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shit i bought and liked no. 76: the black bike shorts roundup!
It’s finally time for our highly awaited BLACK BIKE SHORTS ROUNDUP. Now normally my shopping/writing process is as follows: want thing, buy thing, like thing, write about thing. Simple! But for an item like black bike shorts that every brand under the sun seems to be making with different fabrics, cuts, lengths, price points, etc., settling on which to even buy was a struggle. That’s why for today’s newsletter we went for a full haul ~experience~.
After a few weeks of try ons and testing, I’ve whittled down approximately 14 popular pairs to what I believe are the best ones out there. But there are some important things to know before we get started.
First, you’ll notice that I’m recommending more than one pair. That’s because I realized throughout this search that there are several different things you may or may not be seeking in your dream bike short—do you want compression? What about smoothing, because those two things are different! Are you prioritizing softness? Do you need something for sweatier workouts? Or just casual wear? Pockets? (Please no pockets.) Or, more likely, some combination of several of the above?
Bike shorts also come in every length under the sun, and which you’ll prefer is completely individual. I went into this thinking that the shorties wouldn’t be for me, and while I didn’t try any dangerously short pairs, I was surprised at how much I liked some of them on! Also, most bike shorts will ride up a bit when you move around, so make sure your pair is one you’ll still be comfortable in when it’s a smidge shorter. This is all to say that based on your height and build and typical outfits (are you wearing these with a sports bra? Tank or t-shirt? Oversized sweatshirt?) and comfort level, you might land somewhere different than I did with your preferences. And after a few try-ons, you may even surprise yourself. Hence, a RANGE!
So there you have it—all of my caveats. With those in mind, lets get to the goods:
My Go-To Pair: TNA Life Cheeky ($38). High waist? Check. Softness? Check. Compressive but not oppressive waistband? Big-time check! Sleek design with no erroneous logos or seams? Mostly check (their logo is on the back, which is much less distracting than some brands… *cough, cough* Alo). These are simple, flattering, a GREAT price point versus most athletic brands, and hold up to HIIT and sweaty workouts while still being super comfortable to lounge around the house in (I am wearing them as we speak). There are about 85,000 options for bike shorts at Aritzia, but trust me on these ones—they’re the best all around. (I actually saw a girl in a very flattering pair of bikers the other day and when I asked where they were from, I was told that they were this exact same pair.) I personally love a 7-inch inseam (I’m around 5’5 for reference), but they have every length under the sun available. On me, they’re still visible under oversized sweatshirts, but don’t look too long when paired with a sports bra or a cropped tee (this one is my all-time favorite). These ran very TTS on me—I took a small.
The OG for a reason: Lululemon Aligns ($64). These babies have been the GOLD STANDARD of black bike shorts for years, and I was shocked to find that I actually love them. They’re SUPER soft and comfortable while still being compressive and flattering, and I wanted to rip the tag off from the first try on. They hold you in with compression in the thighs AND the waist band, but they didn’t dig into my thighs or waist or take a herculean effort to pull up. The only potential hiccup is that they’re not made for sweatier stuff, but if you’re a yoga/pilates/walking/casual-wear girlie, you are in the right place! I went for the 6-inch ones originally, but if I had to do it again I’d go for the 8-inch and take Lulu up on their free hemming (they offer this for all of their gear, new or old—no receipts or tags required!—so you can really customize these to work for your own length preference). FYI, they’ve never had the 8-inch pairs in-stock at the stores I’ve been to, so if you want to do this I’d recommend ordering them online and bringing them in. Size-wise, I’m typically a 4 in Lulu and took the same with these.
The Extra Softies: TNA Butter Cheeky ($38). These are one of the softest pairs of bike shorts out there. They are supremely comfortable whether you’re relaxing or running errands or even doing a little workout (I wouldn’t wear these for spin or HIIT, but lowkey things for sure). They definitely offer a bit of smoothing in the legs, though I didn’t feel like I got as much around the waist. IMO, the better combo of compression and softness came with the Lulu’s, though with the $38 price tag, these are significantly less expensive. If you’re in the market for the softest shorts possible, I also loved the Splits59 Airweight Shorts ($68). These are super thin and light shorties (basically how I classify inseams of 6 inches or less) that are on the pricier side, but just divine. Size-wise, I took a small in both.
Best High-Waisted Compression: Beyond Yoga Keep Pace Biker Short ($66). This is a VERY good pair of bike shorts. They’re super flattering and compressive in the waist and in the legs, the material is Beyond Yoga’s signature super-soft Spacedye, and they offer a few lengths depending on your preferences (linking here to the longer and shorter ones). If you want a HIGH waist and something to hold you in while still being soft, these are your guys! My biggest con was that because the waistband was so high, it rolled over a little bit whenever I would bend. But again—5’5, short torso—could just be me! These were ultimately super flattering, and I could imagine them being a really good pair to win over people who feel like bike shorts just won’t be flattering on their bodies. Note: Spacedye looks a little like burnout jersey fabric. You can’t tell as much in the darker colors, but if you want your shorts to be flat black, you may not like the look as much. That all being said though, these still made my top three pairs. They run TTS and I took a small.
Best Print: Onzie Leopard ($58). Ok, I know the premise here was black bike shorts, but I’ve had these for ages and just had to share. If you’re in the market for a print, these play well with black and white workout wear, and are soooo supremely flattering (not easy to find with prints!) and ofc, fun! The material is more moisture-wicking than most, and they’ve held up to several washes and workouts. I wear a S/M.
And now, some of the popular pairs that weren’t my cup of tea, though they could be yours:
Alo 7” Biker Short ($58): I expected to like these a little more than I actually did, which is how I feel about most Alo products (these miracle sports bras notwithstanding). Let me start with the pros: It has a nice compressive fit, they feel better for sweaty workouts than some of the super soft pairs, and cut-wise they are decently flattering. But I reeeeally wish they put their logo on the back of the waistband like everyone else. The somewhat substantial real estate it takes up on the front of your thigh in the light color made these less flattering and sleek than some of the other pairs I tried.
BALEAF Biker Shorts ($20): This is the most popular pair of bike shorts on Amazon, so I decided to put it to the test. These have pockets (…what are you really putting in bike short pockets?), and a shitton of seams, which I just didn’t find to be the most flattering. It’s definitely a decent budget option, but I’d splurge a little for the TNA pairs from Aritzia instead.
Lululemon Wunder Unders 8” ($64): These to me feel like BIKER bike shorts. They are SUPER compressive, the bottom seam digs a bit into your thighs, which I don’t find flattering, but means that they’ll never move, and neither will the waist band. They are relatively soft, but to me, this feels like a bike short for hardos. And I simply have never been accused of being a hardo.
Girlfriend Collective ($48): I’ve gotten a lot of recommendations for this brand over the years, which I get because it’s sustainable and size-inclusive and all the good things, but these were just not for me. The shorts have a ton of seams and lines, which don’t help in the sleek/flattering department, and I didn’t find the waistband to offer as much smoothing as other pairs, which is weird because it definitely did have compression in the legs.
Free People Good Karma Bike Shorts ($58): These are SUPER tight, and not in a good way. They basically show up on your doorstep looking like a pair of pants for a two-year-old. They’re really tough to get on—you definitely have to jump—and I found the bottom seams to be so tight across my thighs. Very overstuffed sausage vibe. If you like the look, I’d opt for their leggings, but I still prefer other brands for athletic wear that holds up.
There you have it—all of the best (and some of the rest). Hopefully this intel helps you track down your perfect pair! What did we think of the haul format? And what do we think I should try next? Because I’m already eyeing workout onesies and/or an expensive sweatpant haul?? Let me know what you want to see (though Super Shitter Christie Z’s request for a good pair of sticky boobs is coming up ASAP because we take care of our paying subscribers around here!).
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More to come very soon!