9 Best Women’s Bike Shorts

Whether you’re ready to invest in your first pair of bike shorts or simply need to add another pair to your expansive cycling wardrobe, we’ve rounded up the best cycling shorts for women. A good pair of padded bike shorts can make a world of difference, allowing you to ride longer in comfort and to avoid chafing and saddle sores.

The bike shorts on this list can be used for road cycling, commuting, mountain biking, and even for indoor cycling. If you prefer a pair of baggy shorts instead, check out our article on the best Mountain Bike Shorts for women.

We’ll also give you some tips on what to look for in a cycling short and how to make the best purchase for yourself.

SUGOI Women’s RS Pro Bib Shorts: Best for Pee Breaks

sugoi womens bib short

Like bibs but don’t like trying to figure out how to stop for a pee break in them? The Sugoi bib solves this problem with their patent-pending “Pit Stop” design. The straps detach and we found that they were easy enough to operate even in a road-side port-a-potty. They also happen to be extremely comfortable, the legs stay put, and we didn’t have any problems with chafing. That said, our shorter testers found that the straps were a bit long, so we recommend these for average to taller height ladies.

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SheBeest Petunia Bib Shorts: Best for Gals Who Like to Stand Out

sheebest petunia bib short

If you’re the kinda girl that can’t stand another pair of boring black bike shorts, SheBeest is your kinda company. Their cycling clothing is colorful and loud, and the Petunia Bib is no exception. It has a unique halter-style design, which comes in handy during pit-stops. You can just slip the halter over your head and pull the shorts down. The halter, while great for our shorter testers, was uncomfortable for taller women with longer torsos. This is a short we recommend for shorter riders. The chamois is fairly thin and non-bulky. We found we liked the thinner padding, but probably wouldn’t pick it for a 100-mile day.

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Castelli Free Aero Women’s Bike Shorts: Best for All-Day Rides

castelli free aero womens bike short

These Castelli shorts have my absolute favorite chamois. It manages to be well-padded without feeling like a diaper. These are my go-to shorts for a long day on the bike. The leg and waistbands are comfortable and stay put; no annoying adjustments required. The only thing to be aware of when ordering is that these shorts run small, so make sure to order up a size or you’ll be disappointed.

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Craft Belle Glow Women’s Bike Shorts: Best for Hot Days

craft belle glow womens bike shorts

For hot days, the Craft Belle Glow is a top-pick. The fabric is lightweight and the shorts have breathable panels on the sides. We found that these were the kind of shorts you could put on and forget you were wearing bike shorts! While these shorts are a bit more expensive, in our experience Craft makes highly-durable long-lasting pieces that make them well worth the investment.

Price & Where to Buy:

  • $120 at REI.com
  • Check price at Amazon.com

Co-Op Cycles Road Shorts: Best for Plus-Sized Ladies

co op womens bike shorts

For curvy ladies and those with thicker thighs, we love the Co-Op Cycles (REI brand) short. It fits bigger ladies well and comes in two different versions–one with a 6.5″ inseam and one with a 9″ inseam–so you can pick whichever length you prefer. For ladies with narrower thighs, we don’t recommend these shorts as the leg bands run pretty loose.

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Pearl Izumi Attack Short: Best Budget Bike Short

pearl izumi womens attack short

The Pearl Izumi Attack short is a no-frills, get her done kinda short. For a super reasonable price, these shorts are a perfect entry-level bike short. They have a nice wide waistband that stays in place and prevents plumber crack, and a comfortable chamois. They also come in a wide variety of sizes so are a good pick for all sizes and body types.

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Fox Racing Women’s Switchback Comp Bib Shorts: Best for On- and Off- Road

fox womens bibs

The Fox women’s bibs were a new find for me. These shorts are REALLY cute, and I got tons of compliments when I wore them. I did find that they don’t have the same level of compression of some other bike shorts, so if you like TIGHT, these probably aren’t the right bibs for you. That said, they are lightweight, good for summer riding, and have super comfortable shoulder straps.

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Terry Bicycles Bella Short: Best All-Around Bike Short

terry bella womens bike shorts

We don’t know anybody who has tried Terry’s Bella bike short and not liked it. From a company that designs solely for women, the Bella short is an all-around winner. The waistband is super comfortable, the legs stay put, and the padding is magical. These shorts are also durable even with frequent wear. In fact, I have a pair that I wore for close to five years before they wore out.

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Pearl Izumi Escape Sugar: Best “Short” Shorts

pearl izumi escape sugar womens bike shorts

If you’re looking for a “short” short, the Sugar short is one of our faves. It works well you want to wear it alone or under a skirt or gym shorts. It’s not the best pick for LONG days in the saddle, but is ideal for spin class, avoiding ugly tan lines, and wearing under your favorite bike skirt when you want to look cute.

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Tips for Buying (and Wearing) Women’s Cycling Shorts

Don’t Wear Underwear

If you’re new to cycling, you might not know yet: you’re not supposed to wear underwear with padded bike shorts. Really. Yes, I know that might seem weird, but trust me. Cycling shorts are designed to be worn without anything underneath and if you do wear underwear, you’re gonna end up with extra bulk, chafing, and even saddle sores.

What’s a Chamois?

A chamois is the pad inside your bike shorts.  It provides cushioning and helps prevent chafing and saddle sores.  We recommend choosing a women’s-specific short rather than a men’s short because the chamois will be better designed for a woman’s anatomy.  A women’s chamois is wider at the rear (because our sit bones are wider) and provides more soft tissue support.

bike chamois

What You Should Look for in a Chamois

If you are new to cycling, you may just assume that the more padding a short has the better off you will be.  This isn’t necessarily true.  A chamois that is too bulky will feel like a diaper (not comfortable), and can actually cause rather than prevent saddle sores and other discomforts.  We tend to choose a moderately padded chamois–one that isn’t too thin or too thick.

Of course, a chamois is also a highly personal thing.  Some ladies like more padding, some like less.  You may have to try a few different pairs of shorts until you discover the chamois that works just right for your body.  For shorter rides, indoor spin classes, and hot days, a thin chamois is ideal.  For longer century rides and week-long tours, you’re probably going to want something a little thicker.

Another thing to look at it when buying a pair of shorts is the stitching around the chamois.  Bad stitching can be the worst!  Look for flatlock sewing around the edges of the chamois, and feel it to make sure that it feels smooth.  If you pick one of the shorts on this list, don’t worry about the stitching; we’ve already picked shorts with chamois with high-quality seams.

stitching on bike chamois

Bib Shorts versus Regular Waist Bike Shorts

Cyclists generally fall into two categories: those who love bibs and will wear nothing else, and those who think they’re a pain. In general, bibs tend to be more comfortable. They don’t have a waistband to dig into your tummy while you ride, and they help you avoid that dreaded gap between your shorts and jersey where your muffin top can spill out. The one big drawback to bibs is that they are more challenging to change in and out of, and for women, make bathroom breaks considerably more difficult. That said, we’ve included some bibs on this list that have been designed to help make those pit-stops a little easier.

Leg Bands and Waist Bands

Secondary only to the chamois, leg bands and waistbands can make or break a bike short.  We like waistbands that don’t cut into our skin, but that also doesn’t sag.  Nobody wants plumber crack.  Leg bands are also important.  Most bike shorts have a silicone leg band or other grippy material.  This helps keep bike shorts in place so you don’t have to keep constantly pulling them down.

bike shorts leg grippers

Other Ways to Keep Your Butt Happy

A good bike short is one of the best ways to keep your bum and soft tissue areas happy, but it’s not the only way.  We also recommend picking a good saddle and using chamois cream.

 

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