It’s not that long ago when the only way to stay comfortable on a bike ride was to don a pair of figure-hugging Lycra shorts with enough padding to sooth those delicate bits down under.
Whilst Lycra cycling shorts were a revelation for road cyclists and a far cry from their woolen predecessors, the new breed of mountain bikers frankly wouldn’t be seen dead in painted-on pants. They preferred to ride around in casual shorts and eschewed the comfort of the chamois liner in a Lycra pant.
Likewise, many casual riders and commuters hated the thought of wearing Spandex and so the "baggy" was born.
Why Wear Baggy Bike Shorts?
Baggies, as they are affectionately known in the MTB world, offer the comfort of Lycra shorts combined with casual good looks that feel just as home down the pub as on the bike. They consist of a baggy outer short with a padded liner short inside, which is why they are also often called "double shorts." Depending on the brand, some baggy shorts have a removable inner short whilst others have an integrated liner.
Practical features include:
- External pockets for carrying small items, money and mobile phones.
- Adjustable waistbands for comfort.
- Fashionable styling in keeping with outdoor sporting looks.
Technical Features of Good Baggy Cycle Shorts
There are as many different brands of baggy cycle shorts as there are price points which range from around $40 to over $150. Technical features to look out for include:
- Adjustable waistbands using either a drawcord or belt, which stops the shorts falling down whilst riding.
- Stretch paneling in key areas of the garment to allow flexibility as the rider moves.
- Mesh inner liners made of technical fabric that is breathable and capable of wicking moisture away for maximum comfort.
- A well fitting "chamois", the padding within the liner that prevents bacterial growth and chafing and adds softness where it matters most. Fit is the most important as if the padding bunches when the rider moves around, it will cause discomfort and irritation.
- A gussetted, seamless crotch for freedom of movement.
- Added features like pockets and zips. Whilst not essential, pockets come in useful on the mountain bike trail for holding tube patches for those all too common punctures.
Choosing Baggy Bicycle Shorts
Baggies are available for both men and women although men’s cycle clothing ranges offer greater choice, perhaps because women are less reluctant to dismiss Lycra.
Try as many styles from different brands as possible as everyone’s anatomy is different. Be sure to walk around to test freedom of movement as well as get in the "crouch" position, if possible on an actual bike in the shop, to see what the shorts will feel like when riding.
Remember that all cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear. Many riders ignore this fact then wonder why the seams in their knickers cause painful chafing and even numbness, aside from the extra heat and sweat their baggies are meant to prevent!
Baggies, Essential Cycle Clothing for Mountain Bikers
Baggy cycling shorts are an indispensable part of a mountain biker’s wardrobe. They look cool on and off the bike and offer all the comfort of a padded liner without the butt-hugging features of Lycra.