Best cycling shorts 2022 for a padded, streamlined and more comfortable ride

The best cycling shorts for any weather and occasion, from mountain biking and commuting to women's cycling and urban shorts

Best cycling shorts: Two people riding their bikes through a tunnel
(Image credit: Rapha)

You know how essential the best cycling shorts are if you ever rode a bike for longer than five minutes. As the last layer between you and your trusty saddle, padded cycling shorts perform a crucial function, letting you cycle for hours without chafing or saddle sores.

There are two types of cycling shorts: waist shorts and bib shorts – we're covering the former here but not to worry, we also have the list of best bib shorts, should you be interested in those. Both types of cycling shorts have their benefits and drawbacks.

Waist shorts have an elasticated waist, are often cheaper, and prove a popular choice for newer and casual cyclists. On the other hand, bib shorts are the choice of cyclists who cover longer distances since these shorts stay up thanks to the comfortable supporting braces but can make toilet stops more complicated. 

Based on the first-hand experience of our cycling testing team, we've rounded up the best waist cycling shorts for women and men to help you decide which are right for you. Should you need even more cycling gear, you'd better check out T3's guides on the best cycling jerseys, best cycling shoes, best cycling sunglasses and best cycling bags

Do you need a new bike too? Gosh. Have a look at the best road bike guide for more info on what bike to buy right now.

Best cycling shorts to buy right now

Rapha Core Shorts on white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Rapha)

1. Rapha Core Shorts

Best cycling shorts overall

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Material: 82% Polyester, 8% Elastane
Padding: Moderate

Reasons to buy

+
Really comfortable
+
Gets the basics right 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest (but not the most expensive either)

The Core range is Rapha’s more affordable range and while still not cheap, you get Rapha quality, which includes a supremely comfortable chamois, and that's the same Rapha chamois pad used in all of the brand’s Classic range.

For both women and men, the Rapha Core Shorts are available as bib shorts and non-bibs. For the non-bib cycling shorts, instead of using a drawstring at the waist as some brands do – which can chafe skin on longer rides – Rapha has opted for the same grippy silicone around the waist as you’ll find around the leg openings. When it comes to balancing quality, comfort and price, we think Rapha's cycling shorts are the best you can buy right now.

FWE Women's BKB Waist Short on white backgroundT3 Award

2. FWE Women's BKB Waist Short

Best cycling shorts for women

Specifications

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Material: Polyamide, Elastane, Polyester

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering, comfortable shape
+
Fit-specific padding

Reasons to avoid

-
Some reports of snug sizing so check the guide

Evans Cycles own-brand FWE has put out some corkers when it comes to great value cyclewear, and these women’s cycling shorts are no exception. The padding is specifically engineered for ladies. These are great cycling shorts for women that won't break the bank.  

Reviewers commended the FWE Women's BKB Waist Shorts for their flattering cut and comfortable fit, with some claiming this was the only pair that didn’t give them what cyclists seem to variously call “muffin legs” or “sausage legs”, all thanks to snug but not over-tight bands that hold the shorts in place at mid-thigh.

Endura 8 Panel Xtract Gel Shorts on white backgroundT3 Award

3. Endura 8 Panel Xtract Gel Short

Best warm-weather cycling shorts

Specifications

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Material: Nylon, Elastane, Polyester
RRP: £44.99

Reasons to buy

+
Quick wicking
+
Gel padding to relieve pressure 

Reasons to avoid

-
May be a little long on the legs for some riders

“Gel cycling shorts” might sound like a folly, but reviewers say the Endura 8 Panel Xtract Gel Shorts come in pretty handy in hot weather. These bike shorts do everything they can to keep riders comfortable on warm days.

This includes super-fast wicking to whisk away sweat; antibacterial finishes to eliminate sweaty smells; dimpled gel padding to relieve put-upon pressure points; and soft-on-skin microfibre for a cool and comfortable feel. That's a lot of promise, but 94% of reviewers on the Evans website recommend these cycling shorts – and at under £50, they're great value too.

Endura Hummvee Chino Short on white backgroundT3 Award

4. Endura Hummvee Chino Short (with liner)

Best cycling shorts for city riding

Specifications

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Material: Elastane, Polyester, Cotton

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and practical
+
Look like normal shorts
+
Comes with a detachable cycle short liner

Reasons to avoid

-
People may think you're a bike courier

The Endura Hummvee Chino Short (with liner) is brand new for 2019. The Hummvee range was originally aimed at mountain bikers, but these new cycling shorts have a more tailored cut. They’re designed to take you from the bike to the office or pub, making them a great option for urban riders and more modest road riders.

That's because they just look like shorts, but are hard wearing and comfortable, with a detachable liner short providing extra seat padding and support – but under your shorts, so nobody need know. Quite literally the best of both worlds. As you'd imagine, this can feel a little bulky and odd initially, but you soon get used to it.   

Tenn Mens Coolflo 8 Panel Padded Cycling Shorts on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

5. Tenn Mens Coolflo 8 Panel Padded Cycling Shorts

Best cheap cycling shorts

Specifications

Sizes: 30-44
Material: Nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Budget-friendly
+
Eight-panel construction

Single-figure prices are, understandably, few and far between in the world of cycling garments, but these budget Tenn Mens Coolflo 8 Panel Padded Cycling Shorts come very highly rated by users. It’s certainly no bad thing in a sport that can sometimes feel inaccessible to those on a budget, and whether they’re an entry-level pair or a spare, they’re sure to perform admirably.

The eight-panel construction allows maximum range of movement, while the nylon-spandex blend stays stretchy in action and retains its shape when washed. If you're tight on cash, these cycling shorts are worth a look.

How to choose the best cycling shorts

All cycling shorts have some degree of padding, which is where they differ from your average pair, although how much is up to you. The same goes for price. If possible, it's always worth grabbing your bike helmet and going for a test run in new cycle shorts before setting off on a longer ride, just to make sure everything sits as it should.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym reviews.