If you’re a female cyclist, then you appreciate the great outdoors or the thrill of a spin class. Comfort is of the utmost importance, which is why having the right women’s cycling shorts improves your riding experiences.
Women’s cycling shorts are designed to balance function and comfort. Strategically placed padding, breathable material, and leg-friendly seams combine to create a better riding experience. They also reduce chafing and provide compression support to promote circulation while cycling. Considering the length of a ride or intensity of a spin class, quality women’s cycling shorts are worth buying to fully enjoy your experience.
Invest in one — or a few — pairs of quality women’s cycling shorts for your favorite activity with help from our buying guide. We’re including our favorite pair, the Louis Garneau Women’s Fit Sensor 5.5 Bike Shorts, which boast ergonomic padding styles and competitor-grade construction.
What to know before you buy women’s cycling shorts
Main design elements
- Gender: Given their distinct fit, it’s recommended to purchase women’s cycling shorts instead of unisex ones. They’re properly contoured to fit a woman’s anatomy. If you’re fussy about seams and waistbands, you’ll have a better selection to find a comfortable pair.
- Bibs: A variation on women’s cycling shorts are bibs, which are essentially short biking overalls. The materials and design goals of bibs are the same; though some people say they’re more difficult to remove than traditional shorts.
Some shorts have a tighter fit and higher grade of compression, which are ideal for long-distance riders. Casual riders, on the other hand, benefit from less form-fitting shorts that are versatile enough to wear as you transition between rides to other activities.
A major consideration when choosing women’s cycling shorts is how much padding you prefer. You’ll want an amount of padding that is comfortable without obstructing your sitting position.
- Thin: Opt for thin padding if you’re a triathlete, casual rider, or are only riding short distances. You’ll also be able to engage in other activities without the bulkiness of thick padding.
- Thick: If you’re a long-distance or competitive cyclist, thick padding will provide the most comfort during extended periods of riding, especially because your bike seat likely isn’t padded.
What to look for in quality women’s cycling shorts
Women’s cycling shorts hover around the area of the knee to mid-thigh, depending on how tall you are. The type of riding should also be considered when choosing shorts. Long styles are generally preferred for long-distance riding, whereas short ones are ideal for spin classes and triathlons.
Women’s cycling shorts are usually made from flexible material blends with degrees of elasticity, like Lycra, nylon, and spandex. The majority of shorts are moisture-wicking, which is ideal when you work up a sweat. Some styles also feature protective technology, including UPF, reflective logos, or antibacterial properties.
The most traditional color for women’s cycling shorts is black; though if you’re looking for a bit of flair, there are plenty of styles in different colors. Some people opt for brighter colors to increase their visibility to motorists.
How much you can expect to spend on women’s cycling shorts
Women’s cycling shorts cost between $20-$200. The high end of the range is geared toward serious riders and competitors, so if you’re a more casual cyclist, you’ll be able to find a quality pair for about $50.
Women’s cycling shorts FAQ
Q. Can I still use a padded bike seat with padded women’s cycling shorts?
A. Absolutely, because you should be as comfortable as possible during your ride. You may wish to change to a different level of padding in your bike seat depending on the padding in the shorts. It’s not unusual for cyclists to have more than one style of shorts and bike seats.
Q. I’m often uncomfortable with the elastic waistband in activewear bottoms, so how do I find women’s cycling shorts that work for me?
A. Opt for high-waisted shorts with a wide waistband. These designs spread out the tension of the elastic without losing any fit quality, and sometimes they have interior grips to keep the band from rolling down your midsection.
What are the best women’s cycling shorts to buy?
Top women’s cycling short
What you should know: A top-rated pick from cyclists, these shorts are ideal for cycling of all types, from long-distance to spin class.
What you’ll love : Quality compression, a high level of breathability, and impressive padding make for a comfortable ride.
What you should consider: Not ideal for taller riders, and some people found the shorts to be bothersome because they rode up the thigh.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top women’s cycling short for money
What you should know: All-around value with good quality in construction and gel padding.
What you’ll love: Surprising quality considering the price, so cyclists often buy multiple pairs. The material stays in place, and gel padding provides an appropriately cushioned cycling experience.
What you should consider: Shorts are cut a bit narrow, particularly near the bottom of the leg. Location of padding makes it comfortable only in upright riding positions.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you should know: Minimalist design ideal for the cyclists who only want modest padding. Decent price point.
What you’ll love: Extended length for full coverage with grippers at the leg opening to keep shorts in place.
What you should consider: Shorts don’t pass the squat test, and they acquire holes from wear and tear earlier than expected.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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