Best Urban Cycling Shorts [Top 5 for Men + Women in 2020]

It’s that time of year again where many of us whip off our waterproof cycling trousers to uncover our pasty legs ready for summer.

In this guide to the best urban cycling shorts for both men and women, we’ll run through a bunch of really good cycling shorts that are perfect for urban and commuter cyclists.

Stylish Cycling Shorts – Not Lycra!

First off, let’s emphasise that Discerning Cyclist is a Lycra-free zone (although we do make exceptions if something doesn’t look overtly “Lycra-y”). At Discerning Cyclist, our ethos is “we don’t want cycling clothes – we want stylish clothes we can cycle in”. That means we love clothes that:

  • Look great for urban life
  • Feel great in general
  • Boast discreet functionality for cycling

Simple.

What Are the Best Cycling Shorts?

So, what makes a pair of good cycling shorts for urban rides?

Well, for starters, flexible material is a must in order to ensure cycling stays comfortable and your bike shorts don’t rip. A gusseted crotch is also a bonus to ensuring your cycling shorts stand the test of time, while bonus points are also awarded for having moisture-wicking properties, strong, stretchy material, a raised-back and for being waterproof and good-looking. Oh, and pockets. Secure pockets.

So, with that in mind, let’s start by looking for the best men’s bicycle shorts for urban cyclists (ladies, you can skip to the best women’s cycling shorts section by clicking here).

Best Men’s Commuter Cycling Shorts

Chrome Natoma 2.0 Shorts

Chrome Industries Natoma 2.0 Short – £120 / $100

Now, if you’re looking for stylish urban cycling shorts, you don’t need to look much further than this beautiful number from Chrome Industries.

When it comes to cycling in style, Chrome just get it. I’ve reviewed lots of their stuff before (including these shorts) and the Chrome Natoma 2.0 shorts (I got them in black – but they’re also available in olive green) are my main shorts going into the summer of 2020.

These casual cycling shorts are packed with discreet functionality, including:

  • Bike hike bar short with 4-way stretch
  • Double welt rear pockets and reinforced gusset
  • Feels and looks good on and off the bike
  • Fits like a straight leg jean cut off
  • Water-resistant quick dry 4-way stretch

There’s no doubt these are some of the best looking and functional bike shorts around right now.

Style + Function
Chrome Urban Cycling Shorts

The perfect blend of style and function. Look like stylish everyday shorts off the bike, feel like performance cycling shorts on the bike.

Colours: Black, Olive Green

Duer Live Lite Commuter Shorts

DUER No Sweat Commuter Shorts – £72 / $78

I’ve covered DUER a few times on Discerning Cyclist, from reviewing their excellent No Sweat Pants to visiting their head office/shop in Vancouver.

Indeed, I’ve also become acquainted with DUER’s commuter shorts during the past year and I’ve got to say they’re absolutely top notch.

These shorts feature a gusseted crotch and plenty of stretch in the material. They come in a slim fit design which I really like and offers moisture-wicking properties so you don’t overheat down under.

The DUER commuter shorts also have plenty of pockets, with two normal front pockets, and two on the back where you’d expect them – all of which provide good depth. Then there’s also a small coin pocket on the front right thigh, and a discreet zipped pocket slightly further down the leg – which is perfect for a wallet, although won’t quite fit a larger phone (my Samsung S7 Edge doesn’t quite squeeze in). There’s also a small loop on which you can clip your keys on the right hip.These shorts are made from a blend of cotton (62%), TENCEL Lyocell (34%), COOLMAX Polyster(3%) and Lycra Spandex (1%), resulting in a classic stylish cotton cycle shorts look, but with the comfort and performance quality of Lycra cycling shorts. Indeed, these could well be the best cotton cycling shorts around.

DUER are based in North America, so bare this in mind before ordering as you may have to pay extra import costs on arrival. 

Stretchy Style

A cool pair of urban shorts that offer plenty of stretch to ensure a comfortable commute.

Colours: Sahara, Storm, Midnight, Cinder, Oxblood.

Vulpine Rain Shorts

Vulpine Rain Shorts – £120

If you’re looking for waterproof shorts for cycling that also look good, the Vulpine Rain Shorts are very impressive.

They’re not completely waterproof, but as “Rain” shorts, they are very resistant against rain and wind. Essentially you should be well protected in all but the most extreme of showers for a good amount of time.

These shorts follow a similar design and functionality to the Vulpine Rain Trousers, which you can read the review of here (in short: we were very impressed)

The Vulpine Rain Shorts also feature a zipped pocket and a key caribiner in one of the pockets.

Water-Resistant Shorts
Vulpine Rain Shorts

Stylish shorts for comfortable commuting whatever the weather.

Colours: Blue, Charcoal

Rapha Cycling Shorts Randonnee City Edition – £90 / $125

No urban cycling style guide is complete without a mention of Rapha. If you’re on the lookout for technical lightweight shorts that look and feel great in warm conditions, then the Rapha city shorts are right up your street.

The Randonnee shorts make no compromises in terms of style and are available in purple, navy, grey blue, dark navy and black.

The fabric is made up of 94% nylon and 6% spandex, which helps provide extra flexibility in the material , which is also crease resistant and quick drying. The front of the shorts feature two pockets, while the rear has a handy button down and a zipped pocket. Another useful feature for cycling is the fold away high-vis tab which can add a bit more security to your right after the sun goes down.

Rapha are known for their attention to detail, and that’s why you won’t be surprised to find these city cycling shorts also feature a high-cut back to prevent unwanted backside exposure when riding.

Commuter Style

A classic from Rapha's City Collection. These commuter shorts perfectly fuse form and function.

Colours: Dark Green, Carbon Grey, Black

DUER Performance Denim Cycling Short – £72 / $78

If you like “short jeans”, then these are without doubt the best denim cycling shorts for summer commuters.They’re made from 70% cotton, 28% Coolmax polyester and 2% Lycra, meaning they maintain the stylish yet casual bike short look, while also being stretchy and breathable enough to be comfortable for riding in warm weather

Another great pair of commuter cycling shorts from DUER.

Best Demin Cycling Shorts

Super stylish demin cycling shorts that are both light and stretchy for summer rides.

Colours: Black, Navy, Blue

*BARGAIN* Stylish Men’s Bicycle Shorts Under £20!

UNIQLO Ultra-Stretch Active Shorts – £19.90 / $19.90

Whenever you’re after cheap clothes that look good and still have a bit of discreet functionality for riding, UNIQLO should be your go to cheap urban cycling brand.

For under £20, these UNIQLO shorts are great for cycling, thanks to the fact that they feature the brand’s popular DRY-EX functionality (so their gear dries quickly), offers lots and lots of stretch (both horizontally and vertically) and even has zipped pockets so your carry and coins don’t fall out when you’re riding.

These shorts come also come in four colours: beige, grey, navy and black. Absolute bargain.

Cheap and cheerful

The best cheap urban cycling shorts you're ever likely to find.

Colours: Grey, Black, Beige, Navy

Best Women’s Commuter Bike Shorts 

Chrome Anza Shorts for Women – £100 / $110

Chrome Industries are simply one of – if not the – best urban cycling clothing brands in the world, and the Anza Shorts are a perfect example of why.

These shorts just look like stylish urban shorts. No onlooked would think for a second that they’re packed with discreet cycling functionality for commuting – but they are.

These ladies’ urban cycling shorts feature:

  • Full length seamless double layer crotch
  • Are made for a slim womenswear fit
  • 4-way stretch with fine Everest Fabric
  • Five pockets (including a zip pocket on the rear)
  • Water resistance
  • Dedicated five bar u-lock holster on the rear
Ride in Style

A really stylish pair of shorts that are perfect for urban cycling. Look great and feel great.

Colours: Dusty Olive, Black

Endura Women’s Hummvee Short II – £56.99 / $61.99

The Endura Hummvee shorts of something of a legend in the cycling world thanks to the incredible functionality and comfort that Endura have embedded into these ladies cycling shorts.

These womens padded cycling shorts are discreetly functional and perfect for urban life or a rural explore. The padding (8mm) in the shorts is part of a datable liner, which has been ergonomically designed to fit the female form.

They feature zipped hand pockets (woop), cargo pockets and large rear pockets – so there’s plenty of storage available.

Perfect to Ride

Extremely practical cycling shorts that are really comfortable to wear.

Colours: Black

Rapha Women’s Randonnee Cycling Shorts – £90 / $125

The women’s version of the Randonnee Rapha city shorts also make the cut on this list, thanks again to their flawless style and practicality.

These shorts look great and use technical fabric that is stretchy, quick-drying and very breathable – making them great all-round urban cycling shorts for ladies.

The Randonnee shorts features zipped side pockets and a zipped rear pocket, as well as a further button-down back pocket. There’s also a choice of three colours: black, grey blue or navy blue.

Ultimate Commuter Style

The perfect blend of style and comfort. Feel great on your ride and look good at your destination.

Colours: Black, Navy, Dark Green

dhb Flashlight Women’s Waist Shorts – £45 / $57.33

If you’re looking for some lady’s padded shorts that effectively work as short leggings under a dress, then the dhb Flashlight Women’s Waist Shorts will be right up your street.

Available for £45 from Wiggle, these womens padded cycling shorts are built with comfort in mind, with the material shaping around the body in order to provide a comfortable fit. The pad is also thermo-moulded to provide ultimate flexibility and support, while it also features soft wings in order to prevent chafing.

Pure Comfort

A pair of "proper" cycling shorts that feel good on your ride.

*BARGAIN* Stylish Women’s Bicycle Shorts Under £20!

UNIQLO Ultra-Stretch Active Shorts – £14.90 / $14.90

Just as they’ve done for men, UNIQLO have created a fantastic pair of stylish shorts that are perfect for urban cycling for women too – and for just £14.99.

These urban shorts feature DRY-EX functionality (quick drying), lots of stretch (both horizontally and vertically) and even has zipped pockets so your carry and coins don’t fall out when you’re riding.

These shorts come also come in lots of colours, including: blue, grey, black, pink, yellow and beige.

Bargain!

Simple, lightweight shorts that offer plenty of stretch for riding. Great value.

Colours: Blue, Dark Grey, Black, Pink, Beige, Yellow.

And there we have it, five of the best urban cycling shorts for men and women. Have you used any of the shorts we talked about, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below. Also, if there’s any worthy contenders that I’ve missed out, also feel free to comment with your suggestions!

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