If someone fairly new to cycling came to me and asked which bike short to buy, I’d say the Terry Bella. This classic bike short is comfortable, reasonably priced, and well made.
Over the last two decades, I’ve owned half a dozen pairs pairs of the Terry Bella short and just keep coming back for more. Find out why in this review.
Review In A Nutshell
- Reasonably priced
- Comfortable chamois for most rides
- Well made, will last a long time
- Compressive without being uncomfortable
- Comes in several lengths
- Stitching is flattering
- Elastic free waistband
- Leg band can be uncomfortable after long periods of time
- Sizing is generic
Price & Where To Buy:
Fantastic, Mid-Price Short
The Terry Bella isn’t a “budget” short, nor is it a premium short. Instead, it’s a nice middle of the road option. It’s well made, yet still reasonably affordable.
Compared to a budget short like the Baleaf bike shorts, the Terry Bella is a clearly superior product. The stitching is durable, the material is thick and compressive, and the chamois is more breathable.
I’ve had a few pairs of Bella shorts that have literally lasted a few thousand miles and many, many washes before they wore out. If you want your shorts to last and not immediately end up in a landfill, the Terry Bella is a good option.
2010 and 2022….still wearing the Terry Bella!
On the flip side, the Bella is half the price of top of the line shorts (like the Machines For Freedom bibs). Compared to these shorts, the fabric isn’t quite as silky smooth nor as compressive. Additionally, the leg bands aren’t quite as nice (which I’ll talk about more in a moment).
An Ideal Chamois
Preferred chamois size and thickness is a very personal thing. And yet the Terry Bella, with it’s Flex Air chamois, does a good job of appealing to a wide range of women.
It’s sized well (neither too wide nor too long) and offers a substantial amount of padding without making you feel like you’re wearing a diaper. I’ve used the Terry Bella for 1-hour rides as well as big rides like Seattle To Portland.
Comfortable, Elastic Free Waistband
The waistband on the Terry Bella is both wide and comfortable. There is no elastic to dig into your belly and create that dreaded muffin top. That said, the nice wide band still does a good job of keeping everything in place so you don’t have to pull up the shorts ever.
Mostly Comfortable Leg Bands
The legs on the Terry Bella stay in place via a narrow elastic band a silicone gripper. These do a good job of keeping the shorts in place without riding up, and are comfortable for the most part.
That said, on long century-type rides, I do find the leg bands start to irritate my skin. And while not pronounced, they do create a bit of sausage leg effect.
Personally, I prefer the wider leg bands found on more expensive bike shorts (including the Terry Prima), but the narrow, elastic bands are par for the course at this price point.
Flattering Cut and Stitching
I find the Terry Bella shorts flattering thanks to the vertical stitching on the shorts. They help visually elongate your legs.
I should also mention that the stitching is super smooth and non-irritating. I have super sensitive skin and have never had an issue with the seams rubbing.
Comes In Multiple Lengths
The Bella comes in two lengths: regular and short. The regular has a traditional 8.5 inch inseam, while the short is a sporty 5 inches.
The short inseam length is perfect for spin class as well as for ladies who don’t want to mess up their tan line. The longer length provides extra protection from road rash and increases compression.
Generic Sizing….But Fit A Wide Range Of Women
There’s not much to knit-pick with the Terry Bella, so I’ll let my minor complaint be their sizing. Rather than offering shorts in street clothing (size 0, 2, 4, 6, etc), Terry uses generic sizing (XS, S, M, etc).
This always makes it a little more tricky to find the right fit. That said, we do appreciate that the Bella starts at a XS (size 2) and goes up to a size XXL (size 18). While this may not accommodate everybody, it does capture a wider range of women than many cycling apparel companies out there.
Bottom-Line: The Perfect Short For Most Women Riders
Looking for a short to do your first century? How about to join your local club ride? Or to grind a little gravel? The Terry Bella is an excellent option for any of these adventures.
In fact, I would consider the Terry Bella THE best short for the widest range of women. It’s not a luxury short, nor is it a budget short, but it’s the right price point for most cyclists.
Additionally, it has a chamois that works well for most bodies and that can accommodate rides of most lengths. It has good compression, but not so much that you’ll be uncomfortable.
This has been my bread and butter short for years and years, and I hope that it can be your bread and butter short as well.
More Help Keeping Your Bum Happy
- 9 Best Padded Bike Shorts (Cycling Shorts) For Women
- How to Heal (and Prevent) Cycling Saddle Sores
- 9 Best Women’s Bike Saddles & How To Choose!
About The Reviewer
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.