For our blog this week we have an article to help those of you wondering how often should you replace cycling shorts?  Running shoes have replacement guidelines. Even bicycle tyres have guides for replacement frequency but we were struggling to get a good steer on how often those Lycra shorts should be binned and make way for a new pair.

Dangers of not replacing cycling shorts

I have experienced first hand real dangers behind not replacing my cycling shorts. Across the summer I did a number of back to back rides over a weekend using the same cycling shorts. I didn’t put in ridiculous hours but over a 3 day window probably did around 9 hours of cycling. I was using old cycling shorts that I had used for the past 3 seasons. After the 3 day period I noticed chafing on my inside leg. I ended up having to go to a Doctor and getting steriod cream to repair the damage. The sweat and bacteria had ended up infecting my leg and needing medical treatment. If I had followed the below guidance I might have avoided this!


Threadbare cycling shorts

We’ve all been caught behind a fellow cyclist in threadbare shorts thinking “I wish this dude would change them shorts, I can’t handle looking at that arse crack on another ride”. One of our very own Trivelo riders used to have a particularly cheeky set of shorts with a well worn middle section that also happened to be in white making it even worse. We decided to reach out to our network and caught up with Graeme over at D2D who gave us some fab insights into the wear considerations of such garments. Below is a guide for those of you eager to stay on the right side of your club team mates and keep your rear end well shielded from the elements.

Cycling in Winter

Why cycling shorts wear out

Shorts have a tough time, they have to stretch and cope with furious pedalling hour after hour while dealing with sweat and often unsympathetic washing cycles.  So given this existence it is unlikely that these poor items of clothing would last forever and in honesty if in command of their own destiny would probably be reaching for the retire pile after the first long ride.  A number of factors impact the true life of a pair of shorts.

How to predict how long cycling shorts will last?

Assuming you do nothing daft like cycle with a sheet of sand paper on your saddle or fail to ever wash your shorts then the simplest measurement to use if elapsed time in the saddle. Lycra and Spandex are vulnerable to wear with sweat, sunlight and road spray so before we too scientific a guide can only ever be broad.  Shorts should retain compression and as outlined not be see-through, if you experience either of these two factors time to trade in and retire those bad boys for something new.

Signs of Wear on cycling shorts

Considering the padding that keeps your potatoes from being ground into mash this too can wear at a different rate to the lycra so while all might appear on outside you must also regularly check the state of your padding.  Where this foam padding becomes thin, stiff or uneven this too is a signal that it is time to start shopping and bin those old fellas.  This advice is well worth considering as any of these indicators mean that protection is reduced or worse is actually damaging your lower region.

Cycling shorts cleaning & maintenance

Washing after every single ride is a no brainer as shorts harbouring sweat from a hard ride form the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and result in your cycling shorts becoming the next bio-hazard that quarantines your bedroom.  Stinky shorts likely means reduced life of your kit so make sure you pop them in the wash each time and rid your home of these unwanted whiffs and other nasties.

Guidelines for replacing cycling shorts

So rough guide on how long they will last and how often should you replace your cycling shorts?  If its been 500 hours in the saddle since you last replaced them, time to change.  Anything between 200 and 400 hours then check them for wear in terms of elasticity of the lycra and the padding.  Find a pair you like the look of then empty the piggy bank and buy a new set.

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Billy Ferguson

Having founded Trivelo in 2015 after many years competing in triathlon Billy continues to enjoy training and triathlon. Founder Billy is strongest in the water but continues to try and convince his body that he is an ultra runner.


Jenny Scott · 18/12/2019 at 7:19 am

This is brilliant. Been wondering about this and how to measure it. Great article!

Mike Carrington · 22/09/2019 at 2:58 pm

I have been wondering this, I knew roughly how to predict the life of my trainers but not my cycling shorts. Mine definitely need a change from reading this!

How Long Do Bike Shorts Last? (And When to Replace Yours) – Cycling Beast · 14/03/2022 at 7:45 pm

[…] Trivelo states that bike shorts and bibs should be replaced after 500 hours in the saddle. However, different brands of shorts and different fabric qualities will affect how long your shorts will last. So will how you wash your cycling shorts: for example, hand-washed and air-dried shorts may last longer than shorts that have been washed in a washing machine. […]

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