ExperiencePlus! Blog

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The following article was written by Jules Horton, Purveyor of Bicycle Vacations, and Carol Busch, Marketing & Customer Communication Manager. 

Whenever you think about biking longer distances, your pants should always be top of mind.

While the majority of our customers prefer to don the classic spandex road biking short for touring, some of us prefer using a layered shorts system that includes an outer short, often referred to as baggies or mountain bike shorts, and an inner short, which is basically a padded liner. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using road bike shorts. They can provide superior comfort for long days in the saddle.

But for bicycle touring, it’s nice to have a clothing option that lets you seamlessly transition from riding your bike, to enjoying an aperitivo, to visiting historic sites, to lounging poolside. If you’ve ever felt awkward walking around in your road bike shorts during a museum visit, you know what we mean. And a baggier short is oh so forgiving!

Basically, mountain bike shorts offer the same convenience and comfort that SPD’s (inverted cleats) did for cycling shoes. Just as it became unnecessary to walk like a duck with protruding cleats, you can also go for a more casual approach with your clothing since most mountain bike shorts look like everyday shorts. They also come with a variety of useful pockets. And, they pair awesome with your (ExperiencePlus!) bike jersey.

mountain bike shorts for comfortable cycling

Now that you’re excited to try out some baggies, there are a few things to keep in mind while shopping for your first ‘kit’.

  • Most mountain bike shorts are sold as separates, that is, you can purchase the outer short independent of the inner liner. This is the system we recommend because the liner is typically lighter weight than traditional padded shorts. This means when you hand wash them they dry faster. For us, the exterior short only needs to be washed every couple of days which we love.
  • Some mountain bike shorts do come with integrated liners, but we don’t recommend these for touring because it’s very difficult to rinse out the liner separate from the short. Additionally, the mountain bike outer short functions as a flexible piece of clothing.
  • Choose colors that go with your t-shirts or other casual clothing you like to wear walking around town, at breakfast, or just hanging out in your room. This goes for both men and women.

Do you really need to purchase a padded liner for mountain bike shorts if you already have a good set of road bike shorts? No, but we strongly recommend that you do. The fabric used in mountain bike-specific liners is much lighter than spandex and does not compress your leg/groin region the way road bike shorts do when worn under an outer short, especially while pedaling a bike.

We’d like to give a shout out to Club Ride which was one of the first companies to focus on casual and yet technical cycling clothing. Nowadays, any cycling clothier will offer options. In fact, there are limitless options for cycling shorts that will have you riding in padded comfort but also looking like a “regular” person off the bike. For us, mountain bike shorts have significantly increased our overall comfort as bicycle tourists.