Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular sport these days. Whether you love going to your local spin class, love entering race days and competitions, or simply love spending time outdoors on weekend rides, cycling really is for everyone. It increases fitness, energy levels, strength and stamina, and it is also a great way to relax and unwind.
However, many female cyclists will attest that it can be a rather uncomfortable passtime if you don’t have the right gear. Investing in female specific saddles and bike frames can really alleviate unwanted aches and pains, but wearing the right bike shorts is a less known cycling hack.
Think about it, your bum is the one area of your body which comes into contact with your bike most regularly (other than your hands that is), and making sure that it feels cushioned and supported is paramount to your comfort, enjoyment and overall performance.
No one can achieve their best possible time whilst thinking about their sore derriere!
A good pair of women’s bike shorts are supple yet supportive, cushioned yet not over-padded, and have phone-friendly pockets for your everyday needs. We have put together a list of the best picks from Amazon, as well as a comprehensive buyer’s guide, so you can know what to look out for when making your choice.
Ready? On your marks, get set, let’s go!
Best Bike Shorts For Women
OUR TOP PICK
First up we have these fantastic bike shorts by Beroy, and it is no wonder that they are best sellers on Amazon. These shorts snatch our ‘Best Over All’ prize because they combine affordability with quality.
The mid-weight fabric is firm enough to provide support and make you feel snug, but it doesn’t cut off the circulation to your thighs as you ride. The mesh cloth panels increase flexibility, range of motion and breathability (and they look cool too!).
But the best thing about these shorts is the three layered chamois design which is moisture wicking, cushioned and antimicrobial.
There is a wide range of chamois options available, so you can choose the size, shape and thickness that best suits your body and riding style. This kind of adjustability sets these shorts above the competition!
- Seamless, flexible chamois
- Well placed padding to alleviate pressure
- Variable chamois thickness so you can adapt to your form
- Mid-weight, supple fabric for ease of motion
- Affordable price
- No zippered pocket
For those of you who are serious about your cycling and are willing to spend an extra buck for the optimum gear, these bib shorts by Pearl Izumi are fantastic.
No, these shorts do not come in a range of fun designs, but the quality of the elite transfer, in-r-cool fabric is second to none. The coldblack fabric reflects sun rays away from your body and helps to keep you cool as you ride.
The laser-cut seams make for a light-as-air feel so the transfer between skin and fabric is smooth and streamlined. This aids performance and is great for those who love to ride fast.
The bib straps mean these shorts stay securely in place and do not slip down as you move. Luckily they also have a drop back design which means going to the loo is not a hassle either. Now that is worth paying a premium for!
- Cooling, sun reflective fabric
- Seamless design for streamlined transition to skin
- Lightweight, barely there feel
- Convenient drop-back design
- Smooth, light and flexible chamois
- Zippered back pocket for phone storage
- Bib straps prevent slippage
- Only available in black
If you are new to cycling and don’t want to spend a fortune before you feel confident then these budget bike shorts by Zuty are an affordable option.
They are flattering on the figure thanks to the high waisted, tummy control design, and the compression fabric means there is no camel toe in sight!
These shorts have two hidden pockets which are ideal for storing your phone and small items as you ride. We love that they are available in a range of funky patterns and can double up as yoga shorts if desired.
The only downside is that these shorts do not have a chamois so are not suitable for long rides.
- Affordable price tag
- Four-way stretch, compression fabric
- Non see through fabric
- No camel toe design
- Two hidden pockets for storage
- No chamois in these shorts
BEST FOR HOT WEATHER
If you love to cycle in beautiful, sunny destinations, then you will really appreciate these Eco-Daily bike shorts that are perfect for hot weather.
The polyester-spandex blend fabric is super stretchy and hugs the body well, but it is also highly breathable and moisture wicking. This means sweat and clamminess are absorbed away from the skin to keep you cool and comfortable. Phew!
The shorts have a clever silicone grip system embedded in the leg bands, which stops the legs from rucking up as you ride. This is especially handy when you get sweaty.
The 4D foam chamois is padded generously to alleviate pressure and chafing around the sit bones and derriere. Best of all, the use of flat seams to stitch the chamois into place minimizes friction further and results in a really smooth and comfortable fit.
- Lightweight, breathable fabric
- Flat seams to minimize chafing
- Silicone grip leg band for anti-slip comfort
- 4D foam chamois for protection and comfort
- Short leg design fits beneath any shorts and skirts
- No pockets
- Low waistband can slip down
BEST FOR INDOOR CYCLING
If you are a spinning class fanatic, then these Terry Club bike shorts could be the best choice for you. They have quick drying fabric and a lighter density chamois specifically to benefit indoor cycling.
The whisper-light chamois is made from light fleece so that it does not impede other activities at the gym. This means these bike shorts are really versatile and great for those who love to hop on the treadmill and cross trainer after they’ve hit the bikes.
The fast drying fabric keeps you cool and comfortable in an indoor environment and stops your body becoming cold between activities.
These Terry Club shorts also have a handy side pocket with zip closure which is the perfect size for keeping a locker key in whilst at the gym.
The leg bands have no-slip elastic sewn into the hem and the waistband is high and strong for great snugness and support.
- Whisper-light, lightly padded chamois
- Quick-dry fabric keeps to dry and cool
- 9 inch seam for more leg coverage
- Zippered side pocket for key storage at the gym
- Elastic hemline so legs don’t ride up
- Need delicate washing regime to maintain quality
BEST FOR STORAGE
And finally, these Dealyork bike shorts have the best zipper pocket we have seen. The placement of the pocket on the back of the shorts creates minimum bulk and restricts movement far less than side pockets do.
The pocket is deep enough to hold a 6’’ phone, so great for those who have larger devices. The zipper is reliable and well sewn and can handle being opened and closed repeatedly without catching, snagging or weakening.
These shorts also boast a very thickly padded chamois which means they are ideal for road biking, mountain biking and even motor biking.
No matter how bumpy things might get, your bum and undercarriage will feel well protected by the 3D foam and well positioned pads.
We love the fun, vibrant design of these shorts, not only because it looks great, but also because it makes you highly visible to cars and other road users.
The only downside is that the fabric can appear see-through at the sides if over stretched. To avoid this, buy a little bigger than you otherwise would.
- Large, zippered back pocket, for phone, keys and card
- Mesh soft, high quality fabric for support and stretch
- 3D foam chamois with thick padding on bum
- Anti-slip leg bands for no rucking and bunching as you ride
- Fun, vibrant design
- Fabric semi-see through if over stretched
Best Bike Shorts For Women Buying Guide
Having checked out our selection of best bike shorts for women, here are a few considerations you should bear in mind before you decide which are the best fit for you.
Length of Leg
Bike shorts come in various lengths, from super short, mid-thigh, and knee length. The length of leg will affect how warm you get whilst cycling, and will also provide differing amounts of protection from sun, spray and possible scratches.
If you love to cycle in hot, summery weather, short shorts are the best option. Knee length shorts will provide the best protection and coverage for those who love mountain biking. If in doubt, a mid-thigh leg length is the safest option.
Top Tip: Be sure that your shorts have silicone grip around the leg collar so that the fabric does not slip up as your skin gets sweaty.
Getting The Right Chamois
Surely the most important consideration for female cyclists is the thickness of your chamois. Chamois come in various densities depending on your shape, size and cycling style.
A thick, padded chamois is best for long rides where pressure on the undercarriage builds up. However, a thick chamois will feel bulky and hot if you are on a shorter, faster ride. In this instance, a thinner pad is better.
More important than thickness is positioning. If you are a cyclist who leans forward on the handlebars then you will need more padding towards the front of the chamois. If you tend to sit upright whilst riding, your padding will be better placed further back.
Check out the brands sizing chart and chamois information before buying any bike shorts. It is always best to measure up down there (even if it's awkward), as every woman is different and the width of your sit bones will dictate how wide your chamois should be.
Get the fit of your chamois right and it will make all the difference to your comfort, enjoyment and performance. Get it wrong, and it can actually cause more discomfort and chaffing.
Thickness Of Fabric
The thickness of your bike shorts will affect the amount of support they provide. For long cycles you will want a thinner, lighter fabric which does not cause your muscles more resistance than necessary.
However for short intensive cycles and gym sessions, thick fabrics can help to support your muscles and improve technique.
Note: The thickness of the fabric will also affect your temperature so consider where you will be riding and choose accordingly.
Height Of Waistband
It may sound frivolous but the height of your bike shorts’ waistband is not just a fashion choice. A high waistband provides greater support to your lower back and core, which is very important on long, arduous rides.
It also tends to be much more comfortable for cyclists as you don’t have to keep adjusting your shorts and pulling them up as they ride down. The risk of showing a builder’s bum to the world is also greatly reduced by high-waisted shorts.
Having a hidden pocket in your bike shorts is really helpful as it provides a pouch for your phone or keys whilst you ride. However, don’t be beguiled by shorts with tonnes of pockets.
Cycling requires you to be streamlined and burdenfree, and multiple pockets on your legs will detract from this. In general, one pocket on the back of your shorts is the best.
Pockets without zippers are also unhelpful because items can easily fall out as your legs and body move about on the bike.
Note: It is better to invest in a fanny pack that can safely store more things if you have lots to carry.
To Bib Or Not To Bib
Bike shorts with a bib are becoming more and more popular because of the performance enhancing qualities they offer. They are streamlined and eliminate any risk of slippage as you ride. Many serious cyclists are opting for bib shorts, but there are a few drawbacks to mention.
Firstly, bib shorts tend to be more expensive than normal bike shorts, so if the budget is limited you might want to hold off. Secondly, going to the toilet can be more of a mission in one of these garments, so try to go for bib shorts with an easy access design!
Finally, a top tip about the quality of bike shorts is that the more panels they have the better they are. Top quality shorts have multiple, ergonomically shaped fabric panels with robust seams.
Seamless bike shorts might look smooth and flattering but are actually less supportive and well fitted. So rather than price, look for panels!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Wear Underwear With Bike Shorts?
You do not need to wear underwear with bike shorts. This is because most good quality shorts have been designed to keep your undercarriage as padded as it needs to be. Panties will add unnecessary bulk, weight and warmth down there.
Most chamois are breathable, moisture wicking and antimicrobial, so keep your lower regions cool, dry and bacteria-free. A pair of panties will only get in the way of these features and hinder their effectiveness.
Do I Need Padded Bike Shorts?
In general, padded bike shorts are a great idea for any female cyclist. The comfort and relief that a chamois provides is widely agreed to be a total game changer for female cyclists, and prevents pressure build-up, chafing and sores from developing.
Of course, if you are simply riding your bike to the grocery store then padded bike shorts are not necessary.
Do I Need Chamois Cream?
Chamois cream is generally needed for cyclists who are going long distances, as it prevents friction, abrasion and chafing from occurring in the under region.
However, a small, pea-sized amount of chamois cream is all that you need. If you over apply the cream you can risk causing more chafing as you slip about down there.
How Often Should I Wash Bike Shorts?
Bike shorts should be washed after every journey. As they are worn without underwear, and are designed to absorb sweat and moisture, they need to be cleaned after each use.
Not washing your bike shorts can lead to bad odours developing, and can even lead to infections from the transfer of bacteria.
Top tip: you can extend the life of your bike shorts by washing them on a gentle cycle and leaving them to air dry. Rigorous machine washing and tumble drying will cause the elasticity and fabrics to degrade more quickly.
Can You Wear Bike Shorts For A Triathlon?
It is not advisable to wear padded bike shorts for a triathlon as the chamois is thick and will get very wet and soggy during the swim section of the event. A soaked chamois will slow you down in the water and cause discomfort and chafing.
Instead, specifically designed triathlon shorts are a better option. They have quick drying, thinner chamois. In certain triathlons (like ironman / ironwoman), changing points are provided so that competitors can change gear between events. In these cases, bike shorts can be worn.