These are the best cycling shorts for taming the tarmac or tackling the trails…
Tour de France legend Eddie Merckx once said, “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” But for anyone still attempting to ride a bike without a pair of the best dedicated cycling shorts, this simple upgrade is a complete game-changer.
The perfect cycling shorts are ones that let you ride your bike faster, for longer and in more comfort. (And if they help you look more stylish in the process, so much the better.) It’s a basic yardstick and in 2023 we’re discovering that cycling apparel brands are deploying ever more advanced technology to meet it. That ranges from multi-layered foam or gel chamois inserts and thigh cargo pockets to innovative bio-fibres and dynamic ventilation.
Tested by bike enthusiast Matt Ray, over a range of distances, terrains and weather conditions, here are the best cycling shorts in 2023.
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Best cycling shorts in 2023
- Best for racing – Endura Pro SL EGM Bibshort ($229.99 / £149.99), amazon.co.uk
- Best for wet weather – Oakley Endurance Ultra Bibshort ($165 / £142), oakley.com
- Best for breathability – UYN Metarace Bibshort ($199 / £199), uynsports.com
- Best for style – Rapha Brevet Bibshort ($280 / £230), rapha.cc
- Best for old school mountain biking – Oakley Seeker ’75 MTB Short ($100 / £85), amazon.co.uk
- Best for off-road riding – Endura MTB Humvee Short With Liner ($99.99 / £69.99), amazon.co.uk
- Best for storage – Endura GV500 Reiver Bibshort ($169.99 / £129.99), amazon.co.uk
Endura Pro SL EGM Bibshort
Best for racing
|Features:||EGM pad with medical grade silicon inserts, long leg option, high wicking rear yoke panel|
|Colours:||Black, deep teal, ink blue|
|Sizes:||XS – 2XL|
Made with elite-level road riders in mind, Endura’s Pro SL offer top-level performance for a mid-range price. A supremely comfortable 800 Series chamois insert has medical-grade silicon inserts to relieve pressure points while a perforated rear yoke panel ramps air flow to the max.
Wide elastic straps, silicon grippers and a sleek fit help strike a balance between race-ready cut and all-day comfort, while low-profile logos and striking colourways mean its no slouch in the style department either. A similar performance bibshort from certain boutique brands would cost almost twice the price.
Read our full Endura Pro SL EGM Bibshort review
Oakley Endurance Ultra Bibshort
Best for wet weather
|Features:||Hydrolix moisture management, reflective details, UPF50+ sun protection|
|Sizes:||XS – 2XL|
If you’re looking for a bibshort you can wear from spring through to autumn, the Oakley Endurance Ultra could be the way to go. It features a low-profile, lightweight design with water-repelling tech to keep you dry in inclement weather and a breathable mesh upper to stay fresh on those muggy days.
The triple-density foam pad holds up well over longer distances, and Hydrolix moisture management keeps your thighs cool however furiously you pedal. That makes them a good option for wearing under baggy MTB shorts, and compression panels should help long days in the saddle.
Read our full Oakley Endurance Ultra Bibshort review
UYN Metarace Bibshort
Best for breathability
|Features:||Dynamic Ventcuff cooling / bio-based Natex fibres / HP4D pad with four density levels|
|Sizes:||Small – 2XL|
Bio-based Natex fibres and some impressive tech make the UYN shorts some of the best for staying cool in the saddle. Tiny Ventcuff ventilation holes open up as you peddle, while ribbed thigh panels lessen the surface area in contact with your skin.
The HD4P chamois insert is the real star of the show, though, with four density levels to offer comfort over the longest rides. Those Natex fibres help keep the weight low and enhance already impressive breathability. They have a natural bacteriostatic effect, too, to keep smells at bay.
Rapha Brevet Bibshorts
Best for style
|Features:||Dual density chamois pad, thigh pockets, UPF50+ sun protection|
|Colours:||Black, dark navy, dark green|
|Sizes:||XS – 2XL|
OK, so the best things in life aren’t free, but if you can swallow the price of the Rapha Brevet you’ll have super-stylish and functional shorts that you’ll want to show off. The Brevet is named after the card long-distance racers get stamped at checkpoints, and these bibshorts will hold their own on epic road rides.
The fabric is comfortable and wicks effortlessly, and offers UV protection for hours spent under a hot sun. The design is flattering enough to feel comfortable on those en-route cafe stops and there are reflective accents for journeys that last into the night. The Brevets have useful thigh storage too.
Read our full Rapha Brevet Bibshorts review
Oakley Seeker ’75 MTB Short
Best for old-school mountain biking
|Features:||4-way stretch fabric, 2 pockets, water-repellent treatment|
|Colours:||Red line, hummus, black|
If you still like to ride a 26in hardtail you’ll appreciate the retro styling of the Oakley Seeker. It’s a great choice for those sweltering rides or Alpine epic rides as it’s lightweight for an MTB short and has excellent breathability.
You’ll need to pair this with your own padded shorts but that works well for those who ride on and off road and who already have a favourite bibshort. There’s a DWR coating for repelling showers or puddles and an adjustable web belt for securing the perfect fit.
Read our full Oakley Seeker ’75 MTB Short review
Endura MTB Humvee Shorts with Liner
Best for off-road riding
|Features:||Clickfast detachable liner; 6 pockets, including 2 zipped; water repellent finish|
|Colours:||7 colours available|
|Sizes:||XS – 4XL|
Features: Clickfast detachable liner / 6 pockets, including 2 zipped / water repellent finish | Colours: 7 colours available | Sizes: XS – 4XL
Endura gets that if you can ride in UK conditions, you can ride anywhere. So it’s no surprise that its classic MTB Humvee Shorts will cope with whatever the weather can throw at it, earning them a spot on our list of the best cycling shorts. Lightweight, breathable fabric with a water repellent finish guarantees you’ll stay cool and dry in most rideable conditions.
The integrated, detachable liner gives you plenty of options and offers just the right level of comfort for off-road riding. Six pockets lessen the need for riding with a backpack too and the cut of these baggies is slim enough not to get caught on your saddle when you drop off the back on rocky descents.
Read our full Endura MTB Humvee Short With Liner review
Endura GV500 Reiver Bibshort
Best for storage
|Features:||600 Series Pad II with gel inserts, 7 pockets, protective double-layer leg panels|
|Sizes:||Small – XL|
Designed specifically with gravel riding in mind, the Endura GV500 Reiver Bibshort is ideal for long-distance adventures on any surface. Featuring a wealth of pockets on the thighs and lower back, the shorts reduce the need for sweat-inducing stashes in jersey pockets or even backpacks.
If you find yourself riding on gnarly terrain you’ll be thankful not only for the gel inserts on the 600 Series Pad II but also for the double-layered side panels to protect you from gravel rash in the event of a spill. A worthwhile investment for those who like to ride on wilder trails.
Read our full Endura GV500 Reiver Bibshort review
How these cycling shorts were tested
Our tester, bike enthusiast Matt Ray, put each pair through their paces on a series or medium and long-range rides. He also tested them on long, hot climbs, through summer showers and (in the case of gravel and mountain bike-specific shorts) along wet, muddy, dusty and uneven trails to see how they hold up in a variety of conditions.
He pitted some of the best performing cycling shorts against each other to see how they compare in terms of comfort, features and new tech. Most of them are road-focused bibshorts, but the line between road and gravel apparel is becoming increasingly blurred. So he’s included a couple of ‘all-road’ bibshorts and classic MTB baggies here too.