Best Mountain Bike Shorts of 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

best mountain bike shorts
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The best mountain bike shorts give you the perfect amount of comfort and flexibility.

With a wide range of motion, you can capitalize on more efficient power transfer to traverse rough terrain.

There are several different cycling shorts types to consider.

Let’s review five of the top styles.

Best Mountain Bike Shorts Reviews

1. Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts

These moisture-wicking shorts are the perfect option for mountain bike riders who put comfort first.

There are plenty of unique features that they offer, such as an anatomic design and strategic padding.

Product Highlights

At first glance, the Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts look like any other type of cycling shorts.

However, they have a few unique features that make them a better option than many other lower-quality pairs.

First of all, they are constructed from 80% polyester and 20% spandex, making them breathable and highly flexible.

The materials offer UPF 50 protection, allowing you to spend more time in the sun with less skin damage.

Second, they are moisture-wicking, which helps to keep your body cool and dry.

After a long ride, you can either wash the shorts in your washing machine or by hand.

The four-way performance stretch is essential for mountain bikers who need a full range of motion.

Instead of feeling like you’re restricted in spandex shorts, these are comfortable for all wearers.

Also, a six-panel anatomical design ensures the material fits snugly, like a second skin.

You’ll be less likely to experience chafing after a long journey, and the material feels luxurious against the skin.

On the inside of the leg panels, you’ll find silicone grippers that help to keep them in place.

The padding is made using unique 3D gel pads, which gives you soft comfort while going through bumpy terrain.

Overall, these are an excellent choice for everyday mountain bikers and even road cyclists.

You’ll love how they keep you dry, cool, and comfortably padded.

What to Like About It

There’s plenty to like with these shorts, especially as they have comfortable padding and are soft and breathable.

They don’t ride up your legs easily, and they fit quite well to male and female anatomy.

What Not to Like About It

The most considerable concern with the Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts is that the padding can feel overbearing.

If you’ve used thinner cycling shorts in the past, you might find these to be too padded.

The sizing is slightly smaller than expected, so you might have to go up one to two sizes.

Pros:

  • Soft and breathable
  • Comfortable padding
  • Don’t ride up easily
  • Fit anatomically well

Cons:

  • Padding could feel large
  • The sizing is too tight

2. BALEAF Men’s Bike Shorts

The BALEAF Men’s Bike Shorts have a more streamlined design than the Sponeed shorts.

If you are concerned about having too much padding, these are a fantastic alternative.

Product Highlights

Similar to most cycling shorts, these are made from a combination of nylon and spandex.

You’ll like the elastic closure, which makes them easy to put on and take off at the end of your ride.

Although they have a thinner and more streamlined appeal, they still contain an adequate amount of padding.

With the help of the moisture-wicking fabric, you won’t feel as hot and sweaty, especially in the middle of summer.

The materials are soft and comfortable, which helps prevent chafing and is useful for sensitive skin.

If you’ve had an issue with your cycling shorts riding up in the past, these are a great option to consider.

Inside, you’ll find comfortable leg grippers that hold the shorts in place while you’re pedaling.

Combined with the highly flexible waistband, you might find these are some of the most comfortable shorts available.

If you’re someone who prefers to ride at night, you’ll appreciate the reflective elements to offer optimal visibility.

It can be frustrating to go biking without room for your belongings, which is why we love BALEAF Men’s Bike Shorts.

You’ll find two large side pockets that can hold up to five-and-a-half-inch smartphones.

Carrying your phone, keys, and other small items will be incredibly simple without needing a bag.

Padding is an important feature to discuss, as well, which these shorts have.

There’s 3D padding in strategic places to ensure you have adequate protection and support.

If you’re a long-distance rider, you’ll find the padding is thinner, which can be more comfortable for flexibility.

What to Like About It

These shorts fit comfortably around the waist and crotch area even after extended use.

The breathable material is soft and comfortable, which helps to significantly reduce chafing over long distances.

Also, you’ll love the design of the pockets, as they hold your essentials securely.

What Not to Like About It

The most considerable disadvantage of these shorts is that they lack substantial chamois padding compared to others.

The leg sizing is slightly different from expected, making the shorts too tight around the legs.

Pros:

  • Fits comfortably snug
  • Breathable material
  • Significantly reduces chafing
  • Useful pockets

Cons:

  • Lacks chamois padding
  • Leg dimensions are off

3. EZRUN Men’s 3D Padded Mountain Bike Shorts

The design of traditional cycling shorts can be uncomfortable for some, which is why we love these.

The EZRUN Men’s 3D Padded Mountain Bike Shorts combine your MTB needs with stylish athletic wear.

You can quickly wear these shorts to run errands or for heading out on the trails.

Product Highlights

These shorts are the ideal alternative for cruiser owners who prefer a more loose-fitting pair of shorts.

The EZRUN Men’s 3D Padded Mountain Bike Shorts are made from polyester and elastane, not spandex.

You’ll have a loose fit that requires sizing down, especially if you want them to sit comfortably on your legs.

What makes these unique is that there are two styles of shorts built into one design.

You’ll find 3D underwear inside the shorts, which can be removed if you want to wear them without padding.

When worn, you’ll find they have a very similar feeling to swimming trunks.

Since they’re like trunks, the polyester is ideal if you prefer quick-drying fabric, especially for rainy rides.

Washing and drying the shorts is exceptionally simple, as well, as you can do so in the washing machine and dryer.

There’s an inner drawcord with an elastic waistband for the perfect fit so that you can easily adjust the shorts.

These shorts’ functionality is not to be understated, as they have secure zippers for storing your valuables.

On either side, you’ll find a single zippered pocket as well as a Velcro pocket for your keys.

The pockets should be able to handle smartphones up to five-and-a-half inches in length.

Breathability is another exceptional feature of the EZRUN Men’s 3D Padded Mountain Bike Shorts.

The lightweight texture of the fabric makes them far more appealing during the middle of summer.

However, riders can also layer them for Fall and early Spring rides.

What to Like About It

If you like to layer while riding, you’ll love that these shorts stay comfortable even when wearing base layers.

With the proper sizing, they will fit well without feeling too snug and restrictive.

Also, the material dries fast, which is perfect if you get caught in the rain.

What Not to Like About It

Unfortunately, the padding sewn into the inner shorts sits looser than expected and is likely to shift as you ride.

As the inner shorts aren’t as form-fitting as you think, it can cause the shorts to ride up over time.

Pros:

  • Comfortable with base layers
  • Fits without being too snug
  • Highly secure pockets
  • Dry very quickly

Cons:

  • Padding isn’t secure
  • Inner shorts are loose

4. Santic Cycling Shorts

The Santic Cycling Shorts are appealing, streamlined, and available in numerous colorways.

There’s plenty to like with these shorts, from their flexibility to their breathability.

Product Highlights

Like most mountain bike shorts, these are a combination of nylon and spandex, so you can move more freely.

They boast 82% nylon with 18% spandex, making the material soft and comfortable on your skin.

Also, these are moisture-wicking, which means your sweat is drawn away from your body to keep you cool and comfortable.

One of the features that make these exceptionally unique is the anatomical design.

12 strategically placed panels allow the shorts to grip onto your body comfortably.

They are snug and form-fitting and with integrated leg grippers so that the shorts stay in place for long-distance rides.

You won’t have to worry about poor visibility at night, too, because there are reflective logos on the shorts.

It’s also important to note the padding in these shorts, which is 4D instead of 3D.

The 4D Coolmax Pad is essential for chamois padding without feeling too overbearing.

With Coolmax technology, you can stay cool and dry even in the areas where the pads are placed.

If you’re looking for comfortable and form-fitting shorts, these are one of the better pairs to consider.

What to Like About It

These flexible shorts have adequate padding for most excursions as well as comfortable flat seams.

The chamois padding is quite comfortable and flexible, especially after they have been broken in.

What Not to Like About It

Our most considerable concern with these shorts is that the padding is stiff until you’ve worn the shorts two or three times.

Also, they don’t have the best ventilation, especially for riders who sweat profusely.

Pros:

  • Flexible
  • Adequate padding
  • Comfortable flat seams
  • Useful chamois padding

Cons:

  • It needs to be broken in
  • Poor ventilation

5. Spowind Men’s Mountain Bike Shorts

As another pair of cycling shorts with an athletic flair, these are a great low-profile option.

You will like that they have a more well-rounded padding placement for extensive comfort.

Product Highlights

The Spowind Men’s Mountain Bike Shorts are an excellent choice for mountain bike enthusiasts who need loose-fitting shorts.

They can easily double as everyday wear, as well, with a more low-profile design than other cycling shorts.

The materials are a combination of elastane and polyester, allowing for optimal breathability and airflow.

If you happen to get caught in a rainstorm, you’ll love how easily these shorts dry in a short period.

The polyester is very lightweight, which allows for the best flexibility and long-term comfort.

By helping to draw sweat away from your skin, you’ll be able to keep cool and dry for your entire trip.

Like the other athletic shorts we tried, these have a two-shorts-in-one design.

On the inside, you’ll find 3D padded underwear that is quite comfortable and removable.

Also, the elastic waistband fits snugly around the waist and has an adjustable drawcord for a more tailored fit.

At night, you’ll appreciate the reflective logo that helps keep you visible while on the road or trails.

If you need a pair of shorts to carry your belongings, the Spowind Men’s Mountain Bike Shorts are useful in that area, too.

There are two front pockets and two zippered pockets for your valuables.

Another functional component of these shorts is that they offer optimal sun protection.

You’ll have access to UPF 50+ to ensure you’re not exposed to excessive sunlight.

What to Like About It

The top feature you’ll appreciate is the pockets’ design, as they are deep and perfectly placed for security.

You’ll like the loose-fitting material sits comfortably against your skin without allowing the shorts to ride up the legs.

Also, the waistband is incredibly comfortable without being too tight and restrictive.

What Not to Like About It

The interior lining is the largest issue with the Spowind Men’s Mountain Bike Shorts.

The liner is too loose, which makes the padding shift around while you’re riding.

Pros:

  • Conveniently placed pockets
  • Lightweight and loose-fitting
  • Don’t slip or ride up
  • Comfortable waistband

Cons:

  • Loose inner liner
  • Padding moves often

Buyer’s Guide

When you’re investing in a good-quality pair of cycling shorts, you’ll want the best option possible.

You’ll need to consider the top features in the best pairs, like materials used, breathability, and more.

1. Fit

The fit of your cycling shorts is one of the first things to consider.

You’re going to want first to determine if you need tight or loose-fitting shorts as a mountain biker.

Most often, road bikers and long-distance riders benefit the most from tight-fitting shorts.

Tight-fitting shorts sit closer to your skin, help to absorb plenty of sweat, and allow for aerodynamics.

Looser-fitting shorts, on the other hand, are great for comfort and flexibility.

Mountain bikers can also prefer them as they have a more low-profile style with optimal airflow and quick-drying fabric.

As a mountain biker, it can be beneficial to consider baggy shorts that contain a padded inner liner.

2. Padding

The padding in your cycling shorts is another essential feature to think about.

It’s a protective layer that keeps your body comfortable for long treks, as well as when navigating over rough terrain.

It can be quite beneficial to invest in shorts with a high-quality chamois, making a significant difference.

With inadequate padding, you can experience tailbone bruising and chafing in unexpected areas.

It’s also anatomically placed depending on the gender of the rider.

Our recommendation is to find shorts that are made for male or female riders to get top-tier performance.

3. Panel Construction

When looking at cycling shorts, you’re likely to notice manufacturers advertise the shorts’ number of panels.

Each panel is stitched together to create a specific type of fit so that the material grips your body in strategic places.

Shorts that have the highest number of panels will have a more custom and former fit.

With that said, it’s recommended to consider mountain bike shorts with at least eight to 10 panels for the best fit.

Similar to when you’re thinking about padding, panel construction is essential for men and women uniquely.

Women will have a different anatomical structure than men, which requires different types of support.

4. Waistband

There are two primary waistband types for cycling shorts: a traditional band or a bib.

A traditional band will fit like any other shorts in your closet, whether it’s elastane or a drawstring.

It can be best to find a drawstring waistband, as it allows you to prevent the shorts from slipping over time.

Alternatively, you can find cycling shorts with a bib, a convenient style for experienced riders.

With bib-style shorts, there are shoulder straps that help reduce midsection discomfort.

Also, you’ll find bib shorts have less binding, allowing you to have a full range of motion.

Some riders prefer these shorts because they aren’t able to move as quickly as with traditional waistbands.

5. Moisture-Wicking

The last feature we recommend looking into is moisture-wicking, which is essential for your comfort during every ride.

As you cycle, you are going to sweat, and sweat buildup can lead to chafing and general discomfort.

For this reason, you’ll want to choose shorts with a particular fabric designed to pull moisture away from your skin, especially in summer.

This process ensures your body is more effective at moderating its temperature while keeping you dry.

Also, it can be a useful item to have for layering in colder weather.

best mountain bike shorts

Mountain Bike Shorts FAQs

1. What is MTB short for?

MTB is the short form of mountain biking.

It’s an unusual way to connect with nature using a new style of bike riding compared to road bikes.

Mountain bikes typically have fat tires with a rugged tread that can handle off-road terrain.

MTB bikes also have a more upright position for cycling as well as superior shock-absorption.

Considering you’ll be traversing across dirt, mud, rocks, and debris, you’ll need a good suspension.

2. Are mountain bike shorts worth it?

Mountain bikes are well worth the investment, mostly if you prefer to ride among nature.

These bikes are designed with heavy-duty use in mind, allowing you to navigate through plenty of natural conditions.

Also, they have higher quality parts, such as shocks, that let you have a more comfortable ride.

If you’re able to find a versatile pair, you can also wear them for other activities.

For example, you don’t need to wear MTB shorts outside on excursions, but they’re also great for exercise.

If you sign up for a cycling class, you’ll like wearing them more than traditional workout gear.

3. Why are mountain bike shorts so expensive?

Mountain bike shorts can be expensive, especially if you’re looking into some of the higher-end brands.

It’s important to note that they aren’t traditional shorts you can buy from a big box store.

Mountain bike shorts contain superior technology and manufacturing to provide you with a safe and comfortable ride.

The shorts are specifically designed to be anatomically-correct for all riders.

You’ll also find a unique blend of materials to offer durability over months of continual wear.

Also, the amount of padding in the shorts is another extra (costly) feature you’ll require.

4. Why are mountain bike shorts so long?

Mountain bike shorts need more length than traditional shorts to ensure you don’t experience chafing.

As you ride, your thighs can rub against each other, causing significant discomfort and rashes.

With longer shorts, you’ll have seamless movements without having to stop mid-ride from applying anti-chafing powder.

Also, you’ll find longer shorts are less likely to ride up your legs over time.

Fortunately, most MTB shorts come with a special gel-like texture placed sporadically on the lining.

This helps to prevent the skin-tight material from moving when you pedal.

5. Are cycling bibs better than shorts?

Serious riders can prefer cycling bibs because they keep your shorts from shifting.

If you’re going on a long-distance excursion, it can be better not to have to adjust yourself every five to 10 minutes.

On the other hand, some people find bibs too overbearing for their liking and prefer traditional shorts.

You should be able to try both styles to determine which is best suited for your needs.

Our Final Recommendation

Our choice for the best mountain bike shorts is the Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts.

Sponeed has created a comfortable set of mountain bike shorts designed for long-term wear.

You’ll have plenty of padding in the essential areas as well as lightweight and breathable fabric for all-day excursions.

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