Can You Swim in Bike Shorts? (Solved)

Last updated on June 28th, 2023 at 01:02 pm

Wondering if it’s possible to swim in bike shorts? After all, they’re made of quick-drying material and provide good coverage and support, so it seems like they could be a practical choice for a swim.

You could technically swim in them, but it’s not a good idea

So, before you jump into the pool or ocean in your cycling shorts, it’s important to know why.

In this article, I’ll go over why you shouldn’t swim in bike shorts in detail and what you should wear instead.

Why You Shouldn’t Swim in Bike Shorts

If you’re wondering whether you can swim in bike shorts, the answer is yes, but it’s not recommended.

Also Read: How To Pee In Cycling Bibs

For triathlons, you definitely shouldn’t swim in cycle shorts.

First and foremost, not all bike shorts are created equal. While some may be made from materials that are suitable for swimming, others may not be. Additionally, the design of the shorts can also impact their suitability for swimming. 

Why You Shouldn’t Swim in Bike Shorts

For example, the legs of cycling shorts typically face down, which can make swimming in them uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Here are some of the other reasons:


Chafing happens when your skin rubs against something and gets all irritated and uncomfortable. 

When regular bike shorts get wet, it will soak up water very quickly like a sponge.

This moisture absorption can make the friction between the fabric and your skin worse, leading to chafing. The wet fabric rubs against your skin, causing redness, irritation, and sometimes even blisters

It’s especially bothersome when you’re doing activities that involve a lot of leg movements, like swimming.


Now, let’s talk about the see-through issue. When bike shorts get wet, especially the ones made from certain materials or lighter colors, they can turn transparent. 

That means the wet fabric becomes see-through, and people can see your skin or even your underwear underneath. 

This can be pretty embarrassing, especially when you’re out in public. 

Lack Of Swimwear Features

Bike shorts are great for cycling, but they might not have all the features that swimwear has. 

Also Read: Do bmx bikes have brakes?

Swimwear is specifically made for water activities and is equipped with features that makes it perform better and feel comfier in the water

Here are a few things you won’t usually find in bike shorts:

Chlorine Resistance

Swimming pools use chlorine to keep the water clean, but it can be rough on fabrics. 

Swimwear is made with materials that can handle chlorine exposure without losing their color or shape –  even with regular exposure to pool water.

Anti-microbial Properties

Swimwear often incorporates antimicrobial treatments or fabrics that help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Alternatives to Bike Shorts for Swimming

Now that you know bike shorts are not that great for swimming, here are a few other options: 

Swim Shorts

Swim shorts are what you should wear for swimming. They are typically made from quick-drying, lightweight materials that are designed to be comfortable in the water. 

Swim shorts come in a variety of styles, from board shorts to swim trunks, and are available for both men and women.

One of the benefits of swim shorts is that they are versatile. You can wear them both in and out of the water, making them a great option if you’re planning on spending the day at the beach or pool. 

Swim Trunks

Swim shorts also provide more coverage than bike shorts, which some people may prefer.

Swim Trunks

Swim trunks are another popular alternative. They are similar to swim shorts but are typically shorter in length and have a more fitted design. 

Swim trunks are often made from materials like nylon or polyester that are designed to be quick-drying and lightweight.

Swim trunks are a great option if you’re looking for something that is comfortable and easy to move around in. They are also available in a variety of styles and colors, so you can find a pair that matches your personal style.

Swim Briefs

Swim briefs are a more traditional option for swimming. 

Also Read: What Is A Bidon In Cycling?

They are similar to underwear but are made from materials like nylon or spandex that are designed to be quick-drying and stretchy. 

Swim briefs provide a high level of support and are often used by competitive swimmers.

One of the benefits of swim briefs is that they provide a lot of freedom of movement. They are also available in a variety of styles and colors, so you can find a pair that matches your personal style.

If You Have To Swim in Bike Shorts

If you on other option than swimming in bike shorts, here are some tips to make the experience more comfortable:

  • Wear bike shorts that are made from a quick-drying material and have a chamois pad to provide extra comfort.
  • Wear a swim cap: A swim cap can help keep your hair out of your face and prevent your bike shorts from getting caught in your hair.
  • Rinse your shorts after swimming: Rinse your bike shorts with fresh water after swimming to remove any chlorine or saltwater residue.
  • Dry your shorts properly: Hang your bike shorts to dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid drying them in direct sunlight or using a dryer, as this can damage the material.

On the flip side, bike shorts are also made from a quick-drying material that will keep you feeling comfortable and dry even when wet.

Bike shorts also provide good coverage and support and come with UV protection, which can be helpful if you’re swimming outdoors.

Hugo has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and, being from the Netherlands, he’s used to his bike being his primary mode of transport. Plus, as a lawyer, jumping on his bike is his main form of escaping from his desk duties.

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