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Bike Shorts vs. Leggings vs. Tights

Bike Shorts vs. Leggings vs. Tights

Bike Shorts vs. Leggings vs. Tights

Choosing an outfit for a party, a job meeting, a family reunion, or a nightclub is not an easy task. This decision may become even more complex if you have to do exercise during the day.

For years, and possibly for years to come, the debate between bike shorts, leggings, and tights has forced the clothing industry to launch new models with different perks for cyclists to choose from.

This video explains some of the essential cycling clothing that you should consider getting (Credits to Two Wheel Cruise):

Regardless, the champion in the contest between shorts, leggings and tights remains undeclared, and people are generally inclined to one or the other depending on different factors. Let us go through each one of them and see which one is the most suitable for your type of riding or situation.

Bike Shorts

Originally made of durable wool, bike shorts first appeared in the late 19th century to offer an alternative to the Victorian-era everyday clothing.

Years apart from what is now known as spandex, they still offered the required mobility for people to ride. After many refinements towards the 20th century, they became a fashionable garment worn by famous people around the world.

Bike Shorts Pros and Cons

Depending on the cloth material, bike shorts tend to be looser than leggings or tights. This can make them feel more comfortable, as you would feel with everyday shorts.

Besides, and for the same reason, bike shorts look more “presentable” when off the bike. If you are an urban commuter, you would not need to change your clothes once you get to your destination. Just get off the bike, and forget about looking different from the rest.

Padded shorts are also a plus since they let you ride more comfortably without adding weight to your kit to get a comfy seat.

On the other hand, and possibly for the same reason stated above, bike shorts may not be the best option for professional riders. If you spend a lot of time pedaling, abrasion marks may appear due to sweat.

Besides, they may look a little baggy at the back if worn for a long time in a forward-leaning position. As a last fashion tip, if you choose to wear bike shorts when riding, pay attention not to let your lower back be exposed.

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Leggings’ first appearance was in the 14th century and they were designed for men.

Of course, they were not meant for riding a bike, but in time, and after becoming a fashion trend in women’s garments, they made their re-appearance in the unisex sports industry.

Long, tight, and thin, they may go up to your ankles, cover your feet, or stop a little higher in a ¾ leg length.

Leggings Pros and Cons

Leggings resemble any leg-long piece of garment with many advantages. They provide mobility, warmth, and protection. They let your body transpire but still keep its temperature without making you feel too hot—unless under very warm weather conditions. They are also good for blood circulation and fashionable in both genders, and still look good off bike.

So, if you are an urban commuter, you can feel free to choose them as an option, since they are not designed just for sports, but as everyday wear, too.

Opposed to what stated above, leggings still have some negative aspects. If you live in a hot weather region, they can be uncomfortable. Since temperature is mostly kept in your covered legs, you can start feeling too hot after a long ride.

In some parts of the world, they are still quite controversial in men, being illogically considered women’s clothing. You also need to pay close attention to the underwear you decide to put on, since they may become a little translucid if the wrong size or width is chosen.


As their name suggests, tights are the piece of garment that fastens to your body the most. Tights are offered in a wide range of length, width, and composition, and the most popular kind nowadays are those made of spandex. Tights are very commonly seen in different sports, and can be combined with other pieces of clothing.

Tights Pros and Cons

Tights can be considered the most comfortable clothing for sports. They provide mobility, circulation, temperature control, and let your body freely breathe.

Being more compact than leggings and shorts, too, of course- they let you forget about abrasion due to sweat and touch. They can also be combined with other clothes. Some people prefer to treat them as underwear, adding shorts or skirts over them, to make them more fashionable.

Being so compressed, tights feel like you are not wearing anything at all. The downside of this is that sometimes they also look this way. Legs, crotch, and bottom areas are presented to people around you in the most “natural” way. It is also very important to pay attention to size when buying them, since some body shapes may make them quite revealing.

All things considered, it is important to know that cycling clothing is quite a personal choice. Factors such as comfort, health, weather, and exposure are some things to bear in mind when deciding what to wear on your next ride.


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