why do mountain bikers wear baggy shorts

Why Do Mountain Bikers Wear Baggy Shorts

why do mountain bikers wear baggy shorts

Baggy shorts have not been around very long. Usually there are short shorts and long shorts, so there must be some reason mountain bikers are wearing baggy shorts. So I did some research.

Why do mountain bikers wear baggy shorts? Mountain bikers wear baggy shorts because they have extra pockets, are abrasion resistant, are more comfortable than Lycra, and offer more range of motion. They are also warmer, look better, and are part of mountain biking culture and fashion.

Let’s dive deeper into how baggy shorts are used, and why trail riders prefer them over other shorts.

What Are Mountain Bike Baggy Shorts Good For

  • When riders go out mountain biking it is very convenient to be able to get things you need easily and quickly. This is where baggy shorts with many pockets are very useful. Whatever you have put in your pockets can be easily accessed instead of needing to go into a backpack.
  • Riding on the trail can be rough. There are many types of surfaces such as dirt, gravel, roots, rocks, and sandy trails. This increases the chance of a crash or a fall. Baggy shorts offer a layer of protection in case of a fall compared to wearing thin spandex.
  • Being comfortable on the trails is important. It allows you to relax and focus all your energy on conquering the mountain. Baggy shorts are more comfortable than Lycra. Not feeling right while on the saddle is a distraction. Baggies don’t ride up your buttocks the way other shorts do.
  • The upper thigh width of baggy shorts is wider than other shorts. Other shorts which are not for mountain biking are narrower in the upper thighs. This will restrict the movement of the legs while pedaling. Baggies offer the rider full range of motion when pedaling as well as being able to move the legs and knees left and right for turning around corners.
  • Temperatures when riding through a forest are going to be cooler when compared to riding on the road on the same day. Baggy shorts are mostly made of polyester which is a synthetic fabric. It is not as breathable as cotton so it retains heat better.
  • One big reason I have found that trail riders like baggy shorts is they feel weird wearing Lycra. Especially guys feel like they are naked with spandex on. They think its strange to be wearing so little clothing when they are riding in the forest on rough terrain.

Why Extra Pockets and What Should You Carry in Baggy Shorts Pockets

Baggy shorts have extra pockets so you can carry more things with you, but also because the two hand pockets are not safe. It is easier for your things to fall out if you carry them in the hand pockets. Even if they are deeper, it is uncomfortable to pedal with something in your hand pocket.

Extra pockets are located on the front and side of the thighs. Plus there is a back pocket. It is a good idea to carry things which are flat. These include keys, cash, credit cards, thin phone, GPS. If you fall or crash and land on something which is not so flat you could injure yourself more.

These extra pockets have a waterproof zipper. This basically guarantees nothing falls out of your pockets. Plus if you are riding in the rain or snow you things will remain dry. Its no fun pulling out wet cash or having moisture get into your GPS device.

Should You Wear Anything Under Your Baggy Shorts

Many riders like to have padding under their baggy shorts. This padding helps to give you support between your buttocks and your saddle. The padding provides a smooth layer when compared to other shorts which have a middle seam which is uncomfortable.

Other riders like to wear Lycra under their baggy shorts instead of their underwear. Lycra helps to get rid of sweat by evaporating it away quickly. Cotton underwear normally traps in moisture and holds it next to your skin. This will increase heat, skin irritations, and cause odor.

Baggy shorts are great for bigger guys. See the best mountain bike shorts for big guys here.

Do Baggy Mountain Bike Shorts Have Any Disadvantages

Riders who like to do jumps and tricks in the air may find baggy shorts to be like a parachute. The baggy area of the shorts will have a tendency to collect air. This may alter how your bike performs while in the air after a jump or when you are doing tricks in the air.

Biking on singletrack in the forest is fun and exciting. Going through a thick dense forest is challenging and can be risky if your skill level is not up to snuff. There is the possibility that baggy shorts could get caught on low branches or bushes which hang over the singletrack.

Baggy shorts can get very hot to wear during the summer time. They are usually made of polyester. Polyester does not breath well and does not absorb sweat. Many mountain bikers wear Lycra during the summer because it gets too hot depending where you live and ride.

How To Choose The Right Baggy Shorts For Mountain Biking


  • When choosing baggy shorts decide if you want to have a liner or not. Sometimes the liners are not that high quality. In that case you can wear Lycra underneath. If you want a liner I suggest you buy a more expensive baggy short.
  • These high quality baggy shorts are equipped with 8-panel pads and leg grippers. Some shorts have removable liners so you can use the shorts on and off the bike. Liners are made from fabric that breathes and wicks away moisture. So you don’t need any underwear.


  • Many liners include a pad or a chamois. This pad provides softness and support. It prevents chafing and wicks away moisture. Plus it stops bacteria growth which could lead to a rash and or bad smell.
  • Padding is sewn into the lining using different sewing patterns. Before making your selection be sure the padding feels comfortable and does not chafe. Even a little discomfort will be irritating while on the trail. If uncomfortable keep trying, it is worth it to get the right fit.


  • Make sure your shorts have a gusseted grotch. This is a triangular piece of fabric which is inserted into a seam. This increases the width of the area and removes the seam from the crotch area. This prevents you from getting caught on your saddle when you shift forward or backward.


  • There are many different waist bands you can choose from. Each one will feel slightly different, so it is a good idea to try them all if you have no experience with them. You can try a draw string, belt loops, elastic bands, Velcro, and snapons. Make sure they are comfortable when you move into the attack position.


  • Higher end baggies allow you to adjust the legs. This prevents the baggies from getting caught on branches or catching air when doing jumps, tricks, or riding at high speeds. Elastic panels enable the shorts to fit a little tighter while maintaining full range of motion.


  • Pockets seal up a few different ways. Some have zippers, Velcro, buttons, or flaps. Try each one and see which one feels the most comfortable. Also, see which on is most easy to use. You do not want to be tugging at your pockets every time you want to open them.


  • Decide if you want to have a zipper fly or a button down closing. Which ever one you choose make sure the zipper is strong and secure. See that the button are sewn on tightly and that it is convenient to unbutton and button them.


  • Finally, check that the seam are sewn tightly and strongly. Look if there is any horizontal stitching in area that undergo more stress than other areas. Horizontal stitching is stronger and is used to close wounds. They are effective at making baggy shorts stronger.


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