Choosing the Best Mountain Bike Shorts in 2024

Are you searching for the best mountain bike shorts to elevate your riding experience? Look no further! We’ve tested and reviewed the best mountain bike shorts of 2024, considering factors like comfort, durability, and style to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive in and find the perfect pair for your next adventure!

Mountain bike shorts cover the part of your body with the most movement and abrasive contact during every ride. So, it’s safe to say that adorning high-quality shorts is up there with staying hydrated in terms of importance. But which are the best mountain bike shorts for you?

Look no further! We’ve tested and reviewed a range of MTB shorts from 2024’s gear lineup, considering factors like comfort, durability, and style to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive in and find the perfect pair for your next adventure!

Short Summary

  • We’ve compiled a list of top picks for mountain bike shorts to suit various preferences and budgets.
  • We advise riders to consider factors such as fabric, fit & adjustability, and ventilation when selecting the best option for their individual needs.
  • Expert tips can help extend the life of your shorts while providing optimal comfort & performance on the trails.

What are the Best Mountain Bike Shorts?

mountain bike shorts and knee pads

With countless options on the market, finding the perfect shorts can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of top picks that cater to various preferences and budgets, ensuring there’s a pair for everyone.

  • Our best overall pick offers a well-rounded balance of comfort, durability, and functionality.
  • Our best value selection provides excellent performance at an affordable price.
  • For those willing to invest in their gear, our premium choice showcases high-end materials and features.

No matter your budget or riding style, there’s a pair of mtb shorts in our top picks that will suit your needs. Keep in mind that the perfect pair of MTB shorts ultimately depends on the individual rider. Consider factors such as fit, ventilation, and features when making your decision, and remember that what works for one rider may not work for another.

Trust your instincts and choose the pair that feels right for you.

Best Overall – Pearl Izumi Summit PRO

Pros and Cons of the Pearl Izumi Summit PRO mountain bike shorts:

Pros

  1. Integrated belt for a secure fit and waist adjustment.
  2. Lightweight fabric and abrasion-resistant material are both comfortable and durable.
  3. Longer inseam and articulated knees mean top-tier protection.
  4. Grip strips at the back and Velcro waist adjustment tabs help keep things secure.
  5. Optimal pad compatibility, suitable for various riding styles.
  6. Slim-fitting, multi-panel cut with a higher leg position.
  7. Soft-backed, stretchy fabric avoids a flimsy feel.
  8. Zipped mesh vents for ventilation.
  9. Multiple pockets.

Cons

  1. Some riders may find the pockets a bit small.
  2. On rare occasions, the fit in the hip area may be on the tight side.
Pearl Izumi Summit PRO

When it comes to striking the perfect balance between comfort, durability, and functionality, the Pearl Izumi Summit PRO shell shorts take the top spot. These shorts are designed with an integrated belt, lightweight fabric, and abrasion-resistant material on the hips, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit.

Pearl Izumi Summit PRO - Side

The longer inseam and articulated knees provide additional protection, while the grip strips at the back of the waist and Velcro waist adjusters allow for a customized fit.

earl Izumi Summit PRO
back pocket

These baggy shorts offer the following features, making them perfect for those in search of high-quality mountain biking shorts:

  • Optimal pad compatibility, making them suitable for a variety of riding styles
  • Slim-fitting, multi-panel cut that sits slightly higher on the leg than a full short
  • Stretchy, soft-backed fabric that avoids the flimsy feel of some lightweight options
  • Zipped mesh vents on each thigh
  • High back with an internal gripper print
  • Multiple pockets for storing essentials

In summary, the Pearl Izumi Summit PRO shell shorts are the best overall MTB shorts for 2024 due to their perfect balance of comfort, protection, and functionality. They cater to a variety of riding styles and preferences, which means it’s likely that most riders would call these the best mountain biking shorts currently available.

Best Value – 100 %Airmatic and Specialized Trail Shorts

Pros and Cons of the 100% Airmatic and Specialized Trail Shorts:

Pros

  1. Affordable, budget-friendly options.
  2. Adjustable waistbands for a comfortable fit.
  3. Lightweight construction is suitable for a wide range of riding styles.
  4. Belt loops for added support and security.
  5. Hip pockets and zippered pockets for storage.
  6. Overall performance and affordability make them a compelling choice.

Cons

  1. Limited cargo-carrying capacity due to leg length.
  2. Mesh lining in thigh pockets may be problematic for items with sharper edges.

If you’re seeking high-quality performance without breaking the bank, the Trail Shorts available from both Airmatic and Specialized are our top picks for the best value MTB shorts. Both hese budget-friendly shorts don’t skimp on features – each has an adjustable waistband for a comfortable fit and lightweight construction that’s perfect for different riding styles.

100% Airmatic Trail Shorts

One potential drawback of these value options is their limited pocket capacity due to the leg length. The mesh lining of the thigh pockets may be problematic when carrying items with sharper edges, but this minor inconvenience is outweighed by their overall performance and affordability. The two hip pockets and zippered pockets are more suitable storage options for less abrasive items.

Specialized Trail Shorts

In conclusion, the Airmatic and Specialized Trail Shorts both provide excellent value for mountain bikers seeking budget-friendly MTB shorts without sacrificing performance or comfort. They’re a great option for those looking to save some cash without compromising on quality.

Best Premium – Fox Flexair Shorts

Pros and Cons of the Fox Flexair Shorts:

Pros

  1. High-quality and premium construction.
  2. Lightweight and airy design for comfort and breathability.
  3. Webbing and buckle closure at the waist give a secure and personalized fit.
  4. Unparalleled freedom of movement .
  5. Exceptional performance and comfort for demanding rides.

Cons

  1. Limited cargo-carrying capacity may be a concern for riders with extra essentials.
  2. Potential issues with the mesh lining of pockets when transporting objects with sharper edges.
Fox Flexair Shorts

For mountain bikers who demand the absolute best in gear, the Flexair Shorts from Fox are here to take your riding experience to the next level. Crafted with precision and engineered for performance, these high-end shorts are the epitome of comfort and functionality on the trails.

Fox Flexair Shorts - Side View

The Flexair Shorts do everything they can to keep you cool on intense rides with lightweight and airy construction. No more worrying about overheating or feeling weighed down, which ultimately means fewer distractions from the trail ahead.

One of the standout features of the Flexair Shorts is their webbing and buckle closure at the waist. This gives not only a secure but also a personalized fit, preventing any distractions that might arise from ill-fitting gear. Freedom of movement is second to none, so good that you basically forget about the shorts and take their quality for granted!

While the Flexair Shorts are undoubtedly top-tier, it’s essential to address some minor considerations. For some riders, they might have limited cargo-carrying capacity, which could be a concern for anyone who likes to take extra essentials.

In summary, the Fox Flexair Shorts are the ultimate choice for riders seeking premium shorts that deliver on all fronts. Their lightweight design and exceptional breathability ensure you stay comfortable and cool, no matter how demanding the trail may be.

The secure webbing and buckle closure provide a custom fit, enabling you to focus solely on the joy of riding without any distractions. It may seem like an exaggeration, but wearing the premium Fox Flexair Shorts does make a difference!

Key Features to Consider

When selecting the perfect shorts, it’s essential to consider key features that will impact your overall riding experience. In this section, we’ll explore the importance of fabric and material, fit and adjustability, ventilation and breathability in shorts.

Understanding the different materials used in shorts is crucial, as they directly affect comfort, durability, and performance. Additionally, the fit of your shorts plays a significant role in ensuring optimal comfort and protection on the trails, particularly when it comes to accommodating knee pads.

Finally, proper ventilation and breathability are vital for maintaining comfort during your rides, especially on hot days or during strenuous activities. By considering these key features, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect pair of shorts that cater to your needs and preferences.

Fabric and Material

Different materials used in MTB shorts can significantly impact their comfort, durability, and performance. Nylon and polyester-based fabrics are commonly used in bike shorts due to their moisture-wicking and lightweight qualities. Grown-on waists are also popular for their bulk-reducing properties.

Each material has its pros and cons. For example:

  • Nylon and polyester fabrics are lightweight and moisture-wicking
  • Cotton and other thicker materials can absorb moisture and become uncomfortable for the rider
  • Mechanical stretch allows for greater mobility
  • DWR coatings help water and mud bead off the shorts’ surface and prevent water from penetrating.

Understanding the various materials used in shorts will help you make an informed decision and select a pair that best suits your needs and preferences.

Fit and Adjustability

The importance of proper fit cannot be overstated. A well-fitting pair of shorts lets you ignore that you’re wearing anything, while an ill-fitting pair can cause discomfort and hinder your performance. When selecting shorts, consider the following:

Short Adjustability
  • The cut should accommodate knee pads and ensure that the shorts are neither too tight nor too loose.
  • Shorts with articulated knees enable them to drape comfortably over the joint.
  • Longer fabric in the front and shorter fabric in the rear help keep the fabric over knee pads while limiting its impact on mobility.
  • Wider leg holes allow for knee pads with more padding.
  • Slimmer leg holes may be more suitable for riders who prefer a closer fit.

In addition to fit, adjustability is another critical aspect to consider. Many shorts feature adjustable waistbands, ensuring a customized and comfortable fit throughout your ride.

Ventilation and Breathability

Ventilation and breathability are essential factors to consider. Proper ventilation can help regulate your body temperature during rides, especially on hot days or during strenuous activity, while breathability ensures that moisture is effectively wicked away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable.

Some features to look for include:

  • Ventilation holes in the inner thigh and rear of the waistband.
  • Mesh-web flies instead of standard zipper flies for superior ventilation.
  • Perforations down the inner thigh for improved cooling.

Best Shorts for Different Riding Styles

Mountain bike shorts come in various styles to cater to different riding styles, including:

  • Cross-country shorts, which are lightweight and breathable for long rides.
  • Downhill shorts, which are more durable and offer extra protection, as well as ample room for knee pads.
  • Casual riding shorts, which are more relaxed and comfortable for leisurely rides.

Understanding the differences between these styles will help you select the perfect pair of shorts to suit your specific riding preferences.

In this section, we’ll discuss the best type of shorts for various riding styles, including cross-country, downhill, and casual riding. By exploring the features and benefits of these different styles, you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect pair of shorts for you.

Whether you’re a cross-country racer, a downhill daredevil, or a casual weekend warrior, there’s a pair of mountain bike shorts out there that will perfectly suit your needs and preferences. Keep reading to discover the best shorts for different riding styles and elevate your mountain biking experience.

Cross-Country (XC) Shorts

Cross-country mountain biking demands lightweight, form-fitting shorts to maximize efficiency and minimize drag during rides. XC shorts are designed with these factors in mind, providing a streamlined fit and lightweight materials that won’t weigh you down on the trails. Ideal for cross-country riding and racing, these shorts prioritize comfort and performance, ensuring you can focus on tackling the trails with ease.

If you’re a dedicated cross-country rider, investing in a pair of XC shorts will undoubtedly enhance your performance and enjoyment on the trails.

Downhill (DH) and Enduro Shorts

Downhill and enduro riding require durability and protection to withstand the aggressive nature of these disciplines. These shorts are built with heavier fabrics and a longer, baggier fit to provide enhanced protection during high-speed descents and technical trail sections.

Some of the best shorts for downhill and enduro riding include the Dakine Thrillium Short, POC Guardian Air, and Sweet Protection Hunter shorts. These options are specifically designed to offer the necessary protection and durability for aggressive downhill and enduro riding without compromising comfort or mobility.

If you frequently tackle challenging downhill trails or participate in enduro races, investing in a pair of DH or enduro shorts is a smart choice.

Casual and Multi-Purpose Shorts

Casual and multi-purpose mountain bike shorts or baggy mountain bike shorts offer versatility for riders who enjoy a range of activities beyond just mountain biking. These shorts are designed with a more relaxed fit and style, making them suitable for casual rides, hikes, or other outdoor activities.

Many casual and multi-purpose shorts still incorporate features found in more specialized mountain bike shorts, such as moisture-wicking fabrics and adjustable waistbands.

This ensures that these shorts still provide the necessary comfort and performance needed for mountain biking while offering a more versatile option for riders who enjoy various outdoor pursuits.

Casual and multi-purpose mountain bike shorts are an excellent choice for riders who value versatility and style alongside performance.

Chamois and Liners

A mountain biker wearing chamois and liners

Chamois and liners play a crucial role in padded mountain bike shorts, providing additional comfort and protection during rides. Understanding the differences between integrated and separate liners, as well as the importance of chamois padding, will help you choose the right pair of shorts to suit your needs.

Integrated vs. Separate Liners

Integrated and separate liners both have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Integrated liners are sewn into shorts and offer a built-in padded chamois for enhanced comfort and protection during rides. However, an integrated chamois liner cannot be detached and may not be as breathable as separate liners.

Separate liners, on the other hand, are removable and can be worn with any shorts. They typically feature padding and provide the same advantages as integrated liners. The main advantage of separate liners, such as a padded liner, is their versatility, allowing you to mix and match liners with different shorts to suit the needs of each particular ride/trail.

Both integrated and separate liners offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, and the optimal choice for a rider will depend on their particular requirements and preferences.

Chamois Padding

Chamois padding is a critical component of shorts, providing additional comfort and protection during rides. This padding is designed to minimize friction, absorb shock, and prevent chafing, helping to reduce any post-ride soreness and discomfort. The chamois padding is typically composed of foam of varying densities, with a top surface that wicks moisture and is soft against the skin. This padding serves as an extra layer of comfort for the rider, particularly during extended rides where prolonged contact with the saddle can cause discomfort.

Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Options

With growing awareness of the environmental impact of the products we use, it’s prudent to consider sustainable and eco-friendly options when selecting all of your gear. Many manufacturers are now incorporating recycled materials and sustainable practices into their production processes, resulting in environmentally conscious products that don’t sacrifice performance.

Some examples of sustainable shorts include the Tasco Scout Shorts, which feature REPREVE – a recycled material – and the Norrna Fjr Flex1 Mid Weight Shorts, which incorporate BlueSign-certified materials and recycled fabrics. By choosing products made with sustainable materials, you can help reduce the environmental impact of your riding gear.

Expert Tips for Maintaining and Extending the Life of Your Shorts

A mountain biker wearing inclusive sizing and women's shorts
Mackie looking at a view

To retain the longevity of your shorts, proper care and maintenance are a must. Following expert tips on maintaining and extending the life of your shorts will help you get the most out of your investment and keep them in top shape for many rides to come.

First and foremost, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for washing and drying your shorts. Some shorts may require hand washing or air drying to preserve their quality, while others can be machine washed. We strongly advise you not to ignore those instructions. Additionally, always use mild detergents and avoid bleach or other harsh chemicals that could damage the fabric or padding.

By taking proper care of your shorts and following expert tips on maintenance, you can ensure that your shorts remain comfortable and functional for a long time. Invest in the longevity of your gear, and you’ll be rewarded with consistently enjoyable riding experiences.

Fun History: “Historically, cycling shorts were made of knit black wool, which hides wear marks caused by sitting on an oiled leather saddle for extended periods, with a chamois leather padding inside the shorts in the crotch area, which reduces chafing from the bicycle saddle.”

Summary

In conclusion, you can easily see from the detailed information above that selecting the best mountain bike shorts for you is nothing to approach lightly, as it will play a crucial role in enhancing your riding experience. Always consider factors such as comfort, durability, style, and sustainability, and you’ll be smiling at the beginning and end of every ride.

Remember that the perfect pair of shorts ultimately depends on the individual rider. Trust your instincts and choose the pair that feels right for you. With the right pair of shorts, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any trail with confidence and comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do mountain bike shorts have padding?

Mountain bike shorts often feature a built-in padded liner for protection and comfort, but it is not always included, so you may need to purchase one separately if you don’t have one.

Padded liners are designed to reduce friction, wick moisture, and provide a comfortable ride.

What are the key features to consider when selecting the perfect mountain bike shorts?

When selecting shorts, it is important to consider factors such as fabric, fit, and ventilation for maximum comfort, durability, and performance.

Fabric should be lightweight and breathable, with a good amount of stretch for freedom of movement. Fit should be snug, but not too tight, and should allow for unrestricted movement. Ventilation should be adequate to keep you cool and comfortable while traveling.

What is the difference between integrated and separate liners in mountain bike shorts?

Integrated liners are sewn into shorts and provide built-in padding, while separate liners are detachable and can be used with any type of shorts.

How can I ensure the proper fit of my mountain bike shorts?

Ensure your shorts are neither too tight nor too loose for a comfortable fit, and select the cut to accommodate knee pads.

How can I maintain and extend the life of my mountain bike shorts?

To maintain and extend the life of your shorts, follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for washing and drying, use mild detergents, and avoid harsh chemicals.

What Else Might I Need for Mountain Biking?

  1. Helmets: A high-quality mountain biking helmet is essential for protecting your head during falls or accidents. Look for helmets that meet safety standards and offer ventilation for comfort during long rides.
  2. Gloves: Mountain biking gloves provide grip, protection, and cushioning for your hands. They can prevent blisters and enhance control over the handlebars.
  3. Shoes: Invest in mountain biking shoes with stiff soles for better power transfer to the pedals and a grippy outsole to maintain traction on rough terrain.
  4. Protective Pads: Knee pads and elbow pads can provide extra protection during more technical or aggressive riding. They can be crucial in reducing the risk of injuries.
  5. Eyewear: Sunglasses or mountain biking-specific goggles shield your eyes from dust, debris, and UV rays, while also enhancing visibility on the trail.
  6. Apparel: Opt for moisture-wicking and breathable mountain biking jerseys and shorts to stay comfortable and dry during rides. Consider weather-appropriate clothing, such as rain jackets for wet conditions.
  7. Hydration Pack or Water Bottles: Staying hydrated on the trails is vital. A hydration pack or water bottles mounted on your bike frame allow you to carry enough water for longer rides.
  8. Tools and Repair Kits: Carry a basic multi-tool, tire levers, spare tubes, and a mini-pump or CO2 inflator to handle minor repairs or flat tires while riding.
  9. Bike Lights: If you plan on riding in low-light conditions or during nighttime, bike lights are crucial for visibility and safety.
  10. Trail Map or GPS: Always know your route and consider carrying a trail map or using a GPS device or smartphone app to navigate unfamiliar trails.
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