Cycling shorts help a rider stay cool and keeps them more aerodynamic. In fact, the best shorts or bibs can help you go thousands of miles faster and more efficiently than you ever could wearing casual clothing like jeans, and they’ll last you longer than you might expect. How long do cycling shorts last?
Cycling shorts last between 200 to 400 hours in the saddle or about 3 to 12 months when laundered weekly. Make sure to inspect your cycling waist shorts before you put them on. Any signs of wear, fraying, pilling fabric, holes, or padding issues indicate that you need to replace your cycling shorts immediately.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
How Long Do Cycling Bib Shorts Last
Cycling bib shorts generally last longer than waist shorts. One of the significant advantages of this style is that bibs are traditionally considered more high-end and reliable, and this style is usually the choice for professional cyclists.
As a result, manufacturers use superior materials. The better quality really shows because it can triple the working life.
Cycling bibs are like a shorts-overall hybrid with straps, while waist shorts are what we think of as modern shorts because they lack integrated straps.
They are more comfortable and less prone to stretching around your midsection without the waistband. Most riders find that they can get 1 to 3 years’ worth of wear out of a good bib.
You can easily travel over 1,800 miles (around three thousand kilometers) if a well-made bib. The trick is to wash them right and ensure that you trade out pairs rather than wearing the same one daily.
Do Cycling Shorts Wear Out
Unfortunately, even the best cycling shorts do wear out eventually. The material will lose its elasticity, wear thin, or otherwise break down over time.
Luckily, you shouldn’t have to worry about your shorts-wearing through too quickly as long as you stick to a reputable maker.
Even inexpensive but good-quality cycling shorts will last 3 to 6 months before they show wear.
Knockoffs and cheap producers who cut corners sometimes sell cycling shorts that only last a month, but most make it a lot longer.
If you wash your laundry weekly, then decent cycling shorts will last 3 to 12 months. The variation depends on how much you ride and how durable the material and construction are.
One of the most embarrassing signs of wear in cycling shorts is material thinning. Since bike shorts aren’t made to wear with your underwear, you could end up showing off more than your riding skills if you don’t get new shorts often enough.
Worse still, you might not see it in the mirror because the fabric stretches differently when you lean forward on your bike.
Check out this excellent video from Road cc for more details on when your bike shorts wear out.
How Often Should You Replace Cycling Bibs
Naturally, it would help if you replaced a cycling bib as soon as it shows any signs of wear and tear.
However, for those looking to make buying schedules for their cycling budget or set a calendar reminder, the easy answer is to inspect them every 3 months and replace them every 1 to 2 years for best results.
Additionally, if you gain or lose weight or change size significantly, you will need to replace your bibs.
A loose bib will catch air and slow you down. You should always wear fitted clothing for cycling because it cuts down on the friction to increase your aerodynamics as you move through the air.
Meanwhile, a too-tight bib can cut into skin uncomfortably and may even interfere with proper blood flow to your muscles.
Either way, loose or tight, a poorly fitted bib needs replacing so you can ride in comfort.
How To Make Cycling Shorts Last Longer
Good cycling shorts (or bibs) should last you at least a season, and sometimes a lot more. However, they will last the longest when you treat them right.
Treating the fabric right, storing them properly, and only wearing them for riding can help you get more wear out of these unique and comfortable sports shorts.
1 – Use The Gentile Cycle
If you put a pair of bike shorts in a washing machine, it would be best only to wash them on the delicate cycle.
As Mama’s Laundry Talk explains, “A delicate cycle usually lasts between 4 and 7 minutes during its actual wash cycle. By using a ‘slow/slow’ cycle, the agitation and abrasion on the clothes is greatly reduced and offers a certain level of protection for some fabrics.”
2 – Wash By Hand
Hand washing is much gentler on clothing than even the ‘gentile’ cycle of your machine.
I recommend washing your bike shorts by hand instead of putting them in a machine agitator if you have the time.
By treating them like the delicates, they are, you can prevent excess friction snags and other laundry-related accidents.
3 – Antibacterial Detergent
When you ride, you will sweat. Body odor isn’t from the sweat you put out to keep yourself cool but rather a result of bacteria that feed on the proteins in human sweat.
The worse the smell, the more microscopic bacteria have eaten and expelled. Choose an antibacterial detergent to prevent bacterial overgrowth and nasty odors.
4 – Pick The Correct Size
Friction is the enemy when you do a repetitive task like pedaling your bicycle. If your cycling shorts or bib are loose, the fabric will rub.
Over time you will get painful friction burns where the seams and edges chafe.
5 – Don’t Over-Wear
It’s essential to wash your bike shorts between uses. However, most riders go out more than once a week to feel the wind in their hair.
If you are riding on multiple days, pick up enough bike shorts and bibs to get you through to the next laundry day without having to wear any of them twice.
Washing more than once per week will wear down the fabric faster.
6 – Air Dry
It would be best if you skipped the dryer altogether. The same elastic fibers that give your shorts a good fit and feel are prone to heat damage.
Drape your cycling shorts over an indoor rack and place them where they will get some air movement but keep them away from direct heat and cooling sources.
7 – Put Them Away Right
Some people are tidy, and others are messy. I’m not here to judge.
When I tell you to fold up your bike shorts and store them in a drawer, it’s to prevent UV and other damage. Your shorts will stay nicer longer if you put them away right.
Helpful Tips To Know About How Long Cycling Shorts Last
Although there will always be some variation because of riders, bikes, and materials, cycling shorts are still remarkably similar.
If your cycling shorts survive 500 hours, they are exceptional, and anything under 200 is probably low quality.
Here are more helpful tips to know about how long cycling shorts last.
- Cycling shorts sometimes have a protective finish. You can help ensure that they last by washing them by hand with a mild laundry detergent. Additionally, wash bibs and shorts inside a mesh washing bag to prevent damage and increase their working life.
- Professional cyclists may consider bibs the standard for excellence, but the reasons for that thinking may be outdated. According to Cycling News, “Bibs have primarily become the default for the best cycling shorts and are what you’ll find the majority of experienced road riders wearing. Bibs are a carryover from yesteryear when the fabrics that made up our cycling kit were less refined and required a pair of suspenders to hold them up, and even despite improvements in manufacturing, fabric tech, and tailoring, the straps have persisted.”
- If your shorts aren’t adhering to your skin anymore, they have begun to wear out. Likewise, if you have an integrated seat pad, toss your shorts if the feel changes or it shifts.
Good cycling shorts last months or years. Even the more cost-effective pairs should make it through at least an entire season unless you are literally endurance riding hundreds of miles per day.
A high-end and high-quality set of riding shorts or bibs can last a lot longer, with some even making it years before they need replacement.
So long as you care for the fabric properly and keep an eye out for signs of wear, you should be able to ride worry-free.