Do Bike Shorts Ride Up? (Let’s Be Honest…)

Call me vain if you like, but I dress to impress even when I’m cycling. And the last thing I want to be doing is constantly pulling at my shorts to keep them from riding up the back or curling up over my thighs.

So do bike shorts really ride up that bad? And if so, why?

Bike shorts ride up when they are the wrong size, worn out, or catching on your saddle. Shorts that don’t stay where they are supposed to can be uncomfortable, cause saddle sores, and could even be distracting enough to cause a crash. However, with a little effort you can find shorts that fit you just right.

So what’s causing your bike shorts to ride up, and how do you find a pair that fits you best?

Read on to find out!

Why Your Bike Shorts Might Ride Up


There are many reasons your bike shorts might be riding up, but here are some of the most common issues:

  • Your shorts are too big! If you are wearing shorts that are too big, they’ll probably ride up as you pedal. If your shorts aren’t snug enough to stay put, every pedal stroke will make them slip higher and higher. 
  • Your shorts are too old! Your shorts have to endure a lot of movement, and over time, the elastic and Lycra threads will break down in your cycling shorts. This means they’ll start slipping around and won’t stay put. 
  • Your bib straps are just too short! Bibs are great for several reasons, but if the straps going over your shoulders are too tight, they could be causing your shorts to ride up. The straps will be constantly pulling your bibs up between your legs: getting a wedgie wasn’t fun in middle school…it’s not fun on a bike either! 
  • Your legs are too slippery! Keeping your shorts in place might be a great reason for shaving your legs before you ride. The hairs on your legs can prevent the silicone grippers from contacting your skin and keeping the shorts in place. 
  • Your saddle is too wide! If your saddle doesn’t fit right, it could be causing your shorts to catch every time you pedal. You might need to get a better fitting saddle to keep it from pulling on your shorts. 
  • Your saddle is not smooth! If your saddle is old, has been in an accident, or is worn out, it could have rough spots that are catching on your shorts and pulling them out of place. If this is the case, it might be time to replace that worn-out seat. 

How to Prevent Bike Shorts from Riding Up

While some people might say duct tape fixes everything that shouldn’t move, I’m going to say that’s probably not the best solution for this particular problem. So instead, let’s look at some better ways to keep your bike shorts from riding up. 

  1. Wear the right size shorts. Wearing the right size shorts will keep them snugly in place. Shorts that are too large will tend to drift up with every pedal stroke, while shorts that are too small will constantly be inching up where they shouldn’t be.
  2. Replace old worn shorts. If your shorts are riding up because the elastic and Lyrca have worn out, it’s time for a new pair. 
  3. Choose cycling shorts that have wide silicone leg grippers. Some shorts have thin elastic bands around the legs and waist, which may not stay in place as well as wider silicone grippers. 
  4. Get dressed carefully. When you get dressed, make sure to gently pull on each leg and then pull the waistband gently into place. It could slide around if you don’t ensure everything is in the correct spot, especially when you get sweaty. 
  5. Shave your legs. Excess hair can get in the way of your shorts staying put, so you might want to consider hair removal. 
  6. Don’t put lotion on your legs before a ride. Body lotion can make your legs slippery and prevent the silicone grippers from staying put. Avoid putting lotion where those grippers should go if this is a problem for you. 

How Cycling Shorts Are Supposed to Fit

If you need to replace your shorts because they are worn out or the wrong size, you’ll want to make sure they fit just right. 

Multiple pairs of cycling shorts

Shorts that are too loose or too tight just won’t do their job correctly. Cycling shorts need to be aerodynamic, avoid getting caught in your bike’s moving parts, and protect your skin from sores and rashes. Shorts that are loose in the waist or legs won’t stay in place, while shorts that are too tight won’t need to ride up…they’ll already be up “there!”

Here are some guidelines when picking out cycling shorts and bibs: 

  • Cycling shorts should be snug enough to stay put but not so tight that they cut off circulation. 
  • Cycling bibs should be snug enough that the straps hug your shoulders without pulling. If you feel like they are pulling your shoulders down or pulling your shorts up too far, they’re probably too small. 
  • The legs should have a firm grip on your thighs without causing your skin to bulge out. 
  • If you’re wearing shorts without shoulder straps, you’ll want the waistband to stay firmly in place without digging into your stomach. 
  • Your shorts should fit snugly, but there shouldn’t be seams digging into your skin. 

The Chamois Should Fit Like a Glove

The most important part of the bike shorts is the chamois. Your shorts need to be tight enough to keep your chamois in the right spot so that it can protect the tender areas of your body. If your shorts are too big, the chamois can slide around, creating rashes and saddle sores.

On the other hand, if the chamois itself is too big, it will leave big gaps between you and the shorts, which look funny, feel uncomfortable, and can get caught on your saddle as you’re riding.

Your shorts will stretch as you move, and some types of shorts are designed to stretch in certain areas of the body more than others. You may want to experiment with different brands to find that “just right” fit. They might feel a little awkward when you’re just standing around because they’re designed to be worn while you’re in your riding position. 

With all of this in mind, how do you find the right cycling shorts?

How to Buy Bike Shorts That Fit YOU

How tight are cycling shorts supposed to be

Every body is different, and cycling shorts will fit people differently. However, every brand has its own shape and style, so if one brand doesn’t feel good on you, try another brand. 

It’s a good idea to try a pair of shorts on before you purchase them, or at least make sure to buy your bike shorts from a company that has an excellent return policy. Try moving around in the shorts: squat down, reach forward, and try to move like you would be pedaling on your bike.

Make sure the shorts don’t slide up your legs, ride up in the back, or create a gap in the front of the chamois. They should provide a nice, smooth fit over the shape of your body. 

Size Charts and Guides

When purchasing online, first look at the size charts. Most companies will provide a chart listing the optimal measurements for each size they carry. They’ll also give you a measuring guide so you can take your own measurements and match them to the size you need.

For example, Pactimo provides you with sizing charts, fit guides, and even videos to help you determine the right size before you purchase. You can see their guide HERE. Pearl Izumi also has an excellent fit and measuring guide HERE. However, these guides are specific for their garments and might not work with other manufacturers’ shorts. 

But if you’re not sure, or are in between sizes, reach out to the company! I fall in between sizes more often than most, and every time I’ve talked to a real person at a company, I’ve always been very happy with the size they’ve suggested. 

Product reviews can also be a valuable source of information. See what people who have already purchased the item have to say about it. They can tell you if the garment runs big or small to help you make a better decision. 

When in doubt, you may need to order a couple of different sizes and then return the ones that don’t fit, but you’ll need to double-check the return policy to ensure this is okay. 

Once you find a brand and style that fit, stick with it! That way you know everything you order will always fit you well.


JJ here - I've spent a lot of time on a bike, including completing the 3,000+ mile Southern Tier Route (CA to FL). I started Cycling Beast to "demystify" cycling topics, and to help people overcome roadblocks and level-up their skills.

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