Biking Tips

Can You Wear Bike Shorts Under Jeans?

Cycling shorts have a tight fit which leads you to believe that they can function as underwear. Straight or baggy jeans have enough room to accommodate bike shorts. There was also a trend in the 80s where girls wore denim shorts over bike shorts. Perhaps, you have different reasons to wear bike shorts under jeans. You may want to ride to an event where you would rather be in jeans than in bike shorts. So, can you wear bike shorts under jeans? Yes, you can wear bike shorts under jeans but is it recommended? That depends on what you intend to do after that. If you intend to wear shorts like underwear for walking, then, you can. But if you want to ride your bike, then you should look for better options.

Should You Wear Bike Shorts Under Jeans?

Bike shorts can be worn under jeans but only if they are unpadded like the Hanes Performance Compression Shorts. If you wear padded bike shorts, you will quickly find out that the same chamois that should provide comfort would cause you discomfort. Obviously, wearing unpadded bike shorts means that you won’t be able to ride your bike beyond short distances.

However, such an arrangement can serve well for walking in the park. But then, why not use conventional underwear? Although, there are compression boxer briefs like the Adidas Performance Boxer Briefs that cost around the same as compression shorts. You can easily wear them under your jeans. However, to each their own. But here are the following reasons why you shouldn’t wear bike shorts under jeans for riding:

  • Jeans are bulky and hinder movement. They lack the flexibility of bike shorts to move with the legs. To add to this issue, jeans also weigh more. While that may not be a problem during casual everyday use, you would start noticing the weight while pedaling. In short, you would need to pedal harder to achieve your natural speed which would be a piece of cake without the jeans.
  • Bike shorts are specifically made to wick moisture. If you wear jeans over bike shorts, then the jeans will trap moisture as you sweat. The moisture buildup will cause irritation and discomfort.
  • The seams of denim pants are extremely uncomfortable. Again, they are not noticeable during everyday use but they will cause chaffing and abrasion when they start rubbing against the skin during pedaling. The middle thick seam under the crotch gets a special mention as it would cause you the most discomfort. The problem with the middle seam can be reduced if you have a saddle with a cut-out in the middle like the Stelle Italia Sport Gel Flow or the SLR Boost Superflow. But why go through all this trouble at all?
  • The denim fabric itself is rough. This is another thing that you won’t notice during everyday use because jeans are made to feel very comfortable. But when the fabric starts rubbing against your skin repeatedly, it causes abrasion and chafing. As mentioned above, jeans don’t move with the legs like bike shorts, so they rub a lot as well, consequently, hindering movement.
  • Denim deteriorates quickly during rubbing. This is just a fact about denim. It doesn’t stand rubbing, which there is a lot during cycling, against the saddle. You will notice that your jeans will develop sweat rings quickly on the butt ruining them. It is recommended to stick to the designated shorts and pants.
  • Jeans are often loose-hanging trousers which increase the risk of them getting caught in the chain, crank, or pedals. Loose clothes getting caught in such moving parts is one of the common causes of crashes among riders who don’t care for clothing when riding.

Alternatives To Wearing Bike Shorts Under Jeans

Life always gives you a chance to make better choices. You can also make better choices in this case. Here are a few alternatives to wearing bike shorts under jeans instead of tolerating the discomfort:

  • If you have to be somewhere where you have to wear jeans – work, semi-formal gatherings – then pack them with you. All you would have to do then is to find a suitable place to change once you arrive at your destination.
  • Let’s say, for some reason, you won’t have the option to change where you are going. You can try padded underwear. Padded underwears are see-through and are also known as chamois, briefs, and padded liners. You can’t wear them as an outwear. But they can get you through your ride and you will stay comfortable off the bike as well.

Another way you can conceal your bike shorts without affecting your riding performance is to use a bike over shorts. Bike over shorts are baggy bike shorts like the Fox Racing Ranger Shorts mainly geared towards MTB riders. They look like casual shorts so no one would know that we are the bike nerds. They also add a layer of protection to your bike shorts.

How Should You Wear Bike Shorts?

Bike shorts are made to provide comfort on their own. You don’t have to use underwear or an overwear with them. The only time you should wear underwear with bike shorts is when trying them out.

Bike shorts require some trial and error to find the right one. You would try on a few before you settle for one. But you are not the only one who will be trying those shorts. Several other people have tried those shorts before you. The underwear protects you from contracting an infection someone else might have left there. It also prevents you from leaving something that you may have.

The other thing you should be mindful of is the fit of the shorts. It is common to get bike shorts that are too tight. Make sure that your shorts are not too tight. They should fit you snugly and there should be no feeling of pressure or pinching on and around your legs and the waist.

Final Thoughts

You can wear unpadded bike shorts or compression shorts under jeans but not padded ones. Padded ones will cause you discomfort. But, generally, wearing jeans over bike shorts during riding is a bad idea. Jeans hinder movement, trap moisture, and cause more abrasion and chaffing due to a relatively rough fabric and thick seams. You should try alternatives like packing your jeans with you, padded underwear, or bike over shorts to conceal your bike shorts. But bike shorts are not made to be worn with an under or an overwear.