How Long Should Your Shorts Last?

Like most cyclists (and that’s a big assumption on my part) I rotate through several pairs of bike shorts during a typical week. They vary quite a bit in terms of style, quality, and performance. But I’ve got one pair I prefer over all the others.

They’re by Sugoi, the Canadian maker of bike wear. I’ve made mention of them here in the past. I like them because they are probably the best quality of all the shorts in my drawer, and they have a chamois pad that’s bigger and cushier than any of my others. I know some people think that might be a strike against them, because thick pads could lead to their own kind of discomfort in the saddle, but for me, they give the best on-bike feel.

Imagine my chagrin, then, when I put them on on New Year’s Day, just before taking my first ride of the year. I discovered a hole along the seam near the bottom of the shorts!

Not just one hole, but two!
Not just one hole, but two!
A bit out of focus, but you get the idea.
A bit out of focus, but you get the idea.

Now, I’ve had tears along the chamois on some of my other shorts. A cheap pair from Nashbar is slowly losing its foam pad, but the spandex itself hasn’t come apart. My Castelli bibs are in like new shape. My Pearl Izumi bibs are showing some unraveling along the seams of the shoulder straps — but the seams in the shorts part are still solid, as are the ones on my Pearl Izumi shorts. Even my other cheapo Nashbar pair is holding together with no rips anywhere.

So, is it unusual that I’m seeing this kind of wear and tear on the good shorts? On the other hand, I got them just under four years ago. Maybe it’s not unreasonable that they’ve seen better days.

How long have yours lasted? Have you had any experiences with poor quality shorts that came apart after a relatively short time? What brands do you recommend?


  1. Jeff A says

    I haven’t had to retire a pair of shorts since I began riding again in 2009. I have slowly graduated to better quality shorts and bibs after reading your blog and gaining some personal experience. I have some from Aerotech Designs [black pearl] that I like; our club’s stuff comes from Champion System and I have purchased several sets from a maker called Lance Sobike [out of China] that I really like. I also have a pair of fleece tights from them as well as Bellweather.

  2. Kathleen says

    I get three years out of a really good pair of shorts, two years out of most. I find that sweat destroys the lycra even if I get the shorts into the wash as soon as I get home. I like to give my shorts the “shiney hiney” test in which I hold them up in sunlight and check the view that the cyclist behind me gets. And if a friend has shorts that are ready to be retired, I tell them in private.

  3. Midland says

    Like you, I also rotate between cycling shorts/bibs. Castelli, Champ System, Sugoi & Pearl Izumi. Seems like 2 years is about when they show signs of wear.

  4. says

    I can’t afford expensive short’s, I was buying the “classic” performance shorts, WHEN, they wen’t on sale only! LOL, I never seem to wear them out, they just get sloppy at the “strech band” on the bottom of the legs portion of the short so they become “trainer shorts”. I tried the the “club” performance short’s but, the XL (yes I’m a clydesdale sized rider), it “TOO TIGHT” and the 2XL too loose fitting so I’m trying to find a different brand of “inexpensive, (ok CHEAP) riding shorts, so far no luck! :(

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