Riding Shorts

How to choose mountain bike shorts: Sure, tucking your jeans into your sock is one way to keep them out of harm's way, but leaving them at home and throwing on some riding shorts is the only technique with guaranteed results. Available in many styles and designs, shorts designed for mountain biking will make your time in the saddle more comfortable and enjoyable.

Riding Shorts

Types

There are three types of riding shorts, and each one is tailored specifically for the needs of their intended riding discipline. They are lycra, downhill/freeride, and all-mountain. Lycra shorts are standard issue for cross-country racers, their tight fit may be revealing, but it also greatly reduces wind resistance and improves mobility. Most lycra shorts come with a padded chamois for optimal comfort. Downhill/freeride specific models are made from strong nylon and breathable mesh sections for air circulation. They have a loose fit and cover about half of the knee to accommodate kneepads with ease. All-mountain type shorts are a hybrid of the other two types. They use an exterior shell that is similar in shape to a downhill model, but is made from lighter materials, and many all-mountain models have integrated chamois, often stitched to a thin inner short. All-mountain shorts are also the only models with pockets as a prerequisite.

Sizes

Shorts are typically sized according to your waist circumference measured in inches.

Materials

Riding shorts are made from a combination of synthetic materials: lycra, spandex, nylon and foam are all used.

Things To Look For

When looking for a pair of riding shorts, the first thing to know is the type of riding they will be used for. Downhillers will want a short that is resistant to abuse, but also allows for free range of motion and offers adequate ventilation. All-mountain riders will want a loose fitting short that provides similar coverage to the downhill models, but with extra pockets and lighter material to facilitate sustained pedaling. Many cross-country riders will want a tight fitting short with padded chamois for their primarily seated riding style. It is also important to choose a model that fits both your body and taste, as it will make every ride more enjoyable.

How Much To Spend

Riding shorts range in price from $50 to $175 depending on their construction and features.

Models in the $50-$100 range are available for downhill, all-mountain and cross-country applications, in a plethora of designs and colors.

More expensive models, in the $100-$175 range, incorporate more features. Lycra shorts come with more advanced chamois technology and some models, known as "bib" style, use shoulder straps to keep everything in place. All-mountain shorts also benefit from superior chamois technology as well as lighter weight materials and improved ventilation.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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