The 7 Best Bike Shorts For Women
On the road or in the cycling studio, the best bike shorts for women help you go the distance in comfort, and maybe even some style, if you’re also riding the athleisure trend.
A quality bike short intended for avid cyclists will likely have chamois, a sewn-in padding for where your bottom sits on the bike seat. The added cushioning makes long-distance rides much more comfortable and helps prevent saddle sores from biking. However, bike short with chamois that are specifically made for women are likely to be slightly wider in the rear. And since they're intended to take the place of underwear while cycling, shorts with flatlock seams will be the most comfortable. Other features to look for may include pockets for convenient carrying, hemlines with grip to stay in place, and reflective materials for road safety.
Bib or No Bib?
Some bike shorts also come with long straps that look like suspenders but are actually built into the shorts. Some women prefer these bib shorts for cycling because there’s no waistband that can roll down or shift, and they may do a better job of holding the chamois in place. While the straps allow for an unrestrictive abdomen area, they can be distracting and also make for longer bathroom breaks.
Fabric is also something to consider when shopping for the perfect pair of riding shorts. Bike shorts made with polyester, nylon, and spandex will offer moisture-wicking mobility. Some options use materials that are bacteriostatic (i.e. inhibit the growth of bacteria), which is a quality that can be particularly helpful for women on long, sweaty rides. However, if you're shopping for bike shorts for style more than function, you can opt for ones that meet your athleisure aesthetic preferences, whether it's a sleek high-rise fit or a bright shade of red. After all, everyone from celebrities to fashion editors seems to be embracing the bike shorts trend these days.
With all that in mind, below are the best bike shorts for women.
1. The Overall Best, All Things Considered
Though there are few reviews on Amazon for these nylon-spandex bike shorts, it’s important to know Terry has been making cyclist products for women for more than 30 years. Bicycling magazine is a big fan of Terry products, and with these shorts in particular, they wrote that their testers "raved about the unobtrusive chamois, pajama-soft fabric, and nonbinding waist and leg openings."
Plus, the chamois is made in Italy with four-way stretch, perforated material for enhanced breathability, and flatlock seams.
Fans say: “Great bike shorts! I have purchased and worn Terry bike shorts for almost 15 years. They are very well made, great padding, and comfortable. Worth the money.”
- Available Sizes: Small - XX-Large
- Available Colors: Black, Charcoal
2. The Best Bib Shorts
This bib bike short, made of mostly polyamide (aka nylon) and spandex, features a slim fit with elastic straps and a front clip for stability during a ride. The back and side panels have breathable membranes to help keep the rider comfortable. The chamois is made of bacteriostatic materials and high-tenacity foam for long rides. Compression bands at the hems hit about mid-thigh and keep the shorts securely in place, with reflective patches on the back for safer riding in low visibility. For under $40, this a great starter bib bike short.
Fans say: “I wore this bib for a 22 mile ride. It was very comfortable; fabric feels great and [thick], so no see-through issues whatsoever. The padding is good and very comfortable. Price was exceptionally great! I'd recommend this bib for longer rides.”
- Available Sizes: Small - XX-Large
- Available Colors: Three different style/prints
3. The Best Gel Bike Shorts
These beroy bike shorts feature a chamois with 3D-gel, multi-density padding to provide comfort where needed, without extra bulk. With a microfiber top and a blend of 80 percent polyester and 20 percent spandex, these bike shorts are soft and have been treated with a bacteriostatic agent to inhibit bacterial growth to prevent saddle sores. Mesh panels help keep you cool, and reflective logos on the shorts provide added visibility on the road.
Fans say: “I bought these for spinning in my home gym. In the past, I've only had foam bike shorts. No more. I love these shorts with the gel padding. I am ordering more.”
- Available Sizes: X-Small - XXX-Large
- Available Colors: 34 different colors/styles
4. An Athleisure Option in a Bright Hue
For a fun athleisure option, you can't go wrong with Cotton Citizen's Milan Bike Shorts. The on-trend jersey shorts are made from a lightweight French terry blend and hit about mid-thigh. They are chamois-free since they're geared more toward fashion than cycling. Their sleek fit makes them a celeb favorite — everyone from Olivia Culpo to Oprah are fans — and the clothing brand's laidback West Coast style always looks cool. In fact, these shorts are handcrafted in Los Angeles.
- Available Sizes: X-Small, Large
5. The Best For Sun Protection
The built-in sun protection of UPF 50+ sets these nylon-spandex bike shorts from BALEAF apart. Cyclists seeking a comfortable ride will also love the wide waistband and silicone grippers to keep mid-thigh hems from shifting while riding. The 3D chamois is multi-layered for density, adding comfort and longevity to the padding, with four-way stretch and a silica gel layer to absorb shock from vibrations. Flatlock seams reduce friction. Even better? These are also available as a bike short with side pockets and a bike short with a back pocket.
Fans say: “I purchased mainly for the UPF 50+ protection and although I have a gel cover to my bike seat, I felt the extra suede padding would add additional cushioning for my 61 year old tush. It also helps to prevent chafing. This is my first padded shorts and I'm loving it…I've also found that I can wear these shorts when we go ocean kayaking and it helps to cushion my tailbone. So happy with my purchase and it's dual purpose, multi-sport comfort.”
- Available Sizes: Small - XXX-Large
- Available Colors: Six different colors/styles
6. A Sleek Pair With Pockets
If you want a pair that's more on the athletic side of athleisure, these high-waisted bike shorts are for you. With light compression and moisture-wicking fabric that's mostly nylon, these are bike shorts that can go from a barre class to meeting friends at a casual bar. The wide waistband, which features an 8-inch inseam and flatlock stitching, makes them comfortable, and a pocket on each side will hold a phone and keys.
Fans say: “Like every other woman, I've finally given in to the leggings trend, and now I wonder why I waited so long - they are so comfortable! These shorts are no exception - comfortable, soft, and easy to move in [...] Having pockets [is] a huge selling point for me, and having one on both sides is even better - keys and phone, and I'm ready to go!”
- Available Sizes: X-Small - XX-Large
- Available Colors: 12 colors
7. The Best On A Budget
These Eco-daily Cycling Shorts are the shortest bike shorts on the list, but they offer plenty of comfort, even for longer rides. The multi-density padding in the foam chamois is moisture-wicking and shock-absorbing enough for a medium-distance, five-hour ride. The polyester-spandex bike shorts feature flatlock seams and have a V-shaped waistband for comfort. They come in four vibrant color options and are backed by a money-back guarantee.
Fans say: “These are so much better than I expected. With the price point being what it was and [seeing] the prices for apparel on the mountain biking websites I was a little skeptical but I will be ordering a few more pairs of these rather than spending more $$ on the name brand stuff.”
- Available Sizes: Small - XX-Large
- Available Colors: Dark Gray, Purple, Pink, Blue
Also Nice: An Anti-Chafe Creme
Finding the right bike short and fit is key, but here's another tool in the biker’s fight against saddle sores and chafing: chamois cream. Chamois cream reduces friction between skin and bike shorts and features antibacterial ingredients that aid in preventing yeast infections and saddle sores. The Chamois Butt'r Her' Anti-Chafe Cream includes aloe vera, green tea leaf extract, tea tree oil, shea butter, and lavender oil. With 240 reviews and a 4.6-star rating, this paraben-free, fragrance-free chamois cream is a clear favorite.
Fans say: “I use this before EVERY ride….it truly makes a difference I am a competitive female cyclist who can have the occasional "issues" with saddle sores. As long as I use this before EVERY ride (even a short pre-race ride) and as long as I hop out of my shorts immediately after a race or ride, I can prevent 90% of those pesky saddle sores. I've tried the regular Chamois Butt'r and can state that I definitely prefer the women's specific product. It makes a huge huge difference…I won't go on a training ride or hop into a race without it!”
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.