Best cycling shorts 2023 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 the 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 and the latter in the best bib shorts guide –  head over if you're 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 also need a new bike? 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

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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 the 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 long ride just to make sure everything sits as it should.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt looks after T3's Active vertical, which incorporates all things fitness, outdoors, wearables and transportation – anything that gets you moving and keeps you fit and healthy will go through his hands. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab)) and judged many awards, such as European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.