With their drop handlebars and narrow(er) tires, gravel and adventure bikes share plenty of DNA with conventional road bikes. In recent years, however, a great deal of mountain bike tech has crossed over into the gravel and adventure space. Thanks to our knobby-tired brethren, gravel bikes now sport disc brakes, tubeless tires, and even 1x gearing. The best crossover, however, may be something you wear instead of ride. I’m talking about MTB shorts.
Traditional lycra shorts are great for logging big mileage, but many riders prefer something less conspicuous (and more durable) for off-road and adventure riding. While you certainly could wear casual or generic athletic shorts over bibs, MTB-style shorts have cycling-specific cuts that are designed to cover what needs covering, while still providing freedom of movement for efficient pedaling.
Mountain–or baggy–shorts vary in length, cut, and materials. Shorts designed for hardcore technical riding are typically longer and have wider leg openings to accommodate kneepads or body armor. Trail-oriented shorts often have a slimmer profile and shorter inseams. While many of the shorts include padded liners, some manufacturers eschew liners altogether, leaving the rider provide their own.