As an overweight cyclist, finding plus size bike shorts or cycling bibs that fit, look good, and most importantly, feel good can be challenging.
I love loose, comfortable clothing. The idea of shoving all of me into skin-tight spandex is not always at the top of my list. Okay, if I am being honest, it is never at the top of my list.
My cycling clothes HAVE to be comfortable. Too many times I have tried to put on cycling shorts only for my thighs to bulge around too-tight leg bands. I also hate it when my belly rolls over the top of the band of my shorts.
The pressure HURTS and it makes me not even want to ride my bike. Plus I can do without all of those seam indentations on my skin afterwards!
However, once I discovered cycling shorts and bibs that fit great, I knew this was a sport that I could truly embrace.
If you happen to be wondering what options are out there for plus size cyclists, and what companies offer plus size cycling shorts, read on for our recommendations!
Also, I just want to send a heartfelt thanks to the folks in the All Bodies on Bikes Facebook Group for their recommendations.
Why Should I Wear Cycling-Specific Shorts?
When you’re cycling, you want breathability, and padding for your sit-bones. Shorts that are made especially for cycling offer moisture wicking fabrics. Additionally, the often have a padded chamois (pronounced “shammy”) that keeps your butt comfy. Or at least more comfy than it will be otherwise!
If you have ever been on a bike and wanted to get OFF that sucker because your bum hurt SO bad, then you know how helpful some padded cycling shorts can be.
Also, it’s helpful to not have a lot of excess fabric when you are on the bike. It can get caught on things or caught on your bike, so it really can be a safety issue.
Finding cycling clothes that fit can be frustrating. The good news, though, is more and more companies are making it easier by offering a greater range of sizes. Some are even designing clothes specifically for plus sizes, which is awesome!
Should I Wear Shorts or Bibs (And What the Heck ARE Bibs, Anyway?)
One of the much debated topics related to cycling shorts centers around whether bibs or shorts are the way to go.
Bib shorts are different in the fact that they have straps that extend up over the shoulders. As a result, there is no waistband for my belly to roll over, and it is glorious.
Just the other day I was riding my Peloton, my waistband was rolling down, my fat was rolling over, and it was NOT comfortable. There are some cycling shorts that have awesome waistbands that don’t roll down, but they can be hard to find.
I will weigh in on this debate and say that I am a HUGE fan of bib shorts because it is so nice not to be jerking up a waistband when I am trying to just ride my bike. They are just SO much more comfortable in this situation.
I do, however, have some shorts that I enjoy too. Sometimes I just don’t really feel like going full blown bib for a variety of reasons.
Bibs can be tough to get off/down for nature breaks. Also, shorts are just that little tiny bit easier and faster to put on. That can make a difference when I am just trying to quickly hop on the bike!
Recommended Plus Size Cycling Short Brands
Here are companies that are offering plus size cycling shorts. All have been vetted either by those of us at Femme Cyclist or by the kind folks in the All Bodies On Bikes Facebook group.
Hands down, one of my favorite cycling apparel companies is Terry. Terry also came highly recommended by a number of other women that I polled.
Their sizing tends to be more generous compared to some other brands I have tried. Also, their shorts are so stretchy and not restrictive.
Of all of the cycling shorts I have ever pulled on, I can say without a doubt that Terry makes me feel the LEAST like a stuffed sausage. The material is soft and it has a lot of give.
Terry also has cycling skirts and liners, if shorts aren’t your thing!
I will say, though, that it is a little disappointing that more of Terry’s styles aren’t available in plus sizes. There’s nothing worse than finding exactly what you want only to see that that particular style only goes up to XL.
On the positive side though, they have a page specifically for plus size clothing so that you don’t have to even bother with the styles that aren’t going to come in your size. Terry plus size clothing comes in sizes 1X – 3X.
Where To Buy: https://www.terrybicycles.com/apparel/plus/plus-bottoms*
Machines for Freedom
Machines for Freedom is another Women’s Cycling brand that is much-loved in cycling circles. According to their website, in 2014 founder Jennifer Friske decided to launch Machines for Freedom from her living room in Malibu. Her motivation? Not being able to find a cycling bib or short that worked for her.
- Podcast Episode: Body and Size Diversity And Inclusivity With Jennifer Kriske From Machines For Freedom
These bibs and shorts are pricey, but many women feel they are absolutely high quality, and worth every penny.
I love that all of the styles, not just certain ones, come in a range of sizes. Road bike bibs, shorts, and liners come in sizes XS-XXXL. Mountain bike shorts are available in size 24-38.
I find their offerings to be not so slim that you can’t find what you need, but also not so overwhelming that you give up and can’t decide what to get.
It is important to note that Machines for Freedom really believes in the benefits of compression. This means you may find their fit to be a little more restrictive than what you want or are used to.
Where To Buy: machinesforfreedom.com*
Fat Lad/Lass At the Back
Fat Lad at the Back was started by co-founders Richard and Lynn. Their mission, according to their website, is to “challenge the stereotypes of cycling and to break down the barriers so that everyone can love riding as much as we do.”
They go on to say that they didn’t just size up traditional cycling clothes, but redesigned them to “fit and flatter the new ‘average’ size of cyclists. FLAB started with men’s clothing, but now also have a full line of women’s offerings too that are specially designed for women.
They have a non-traditional sizing structure so you do have to know your measurements to order. The whole thought behind this is to get the best fit possible which is truly awesome. And it’s really great to be able to go to a site and just know that everything there is made to fit you.
Plus size shorts are not an add-on, or an afterthought at FLAB. They are the whole point!
Also, it’s important to note that in the world of cycling clothing, the FLAB pricing is pretty reasonable and affordable, so that is another huge benefit!
Where To Buy: fatladattheback.com/
When it comes to luxury cycling apparel, and yes, this is a thing, the brand Velocio often is mentioned.
This European brand is very focused on sustainability, and when they create a pair of bibs/shorts they genuinely want them to last you pretty much forever.
Their bibs and shorts are expensive, but there are so many cyclists in groups and forums who will say they are absolutely worth it, and refuse to wear anything else.
Velocio has a range of extended sizes, and their sizing goes to XXXL.
Like Machines for Freedom, Velocio does embrace compression, so their bibs and shorts may feel tighter than some other brands. Certain benefits are attributed to compression, such as keeping your muscles tight and firing for the ride. If compression isn’t your thing, however, you might want to consider a different option.
Where To Buy: velocio.cc/collections/extended-sizes/women’s
If you are looking for a budget cycling short option, Baleaf is a great brand to check out. I mean, let’s face it, not all of us want to drop $100, $200, or even $300 on a pair of bibs or cycling shorts.
Baleaf cycling shorts are readily available on Amazon, most pairs are around $30, and have excellent reviews. Additionally, I have noticed many women recommending them in cycling groups and forums for both indoor and outdoor cycling.
If you just want something, anything, to pad your bum right now, Baleaf is an excellent choice! Sizing runs from XS to XXXL.
Where To Buy: amazon.com*
Aerotech Designs is a Pennsylvania based cycling apparel company that has an impressive list of plus size offerings. Also, their range of sizing is more inclusive than many plus size ranges (XXL to 5X in some sizes). They have a size chart and a detailed explanation of how to measure for the chart, which I always appreciate.
I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to measure for a size chart and the clothes that came STILL didn’t fit me.
In addition to having a lot of plus size styles, they also explain their process behind making and designing plus size clothing for women. On their website they state “You don’t need to wait to lose weight – or even want to shed pounds – to be a cyclist.”
I can certainly get behind a company with this sort of philosophy. When I first started cycling I actually did want to lose weight, but I hate that there is sometimes this assumption that it’s the ONLY reason a bigger person is riding. Or that a bigger person should WANT to lose weight.
It doesn’t matter what you look like, or how much you weigh. If you ride a bike, you ARE a cyclist.
Where To Buy: aerotechdesigns.com/plus-women-cycling-clothes.html
Shredly is known for their colorful women’s mountain biking gear. Their founder, Ashley, is yet another awesome entrepreneur who was frustrated with the lack of cycling clothing options for women.
According to their website, Shredly was born from a Kickstarter in 2012. It has grown to “offer women a one-stop shop for multi-sport apparel that is not only insanely cross-functional, but incredibly good looking.”
Shredly has some styles that come in “curvy” and are available in sizes 0-24. Women in cycling groups and forums seem to really like their products.
Their shorts are not padded, but there is the option to purchase a padded liner labeled the “Yogacham” that comes in sizes 00-24 as well!
Where To Buy: https://shredly.com/ – Get 10% Off!
A Couple Of Other Brands Offering Plus Size Shorts
- Pearl Izumi: Pearl Izumi has just recently made an effort to expand their sizing. Many of their women’s short and bib options are now available in XXL and XXXL.
- Zoic: We love the Zoic Navaeh mountain bike short, and the Navaeh Bliss is now offered up to a 3XL and has the added bonus of a yoga like waistband.
Some Final Comments And Alternatives To Spandex Cycling Shorts
If you are looking for plus size cycling shorts, hopefully this article helped you find a few new brands to check out, or reinforced your current thoughts on some of your current favorites!
Cycling short shopping can be very daunting, and our goal was to make it a little more accessible and a little less mysterious.
Still, I know that there will be those of you out there who just aren’t quite sold on cycling specific shorts just yet, and are wondering if there are any alternatives.
The answer is, YES!
You can always get a cycling short liner. This is a thinner short with a chamois that can be worn under any pair of pants or shorts you currently own…or even under a skirt!
In fact, speaking of skirts, many companies, including Terry and Aerotech Designs, offer cycling specific skirts. Some come with a padded liner/chamois built in, and others you will have to purchase the padding separately.