Reviewing a pair of bike shorts in 2020 is like reviewing a pair of underwear: They are extremely useful, practically everyone has them, and it is easy to feel like you can always buy more. I, like many others, spent the entirety of my summer in stretchy bike shorts of various shapes, colors, fabrics, and brands while working from home in the New York City heat. This simple, timeless garment swept the Internet as fashion’s response to the emotional discomfort brought on by the global pandemic; as a health and wellness editor with one eye always on the sartorial, who am I to argue with that? Whether you’re wearing them for workouts or for play—or for sitting very still on your couch—a good bike short will always come in handy.
Enter the Champion High-Rise Bike Short. I was curious to see how a classic athletic brand like Champion would adapt its designs and technology to something that felt so 2020. Would they be too utilitarian? Would they swing to the other side of the spectrum, giving in to the trend and losing any sense of original cool?
It turns out that these bike shorts are just what they should be: sturdy, useful, on-trend, and versatile. What a treat. Read on for why these shorts are a winner in our 2020 SELF Certified Sports Bras, Leggings, and Shorts Awards.
How I Tested the Champion High-Rise Bike Shorts
In an effort to be sustainable and economical, I make sure that any activewear I acquire these days is just as comfortable for lounging around the house as it is during a jog or Pilates workout. That being said, I was sure to test these bike shorts in multiple scenarios, where my activity level varied.
First, I wore the shorts on a mile-long outdoor jog. At least a few days a week, I run or walk along the Hudson River bike path, which is flat and smoothly paved. I also wore these shorts during a Melissa Wood Health 40-minute Pilates flow (an at-home video workout series I highly recommend), and then for a rest day, where I worked from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and went out to the store to pick up groceries for dinner.
You can go here to see SELF’s full criteria and testing recommendations for buying the best workout shorts. Below are my thoughts on how the Champion High-Rise Bike Shorts performed for each of our 2020 SELF Certified Sports Bras and Leggings Awards expert-informed criteria.
These have a surprisingly super-high-waist fit—you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at them off-rack. That, in tandem with the waistband’s tight, compressive quality and relatively thick material enabled these shorts to stay put throughout my workouts—no sign of any drop crotch here! However, because they were so tight and compressive at the waist, they weren’t the most comfortable to sit in all day (hello, stomach rolls) and felt too tight after a couple of hours.
The fabric was really thick and durable—you can tell that these shorts will last a long time, and through many washes. The material is completely opaque, and if you purchase them I’d imagine it will stay that way indefinitely too. However, the fabric wasn’t as stretchy as I wished, hence my difficulty sitting in them for too long. I think if they were slightly stretchier, my stomach wouldn’t have felt so compressed, and activities like yoga would be easier in these too.
The fit of these was so secure that my thick thighs had a little bit of a sausage effect—when I bent my knees enough, they’d pudge up at the lower edge of the shorts. Fun! In reality, I know I probably could have sized up here (so for my fellow strong-legged people, take that note), but because my legs are also short the shorts likely would have been too long in that case too. (More on that next.) Regardless, they didn’t sag, move, or budge at all while in use, which is the most important quality to test for me.
These are much longer than your average bike short. In fact, they resemble actual biking shorts! Like, hardcore road-biking gear! Which isn’t bad at all—I never had to hike them up, pull them down, or pick my wedgie, and I was more comfortable walking around my city neighborhood in these than I normally would be in anything that is tight and short. Off the rack, these shorts look unsuspectingly standard, but once they’re on, they hit only two or three inches above my knees, max. It’s definitely a look, and I’m a fan.
Even though they’re tight, these Champion bike shorts remain easy to put on and take off. After my workout, they rolled right off.
These shorts wick really well. Not only do they not show sweat at all, but they keep you comfortable while doing it. After my workout, I didn’t feel like I was sitting in a puddle of my own sweat, either, which is always a plus.
One of the more unique features of these bike shorts is the single pocket on the right leg, which I imagine wouldn’t be possible if they were shorter. (Another time when the length comes in handy!) I put my phone in the pocket while I was jogging. The leggings didn’t weigh down or sag because of the phone, which was great, but I was still not entirely convinced that my phone was secure enough to not fly out while I was on the move. Next time, I’d definitely use the pocket for a credit card or key, and stick to my running belt for my phone.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I felt good in these shorts, and they’re a versatile, stylish option to add to my bike shorts wardrobe. It was nice to be able to dress to the trend without feeling overexposed or self-conscious, which always happens when I venture out into the abyss of New York City scantily clad. I hope I can take them for an actual bike ride soon, and another jog along the river even sooner.