BUYER'S GUIDE

12 pairs of cycling shorts that don't look like cycling shorts

Shorts that are subtle enough to be suitable both on and off the bike

Sometimes you want the comfort and performance of cycling shorts but without the Lycra look, and here are 12 pairs that fit the bill.

Want to jump straight to our recommendations? Here they are:

Lycra shorts may be functional but they're not always suitable. Maybe you want to commute into work in clothing you can wear all day, or you want to ride around town spending time off the bike as well as on it but not look like a bike gimp in a pub or cafe. Australians call these shorts 'shy shorts' for obvious reasons.

Loose-fit or baggy cycling shorts are cut to fit while you're riding bike, with a higher back than regular shorts, and often with a gusset design that moves the seams so you're not sitting on them while riding. Unlike most Lycra shorts they have pockets too.

Here are some of the best options out there. Clicking on a heading will take you to an online retailer.

Alpkit Strada women's shorts — £59.99

Alpkit Strada shorts women's-2

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.

There's a men's version for the same price.

Read our review of the Alpkit Strada women's shorts

Gore Wear C3 Trail Shorts — £57.49

Gore-Wear-C3-Trail-Shorts-Baggy-Shorts-Black-SS19-100047990006

Known for waterproof gear, Gore Wear also makes a huge range of general cycling kit, including these popular and well-regarded shorts. They have loads of poskets for carrying your stuff, and reflective details so you'll stand out in headlights.

Find a Gore Wear dealer

Chrome Folsom Shorts 2.0 — £110

Chrome Folsom short.jpg

These Chrome Folsom shorts are really well designed, solidly made and pack some cool features although the price tag is quite hefty.

Go to our shorts reviews

They're made from a reasonably heavy duty Everest four-way stretch material that is water resistant, with reinforced seams and crotch. Despite the feeling of durability, they're light and breezy with a full-length seamless double layer crotch ensuring they're comfortable on the saddle.

Read our review of the Chrome Folsom 2.0 Shorts

Velocity Women's Climber Capris — £90

velocity_womens_cycling_capris.jpg

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.

Read our review of the Velocity Women's Climber Capris

Madison Flux Men's Shorts — £69.99

Madison Flux men's shorts

The Flux mountain bike shorts don't have the tailored appearance of some here – they look sporty – but they're sturdy and lightweight and will appeal to anyone who doesn't want a built-in pad.

Check out 11 of the best cheap cycling shorts

They're made from a lightweight 4-way stretch fabric with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating so rain and spray rolls off. Super-thick Velcro adjusters allow you to get the fit just right around the waist, and four pockets give plenty of storage options.

Read our review of the women's Madison Flux Shorts

dhb MTB Women's Trail Baggy Shorts — £40.00

dhb MTB Women's Baggy Trail Shorts-1

These shorts are designed for ruff 'n' tuff all-mountain riding so they're built to be durable. The material used is a nylon and polypropylene two-face fabric which is pretty heavy, so although strong these do get a little hot on summer rides. The fabric has a denim look to it which, along with the belt loops, silver snap popper fastenings, zip fly and open front hand pockets, contributes to a relaxed look.

The attention to detail is high, with a silicone strip around the waistband to help keep the shorts in place and elastic waist adjuster tabs which not only work well but lie neatly and flat.

There's a men's version too for the same price.

Read our review of the dhb MTB Women's Trail Baggy Shorts 

Rapha Randonnee Shorts — £90

Rapha Randonnee

Rapha's slim-fitting Randonnee Shorts are designed specifically for cycling in the city. They're made from a lightweight and stretchy fabric that's breathable and quick to dry.

The best casual cycling commuter wear

The back is cut high to avoid a gap while the hi-vis tab and hi-vis trim inside the legs can be hidden away when not riding.

Vulpine Men's Gravel Shorts — £70 (size S only)

Vulpine Mens Gravel Shorts

Made from a stretchy, breathable fabric that's designed to keep you comfortable while riding, the Gravel Shorts have quite a wide cut so they don't look out of place when you're off the bike.

These shorts are designed with a diamond shaped panel where you sit to avoid any discomfort from seams.

Giro Women's Arc Shorts — £35 - £59.99

Giro Women's Arc shorts

Giro's Arc shorts – available in both men's and women's versions – are a simple and unfussy design intended for summer trail riding, but there's no reason why you can't wear them around town.

The rip stop fabric is really light and has a DWR coating. Although there is no stretch in it, the shorts proved comfortable enough.

The Arcs are made in a casual style with open hand pocket and belt loops. There are also waist adjusters on each hip.

Read our review of the Giro Women's Arc Shorts

Endura Hummvee Chino Short with Liner — £56.99

Endura Hummvee Chino Short

Unlike the other shorts here, the Hummvee comes with a padded liner for extra comfort in the saddle. The liner is detachable so you could take it out once you get to work, say.

The fabric of the external shorts is a cotton mix that's designed to be tough without looking out of place when you're off the bike.

Specialized Andorra Comp Shorts — £26

Specialized Womens Andorra Comp Shorts-3

The Andorra Comp women's shorts are a neatly designed and workmanlike pair of mountain bike shorts. These are understated, built with function in mind.

The shorts are cool and comfortable with quite a lot of 'give' so it's easy to move about in them. There are no seams at the gusset and they dry quickly, adding to the overall comfort factor. The fabric is water repellent although heavy spray or consistent rain will find its way through.

Read our review of the Specialized Andorra Comp Shorts

Morvelo Men's Overland Shorts — £56

Morvelo mens Overland Shorts

Although Morvelo's new shorts look fairly casual, they have several bike-friendly features. They're made from a stretchy nylon/Lycra fabric with a water repellent treatment and they aren't cut too baggy. You get three discreet zipped pockets along with hidden waist adjusters and reflective print that is hardly noticeable until light shines on it at night.

Read more: Morvelo launches Overland gravel and bikepacking clothing range

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product in a if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

Here's some more information on how road.cc makes money.

You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

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 pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

Latest Comments