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What are the Pros and Cons of Baggy Cycling Shorts?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Many cyclists who do not like the look or feel of tight cycling shorts prefer to wear baggy cycling shorts instead. These baggy cycling shorts offer a more fashionable look for the cyclist, and since the shorts do not necessarily cling closely to the skin, some people find the baggy cycling shorts to be more comfortable and cooler as air can pass through them more easily. Baggy shorts can, unfortunately, be more likely to bunch up and cause hot spots, saddle sores, and blisters, and they are far less aerodynamic than tight Lycra® shorts.

Many baggy cycling shorts feature a sewn-in insert that is a tighter-fitting pair of shorts within the shorts. This insert features a chamois pad that will provide extra comfort when sitting on a hard, narrow cycling saddle. The insert is not often made of Lycra®, as are tight-fitting cycling shorts, but they are made from a breathable material that will allow sweat and moisture to be wicked away from the skin. This increases the comfort level of the shorts and allows the cyclist to gain some of the benefits of tighter-fitting shorts while still taking advantage of the benefits of baggy shorts.

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Since baggy cycling shorts tend to be made from more material than tighter Lycra® shorts, there is more possibility that the shorts will bunch up and cause discomfort. Lycra® fits tightly to the skin to avoid any such chafing or discomfort, but baggy shorts can hang loosely, thereby becoming more likely to shift during use. Aside from hot spots and other types of discomfort, the shifting material can become caught on the saddle, and it can cause the pants to shift and pull downward during use. Most baggy shorts feature a stretchy waistband or waist ties to counter this.

Recreational cyclists who get off their bikes often during a ride — to walk around town, perhaps, or sit down at a restaurant — may prefer baggy cycling shorts because they offer some of the comfort of tight shorts while still providing a more fashionable look. Most people do not want to walk around town in tight shorts, so baggy shorts provide a less noticeable aesthetic when the cyclist is off the bike. Baggy shorts will also smell better than Lycra® shorts; since Lycra® shorts fit closely to the skin, sweat is likely to sink into the chamois, leading to a musty odor. Baggy cycling shorts allow some of that sweat to evaporate quickly, cutting down on the smell.

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