Running Shorts vs Biker Shorts (Differences & Similarities)

Looking to change up your running attire? Many types of shorts may be appropriate for running. Biker shorts might serve as an adequate replacement, but which type of shorts is better when comparing running shorts vs biker shorts?

Running and biker shorts are both acceptable attire for most forms of exercise; however, running shorts are designed with runners in mind. They contain features like v-notches and liners to benefit the wearer. On the other hand, Biker shorts are made with cyclists in mind and are made streamlined and with a butt pad riding a bike.

Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between these two types of sports apparel.

Which should I use, running shorts or biker shorts?

The decision to use running shorts or biker shorts will depend on the specific activities you plan to participate in.

If you plan to go on a run, running shorts will likely be the better choice because they are specifically designed with runners in mind and all for a full range of motion in your stride and adequate airflow. However, biker shorts may also be serviceable for this type of task in a pinch. 

Biker shorts are designed for road cycling, so if you plan to hop on your bicycle and participate in any sort of long-distance ride, biker shorts will serve you better than running shorts. 

Neither running shorts, nor biker shorts are very comfortable for lounging and casual situations. You will probably want to switch to basketball shorts or khaki shorts in a more formal setting. Running shorts and biker shorts are best for the specific tasks they were designed for. 

Are running shorts and biker shorts the same?

Both running shorts and biker shorts are made to be worn during repetitive forms of physical activity.

Running shorts and biker shorts have several things in common, including:

  • Materials
    • Both can be made from nylon material.
    • Both typically have moisture-wicking capabilities.
    • Both are made out of lightweight materials.
  • Length – Both typically rest above the knee; though running shorts are typically shorter.
  • Utility – Both can be worn in a variety of contexts.

However, they also feature several key differences, such as:

  • Cut
    • Running shorts are a shorter length and are made from loose-fitting material.
    • Biker shorts may extend to right above the knee and are made from tight-fitting material.
  • Built-ins
    • Biker shorts often come with a built-in butt pad called a chamois.
    • Running shorts are usually made with a built-in cloth liner.
  • Cost
    • A quality pair of biker shorts may cost $30 or more.
    • A quality pair of running shorts could cost as little as $19.99.

Keep reading to find out more about each type of shorts.

Running shorts – key characteristics

Running shorts come in a wide variety of styles, but most include the same basic characteristics.

Runners in a variety of styles and lengths of running shorts.

Running shorts are:

  • Durable materials
  • Comfortable & cool
  • Shorter length
  • V-notches or slits
  • Built-in liner
  • Zipper pockets

You’ll want to keep each of these in mind when deciding whether running or biking shorts are better for the task.

Durable materials

Running shorts are designed to withstand the repeated friction caused by long-distance running.

They are often made from nylon and other synthetic materials, which are more durable than most natural fibers, and cause less irritation on the runner’s behalf. 

Running shorts need to be able to hold up to repeated use.

Comfortable & cool

Running shorts can wick moisture off the runner’s skin to create a cooler sensation.

Running shorts are typically made of a moisture-wicking textile and are often cut short enough to allow for adequate airflow to keep the upper legs cool even during an intense workout.

They are meant to keep runners comfortable and cool while not inhibiting their range of motion or messing with their natural gait.

Shorter length

Running shorts are typically shorter in length than other forms of athletic apparel.

This is to make sure runners can complete their full stride length with each step and decrease the amount of wind resistance and keep the runner cool. 

Running shorts are often very short, and even the longer ones typically don’t go much past mid-thigh.

V-notches or slits

Many pairs of running shorts contain v-notches, which are v-shaped cuts in the side of the short to keep it from squeezing the runner’s legs and inhibiting his or her stride.

Some pairs even have slits cut all the way up to the waistband to maximize the benefits of this feature. 

Built-in liner

Many pairs of running shorts contain a built-in cloth liner.

This enables wearers to forgo underwear if they want to, and prevents uncomfortable rubbing that can cause rashes and chafing for people who run often. 

Zipper pockets

Modern pairs of running shorts often contain zipper pockets along the waistband.

These are helpful for storing items like car keys and wallets by preventing them from bouncing around and tumbling out during your run.

What are biker shorts?

Biker shorts are a type of nylon-spandex athletic pants that are often used for the sport of cycling.

Bike shorts are form-fitting and designed to decrease the amount of wind resistance a rider may create while riding. Biker shorts may come to a length just above the knee, although they may also be shorter. They also often have a built-in butt pad known as a chamois to cushion the tailbone of frequent riders.

Biker shorts are more form-fitting than running shorts in order to reduce wind resistance during a ride.

Though they have a very practical usage, many fashion icons have popularized their use in casual wear. That said, biker shorts are not the most comfortable choice of apparel for lounging. 

They do, however, offer increased mobility and leave much less to the imagination of those around you. If this is what you’re going for, biker shorts might be the apparel for you. 

Are biker shorts still in style 2023?

Depending on how often you catch sight of paparazzi pictures of the young and hot, you may have noticed that biker shorts are If you follow certain fashionistas, you may have noticed that biker shorts are having a bit of a moment.

Biker shorts are not designed for fashion, but according to many celebrity A-listers, they appear “in” when incorporating certain looks.

Of course, the iteration of biker shorts that contain the chamois for tailbone protection may not be best suited for fashion, but brands such as NIKE and ADIDAS have their own versions that may go best with a casual outfit. 

Do biker shorts look good on everyone?

Biker shorts are extremely tight and conform to a person’s body shape. While good looks are entirely subjective, people who are self-conscious of their body shape will probably not enjoy wearing biker shorts. 

You usually only want to wear biker shorts if you feel confident displaying your waistline and hips in public. It doesn’t really matter if you are tall, short, big, or skinny.

There is no particular body shape or size that looks objectively best in biker shorts, it really just depends on what you feel most comfortable with. 

When should I wear biker shorts?

You can wear biker shorts in a variety of different contexts. As we have seen, biker shorts can be quite the fashion statement if you’re bold and confident enough to pull it off. With that being said, biker shorts are designed for cycling. Therefore, this is the most natural context to bring out a pair of biker shorts. 

Biker shorts should be worn if you are a serious cyclist who participates in long rides. The built-in butt pad supports riders planning on spending hours on their bikes. Additionally, they are made to regulate the body temperature of cyclists riding in hot weather. 

If necessary, you may also use biker shorts for other forms of physical activity, such as running or lifting weights at the gym. Regardless of where you choose to wear them, make sure you find a pair that fits you well and suits the activity you are choosing to participate in.