See Through Cycling Shorts (Yes or No?)

If you’ve seen cyclists out and about on the roads then there is a good chance that you have seen some see through cycling shorts. You may even own a pair yourself.

What is the reasoning behind see-through cycling shorts and should you avoid them?

Why Are My Cycling Shorts See-Through?

The main reason for see-through cycling shorts is that the fabric is too thin. There can be a number of reasons for this.

If the shorts are too small for the rider then the fabric will be stretched tight, which will make the shorts thinner.

Another reason for the fabric being too thin is that the shorts are made from cheap material. Paying a little bit more to ensure that you have better quality shorts, made from better quality material, can ensure that they are not see-through.

The final thing that can cause the material of shorts to be too thin is age. Over time, shorts will inevitably wear out. Cycling shorts will endure a lot of rubbing and wear and tear over the years, so that means that the material will get thinner and thinner during their lifetime. Eventually, the material will get so thin that the shorts will become see-through.

Are Cycling Shorts Supposed To Be See-Through?

Cycling shorts are not supposed to be see-through, and it is something that cyclists should look out for.

see-through cycling shorts are something to be avoided wherever possible.

Are Cycling Shorts Appropriate?

The question of whether or not cycling shorts are appropriate comes down to the situation that a person finds themselves in.

Cycling shorts are, of course, appropriate for riding a bike. 

There are different kinds of cycling shorts depending on the kind of riding that you will be doing, and certain shorts are more appropriate for certain kinds of riding.

Mountain biking generally requires shorts that are baggier and made of sturdier material. These shorts are more appropriate for everyday wear, as long as they aren’t too muddy!

Road cycling, however, utilizes a different kind of shorts. Road cycling shorts are generally a much tighter fit and made out of stretchy material such as lycra. This makes them lighter and more aerodynamic.

It can, however, also mean that they leave very little to the imagination. Cyclists who work out regularly might be happy to show off their legs in tight cycling shorts. But it doesn’t end there. Cycling shorts can be very unflattering as they can show off every single part of the body that they cover.

Obviously, wearing cycling shorts that show off every part of your body is not appropriate in day-to-day situations – people do not want to see that when they are out shopping, or at work, for example.

Therefore, the question of whether or not cycling shorts are appropriate attire comes down to the kind of shorts they are and the situation in which they are being worn.

And, of course, see-through cycling shorts are never appropriate!

See Through Cycling Shorts (

How To Avoid See-Through Cycling Shorts

There are a number of ways to avoid the perils of see-through cycling shorts.

First of all, getting better quality shorts in the first place can help to avoid this problem. They will be made of better material that will not be quite as prone to becoming see-through.

Getting shorts that fit you correctly as well will also help to avoid them becoming see-through. It means that they will not be stretched as much which will stop the material from becoming thinner.

Darker material is also less likely to become see-through than lighter-coloured material.

Taking appropriate care when washing your shorts can also help – choose your detergent wisely and always air dry – never use a tumble dryer. This can help to avoid them wearing out quickly and from becoming more see-through.

If your shorts have become see-through, one way to deal with the situation is to only wear those shorts for riding at night, or in the early hours of the morning, when it will not be so noticeable. 

There are some other ways to avoid see-through shorts, but they are generally not the best or most practical ways to go about it.

Wearing shorts over your lycra shorts will certainly avoid the perils of the shorts being see-through, but by doing that you remove the benefit of wearing tight, lycra shorts in the first place.

Wearing baggy shorts for road cycling instead of tight lycra shorts might help to avoid the problem of them being see-through, but once again it removes the benefit.

How To Tell If Your Shorts Are See-Through

Sometimes, there might be nothing that you can do except upgrade with some new shorts. When doing that, there are certain things that you can do to ensure that your new shorts are not see-through.

If you go to your local bike shop to look at new shorts, try and wear some brightly coloured underwear. That way, when you try them on, you will have a better idea about whether or not they will be see-through. The bright lights of the shop should have the same effect as a sunny day.

If you bend over in front of the mirror, the material will be pulled tighter on your body and you will get a better idea about whether or not they are see-through – if you can see your underwear then these might not be the best shorts to buy!

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Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.