Can cycling shorts be used for swimming?

You are probably asking yourself whether you can use your cycling shorts for swimming as an emergency tool and then go back to riding. Well, this is a very common question that a lot of people normally ask and the answer is no, you can’t use cycling shorts for swimming. This is because water will fill the pad of your cycling shorts which will make them heavy and uncomfortable to swim in. Additionally, the chlorine in the water will ruin your cycling shorts and cause them to fade.

Cycling and swimming are two very different sports as one is done on land while the other is practically done in water. However, there are various professional athletes that participate in Triathlon which is a sport that involves running, swimming and cycling. Do they use their cycling shorts for the whole event? No, they don’t and that already shows you that it is not advisable for you to swim with your cycling shorts. If you really have to swim and cycle after or vice versa, you should probably invest in Tri shorts.

However, we are aware that there may arise situations where you just went out for a ride and then you find your friends in the pool having a good time. Such situations may tempt you to dive in the pool with your cycling shorts however, you should avoid swimming with your cycling shorts. You should only swim with your cycling shorts if it’s a serious emergency situation.

What are the differences between cycling shorts and swim shorts?

The main difference between these two is definitely the material used to make them. Swim suits are usually made of light polyester fabric that is light and dries up quickly after you leave the swimming pool. In addition to this, polyester is also normally resistant to chlorine which prevents color fading on your swim suit.

Cycling shorts on the other hand, are mostly made of spandex with a synthetic chamois (padding). For sure, this material is light as well which makes them ideal to use for cycling. However, this material is not resistant to chlorine therefore their color fades off when you swim with them on. In addition to this, the paddings on cycling shorts absorb water which makes them uncomfortable to swim in. This is because the cycling shorts become heavy and may even fall off as you leave the swimming pool.

You should definitely consider looking at Tri- shorts as an option if you really want cycling shorts that you can use for swimming. This is because they are made from high quality nylon that enables them to be light, breathable and also ideal for swimming. In addition to this, they are normally equipped with thinner chamois than cycling shorts which enables them to dry quickly after swimming. The chamois also offers you maximum comfort during cycling which makes them a good solution for you.

The table below is a summary of the differences between cycling shorts, Tri- shorts and swim suits.

Cycling shorts
Swim suits
Tri- shorts
Ideal for
Cycling and swimming
Spandex with a synthetic chamois
Polyester & Spandex
Chamois (Padding)
Chlorine resistant

Factors you should consider when choosing cycling shorts

There are now various brands such as Rapha, Pioneer, Assos and Endura that provide you with high quality cycling shorts. However, there are a number of features that you should consider before buying a particular brand. Here are the things that you should look at before buying cycling shorts.

The pad on the cycling shorts

This is one of the most important things that you should consider when shopping for new cycling shorts. You should look for cycling shorts that have grooves and sections on the pad which allows you to have seamless movement every time you ride your bike. In addition to this, you should also put into consideration whether you normally ride for long distances frequently to keep fit or you are just looking for cycling shorts that you’ll use for competitive racing.

You should definitely get cycling shorts that have thin padding if you race competitively. This is because they are lighter and also allow your body to breathe better as compared to shorts that have thick padding. However, if you only ride for leisure, you should get yourself cycling shorts that have thick padding because they offer more comfort than cycling shorts that come with thick padding.

It is also important to note that you are not supposed to wear underwear when you put on cycling shorts. This is because sweat will accumulate around your genital area which is unhygienic and increases the chances of bacteria spreading. The cycling shorts come with anti- bacterial pads so you have nothing to worry about. Additionally, wearing underwear with your cycling shorts will cause friction which may be uncomfortable for you especially when you ride for long distances.

The type of cycling short

There are two main types of cycling shorts that you can choose from which include regular waist shorts and the bib cycling shorts. These two types of cycling shorts are normally made of the same material however, the regular waist cycling shorts are more lightweight than the bib cycling shorts because they come with a lightweight mesh. This makes them ideal for you if you ride your bike competitively. In addition to this, these cycling shorts are normally more affordable than bib cycling shorts making them a good option for you if you are working with a tight budget.

Bib cycling shorts on the other hand, are ideal for you if you love riding your bike for long distances. This is because they sit over your shoulders which gives you a perfect and comfortable fit throughout.


As you have seen, it is not recommended to swim in your cycling shorts. This is because they are made from materials that are not resistant to chlorine which results to color fading. In addition to this, their paddings also absorb water which makes them heavy and uncomfortable to swim in. However, you can get yourself a pair of Tri- shorts if you want shorts that you can use for both cycling and swimming.


What materials are cycling shorts made from?

These shorts are made from spandex which is a light and breathable material. This makes them ideal for you as a rider because they offer you maximum comfort even when you ride for long distances.

What happens when I swim with my cycling shorts?

When you swim with your cycling shorts, the chamois (padding) absorbs water which makes them heavy and uncomfortable to swim in.