With spring officially here, and with polar vortices and record snowfall hopefully behind us, it’s time to spruce up the riding wardrobe with some new mountain bike-specific shorts.

While you can easily spend north of $100 (and even more than $200, believe it or not) on high-end shorts, these 5 pairs offer great performance at a price that won’t put you in the red:

Zoic Ether Mountain Bike Shorts

I personally own two pairs of these MTB shorts, and they are hands-down my favorite shorts I have ever worn. They fit like a comfortable pair of cargo shorts, but with cycling-specific features to keep things in place while riding. A separate pair of padded undershorts is included, and there are pockets galore for stowing necessities like chap stick, money, ID, or a phone.

Zoic Ether

The Ether mountain bike shorts list for $80, but they are almost always on sale at both online retailers and local shops.

Zoic Men's Essential Liner Shorts, Black, Medium
$27.97    Amazon   AD 

The women’s equivalent to these are the Navaeh, and they can be found for the same price at most retailers. The pocket and overall design are the same, but they are cut to comfortably fit a women’s figure.

Zoic Navaeh Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts

ZOIC Women's Navaeh Shorts, Grey, Medium
$19.99    ebay   AD 

Performance Nevado Baggy Shorts

Performance Bikes is the go-to LBS chain for when you need stuff in a hurry and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. Their house brand Nevado shorts offer solid construction with a no-frills design. At a retail price of $59.99 and included padded undershorts, these are the best value on our list. As with all things Performance, it’s pretty easy to catch these on sale and save even more money. There is also a women’s version for the same price.

Performance Nevado

Pearl Izumi Canyon Mountain Bike Shorts

Pearl Izumi has long been known for their quality cycling clothing. The Canyon MTB shorts are a basic baggy model with an included (and attached) spandex liner short. There is a single pocket for small essentials, and the construction is solid with smooth stitching and well-placed closure and adjustment straps. I currently have a pair of these in for review, so watch for a full review coming soon. These shorts retail for $74.99. Pearl Izumi also offers the Women’s Canyon short.

Pearl Izumi Canyon

Pearl Izumi Men’s Canyon Bike Cycling shorts Black w/ Liner & Pad Size L
$24.95    ebay   AD 

Fox Ranger Baggy MTB Shorts

Fox has a myriad of garments, including a couple dozen different baggy shorts. At a price of $69.95 and with a bunch of colors and prints to choose from, the Ranger baggies are an incredibly popular choice. I see these out on the trail all the time. Fox does not offer these in a women’s-specific design, however.

Fox Ranger Short

Fox Racing Ranger Cargo Short - Men's
$42.48    Backcountry.com   AD 

Novara Rail MTB Short

Novara is REI’s house brand, and they have some surprisingly good garments at reasonable prices. The Rail men’s shorts retail for $74.50 and feature a straightforward construction with basic pockets and features. The padded chamois is included, and they are backed by REI’s excellent satisfaction guarantee. And, you just got your REI dividend check in the mail, right? 😀 REI offers the $69.50 Bonita shorts as a comparable women’s model.

There are other shorts in this price range, both with and without the padded chamois, but this list should help you get started with your shopping. If you’re in a hurry, any of these models here will get you out on the trail in style, with everything included for one price!

# Comments

  • Irongrave

    I have a pair of Fox Rangers they are very comfortable and fit me quite well. I got from an LBS last year at a steep discount because they are mostly a roadie shop.

  • jkldouglas

    I have 3 pairs of the Zoic (basically one of each color) and love them. After wearing them a lot, I can’t see why would spend more on a pair of shorts. They are just that comfortable.

    The one drawback is that they aren’t very “enduro”, meaning that they aren’t as long as some of the other shorts. However, I have never had an issue with them and they should fit most everyone except for people with exceptionally long inseams.

    • maddslacker

      The length of the Zoic shorts is my favorite feature, as I have a very short inseam.

    • Spartan

      Thats what “she” said!


    • Greg Heil

      While as a general rule I like shorts that hit below the knee, when I’m riding, that just seems to interfere with my pedal stroke. I suppose if you’re always riding downhill that’s one thing, but I’ve been digging shorter-length shorts of late. Maybe I’ll have to give these a try!

  • Greg Heil

    I’ve bought several pairs of Novara shorts in the past, and while they were never as tricked out with complicated features as some of the shorts I’ve reviewed, they also, in general, cost 1/2-1/3 of the price.

  • gar29

    I have the Performance Nevado shorts. What really stands out about these is the liner. They have a great chamois. If you are looking for cheap shorts, you really can’t go wrong. To steal Greg’s line, they aren’t tricked out like some of the other shorts, but they get the job done!

  • Greg Heil

    Also, it’s worth noting that the Rail isn’t the most affordable short in Novara’s lineup. The Rail features two-way stretch fabric, while the more affordable Exposure Double Short, at $64.50, is more comparable to the Zoic Ether and is, according to Novara, their best-selling short.

  • cgreen5150

    I have two pairs of the Fox Racing Ranger shorts and they are by far the most comfortable and can be one of the best values out there in my opinion. I got mine at different times and paid $55 and $59 for them on sale. The chamois is great and the pockets are perfect. They can be had in both 12″ and 10″ if you want them shorter, although the 10″ are harder to find. Great colors as well.

  • BZ202

    The clymb (theclymb.com) almost always has multiple pairs of shorts on sale for under $70, I’ve got two pairs of shorts from them and couldn’t be happier with them

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