Best cycling shorts 2018: padded and streamlined shorts for a faster, more comfortable ride

Lycra shorts, ladies’ shorts, two-layer shorts and variations on that padded theme: there’s more to finding a pair of the best cycling shorts than you think

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There are lots of important bits of kit to tick off when setting up for a cycle. Bike: very important. Bike helmet: also very important. The best cycling shorts? Well, they might not be the first bit that comes to mind, but as the last layer between you and your trusty saddle, they perform a crucial function. It therefore follows that finding the best cycling shorts is a crucial job. No pressure though – on either your brain or your groin – as we’ve rounded up the best cycle shorts for women and men according to expert testers and online reviewers, to help you decide. 

What are the best cycling shorts?

All cycling shorts feature some degree of padding, which is where they differ from your average pair, although how much is up to you. Same goes for price. If possible, it's always worth 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.

Our best women’s cycle shorts and all-round top pick is the FWE BKB Waist Short, for its flatlock seams and women’s-specific padding offering superior comfort.

For men, who are constructed differently to women in the area covered by shorts, our top-choic cycle short is the classic Endura 8 Panel Xtract Gel Short, a great quality non-bib cycle short that also happens to have flatlock seams for superior comfort.

The best cycling shorts

1. FWE Women's BKB Waist Short

Best women’s cycling shorts

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Material: Polyamide, Elastane, Polyester
Reasons to buy
+Flattering, comfortable shape+Fit-specific padding

Evans Cycles own-brand FWE has put out some corkers when it comes to great value cyclewear, and these women’s bike shorts are no exception. 

Reviewers commended them 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. The padding is specifically engineered for ladies.

Endura 8 Panel Xtract Gel Short

2. Endura 8 Panel Xtract Gel Short

Warm weather-friendly wickers with comforting gel

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Material: Nylon, Elastane, Polyester
Reasons to buy
+Quick wicking+Gel padding to relieve pressure 

“Gel shorts” might sound like a folly, but reviewers say they come in pretty handy in hot weather. 

These bike shorts do everything they can to keep riders comfortable on warm days, from super-fast wicking to whisk away sweat to antibacterial finishes to eliminate sweaty smells; dimpled gel padding to relieve put-upon pressure points to soft-on-skin microfibre for a cool and comfortable feel.

Endura Urban Cargo

3. Endura Urban Cargo shorts

Best cycling shorts for city riding

Specifications
Sizes: S, M, L
Material: Nylon, Elastane, Polyester
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable and practical+Look like normal shorts+You can clip in a 'proper' cycle short liner
Reasons to avoid
-People may think you're a bike courier

These Endura shorts were pretty much ubiquitous a few years ago and they're still a great option for urban riders and more modest road warriors. That's because they just look like shorts, but are hard wearing and comfortable.

• Buy Endura Urban Cargo from Cycle Store

To get the full benefit, pair with one of Endura's Clickfast liners. This is basically like adding a 'proper' cycling short with extra seat padding, support and the great feel of Lycra but under your Urban Cargos, so nobody need know. Quite literally the best of both worlds. As you'd imagine, this does feel a little bulky and odd initially, but you soon get used to it.   

Tenn Mens Coolflo 8 Panel Padded Cycling Shorts

4. 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 cycle 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.