At first glance, bike compression shorts and regular compression shorts both look very similar. Both are form-fitting, made of spandex type material and are utilized in physical performance. After a better look however, the two types of shorts have some fundamental differences that cannot be overlooked. It is common to see people using “compression” shorts as biking shorts but this is a mistake, made by many individuals around the world.
What is the Difference Between Bike Compression Shorts and Regular Compression Shorts?
There are a couple fundamental differences between bike compression shorts and regular compression shorts that mustn’t be overlooked. First off, bike shorts have padding in the seat area, which provides a cushion between the individual and the seat. This built in padding is often stitched into the seat of the short and thus alters the design. The bike short is often looser fitting as a result of the cushion as compared to a strictly compression based short.
Compression shorts often focus on more consistent compression of the quad, hamstring and glutes. This focus on compression is designed to improve athletic performance and recovery. Bike shorts on the other hand are designed to be form fitting but do not offer the athletic performance or recovery benefits. Their main focus is to be effective and comfortable on long bike rides, not to provide compression elements.
These are bike compression shorts. They have the built in padding for you butt so it doesn't get sore.
Construction of the shorts also differs, bike shorts are often made with a higher proportion of poly or poly blend and compression shorts are usually more spandex based. This allows compression shorts to maintain consistent compression and thus contact with the body at all times. At the same time bike shorts often have more prominent leg grippers which eliminate the risk of the short “riding up” on long or even physically demanding rides. Both shorts offer comfort, as chaffing is a risk if any portion of the short is rough as both are used during physical exertion episodes. Bike compression shorts also have padding in the butt area for comfort when riding the bike for long periods of time.
These are regular compression shorts. They do not have any padding on the butt area.
When purchasing compression shorts the focus is as you might have guessed “compression”. Most people are interested in at least a minor aspect of the technology incorporated in the shorts. The short must be snug and form fitting to offer the proper compression and comfort. If there are any pronounced seams, it can eliminate the effectiveness of the short and provide constant discomfort.
Bike shorts owe their success to the comfort or seat pad, thus it should be the focus of any particular purchase. They can be very particular and thus it is common for an individual to find a certain short and consistently buy the same short for many years. “Not too tight” is also a common focus of any individuals’ bike short search, as they need to provide consistent comfort for the long bike rides ahead.
Both types of shorts should not be used as a replacement for one another. They both provide a unique and focused application and are designed for specific movements.
There you have it the truth about Bike Compression Shorts is in fact that they are two different shorts. People commonly misinterpret the idea of a “bike short” and a “compression” short as the same thing, when they are clearly designed and intended for their own unique purposes.