If you want the comfort and performance of cycling shorts but without the Lycra look, then you need baggy cycling shorts. Baggy cycling shorts are comfortable on the bike thanks to their cut and shape, but look like regular shorts off the bike. We've ridden thousands of miles on the road, round-town and on dirt to findout which are the best baggy cycling shorts you can buy. Here they are:
These are baggy cycling shorts in comparison to skin-tight Lycra shorts; many of them are actually fairly close-fitting so you don't look like you've just stepped out of the Wonderstuff circa 1988.
Some baggy cycling shorts come with a liner, or are compatible with the manufacturer's own insert; others are intended to be worn over bib shorts or just regular underwear.
Most baggy cycling shorts have pockets, but for on-bike comfort you should resist the temptation to load them up too much.
Look for a high waistband, no seams in the crotch, and fabrics with a degree of stretch so they move with you on the bike.
Baggy cycling shorts start at RRPs around £60, though as you'll see below there are some very good special offers around.
The Nukeproof Blackline Shorts and liner are high-quality, lightweight shorts made of tough, breathable fabric. The sizing is spot on, and the stretchy material offers little restriction while pedalling. Being picky, the only downside is the pocket size and placement, but at this price point, it's hard to find many faults.
The material wicks well, keeping things feeling dry even on the sweatiest days. This is in part thanks to the front air vents that help keep the air moving and aid cooling. It’s clear these are designed as summer shorts, so it goes without saying, these do nothing to fend off puddle splashes and will leave you pretty sodden if the conditions are decidedly British.
The cut is snug, but thanks to the stretch fabric, it never feels tight or restrictive.
The included liner is constructed with dual-density foam. Nukeproof claims this offers comfort on rides lasting three to five hours. I can confirm this to be true, it’s perhaps on the thinner side of the chamois spectrum, but the cut proves to be comfortable even when walking into the café. It provides a decent level of cushion to protect the sit bones whilst on the saddle and stays dry all day.
The Nukeproof Blackline shorts are an excellent summer garment. They’re lightweight, durable and fit well. The price is also impressive considering the performance and quality. The only downside is the pocket size and placement, but with liner included, these are hard to look past when shopping for your next pair of trail shorts.
The Rapha women's trail shorts offer plenty of stretch in a lightweight material, along with a home-repair kit. The £110 price tag may put some off, but there are some justifiable reasons for making such an investment.
Tester Jessica writes: "I really rate these shorts. They do what Rapha describe with a figure-fitting shape in a simple and understated design. Thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric, the wide waistband and lots of leg length, there's very little to criticise when it comes to performance. I've had the occasional brush with overgrown brambles throughout testing, but nothing that's damaged the fabric. So, the home-repair kit has stayed firmly in my drawer."
Endura's Hummvee Chino shorts are a more tailored take on the traditional baggy. But it's not just about appearances: with a detachable padded liner and great in-the-saddle comfort, these shorts are equally classy when it comes to performance.
Despite their good off-the-bike aesthetics, these shorts also perform superbly in the saddle. The padded liner finds the right position quite naturally and offers just enough cushioning and comfort. That in itself is a valuable little detail, because with shorts that look this smart, you don't really want to feel like you've got a nappy on underneath.
Although the tailored feel to the legs did initially have me wondering whether pedalling would suffer any feelings of restriction, nothing untoward transpired in the saddle. The cotton mix fabric does have an element of stretch to it, and it's more than enough to keep pedalling feeling natural.
The link above takes you to the camo version of these shorts. Want a different colour? Sigma Sports has them in black for £42.99, while you can get them in grey, navy or mushroom for £58.49 from CycleStore.
For gravel and even road riding when things are a bit damp, waterproof shorts can be a game-changer, as mountain bikers have known for years. Endura’s MT500 Waterproof Short II is comfortable, well fitted and most importantly, waterproof.
Tester Liam writes: "In fact, there’s not a lot to complain about, although I can’t say I’m too thrilled about this 'nutmeg' colour – luckily there's black as well – and it is fairly pricey.
"These shorts benefit from Endura’s ExoShell40DR three-layer fabric, with a PVC-free DWR coating that's said to be extra friendly to the environment. The seat area is also reinforced to increase durability.
"They get water-resistant hand pockets, belt loops, and a zip-and-popper closure. They also feature Endura’s Clickfast system, which works with the matching range of padded liners to create an extra secure fit.
"The legs are cut long, edging into three-quarter length territory, which adds weather protection and stops spray from creeping up your leg. They’re also pre-shaped for a better fit on the bike.
"On the bike, it's super noticeable how light they are, even when wet. Thanks to the DWR coating the fabric simply shrugs off water, stopping the shorts from ever getting soaked through. Honestly, they're just as comfortable at their wettest as when they're bone dry."
The PNW Shuttle shorts tick every box required to certify top-notch baggy shorts. The fit is spot on, they’re comfortable and they come sorted with plenty of well thought out pockets. They’re rather good bang for your buck too.
PNW has designed the Shuttle shorts specifically for on-bike comfort. With that in mind, they’re made using an abrasion-resistant four-way stretch fabric. Then, around the waist, you’ll find a pair of adjusters on either side.
Tester Liam writes: "The Shuttle’s fit is really impressive. I’ve not felt the need to mess with the adjusters, something I’m sometimes reaching for on other shorts. I’ve no complaints with their length either.
"PNW has been careful not to make them too baggy. With some shorts, their gross bagginess can leave a heft of material to flap about but the Shuttle strikes a great balance between super fitting, and baggy. This leaves enough room and fabric to move around in, without surplus ripe for snagging on foliage, or the nose of your saddle.
They get a very useful durable water repellent coating. This allows the shorts to be used in damp conditions where they’re more than capable of protecting you from spray. They've held up without issue after a bunch of washes too."
Chapeau's Gravel Shorts are comfortable, stretchy and fast drying, and can be worn over padded liner shorts for all-day comfort. The snug fit doesn't flap around, while still allowing air to circulate and looking decent when wandering about mid- or post-ride. If you're after a reasonably close-fitting lower half that is light, comfortable, sheds water and will dry very quickly, the Chapeau Gravel Shorts should be high on your short(s)list.
The Alpkit Strada women’s bikepacking and touring shorts are a good choice for long adventure rides or regular gravel blasts. The well-designed legs are tapered to prevent snags, but there’s no waist adjustment unless you like wearing a belt.
Built for long adventure rides, the Stradas are a hot or mild weather shorts that are super comfortable to ride in, with a casual style that doesn’t look out of place at café, pub or shop stops.
It's a simple design, featuring a two-popper waist, a zip fly and belt loops. If you're not keen on riding in a belt, make sure they fit before buying.
These mid-weight, smart-casual Velocity Climber Capris are bike-friendly yet will segue seamlessly to the office. The cycle-specific features – such as the diamond gusset and reflective accents – are subtly hidden, but the low-rise waist might not suit everyone and the price tag is pretty hefty, especially compared to non-bike-friendly high street offerings that are very similar in appearance.
That said, the quality of the fabric and construction are excellent.
The Gore Explore Shorts offer strong performance for gravel riding, and in reality they're just as good for commuting as they are for adventures. The Explore is a do-all pair of shorts that can be used for gravel riding, bike packing, or just for commuting. They have several features that make them particularly useful for multiple situations. One of the keys to them being so multi-disciplinary is the amount of stretch they give, whilst still being water and wind resistant, and maintaining a good level of breathability too.
7mesh pitch the Farside as a bike-packing, gravel and all-road adventure summer short. It proves to be an excellent option that is lightweight, comfortable and very well constructed. Although the price is high, the crash replacement policy does help make these a strong contender.
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Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.