If you ever rode a bike for longer than five minutes, you know how essential the best cycling shorts are. 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 as well, should you be interested in those. Both type 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 type of shorts stay up thanks to the comfortable supporting braces, but can make toilet stops more complicated.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best waist cycling shorts for women and men according to expert testers and online reviewers, 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.
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.
The best cycling shorts, in order of preference
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.
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. 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. The padding is specifically engineered for ladies. These are great cycling shorts for women that won't break the bank.
“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.
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.
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.