our top picks.

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Bike Shorts
Courtesy of Amazon

Riding a bike is exhilarating long after the training wheels have come off, but having the right gear can mean the difference between a joy ride and one you'd rather forget.

Padded bike shorts are one accessory you'll want to have on your checklist, and they aren't just for the pros — any cyclist can benefit from the enhanced comfort and support. And if you're wary of the tight spandex fit, there are plenty of alternative styles and choices offering quality performance.

For men, we like the Giordana FR-C Pro shorts best, while for women the Castelli Prima Shorts are our favorite. Whether you're cruising around town, cycling long distance, or pedaling off-road, this list of the best padded bike shorts has something for everyone.

These are the best padded bike shorts for men:

These are the best padded bike shorts for women:

The Best Men's Padded Bike Shorts

Best Overall

Giordana Men's FR-C Pro Cycling Shorts

Giordana Men's FR-C Pro Cycling Shorts


Why We Love It: These lightweight shorts feel like a second skin while providing core support and ample comfort in the seat.

What to Consider: They sell at a premium, so casual riders and commuters might prefer a simpler option.

Hailing from a family business in Italy, the FR-C Pros were created for top-notch performance. Giordana designed these shorts to reduce creases and support a full range of motion by mirroring the body's natural riding position. The snug fit is held in place by the Ametista Carbon waist panel, which fastens in the back and helps keep the core tight, as well as woven elastic leg bands. The shorts are made from a lightweight 50-thread Lycra fabric that affords superior comfort and moisture-wicking abilities while reducing abrasion. The 14-millimeter thick Cirro S chamois is infused with aloe vera to provide cool, long-lasting comfort and protect against bacteria. Aside from the standard seat padding, a chamois cup in the crotch of the shorts helps keep everything comfortable and in place. If performance is a top priority, these shorts can be purchased with suspender-like straps (known as a bib) for an added cost .

Price at time of publish: $190

Inseam: 10.5 inches | Material: Primarily Lycra | Sizes: S to 3XL

Best Bib

Assos Equipe RS S9 Bib Short - Men's

Assos Equipe RS S9 Bib Short - Men's


Why We Love It: Supportive padding and flexible fit make this meticulously engineered design a great pick for long-distance cycling.

What to Consider: Though its performance is great, the cost is a bit steep for casual cyclists.

The Equipe RS Bib Shorts S9 by Assos were constructed with performance and long-lasting comfort in mind. The bib design helps achieve a more secure fit and keep everything in place to avoid bunching around the crotch and an exposed lower back. The wide bib straps minimize chafing and connect to a more durable strap around the waist to provide a taut fit without tugging on the shoulders — a downside with other bib shorts. The waist is fitted with flexible materials to conform to different riding positions while alleviating pressure. For padded comfort, these shorts have a 9-millimeter outer layer of microshock foam, three layers of waffle foam to allow air flow, and an antimicrobial sheet to cut down on moisture and chafing.

Price at time of publish: $249

Inseam: 11 inches | Material: 80 percent nylon, 20 percent Lycra | Sizes: XS to XLG

Best Budget

Pearl Izumi Men's Escape Quest Cycling Short

PEARL IZUMI Men's Escape Quest Cycling Short


Why We Love It: These sleek shorts keep you comfortable and have a sleeker look than other bargain bike shorts.

What to Consider: The single-layer chamois pad isn't well suited for longer rides and can hold moisture.

Although Quest bike shorts are the most accessible Pearl Izumi design, they're still made of quality materials and include some of the features that have made this brand a leader in cycling. The shorts' compressive transfer fabric helps riders stay cool, dry, and comfortable, while reflective properties improve visibility on the road. The six-panel design supports a wide range of motion, as does the cushy, 1-inch elastic waistband. The Levitate chamois pad gradually thins out along the edges, reducing chafing and creating a sleeker look compared to other bargain bike shorts. Quest's durability and moderate padding make it an economical choice for commuters and casual riders, but more active cyclists may find it lacking comfort and support for long-distance journeys.

Price at time of publish: $50

Inseam: 9.5 inches | Material: 80 percent recycled nylon, 20 percent spandex | Sizes: S to XXL

Best Loose-fitting

Zoic Men's Ether Cycling Short with Essential Liner

ZOIC Men's Ether Cycling Short + Essential Liner


Why We Love It: There are plenty of pockets and an easy-to-use waist adjustment system with these baggier shorts.

What to Consider: The chamois liner is basic and less form-fitting than some bike shorts on our list.

If you're not a fan of a tight, constricting fit, Zoic Ether bike shorts offer a breezier cycling experience. Mesh ventilation panels along the legs and waistband add further breathability, while the durable nylon outer layer is made for enduring the elements. To get a comfortable, snug fit, simply adjust the hook-and-loop system along the waistband. The stretch fabric is conducive to pedaling and moves easily over the skin without abrasion or chafing. And with six pockets, including two cargo and two zip pockets, the Ether provides excellent and secure storage while riding. The Ether shorts can come with or without the IPL Essential Liner, so double-check before purchasing.

Price at time of publish: $90

Inseam: 12 inches | Material: Shell: 96 percent recycled polyester, 4 percent spandex. Liner: 87 percent recycled polyester, 13 percent spandex | Sizes: S to 3X

Best for Mountain Biking

Troy Lee Designs Skyline Short - Men's

Troy Lee Designs Skyline Short - Men's


Why We Love It: The quality chamois, durable materials, and trim fit make these shorts a solid choice for long days on tough terrain.

What to Consider: The thicker material helps with trail protection, but hinders breathability compared to other bike shorts on this list.

With cushioned comfort for long rides and rugged nylon exterior, the Skyline Short is geared towards off-road adventure. The durable materials and fitted design don't sacrifice flexibility in their added protection. Thanks to thin panels of Lycra along the waistband and crotch, riders have an unrestricted range of motion and added breathability. Mesh openings on the legs give additional ventilation while accommodating knee pads, though some cyclists may have a gap between pad and short depending on height and riding position. Finding the ideal fit is easy with two adjustable velcro straps along the waistband. And to withstand bumps and impact, these shorts have an air mesh liner with a 4-hour chamois pad.

Price at time of publish: $119

Inseam: 12.5 inches | Material: 95 percent Coolmax polyester, 5 percent Lycra | Sizes: 30 to 38

The Best Women's Padded Bike Shorts

Best Overall

Castelli Prima Short

Castelli Prima Short

Courtesy of Castelli

Why We Love It: These shorts provide top-notch comfort at an affordable price point.

What to Consider: The design is very form-fitting to support leg muscles, but the look isn't for everyone.

The Castelli Prima Short is designed to contour to your body for long-lasting comfort and support. The Prima's chamois and Kiss Air2 seat pad give plenty of cushion, while an extra-soft top cover shields the skin from abrasion during intense riding. The shorts are crafted from a Pro Dry Soft Lycra, which clings to the body to cool your legs and rapidly wick away sweat. The snug fit is achieved without any pressure points thanks to wide waist and leg bands. The latter uses leg grippers to prevent the shorts from riding up, and each leg also has reflective patches in the rear so you can safely ride from dawn to dusk. At just under $100 a pair, these shorts are a great introduction to race-level performance that'll give you a boost in spin class or on the open road.

Price at time of publish: $100

Inseam: 8.5 inches | Material: Pro Dry Soft Lycra | Sizes: XS to XL

Best Bib

Sugoi Women's RS Pro Bib Short

SUGOi, Women's RS Pro Bib Short


Why We Love It: The sleek, multi-panel design provides a tailored, race-ready fit.

What to Consider: Some cyclists may prefer a more substantial bib strap.

The SUGOi RS Pro Bib checks all the boxes for quality materials and enhanced performance. Living up to its name, the Ultra Aero fabric is aerodynamic for a race-ready fit. The sheer material also has excellent breathability and wicking capacity. The Formula FX Chamois keeps riders comfy for hours with a dense poron foam layer under the sit bones. The RS Pro Bib padding employs some innovative features for added comfort, like a welded center channel with ventilation, laminated seams to avoid irritation, and four-way stretch panels that form to your body. These shorts have the edge on other bib designs when it comes to pit stops, as the extra stretchy elastic straps allow riders to simply pull down the bib when nature calls.

Price at time of publish: $204

Inseam: 8.5 inches | Material: 78 percent nylon, 22 percent spandex | Sizes: XS to XL

Best Budget

Baleaf Womens Bike Shorts 3D Padded Pocket Cycling Spinning Shorts

BALEAF Womens Bike Shorts 3D Padded Pocket Cycling Spinning Shorts


Why We Love It: Seamless edges cut down on chafing in sensitive areas.

What to Consider: The affordable price point comes at the cost of lower quality materials.

The Flyleaf padded shorts have the essentials covered for comfort. The dual layer chamois provides sufficient cushion in the seat and its seamless edges cut down on chafing in sensitive areas. The chamois padding is moisture-wicking and designed to be worn against the skin. Meanwhile, the high-rise waist ensures the lower back isn't exposed and silicone grippers keep the legs from riding up. These shorts don't come with many bells or whistles, but the reflective elements and UPF protection are useful features that help set these shorts apart from other bargain bike shorts.

Price at time of publish: $31

Inseam: 10 inches | Material: 80 percent nylon, 20 percent spandex | Sizes: XS to 3XL

Best Loose-fitting

Terry Metro Short Lite - Womens Bicycling Short W/Removable Liner Metro Short Lite - Womens Bicycling Short W/Removable Liner

Terry Metro Short Lite - Womens Bicycling Short W/Removable Liner


Why We Love It: You get the comfort of padded bike shorts with a sleek design and functionality to wear for everyday use.

What to Consider: The roomy fit is not geared for long-distance and intensive riding.

If you're looking for padded comfort for daily commutes and casual rides but don't want the tight spandex look of conventional bike shorts, the Metro Bike Shorts Lite by Terry have you covered. The seamless chamois is compact in size but packs multi-level foam padding for solid support and perforations to enhance breathability. The chamois liner is also removable and can be easily paired with other shorts to mix up your cycling style, though the feathery outer short material comes in handy on hot days. Reflective bands are assets for cycling on trafficked roads, and the shorts include four pockets to store your necessities.

Price at time of publish:

Inseam: 11.5 inches | Material: 90 percent recycled polyester, 10 percent spandex | Sizes: XS to XXL

Best for Mountain Biking

Zoic Navaeh Short + Essential Liner - Women'

ZOIC Navaeh Short + Essential Liner - Women'


Why We Love It: These versatile shorts provide ample comfort and protection for trail riding but are lightweight and stretchy enough for casual riding.

What to Consider: The lack of water resistance is a downside if mountain biking in cool, wet conditions.

The Neveah shorts offer essential leg protection for trail riding with a durable nylon shell and an 11-inch inseam to line up with knee pads. At the same time, the VersaLight fabric is flexible enough to accommodate the full range of riding positions while still giving a form-fitting look. The inside of the shorts is fitted with a removable liner with Chamois to cushion against impact and vibrations on bumpy terrain. Additionally, the gusseted crotch allows for a range of motion on the saddle while preventing the shorts from bunching. Tagless labels and four pockets with locking zippers round out these highly functional mountain bike shorts.

Price at time of publish:

Inseam: 11 inches | Material: Shell: 86 percent recycled polyester and 14 percent spandex; Liner: 88 percent polyester and 12 percent spandex | Sizes: XS to XL

Tips for Buying Padded Bike Shorts

Match the type of shorts to your activity level

Padded bike shorts come in many forms and with varying levels of performance. Consider the duration, terrain, and intensity of your cycling when selecting a pair of bike shorts.

If you're an active cyclist alternating between a range of positions for hours of riding, for instance, having flexible and breathable materials along with a secure fit are likely important factors. For Denise Cervantes, Certified Personal Trainer at Herbalife Nutrition, having a "comfortable waistband with a snug fit to hold up the shorts without digging in" is essential for a perfect ride.

Not all padding is created equal

Having something may seem better than nothing, but low-quality pads and chamois can add discomfort by creating an uneven seat or failing to protect areas like the inner thighs from rubbing. "Beware of how these [pads] are stitched in," says Cervantes, as "sometimes the stitching can be quite irritating." Choosing padded bike shorts with a seamless chamois can help avoid this issue. It's also helpful to look for breathability in chamois and padding to prevent moisture build-up.

Pay attention to the inseam

The length of your shorts is worth factoring into your decision-making. Check to make sure the inseam is long enough to prevent legs from rubbing on the seat or being exposed to trail conditions if mountain biking. You should also consider your comfort level with the fit and length of any bike shorts. A pair of bike shorts may check all your boxes in terms of performance and durability, but you're unlikely to wear them if they're cut shorter than you're comfortable with wearing in public.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When should you wear padded bike shorts?

    It's recommended to wear padded bike shorts if you're experiencing pain and irritation from extended sitting on a bike. Some cyclists may prefer using a padded seat in place of padded bike shorts.

  • Do you wear underwear with padded bike shorts?

    In most cases, no. Many padded bike shorts are designed to be worn against the skin. Introducing a layer of underwear can negate the benefits that bike shorts offer, such as moisture control.

  • Do I need padded bike shorts for stationary cycling?

    To some extent, wearing padded bike shorts for stationary cycling comes down to personal preference. But if you're riding out of the saddle during most of your spin class, padded bike shorts may not be necessary. Instead, choosing bike shorts with leg support and sweat-wicking capabilities may be more helpful for stationary cycling.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Kevin Brouillard researched dozens of bike shorts, interviewed cycling experts, and used his expertise as a travel writer to craft the perfect list for you.

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Updated by
Taylor Fox
Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer at Travel + Leisure
Taylor Fox is a Commerce Updates Writer at Travel + Leisure where she tests, researches, and writes about travel products. Taylor holds a Master’s in Geography and has been a writer and editor for over seven years.
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