If you’ve had any experience cycling, you know that padded bike shorts are key to a comfortable ride. The best bike shorts for women are designed specifically for all female shapes and curves. A chamois that does not fit the female form well (no matter how plush) leads to chafing, saddle sores, and a miserable ride. Unisex bike shorts just won’t do, even if they include a chamois. The best women’s bike shorts feel like a part of you, and you should feel as comfortable wearing them as you are in your own skin. But shopping for bike shorts isn’t the only time to be thinking about how they feel. In the saddle, your bike shorts should fit so well that you don’t even notice them. The small details can make a big difference in the comfort of your shorts, so don’t settle. If you need recommendations, we’ve picked 10 of the best padded bike shorts for women that you’re sure to love.
What to look for in women’s padded bike shorts
- A female-specific chamois: There’s no additional layer between you and your chamois, so it should be designed to conform to your anatomy. It should be dense and not bulky, but thicker in the right places. The women’s chamois is shorter than men’s and wider and denser in the sit bone region. The chamois is a shock absorber and should provide padded protection around a female’s most sensitive areas.
- Moisture-wicking, breathable material: Lycra or polyester are the most popular materials for bike shorts because they give form-fitting comfort and have moisture-wicking benefits. They keep your sweat under control and still keep you cool.
- Compression: Bike shorts should be snug but not uncomfortable. Baggie bike shorts don’t offer much-needed compression for tired muscles and may bunch and give you saddle sores. Bike shorts are better tighter rather than too droopy, so size down if needed.
- Leg grips: Leg grips keep your bike shorts from riding up, bunching, and digging into your skin. But the grips shouldn’t be so tight that they dig into your skin.
- Sun protection: Built-in sunblock isn’t essential, but it’s certainly a great benefit for long-distance cyclists who spend hours in the sunshine.
- Panels: Bike shorts constructed with panels are usually high-quality. They provide a more precise fit to your form in the saddle, and panels are great at contouring curves.
Should you buy women’s bike shorts or bib shorts?
Before you shop for a pair of bike shorts, you should decide if you prefer traditional bike shorts or bib shorts. Weigh the pros and cons of bike shorts vs. bib shorts and decide which you feel most comfortable wearing. Bib shorts have shoulder straps that make your shorts and chamois more secure and eliminate the discomfort of a waistband, but they’re also harder to take on and off than bike shorts. Many long-distance female cyclists swear by bib shorts, but bike shorts are simpler and leave your shoulders unrestrained.
10 Best Padded Bike Shorts for Women
Best women’s padded bike shorts overall: Hincapie Women’s Momentum Bike Short
There are a lot of great features packed into the Women’s Momentum Bike Short at a great value that make it worthy of “best overall.” It’s one of our most breathable and moisture-wicking designs, using CoolFlash and SolarGuard technologies for sweat resistance and sun protection. This versatile short is great for both road and recreational riders. It has our signature Gel-Grip band to hold your shorts securely in place, and Hincapie reflective logos for safer early morning and evening rides. The Momentum short is designed with a soft 2-hour chamois made of memory foam to give every woman a close and custom fit.
Best women’s bike shorts for comfort: Terry Bella Short
Terry Bicycles designs cycling clothes only for women, and the Terry Bella short is one of the most comfortable women’s cycling shorts on the market. These shorts are silky soft and stylish, so you’ll be comfortable on and off the saddle. You can choose between brightly colored or black stitching to suit your cycling style. The Bella shorts have a nice balance of compression and breathability and are constructed with a 4-way stretch chamois that moves with you.
Best padded bike shorts for long rides: Hincapie Women’s Power Short
Equipped with a 4–8 hour chamois, the Hincapie Women’s Power short is made to empower you on long rides. For maximum comfort over a long duration, we’ve completely eliminated seams from the shorts so there’s no risk of them cutting into your skin. Its thoroughly tested design provides the perfect level of compression without restricting your movement. You can expect a lot of sweat on a long ride, so the Power short is made of a moisture-wicking Lycra that reflects heat away from the body to keep you feeling dry the entire ride.
Best women’s high-waisted cycling shorts: Castelli Prima Short
The Castelli Prima shorts sit well above the hips and comfortably grip the waistline, so you won’t worry about them slipping down and showing skin. The Prima’s chamois is created for long rides, and the ProDry fabric wicks moisture quickly and cools your skin. Instead of adhering reflective patches to the shorts, Castelli strategically stitched them to last longer. The Prima women’s short is a performance short at a great price point.
Best padded bike shorts with pockets: Rapha Women’s Core Cargo Shorts
Bike shorts with pockets are few and far between, especially ones that are flattering. But Rapha Women’s Core Cargo Shorts feature two pockets and do it well. But it’s not only the number of pockets that make these shorts stand out; it’s their design. The pockets, one on each leg, are made of a super-stretchy mesh that easily expands to fit an extra item or snack, and they are positioned on the thighs for convenient access. They’ll hold your phone securely as you pedal and allow you to slip it in and out with ease. The shorts also feature an updated design to the chamois that’s thicker in the sit bone area for lasting comfort.
Best women’s bib shorts overall: Hincapie Women’s Lenfer du Nord Bib Short
The Hincapie Lenfer du Nord Bib Shorts are a great choice for a race or weekend ride. They have a 4-6 hour chamois that provides wide support for your sit bones. The ProGrip leg bands keep the shorts from riding up no matter how fast your speed or how steep the climb is. These shorts have 3 pockets, giving you plenty of storage space for whatever you might need to pack for your ride. A fun, colorful stripe gives these shorts a little extra flair.
Best women’s bib shorts for long distances: Hincapie Women’s Competition Bib Short
It wasn’t easy choosing just one Hincapie bib short design as “best for long distances,” but the Women’s Competition Bib short deserves recognition for its low-profile straps that are easy to remove. Complicated straps are the most common complaint about bib shorts among female cyclists, especially on long rides where bathroom breaks are necessary. But the straps on the Competition shorts slip on and off the should with ease. A mesh panel covers the tummy for extra breathability. The 6-8 hour Century chamois is ultra-dense, so you can keep going without discomfort. These shorts also feature a wide, secure leg band and UV protection. These sleek shorts are designed to help you stand out from the competition.
Best padded bike shorts for Peloton: Peloton x Hincapie Women’s Cycling Short
Peloton partnered with Hincapie to create the best performance shorts for indoor cycling. These shorts are completely seamless, and the chamois includes a relief channel, so you can expect lasting comfort. These shorts also include the Hincapie Gel-Grip band so your shorts won’t budge while riding. The Peleton shorts are our most stylish option, combining a great fit and a great look. The logos add fun pops of color to the black shorts.
Best women’s bike shorts for mountain biking: Patagonia Women’s Dirt Roamer Mountain Bike Shorts
The Patagonia Roamer MTB Shorts are lightweight and durable–perfect for hot and dirty days on the trail. These shorts are made of super-stretchy recycled polyester and spandex, which make them extremely comfy for hard-core pedaling. These MTB shorts have a slimmer cut than most, which helps them stay in place and prevent chafing. The asymmetrical cut protects your legs from the waist to the knees without bunching. The Dirt Roamer shorts come in sizes for all women, from 0 to 18.
Best padded bike shorts on a budget: Women’s Attack Pearl iZumi
The Women’s Attack Pearl iZumi is a great high-quality short for a less-than-average cost. The waist is designed to compress the sides and back without cutting into your stomach, causing discomfort and restricting movement. You’ll have no problem keeping these shorts up on long rides. The chamois is a bit bulky but still very comfortable, and the seamlines have been reduced in the most recent design. The Attack Pearl iZumi shorts are an awesome budget buy for endurance rides.
Bonus budget bike shorts: Baleaf Women’s Cycling Shorts
If you don’t plan on cycling long distances or are only planning to take an occasional spin class, you may not want to invest in high-quality bike shorts designed for performance. If that’s you, the Baleaft women’s cycling shorts on Amazon might be sufficient. They have gel padding, a wide waistband, leg grips, and even a pocket. You’ll get a lot of nice features without a high price tag, but these shorts would not be the best option for long distances or long-term cycling.
After you’ve found the best women’s bike shorts for you, make sure you size them properly and try them on before committing. Cycling shorts may feel great standing, but how they feel in the saddle matters most. Learn how to size your bike shorts and how to wear your bike shorts.
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