Working out in summer can get you sweaty and dehydrated fast if you aren't wearing the right activewear to let your skin breathe. Bike shorts are skin-tight shorts initially designed for cyclists but have now entered mainstream activewear. Ethical bike shorts look stylish and feel comfortable on your skin and conscience. They are made with organic and recycled materials using fair labor practices.
Read on for our list of brands that make high-quality, eco-friendly bike shorts.
Related: For more outdoorsy clothing and accessories, you might also like our recommendations for sustainable activewear and sustainable yoga clothes.
These brands aspire to zero waste production, use earth-friendly materials, and are constantly raising the bar for sustainable design. They also place value on garment workers and treat them fairly. Below you’ll find the perfect pair from options, including sport-centric, versatile styles for everyday life, high-waisted, short-cut, and inclusive choices for any body type.
Quick links to our 14 sustainable cycling shorts recommendations
Organic Basics is a well-known eco-friendly clothing brand from Denmark. Although most people associate them with sustainable underwear, they produce other kinds of garments, including activewear. They offer comfortable bike shorts that go up to size XXL. They make the shorts seamless, so there are no weak points, which translates to more durability than regular designs.
This brand uses over 50% recycled nylon in its bike shorts. We would have preferred zero virgin materials, but you still get to save 42 liters of water, 2.72 kg of CO2, and 25g of plastic waste. They are a B corp and only work with factories and suppliers that pay living wages and eco certifications, like a GOTS-certified factory, for example.
It's great when you can buy bike shorts from your favorite ethical brand anywhere in the world without worrying about shipping emissions. Organic Basics offers carbon-neutral worldwide shipping.
Organic Basics sizes tend to run large, so choose a size down for the snuggest fit.
This activewear brand offers different styles of bike shorts, from normal-waisted to high-rise. Some have pockets, and others do not. The sizing ranges from XXS to 6XL, and it’s usually true to size. Girlfriend Collective’s sustainable shorts come in compressive and ultralight designs. They are made of 71% to 90% recycled water bottles and 21% to 10% spandex.
Girlfriend Collective claims that its BioCompressive garments are biodegradable. And it treats its wastewater to ensure it's safe before releasing it into the environment under the watchful eyes of the Taiwanese EPA. They use recycled materials for recyclable packaging.
Through the ReGirlfriend take-back program, you can send your old Girlfriend cycling shorts to them, and they will recycle them into new products. Participants get a $15 discount on their next purchase.
The colors of your Girlfriend Collective bike shorts may bleed at first, so you have to wash them with the same colors for a while. This can present a minor inconvenience.
The Boody brand is famous for its use of bamboo to produce sustainable clothing and stylish everyday wear. Their high-waist bike shorts use a blend of organic cotton and bamboo viscose. The spandex content is only 12%. Each bike short saves about 5 km of driving emissions and 544 liters of water compared to regular nylon or polyester garments.
Boody sustainable bike shorts come in XS to XL sizes, and there are only three color options to choose from; black, olive, and grey. They have two side pockets that come in handy for keeping your keys, phone, or mp3 player while you exercise.
Boody’s bamboo originates from sustainable farms. The brand uses organic bamboo and processes it in a closed-loop system so wastewater doesn’t get out. It also ensures that its production partners are fair trade certified, pay living wages, and do not use child labor.
Reviews say the sizes run a little small, so if you are not looking for something other than a snug fit, buy a size above your normal size.
Wolven sustainable bike shorts are available in a myriad of colors and prints. You can choose from neutrals like black and white, through navy blue and bright yellow. They come in regular or midi lengths and feature two deep side pockets. You can choose a regular high waist design or go for a crossover waistband style with ruched detailing. The sizing ranges from XS to XL.
The stylish bike shorts are made from recycled plastic, about 84% of its content. Only 16% is spandex. Each bike short saves about 16 plastic bottles from landfills. Wolven uses wind energy and offsets whatever carbon arises from manufacturing and shipping. Even their plastic packaging is recyclable.
This brand offers customers a chance to sell their pre-loved Wolven items on their website. Sellers can choose to sell for cash or store credit, and buyers get store credit as a reward for being part of the positive change.
The Wolven resell service is only available for sellers in the United States. We sure hope the brand extends this service to customers in other countries.
If you prefer an edgy fashion aesthetic, this brand was created for you. P.E Nation has an extensive collection of sustainable bike shorts with bold prints, bright colors, and geometric cuts. The sizes go from XXS to XXXL. The brand's goal is to create activewear that inspires positive change.
P.E Nation uses materials like recycled polyester, regenerated nylon, and PET bottles for its ethical bike shorts. The recycled fibers are usually above 70%. They are as unique as those with virgin polyester and even have similar resale value.
The brand partners with the fashion resale platform, AirRobe, to enable customers to resell their pre-loved P.E Nation garments. That makes it easier and more rewarding as sellers can sell their items at a semi-fixed higher value compared to other platforms.
We think that finding garments made with recycled materials on the P.E Nation’s website could be easier if they had a separate collection for them. But the filter option does help a great deal.
This ethical clothing brand is popular for its durable and comfy outdoor clothing (we’ve also featured them in our rundown of sustainable yoga clothes). The sustainable bike short in their collection is the Electa Short II which comes in two lengths. It also has plain or camo design options. The cycling short has a hidden pocket perfect for keys and side pockets too.
The classic eco-friendly bike shorts are made from recycled nylon, about 76% to 85%. Their minimalist packaging is 100% plastic free and made with recycled paper. They also have a program to collect old clothing from customers and recycle them into new garments.
prAna is certified by fair trade USA and has helped many of their partner factories and suppliers become fair trade certified. They have a pretty transparent supply chain. Pay living wages and are members of various climate action groups.
Sadly, prAna only offers a few designs when it comes to sustainable bike shorts. You only have one design in 4 different iterations.
The Nova bike shorts by Vitamin A are available in sizes XS to XXL and come in four colors. All high-rise designs feature a layer around the tummy area for additional support. These sustainable bike shorts also double as premium swimwear.
The vitamin A brand develops its own sustainable fabrics, and one of them is the Biosclupt. This fabric is synthetic from castor oil, an organic material. It makes up 77% of their eco-friendly bike shorts and has less environmental impact than virgin fossil fuel plastic.
Vitamin A is a member of 1% For the Planet member, and its donations support ocean conservation. The brand manufactures its bike shorts locally in California. It allows them to closely supervise the supply chain, provide safe working conditions and ensure fair labor.
They are shorter than the average bike shorts and may be more suitable for swimming and yoga than anything else.
MATE is loved for its use of organic, sustainable fabrics, and its bike shorts are no exception. The sustainable bike shorts have 92% organic cotton content and just 8% spandex. The bike shorts are partially biodegradable, consume less water, and have a 21% smaller carbon footprint than synthetics.
Unlike most designs, MATE’s Organic Stretch Biker Shorts stop at midthigh instead of just above the knee. It isn't super stretchy and works great for women who prefer less stretch and more breathability. It works great for spin class, lounging, and running errands.
Through its recycling program, this brand takes back old MATE garments in any condition and recycles them into new products. Participating customers get store credits as a reward. The climate-neutral brand also manufactures its garment in Los Angeles; that way, the entire supply chain is monitored closely for fair labor compliance.
MATE’s biker shorts are not suitable for rigorous exercise but for mild to medium workouts. That is probably because of the limited stretch cotton provides.
This brand offers two designs of ethical bike shorts; the Monica Active Pocket Short and the Monica Active Short. The former comes with one pocket on the right side, and the latter has no pockets. Other than that, the designs are identical, straightforward, and functional. Customer reviews say you'll never have to worry about them riding up, no matter what exercise you are doing.
Threads 4 Thought uses recycled bottles to create eco-friendly materials for its bike shorts. There is just 12% spandex fiber. Under each listing, you can see the estimated positive impact of the bike shorts. One bike short saves about 3.2 km of driving emissions and 12 plastic bottles.
How about buying a sustainable bike short with no carbon footprint? This brand offsets the carbon on every garment, so your cycling shorts come to you with a Carbon Neutral certificate.
If you are between sizes, you should size up, as sizing down could result in a short that’s a bit too tight.
Raeya’s Butterlux Bike Shorts are as smooth-feeling as the name implies. They feel pretty light but don't worry, and they won't ride up while you are running or working out. They are durable and stand up to extreme activities. They come in just four colors and are available in sizes XS to XL.
The bike shorts contain about 80% recycled materials sourced from post-consumer fabric waste. The Global Recycling Standard organization approves the recycled fabrics. The brand is proud of its eco-conscious clean dyes and minimalist recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
Raeya plants trees to offset the carbon emissions from shipping your purchase. So you not only get net zero shipping, but you also help fight climate change with every order.
The shorts only get to the middle of your thighs, making them shorter than most cycling shorts.
Tentree’s spin on sustainable bike shorts is a high-performance bike short made from a blend of recycled materials. Their website states that you cut back on 0.18 kg of CO2 by choosing their recycled bike shorts over those made with virgin petroleum-based fibers.
The bike shorts come in a few core colors and a myriad of limited edition colors. They typically feature two hidden key pockets but have new designs with side pockets. The size range goes from XS to XXL.
Tentree is one of our favorite sustainable t-shirt brands in the fashion industry; they plant ten trees for every product purchased. They also have a take-back policy, which means you can send your old Tentree shorts, and they'll recycle them into new products. The factories they work with are those that ensure safe working conditions for their employees.
A lot of the color options for Tentree bike shorts are available for only a limited period.
If you are interested in cycling shorts designed for advanced sports, Vaude (also featured in our recommendations for sustainable outdoor clothing) has ethical bike shorts for men and women made from sustainable materials. The materials include recycled nylon, recycled polyester, recycled rubber, and castor oil.
The cycling shorts have a functional multi-layered chamois pad designed to be seamless for increased durability. The shorts have a six-panel design with anti-slip cuffs that provides a more ergonomic fit for professional sports people. The sizes go up to XXXL.
The eco-friendly brand is certified by fair wear and is transparent about its supply chain. They pay fair wages and ensure that their production chain does not involve child labor or exploitation.
You can't order Vaude garments directly online; you'll have to find a seller in your country. Thankfully they have a dealer locator on their website, so you can check if there’s one in your country.
Groceries Apparel is one of the most loved eco-friendly brands women go to for everyday basics. Their Kauko eco-friendly bike shorts contain 92% organic cotton and 8% spandex. They only use natural dyes from vegetable waste like avocado seeds, coffee grounds, onion skins, carrot tops, etc.
The Kazuko shorts come in a tie-dye or plain look, but due to the natural dyeing process, no two pieces are exactly the same. Each pair may look different, but they all have the same thick yet breathable cottony feel. The sizes range from XS to 2XL.
Groceries apparel manufactures its clothing in Los Angeles. A local supply chain allows them to monitor working conditions closely. They also pay fair wages as applicable in the United States.
People who prefer bike shorts that stop just above their knees might find the Kuzoko bike shorts relatively small.
This Australian activewear brand makes stylish, sustainable activewear for men and women. Although they seem to pay more attention to women as only female sizes go up to 6XL. A slow fashion brand, they release just one collection per season and ensure each garment provides top-tier support and comfort. Their sustainable bike shorts are usually a combination of recycled fiber and spandex.
Dk active uses many different types of fabrics for their garments, but regenerated nylon, recycled lycra, and GOTS-certified organic cotton are their top eco-friendly fabrics. The nylon comes from plastic water bottles, fishing nets, fabric scraps, and industrial plastic trash. For packaging, they use plant-based materials that you can compost at home.
Dk active manufactures its garments locally in Australia, and they use solar energy to power their headquarters. They ship clothing to customers all over the world, and ordinarily, that would be an issue for very long distances. But they offer carbon offset shipping, so it’s all good.
Dk active does not have any programs that recycle old garments from customers. It would be great if they had a take-back policy.
Sustainable bike shorts perfectly pair with your favorite eco-friendly t-shirt or ethical sports bra. This list will help you choose the best ethical bike shorts for your activities and style preference. Remember to use a microfiber filter bag when laundering your recycled synthetic fabric bike shorts.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.