Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bike Shorts vs. Triathlon Shorts - the surprising truth.

The gear list for triathlon seems endless, so it's natural to wonder if you can skip the triathlon short and just use your bike shorts for race day. But who wants to run in a diaper?
Of course bike shorts have some extra padding for the ride, but that padding takes extra time to dry out after the swim. By the time you hit the run you'll be contending with diaper rash.

Here are some pros and cons - see for yourself.

Bike Shorts: Pros

  1. More comfort over longer bike legs
  2. Good grip for non-slip on legs
  3. Extra padding
  4. Specifically designed for biking

Bike Shorts: Cons

  1. Extra padding collects extra moisture
  2. Not designed for running and swimming
  3. Extra padding can cause extra chaffing even when dry
Triathlon Shorts: Pros

  1. Designed with all three sports in mind
  2. Less chaffing on runs
  3. Reduced padding allows for easier running and swimming
  4. Less fluid retention in pad

Triathlon Shorts: Cons

  1. Less padding and comfort for longer bike rides
  2. Thinner materials may result in lesser product life. But remember, these are triathlon race shorts. You will only wear them a couple of times a year.

The Bottom Line

You'll want to do a few training rides in tri shorts (just to get used to it), however, 95%  the time you should train in bike shorts and race in tri shorts.
You can endure triathlons in bike shorts, but the more competitive you get, triathlon-specific shorts are the way to go. Especially on longer distances. You may sacrifice some comfort on the bike, but it will pay for itself over the run when you aren't chafing your way to the finish line.


  1. Why not just use tri shorts all the time? Once you've built up the tolerance/endurance for the bike with less padding, you're good to go! Bike shorts not required!

    1. I personally prefer a little bit more padding during my training rides - especially the longer ones. Also, remember that the bike position on a tri bike is different from a road bike. So if you ride longer rides on the road bike it is more comfortable to have a little bit more padding. But that is just my personal preference.

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