Are Mountain Bike Shorts Worth It? – A Guide On What To Consider

Mountain biking is a great sport for both professional athletes and amateurs. It allows you to build strength and endurance, and it is a perfect method to get in shape. But, like any other sport, it also requires special equipment and gear – whether you ride through the forest for fun or participate in competitions.

One of the most troublesome things on the bike for any cyclist is a seat. It can be very uncomfortable and can even cause pain over time. Therefore, if you want to make your rides more comfortable and enjoyable, there are certain things you can get, and one of them is mountain bike shorts. So are mountain bike shorts worth it?

What Are Mountain Bike Shorts?

Mountain Bike Shorts
Mountain Bike Shorts

Mountain bike shorts are the type of shorts that are usually looser than the road bike bib shorts but not too baggy. The position of the padding is a little different as well because most mountain bikers have an upright stance when riding their bikes. They are different from running shorts because their primary purpose is protection with the help of padding, while most running shorts do not have good padding. Mountain bike shorts are also longer than road bike shorts, and they also have better compatibility with knee pads to protect the knees.

Every mountain biker would tell you that wearing mountain bike shorts makes a difference as they can help enhance your riding experience. However, if you are still not sure whether to buy them or not, here is a list of reasons why having them is definitely a good idea:

Reasons to Buy Mountain Bike Shorts

  • They give you storage. It is important for mountain bikers to have storage, and this is what most mountain bike shorts provide you with. Having some cash to buy a refreshment, an energy bar, or a trail map in a pocket can be very convenient. Moreover, whatever you put in your pockets can be easily accessed, and you do not have to go into your backpack. However, be careful what you put in your pockets because certain items can hurt you in case of a crash.
  • They protect you. If you need proper protection from debris and branches, you should definitely wear mountain bike shorts. This type of shorts is made of a tougher material compared to sports or running shorts. Moreover, they are use-specific, so you do not have to ruin your good sports or casual shorts on a trail. There are also some bike shorts that have a special 3D gel that is able to provide high protection from long-distance riding and possible injuries.
  • They are water-resistant. Most best mountain bike shorts on the market provide some degree of water resistance. They may not be completely water-resistant, but they will still definitely protect you from water, mud, and other spills. The water-resistant fabric of mountain bike shorts is also stretchy enough to help you feel comfortable on both big climbs and long rides.
  • They keep your muscles compressed. Bike shorts compress muscles, which reduces fatigue and muscle soreness while you are cycling. This results in longer and faster rides that will not leave you feeling tired compared to the times you were not wearing your mountain bike shorts.
  • They wick away your sweat. Mountain biking is an intense sport, so you will definitely sweat, especially on a hot summer day. Wearing regular and casual shorts will trap and soak in your sweat, which will result in a very uncomfortable ride. One of the best things about mountain bike shorts is that they allow you to breathe because most of them are made of moisture-wicking technical fabric, such as spandex, Lycra, polyester, and nylon. These fabrics pull the moisture from the skin and prevent rashes and chafing. They also keep you cool.
  • They give you a full range of motion. Having a full range of motion when pedaling is important, especially in mountain biking. 

Do I Need Padded Shorts For Mountain Biking?

Mountain Bike Shorts Padding
Mountain Bike Shorts Padding

Padded shorts are the type of shorts that are perfect for long rides, as well as flat routes that will have you sitting in the saddle for a long time. Most padded shorts are padded in the crotch and a little bit at the butt. The most interesting fact about padded mountain bike shorts is that they are designed to be worn without underwear. If you are planning a long-distance ride, it is recommended to use anti-chafe cream.

Are Mountain Bike Shorts Padded?

Mountain Bike Shorts Liner
Mountain Bike Shorts Liner

Yes, mountain bike shorts are padded in certain places, which helps you get more mileage and prevent soreness. Non-padded bike shorts are not very comfortable, and they are good only for short rides around your neighborhood or house. The padding on bike shorts also reduces friction. 

There are also some models of mountain bike shorts with removable pads. Be careful to check whether the liner is included with the shorts as some are sold as a seperate item.

Do Padded Mountain Bike Shorts Really Make a Difference?

Padded MTB shorts were not just created for hard-core mountain bikers – even amateur and inexperienced trail riders can benefit from wearing padded MTB shorts. They help disperse road vibration, prevent chafing, and reduce pressure points.

Wearing padded MTB shorts can make the difference between loving and hating the mountain biking experience. Here is what padded mountain bike shorts do:

  • They remove pressure points that often cause irritation and chafing. They provide you stretch and compression without being too tight and uncomfortable.
  • Vibration control. Padded shorts dampen the vibration waves coming from the road, make your ride very smooth and prevent you from getting pain.
  • Moisture control. The padding of mountain bike shorts is made with comfortable and soft microfiber that wicks moisture from your body while you are riding.
  • Protection in a crash, if you land back down on the seat or top tube hard you will be thankful that you have that padding. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the questions that both amateur and experienced mountain bikers ask about bike shorts:

Why are mountain bike shorts so expensive?

Mountain bike shorts cost a lot for several reasons. First, they are created specifically for mountain biking. Second, they are more durable than regular shorts because they are made of such strong materials as polyester and Lycra. Third, this type of shorts is usually made waterproof. Also, most mountain bike shorts have a different design compared to regular sports and bike shorts: they are longer and made with four-way stretch material. Moreover, since they are produced in small quantities and by smaller companies, they are more expensive than regular shorts.

How do I take care of my mountain bike shorts to make sure they last?

The basic instructions for most bike shorts are to wash them in cold water by using a mild detergent. It is also not recommended to use a fabric softener because it is known for wearing down the effectiveness of water-resistant fabrics. If you are on a camping trip, and you need to wash your shorts, you need to rinse the outer shell with water and then air dry for the next ride. Usually, outer shells get dry pretty quickly as the padding of the shorts is in the liner. It usually takes longer for the liner to get dry because of the padding. Therefore, it is good to have multiple liners. It may be a good idea to swap out liners before starting the second long bike ride.

Well, there it is some information to help you decide if mountain bike shorts are really worth it. I think you can tell we certainly think so. Deciding whether or not knee pads are worth it? Check out our guide here.