Why Are Cycling Shorts Black? Why Some Are See-Through!

If you’ve been cycling for a while, you’ve likely come to a point where it’s time to make the transition from standard shorts to something more cycling-specific. That’s where the classic lycra cycling shorts come in.

Made from tight, moisture-wicking fabric with added padding, finding the right shorts can be a game changer for your riding. Whether you’re commuting or competing in a race, cycling shorts can be a great investment.

What Goes with Black Cycling Shorts?

One benefit of wearing black cycling shorts is that they can match virtually any bike kit and jersey. Black is one of the most (if not the most) versatile colors. You can keep your shorts simple and make your outfit more interesting with fun jerseys that won’t clash with your shorts. Black shorts are also more likely to hide sweat and dirt, so they look good even on the most grueling rides.

Of course, there are companies that make cycling shorts in a range of colors and styles. These can be fun to try out and upgrade your standard cycling style, but they likely won’t become a staple piece the way black cycling shorts do. At the end of the day, you’ll likely end up choosing the shorts that are most comfortable during your ride.

We’ll go over what makes cycling shorts unique and why you’ll probably end up with a closet full of black shorts. Let’s dive in.

Why Are Cycling Shorts See-Through?

Cycling shorts shouldn’t be see-through, but there are a few reasons this can happen.

First of all, consider if your cycling shorts are actually the correct size.

They should fit very tight to the body without cutting off circulation.

If your shorts are too small, the fabric will have to stretch further in order to fit your body. This can lead to see-through portions (and often in areas you wouldn’t notice on your own).

One way to test this is to stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit room and get into a cycling position. If you still can’t see, you might want to enlist the help of a trusted friend to check for you.

Another reason for see-through shorts is poor quality.

Cycling shorts can be expensive and it can be difficult to shell out the money when you’re not even sure what style will work for you. However, it’s generally best to go for the most expensive pair you can reasonably afford. You’re more likely to get higher quality material that won’t be see-through.

Finally, shorts in lighter colors tend to be more see-through than darker shorts.

This is another reason why many people opt to wear black cycling shorts. Try on your shorts as soon as they arrive and do a quick opacity test to see if they’re worth keeping. Most companies will let you return unused shorts within a short timeframe.

What Is Special About Cycling Shorts?

There are a few features that make cycling shorts different from other exercise shorts. While you can get away with wearing any pair of shorts or pants when you are first getting into cycling, you’ll eventually want to upgrade. The more time you spend on the saddle, the greater your need will be for cycling-specific clothing. Here are a few of the features that make cycling shorts special:


The biggest reason for getting cycling shorts is the added padding called a chamois (pronounced “sham-ee”). This is the padded crotch piece that helps to relieve pressure points, reduce vibration from the road, and prevent chafing (Source).

There are a variety of styles with various levels of thickness, so you may need to try a few pairs before you find one that works with your body and riding style. There are also different styles for men and women to accommodate for the different anatomy.


Cycling shorts are often made of skin-tight fabric that helps prevent wind drag. This means you can go the same distance or put out a bigger effort more efficiently because you won’t be losing power to the wind (Source).

Sweat Wicking

You will likely sweat while you’re riding your bike and cycling shorts can help keep you feeling dry. The moisture wicking properties of these shorts will prevent chafing and overheating, both of which are necessary on longer rides.

Range of Motion

Wearing cycling shorts gives you the benefit of exercising your full range of motion (Source). They won’t bunch up like baggy pants and shorts, which allows you to put out more power with less effort.

Why Do People Wear Bike Shorts Under Shorts?

Cycling shorts are made to be worn as a standalone item, meaning nothing needs to be worn over or under them. However, if you find that you’re not yet comfortable rocking the lycra look, you can wear them as a baselayer.

You will want to find a pair of shorts that are lightweight, moisture-wicking, and seamless. This will help with your overall comfort while still getting the benefits that the cycling shorts provide. You also won’t want to wear shorts that are too baggy as this would undermine the aerodynamic capacity of the cycling shorts.

In addition, many mountain bikers will choose to wear chamois under their mountain bike shorts. Mountain bike shorts tend to be knee-length and baggy and work as a protective layer against dirt and branches.

However, they aren’t typically padded. This is where the chamois and mountain bike short combo can come in handy. Mountain biking is notoriously bumpy, so having the extra padding can be a great benefit.

Things to Keep in Mind

Finding the right pair of cycling shorts can be a challenge, but the benefits you’ll feel on the saddle are worth the effort.

You may need to try a few different brands and sizes before you settle on the style that works best for you.

It’s best to order from websites that have a generous return policy and try them on in your home before you take them out for a ride.

Aprill Emig

Based out of Duluth, MN Aprill loves to write about the outdoors, education, and all forms of adventure. You can find her mountain biking, running, or playing roller derby.

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