Do I Really Need MTB Shorts?

Mountain biking is a tough sport. You don’t just ride your bike and expect to pedal your way to any place you want.

Aside from endurance and cardiovascular strength, you also need to learn technical skills so you can maneuver your bike safely around the trails without falling off.

This makes mountain biking much trickier compared to the regular road cycling stuff most people are accustomed to. This is the reason why you need to focus more on protection and safety to ensure that you have a good time with your bike ride.

That’s where MTB shorts come in.

They aren’t the same as road cycling shorts that are made of lycra and spandex and fit tightly to your skin. Instead, these look like casual baggy shorts but are made for comfort and protection in the trails.

So, do you need these mountain bike shorts?

Benefits of Wearing MTB Shorts

Durability and safety

The best thing about wearing mountain bike shorts is that they are very durable. You don’t have to worry about getting scrapes on your skin because they are made of thick material.

This is unlike lycra shorts that are very thin and can easily get torn if you fall off your bike and hit the ground. Not only is this a waste of money for your shorts, but you also put yourself in danger.

However, that’s not a problem with baggies because these mountain bike clothing for trail riding and bike park hits are thick enough to absorb impact when you fall. It’s not just about getting shorts that are a bang for your buck, but also investing in safety gear such as outfits like mountain biking pads, knee pads, and mountain bike helmets, especially that you won’t know what’s out there in the trails.

Comfort

Another nice thing about wearing MTB shorts is that they are comfortable to wear. Although roadies might disagree with this because the loose material can flap on your skin when you’re pedaling.

But that’s not a big issue because what you are after here is flexibility. Unlike road cycling where your body barely moves and you just move your legs to pedal.

In mountain biking, you need to constantly move your body and shift your body weight sidewards to maintain balance and prevent falling off your bike. You need utmost flexibility to be capable of going around tight corners, technical root sections, and steep uphills in the woods.

However, you should also consider safety by wearing the right mountain bike gear. Aside from the fact that most mountain bikers wear baggy mountain bike shorts, riders wear knee pads to prevent injuries. They then couple this with proper mountain bike jerseys.

Insulation

Another cool thing about these mountain biking shorts is that they are very good when it comes to insulation. They protect you from strong winds that are surely very cold.

This is very important knowing that you’re most likely in a high altitude area where the temperature is lower than normal.

Aside from that, this also protects you from the sun’s heat because the cloth is thick enough to block out sunlight and UV rays that can lead to sunburn on your skin.

Versatility

You can wear mountain bike shorts even if you’re not riding. They have a casual design that makes them wearable even if you’re out shopping, going to the mall, or some other matter aside from biking.

This is a very nice thing because you don’t have to feel awkward regardless of your riding style especially if there are a lot of people in the place where you stop for a rest.

Functionality

Mountain bike shorts have pockets where you can put essentials on. Things like your smartphone, wallet, and tools can easily be stored in your pocket.

And most likely, these pockets have zippers that ensure your stored things won’t fall off when you ride on rough roads. You won’t’ have any of this luxury if you wear lycra shorts.

Related: What Is Special About Mountain Biking Shorts?

Can you wear lycra for mountain biking?

Of course, you can. But there are many downsides to it. First off is that you can fall off your bike at any moment. This will result in scratches and scrapes especially if you’re not wearing thick clothing.

Second is that aerodynamics isn’t a big deal when you’re out in the trails. You have to learn technical skills instead. So, there’s no point in wearing lycra so you’ll become faster because of less air resistance.

Why mountain bikers don’t wear lycra shorts?

The argument with lycra shorts is that they provide maximum comfort and range of motion when pedaling because the very thin cloth sticks to your skin. That has some truth to it, but that isn’t true for everyone, especially with mountain bikers.

You see, mountain biking isn’t the same as road cycling where you have to always pedal. Instead, you coast most of the time on downhill trails and it’s more than just about pedaling.

You also need to learn how to maneuver yourself along with your bike so you don’t fall off. With this, you can see that it’s all about having freedom and protection from whatever lurks out there. And wearing baggies is the way to go for that purpose.

Can baggy shorts affect your riding performance?

Yes, it can. Based on years of experience riding mountain bike trails, getting to wear mountain biking baggies instead of lycras boost your confidence levels and makes you ride faster.

You feel good because you are well protected from the ground which has lots of rocks and roots that might scrape and scratch you.

Is it harder to pedal with mountain bike shorts?

A bit, but not most of the time especially if you are already used to it.

Although there might be some cloth rubbing on you every time you pedal, and there may be some air pockets trapped on the loose sections of the shorts, these things aren’t that big of a problem in mountain biking.

Remember that mountain biking isn’t all about pedaling. It’s also about being able to traverse rough trail sections and be capable of shifting your weight to prevent falling down.

Conclusion

You need to wear mountain biking shorts if you are a mountain biker. Don’t think that you can just wear any kind of shorts you like because it doesn’t affect you.

We also recommend that you don’t wear lycra because its benefits are mostly geared towards roadies. Get the right mountain biking shorts and you’ll surely be better, faster, and happier with your mountain bike.

Related:

Photo of author
AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.