Bike shorts caused quite the stir when they returned to the runway (and our Instagram feeds) a few years back, with fashion acolytes all over the world embracing the polarizing athleisure trend. And, while we weren’t quite sure of their longevity, it’s now clear that bike shorts are here to stay.
If you ask us, it all started with the insidious creep of leggings-as-pants. We no longer ask ourselves whether or not the body-con bottoms are a truly viable option to wear outside of the gym; with the right styling, the right attitude, and the right pair, the stretchy, clingy pant now gets a resounding yes. Now that warmer weather is rolling around, we’re turning to our leggings’ cropped cousins, the biker short.
What’s the trick to translating the gym-going look to the street? Our advice: grab a pair with some length — it’s more fashion-forward and makes navigating your shoe selection so much easier. Leggings and heeled sandals? Most likely no. Bike shorts and heeled sandals? Kind of great. Wear with an oversized blazer, a simple hoodie, or with a pretty white blouse, and you’re good to go.
Ahead, shop bike shorts from some of our favorite brands, from a throwback neon pair to an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny option.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy or click on something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
The Bike Short for Yoga
lululemon Align 6” High-Rise Short with Pockets
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 115 reviews at Lululemon
Cut from the same cloth as lululemon’s world-famous, buttery-soft Align fabric, it’s no surprise these bike shorts have a fanbase as rabid as their ankle-length counterpart. “I don’t know what to say other than I never want to take these shorts off my body,” wrote lululemon reviewer Ester. “They’re sooo flattering and comfortable and stay in place so well!” Even though lululemon is best known for its vast lineup of yoga-related gear, these shorts can handle high-impact activities with flexibility and ease. “Great for higher intensity workouts (I use mine for traditional/functional strength training),” Ester assures. “Did I mention how flattering they are! I’m obsessed.”
Lululemon Align™ High-Rise Short with Pockets 6″, $, available at Lululemon
Best Ribbed Waistband Bike Short
Vuori Rib Studio Short
The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars and 84 reviews at Vuori
Vuori’s site filters reveal that this is currently the brand’s most sold bike short to date. We have a few hunches surrounding its top-selling status: It has a comfy high waist an an unexpected ribbed texture, there are no side seams (which means it boasts a smooth, airbrushed handfeel all the way around the thigh), and there is a Goldilocks inseam length of 6″. Grab this bike short in black, muted navy, or milky pistachio in sizes XXS to XXL.
Vuori Rib Studio Short, $, available at Vuori
Best Classic Bike Short
Adidas Adicolor Classics High-Waisted Primeblue Short Tights
A biker short with Adidas’ trademark three stripes running down the sides? You can’t get any more classic than that. And, at only $35 a pop, this beloved style remains one of adidas’ most hyped styles ever. “Absolutely love these! Love that they are not low rise. Us plus girls need a little extra material in front. Lol. I feel confident when I work out in these!” wrote one reviewer who bought one of the extended 1X-4X sizes. “I love this set — it’s very comfortable and machine washable,” wrote another reviewer whose only complaints are that these get a bit lint-y and that they don’t come in enough colors.
Adidas Adicolor Classics High-Waisted Primeblue Short Tights (Plus Size), $, available at Adidas
The Best Micro Bike Short
FP Movement Good Karma Running Shorts
The Hype: 4.3 out of 5 stars and 231 reviews at Free People
By far the best-selling bike short from Free People’s FP Movement activewear line is this micro number, available in 24 ogle-worthy colors in sizes XS/S to L/XL. “These actually DO NOT ride up?!” wrote one happily flummoxed reviewer, despite the short’s 2.75″ inseam. “I’m sure it depends on your body shape [but it’s the] first style I can wear under run shorts that keep me in place. LOVE! Lululemon wishes!” they wrote. Other reviewers, ranging from weight lifters to long-distance runners swear by these non-chafing shorts. “They are not my favorite for squats; I’ve found the crotch moves back and forth with my butt, [but] I do wear these for cardio and classes and for lounging — they are a go-to!” wrote an avid cross-trainer.
FP Movement Good Karma Running Shorts, $, available at Free People
Best Affordable Bike Shorts
X by Gottex Active Biker Shorts
The Hype: 4.7 out of 5 stars and 65 reviews at Nordstrom Rack
We get it — bike shorts aren’t for everyone. If you’re one of those people who are slightly sus but still curious about these bodycon shorts, a great way to shimmy into the trend is by grabbing a low-stakes pair for under $20. Nordstrom Rack has a whole stash of these stylish skimmies at freshly-cut price points. The highest-rated pair is awarded to X by Gottex — available in five colorways and/or prints — with one reviewer raving, “Very comfortable and soft […] my body is more of a pear shape. Feels like butter!!” Another bike-tights fan whose previous pair had grown “old and tattered” from overuse rejoiced: “Hooray for the biker shorts comeback! I’m loving my new [ones]. They fit nicely and are perfect for casual activities now that the weather is warmer.”
X by Gottex Active Biker Shorts, $, available at Nordstrom Rack
The Best Smoothing Bike Short
Skims Fits Everybody Bike Short
The Hype: 4 out of 5 stars and 103 reviews at Skims
This pair of bike shorts from Skims are designed to be comfortable enough to wear all day as a base layer under any look. One reviewer raves that they feel like smooth butter on her skin. “I love these bike shorts and I’m normally not too big of a fan of bike shorts. They are super soft and thin and not compressive or tight at all, but still super flattering. They feel like a high quality pantyhose and I’m here for it.” wrote reviewer Kristie.
Skims Fits Everybody Bike Short, $, available at Skims
The Best Organic Cotton Bike Short
PACT Ribbed Bike Short
The Hype: 4.7 out of 5 stars and 55 reviews at Pact
Most of the bike shorts in this roundup are specifically made for sweaty workouts — but these, from sustainable lifestyle brand Pact, have found their way into the loungewear closets of many reviewers. A super soft, stretchy ribbed texture made from 89% organic cotton? Say no more. These could very well be worn as PJs — that’s how comfy the blend is. “I found my bike shorts to be super lightweight and cozy to wear for long days working from home!” wrote reviewer Meg J. “The ribbed cotton material is so soft and comfortable around my waist. As we’re transitioning into warmer months, I wanted something that wasn’t sweatpants, that I felt like I could wear all day at my desk, and also feel excited to wear if I need to run out for an errand or mid day stroll. These are perfect for all of the above!”
PACT ribbed bike short, $, available at PACT
The Best High-Rise Bike Short
Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Bike Short
The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars and 5,503 reviews at Girlfriend Collective
Made from the same compressive, plastic-recycled material as Girlfriend Collective’s all-time best-selling legging, these bike shorts — and their thigh-covering 8.5″ inseam — are made to hold you in, no matter what kind of activity you’re up against. “These are a true high waist and I have a short torso so they come right up to my rib cage,” wrote reviewer Emily M. “They do show sweat which doesn’t bother me but if it bothers you, go for a darker color,” they added. Luckily for shoppers, there’s a variety of color options — currently, six “core” hues and four seasonal shades.
Girlfriend Matcha High-Rise Bike Short, $, available at Girlfriend
Best “New” Bike Short
YPB 7″ Bike Shorts
The Hype: 4.4 out of 5 stars and 14 reviews at Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch debuted its new activewear line, YPB, on March 16 and it’s already ranking a near-perfect five stars. “Great quality product! I am 5’3, and 6 inch biker shorts [are] too short and 8 inches [are] too long so this one’s perfect. I like that the glute seams in the back sit at the right spot,” wrote one reviewer who is particular about the inseam length. If you, too, are looking for a sweet spot in terms of a bike short that neither reveals nor covers too much, this YPB pair is a sure bet.
YPB Active 7″ Bike Shorts, $, available at Abercrombie and Fitch
Best Compression Bike Short
Alo High-Waist Biker Short
The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars and 1,166 reviews at Alo Yoga
“My main workout is on a popular bike. I reside in a very hot climate area so these fit all my needs,” wrote reviewer Theresa B. “Right length, sweat-wicking, just the right amount of compression and a flattering fit. This is my second pair of these shorts — love that they come in so many color choices,” they wrote. While many bike shorts are worn for non-cycling activities, it’s reassuring to know that this pair is lauded by actual bikers. High-waisted and falling mid-thigh, these skimmies are offered in a whole array of Easter-y brights in sizes XXS to L.
Alo Yoga High-Waist Biker Short, $, available at Alo Yoga
Best Bike Short with Pockets
Athleta Ultimate Stash Pocket 5″ Short
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 927 reviews at Athleta
As our fashion writer Chichi Offor has attested, everyone is sleeping on Athleta activewear as one of the best destinations for solid workout gear. Take, for instance, this popular high-waisted bike short that’s made for mid- to high-impact activities and boasts not one, not two, but three (!) pockets. “I love these shorts for working out. I travel with them for quick runs/work outs on vacation. They are easy to pack and take up minimal space,” wrote reviewer Christina F. “The pockets are perfect for a phone, keys, credit card which [lets] me be hands-free when I use them.”
Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II 5″ Short, $, available at Athleta
Best Non-Compressive Bike Short
Outdoor Voices Move Free 6″ Short
The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars and 64 reviews at Outdoor Voices
There’s a time and place for compressive shorts — but sometimes all you’re looking for is an unrestricted style that allows you to move freely. That’s the whole concept behind this style, which are stretchy, lightweight, and flexible, made from the brand’s peachiest-soft fabric. These bike shorts are a hot seller, especially amongst shoppers with thicker thighs. “LOVE LOVE LOVE! My second skin, my go-to short, my breathable beauty. Have these in multiple colors and will die in these. That’s all!” wrote reviewer Elyse. Another reviewer, Tiffany, lauds the shorts’ style factor: “I look like Princess Diana leaving the gym, just give me a Harvard sweatshirt.”
Outdoor Voices Move Free 6″ Short, $, available at Outdoor Voices
Best Y2K Bike Short
BDG Lola Printed Bike Short
As we all know, Urban Outfitters is the destination for throwback ’90s styles — and this obviously includes printed bike shorts that are remincient of what we wore as wee ones. This time, however, bike shorts emblazoned with abstract graphics or daisy motifs are fitted for our adult-sized bodies. We totally see ourselves wearing these springtime shorts with a white button-up and loafers, or even underneath a too-short sun dress as, you know, a safety layer.
BDG Lola Printed Bike Short, $, available at Urban Outfitters
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