Get a Grip on Leg Gripper Options

by Jeff Mendenhall

Not so long ago, almost all cycling shorts came with the same standard "zig zag" elastic leg grippers. Thanks to the rapid pace of innovation in the sports apparel market, we now have many types of grippers to choose from:

classic exposed elastic leg gripper
This tried and true gripper has been around for years, but the exposed elastic can sometimes cause a rash or irritation in sensitive individuals.

refined elastic gripper
The elastic in this style of gripper is of finer threads and is woven into a fabric band similar to the wide waistband on underwear. While it does not provide as aggressive a grip as the exposed elastic gripper, this type of gripper feels more comfortable against the skin.
shop for shorts with elastic grippers

fabric covered elastic
This gripper was developed to address the issue of rashes and irritation experienced by individuals who are sensitive to elastic. The lycra fabric of the short is wrapped around the elastic band at the leg opening.
shop for shorts with fabric covered elastic grippers

silicone band
Silicone grippers are the new kid on the block. They provide good grip without the allergy issues of elastic grippers. If they are sized properly, silicone grippers will keep your shorts in place without creating an overly-compressive "sausage leg" effect. Silicone does not breathe, so some people will see a temporary white band around their legs after removing their shorts.
shop for shorts with silicone band grippers

silicone dots
Silicone dots provide sufficient grip while eliminating the the afore-mentioned white band effects and reducing the likelyhood of the leg opening being overly compressive.
shop for shorts with silicone dot grippers

silicone tape
Silicone tape replaces the relatively thick silicone band or dots with paper-thin strips of silicone tape. This type of gripper is often incorporated into shorts with laser-cut fabric that eliminates stitching at the leg openings.
shop for shorts with silicone tape grippers

no gripper
Some manufacturers are now exploring ways to eliminate the gripper entirely. The most common method is to double-over the fabric at the leg opening to create a wide band of Lycra fabric with more compressiveness to keep the shorts in place. We also have shorts that use a "power band" constructed of a single layer of fabric that has a higher Lycra content than the primary fabric of the shorts.

Keep in mind that grippers or not, it is the cut of the shorts and sizing of the leg openings that is the primary determining factor for how constricting the leg openings will feel. Unfortunately, this varies from short to short and from brand to brand, and shorts fit each person differently. If a pair of shorts has particularly relaxed elastic or particularly wide leg openings, we try to make note of it on our website.
shop for shorts with no leg grippers

One last thing to note about cycling short grippers is that many of them are now designed to be "flipped up" to roll the gripper to the outside of the short. Manufacturers have even taken to printing their logos "upside down" on the grippers so that they show right-side-up on the outside of the shorts when they are flipped up.