Why do Mountain Bikers Wear Baggy Shorts?

People tend to think of long shorts or short shorts for mountain bikers, but one must wonder why so many mountain bikers gravitate towards baggy shorts. Thankfully, we’re here to answer this question.

Why Wear Baggy Shorts?

Baggy shorts
Baggy shorts

Mountain bikers gravitate towards baggy shorts because they offer a larger range of motion. In addition, they’re more comfortable than Lycra; they’re abrasion resistant, have extra pockets, tend to look better, and remain warmer in colder temperatures. 

Other reasons why mountain bikers love baggy shorts include:

When mountain biking, it is essential that items in pockets can be grabbed quickly and easily. Thankfully, this is exactly where baggy shorts fit in. Whatever is put into the pockets can be accessed easily (as opposed to reaching inside a backpack while riding).

– Trails can be incredibly rough to navigate. Surfaces such as sand, rocks, roots, gravel, and dirt trails significantly increase chances of taking a spill. In the event one falls, baggy shorts offer additional protection due to their thickness (compared to spandex).

–  When a mountain biker is on the trails, it is incredibly important they can remain comfortable. Being comfortable while conquering a mountain allows the rider to focus and relax as they perform. Being significantly more comfortable compared to Lycra, baggy shorts are not a distraction while on the bike seat. In addition to this, baggy shorts do not ride up like most shorts do.

– In comparison to other shorts, baggy shorts offer wider upper thigh areas. Tighter shorts tend to restrict leg movement when pedaling. Baggy shorts allow one to move their legs right or left when they turn around corners due to the fact they offer a full range of motion.

–  Whether one is riding on the road or in the forest, one will immediately notice that temperatures are significantly different in forests since they have cooler temperatures. Baggy shorts are usually made of polyester, which allows them to retain heat better than cotton (since cotton is breathable).

–  Another major perk that comes with baggy shorts is that many riders don’t feel comfortable wearing Lycra. This is especially true for those who don’t enjoy feeling nude on their bike. In addition, many feel uncomfortable wearing little clothing going over difficult terrain.

Why Extra Pockets?

Baggy shorts allow you to carry more things on your person. However, shorts with two hand pockets make it easier for things to fall out in the event things are placed in the pockets (which makes them less safe). Even if the hand pockets are deeper, it can be uncomfortable to pedal with objects in the hand pockets.

With baggy shorts, the extra pockets are usually located on the side of the thighs and in the front. In addition to this, there’s a pocket in the back. 

For these pockets, it is best to carry flat items. Such items can be a GPS tracker, a thin phone, credit cards, cash, or keys. In the event you crash or fall, a flat object will be less likely to injure you.

Waterproof Zippers

Waterproof zippers are another perk that comes with some baggy mountain biking shorts. In addition to basically guaranteeing that objects will remain in pockets, it assures the rider that their objects will remain dry (regardless if it’s raining or snowing). The least enjoyable thing about riding mountain bikes in such weather is having a moist GPS device or pulling out wet money.

Do Mountain Bikers Wear Padded Shorts? 

Many mountain bikers enjoy putting padding beneath their shorts. Doing so gives them support and provides a cushion between the saddle and the buttocks. With baggy shorts, such padding provides a smooth layer and does not interfere with the middle seam (found on other types of shorts).

Some riders prefer to wear Lycra beneath baggy shorts instead of regular underwear. The Lycra can evaporate sweat quickly, as cotton keeps the trapped moisture on your skin. This results in odor, skin irritations, and increased heat.

Disadvantages of Baggy Shorts

So we’re well aware of the perks that come with baggy shorts and mountain biking, but what about the disadvantages? Some of the disadvantages are:

–  Mountain bikers who enjoy doing tricks and jumping in the air. Many have found that baggy shorts act as a parachute since the extra fabric collects air. This may not sound like a big problem, but it can alter how one performs when hitting a jump and/or doing tricks in the air.

– Too hot. Baggy shorts can be difficult to wear in extreme heat. Since they’re made out of polyester, they do not absorb sweat or breathe well. Many mountain bikers resort to Lycra if it is too hot outside.

How To Select The Right Baggy Shorts

When shopping for your own baggy shorts for mountain biking, you’ll want to look for:

– The liner. When shopping for baggy shorts,  you will have to decide whether or not you’d like a liner. If the liner isn’t high quality, you may want to use Lycra as a substitute. Baggy shorts with liners tend to be more expensive.

Mountain Bike Shorts Padding
Mountain Bike Shorts Padding (Liner)

–  Higher-end baggy shorts come with leg grippers and 8 panel padding. Some even include removable liners that allow one to utilize the shorts off and on the bike. The liners that come with these are created from fabric that wicks away moisture and breathes, so underwear isn’t necessary.

–  Padding. Some liners include padding that offers support and softness. The padding wicks away moisture and prevents chafing, which can result in bad smells or rashes. If you find liners with padding, make sure the padding is comfortable because even the slightest discomfort will be difficult to manage while riding.

–  The crotch. The crotch needs to be gusseted so that you have more width and it prevents one from getting stuck on the saddle when shifting backward or forwards. Gusseted crotches have triangular fabric sewn into the seam of the shorts.

–  The waist. Some baggy short waists operate with snap-on’s, Velcro, elastic bands, belt loops, or drawstrings. Experiment to see which one is the most comfortable for you.

– The legs. Some baggy shorts allow you to adjust the short legs to suit how you’re riding.

– The pockets. Some pockets seal differently. Whether it be flap, button, Velcro, or zippered, experiment to find out which one is the most comfortable.

– The fly. Maybe you want a button? Maybe you want a zipper? Once again, it’s all up to you.

– The seam. Make sure that the seam has been sewn strongly and tightly. Identify horizontal stitching since it is utilized to close wounds and is stronger.

For a comprehensive guide check out our buyers guide.


So, there is a huge amount of benefits to baggy shorts. If you are not a serious cross country racer, then I highly recommend that you wear baggies. The benefits far outweigh the cons, and they look great too!

Wondering if they are worth it? Check out our article here for more!