The Difference between Tri Shorts and Cycling Shorts

Mar 14, 2019

When athletes train for either a triathlon or biking event, there seems to be some confusion about whether to get separate tri or bike attire. However, many would feel comfortable running and swimming in shorts that come with diaper-like padding. Here we will explain the difference between tri shorts and cycling shorts to ensure you make the right choice.


There are some significant differences between triathlon and cycling shorts. The major difference is in terms of comfort and performance. The clothing triathletes wear needs to be different to cycling, particularly when taking part in a big event.


Tri Shorts


athlete on a bike wearing a pair of tri shorts


Every piece of triathlon clothing is designed to keep two things in mind: versatility, and performance.


The pads are minimal inside triathlon shorts, which use a non-absorbent and high-density foam pad. It makes it easier for the athlete to swim, cycle, and run without any issues. The non-absorbent material helps tri shorts repel water, which makes them the best for triathlon events.


These have been designed to provide comfort during all three sections, thereby helping the participant increase their level of performance. It is a significant difference.


Triathlon clothing is designed to offer exceptional comfort in the water, as well as on land. In short, it is intended for a triathlon. Some of the pros of a tri short include:


1. Designed with all three sports in mind
2. Reduced padding for ease of running and swimming
3. Less chaffing during runs
4. Decreased fluid retention in the pad

Cycling Shorts


athletes on their bikes wearing cycling shorts


Cycling shorts are designed and built around the position the rider maintains on the bike. One of the ways of testing the reliability of bike shorts includes holding them by the top of the straps. You will notice the legs folding forward as opposed to hanging down in a pair of non-cycling shorts.


These come with substantial padding, both in terms of pad thickness and the overall size, which is comfortable while riding but not so much when swimming or running.


Pros of having cycling shorts include:


1. Specially designed for biking purpose
2. Extra Padding
3. Increased Durability
4. Good Grip for Non-Slip Legs
5. Increased Comfort over Long Bike Legs

Summing Up

In a quick summary, tri shorts have reduced padding to make them versatile for the athlete across three disciplines, while cycling shorts provide added padding.


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