Perhaps you’ve already discovered one answer to this question of why cycling shorts are black. Whether you were the one in white biking shorts or you had the misfortune of staring at the all-too-visible backside of the cyclist in front you for seemingly endless miles, there’s a practical aspect to keeping this piece of apparel black.
The real reason behind black cycling shorts, however, has nothing to do with preventing unwelcome displays of the derriere. It has to do with the bike.
The Black Cycling Short
What do your hands look like after changing a flat tire or fiddling with the chains on your bike? Black and greasy, right? The reason most cycling shorts are black is to help hide the inevitable dirt and grease stains every cyclist picks up on the road after a repair.
Today, bikes are much more reliable and require less frequent repairs. In fact, you can probably go many days without needing to repair a broken chain or to fix a flat, and this is good news for anyone looking to branch out from the traditional black cycling shorts.
Believe it or not, there was a time when cycling races required riders to exclusively wear black cycling shorts. In 1981, Castelli introduced a line of colored cycling shorts at the Giro d’Italia, and riders were actually fined for wearing their green Castelli cycling shorts during the race instead of the required black cycling shorts.
Backroads Pro Tip
Although there are no rules or fines based on the color of a rider’s cycling shorts these days, most people still prefer to wear black bike shorts for their inherent ability to match pretty much every jersey color—not to mention the color’s slimming effects!