Cycling, especially road riding, is one of few niche sports participated amongst, and in plain sight of, those who are completely disinterested in it. Let's face it, unless you're super blessed with endless, car-free roads where no one lives chances are you're riding and training among the general, non-cycling population.
While traditional road cycling dictates Lycra is optimal for comfort and performance while riding, there are numerous occasions, basically whenever not competing or on a road bike, where baggy shorts are more appropriate.
Whether you're mountain biking, cruising around town, or simply don't like a figure-hugging style emblazoned with obnoxious logos and gaudy colors, there are plenty of cycling-specific baggy shorts that will help you get out on the bike with confidence, and even blend into the crowd when off the bike.
Although many baggy shorts are borrowed from the mountain biking scene, there are an increasing amount of urban-focused designs as well. These are ideal for commutes, whether that's to the office or the bar or for casual rides. Baggy shorts can be found with designs and colors ranging from screaming loud to stoic, reserved tones.
It's a style thing: baggies are great for casual, low-key group rides, riding around town doing errands, and of course, commuting. While closer fitting cuts are better for road riding use, longer distances, and won't flap around in the wind, baggies are better for not standing out in "normal" society.
Leg lengths also vary; men's shorts tend to drop right at or just above the knee, while women's ones are often shorter. There are even shorts that aim to offer both a tight performance fit as well as a looser, more casual cut such as these from Elevenpine.
Some baggy shorts come with a liner short that includes a chamois. It's common for these liners to be constructed from a lightweight material, some are mesh so they have to be worn under outer shorts.
It's also unfortunately common that most of these liners tend to be substandard, but they're worth trying as everyone is different. The good news is almost all liners are detachable from the outer baggy shorts. That means you can slip on a chamois that you know works for you.
Most riding specific shorts have some sort of waist adjuster built in. Also the back panel typically has stretch or a rise to prevent the back of the shorts from slipping down while leaning forward on the bike.
In addition to the rear stretch panel, it's common for baggies to be constructed from stretchy material to help the shorts move with you on the bike.
As with most things, the lighter the fabric, the less durable it will be. Urban-inspired wear may even be primarily cotton.
Here's another instance where baggy shorts truly shine over Lycra. Riding-specific shorts have pockets that are designed to hold your gear while pedaling. Of course some do a better job than others keeping your smartphone from banging around. But no matter what, with baggies you can say "so long" to the days of fumbling around while twisting your arm and hand into a structureless pocket on your back to fish out some money.
Another bonus is some pockets feature venting when opened so they essentially have a double function.
Worth a look
Every manufacturer has a different take on sizing, so we'd strongly recommend that you try before you buy — plus your own height or thigh length affects whether the shorts might show a little too much or not enough.
In short, there's an endless array of baggy cycling shorts ready to give you the boost in confidence or functionality that you need to get you riding more than ever!