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I'm looking into buying some bike shorts and wanted to know what was economical and yet still better than normal gym shorts (which I'm using now for about 17 or 34 miles per day). Walmart has bike shorts for $30, but I'm not sure what the metal eyelets are for. Do they serve a purpose or is it simply for 'looks'?

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    No idea, but have seen eyelets like those on board shorts (swim trunks) to let water out of pockets. – Glenn Gervais Aug 2 '13 at 16:41
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    Yeah, those look like board shorts, not bike shorts. I suppose maybe some offroad bikers use them, but they're not really designed for road users (who don't need/want the pockets). Should be adequate for your use, however, if the chamois is halfways decent. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 2 '13 at 19:15
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    (It's reassuring to know they do not contain a battery.) – Daniel R Hicks Aug 2 '13 at 19:16
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    Sometimes you may also see these holes in shorts and jackets as ventilation holes. I have them on the inner leg side of my cycling knickers. – Benzo Aug 3 '13 at 11:46
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I believe the eyelets are there to allow water to drain out of the pockets. There's probably no practical need for them unless you ride in torrential rain.

The manufacturer may include them to give an impression that the shorts will make you prepared for all possible conditions, or they may be trying to mimic the style of board shorts (as suggested in a few of the comments).

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The eyelets look like they are just for show. I can't really think of any reason to have them except for styling as you wouldn't be hanging anything off your shorts while riding.

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