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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

27 Models Considered
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238 Consumers Consulted
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best women's cycling shorts

Last Updated June 2019

Cycling is a great way to stay fit, explore nature or your community and get from one place to another. But bike seats aren't always the most comfortable, and if you plan on a long ride, you could experience painful chafing if you're wearing regular shorts.

That's why experienced female bikers choose cycling shorts designed specifically for them to help reduce the risk of chafing and improve their overall comfort while they ride. Women's cycling shorts are available in a variety of fits and styles and choosing the right one isn't always easy, especially if you're new to cycling and aren't sure which features are the most important.

Here's a short guide to walk you through all the key factors, so you can ride in style and comfort. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at some of our top picks.

You may need to try several pairs of cycling shorts to find the ones that have the padding in the right place for you. This will depend in part on how much you lean over your bike while riding.

Key considerations

Design

It's best to purchase cycling shorts that are specifically designed for your gender, as opposed to unisex shorts. This is because women's cycling shorts have more padding in different places to better support you while you ride. Unisex cycling shorts may be better than nothing, but they probably won't be as comfortable.

You'll also need to decide between cycling shorts or bibs. You pull on cycling shorts just like regular shorts, and some prefer these because they're easier to take on and off. However, they can slide down while you ride, which is not only uncomfortable, but also exposes your lower back to the sun, causing sunburn. Bibs are better at staying in place, but they're more cumbersome to take on and off, and they can make going to the bathroom more difficult.

Fit

You're probably used to seeing bike shorts that are tight-fitting and hug the body. These are great for long bike trips because they're more aerodynamic, but they don't transition as well from biking to other activities. If you want bike shorts that don't look as much like traditional bike shorts, go with a baggier design. These cycling shorts may also have pockets, so you can store small items while you ride.

Padding

The pads in women's cycling shorts are known as "chamois." Some are thicker than others or have more padding in different places. A thicker chamois may reduce or eliminate any discomfort you feel from sitting on a bike seat for hours at a time, but it could also leave you feeling like you're wearing a diaper, especially when you're off the bike. If you don't intend to ride for long periods of time or if you're a triathlete, you're better off going with a thinner chamois that provides some support without making you feel uncomfortable when you're not riding.

EXPERT TIP

If you wear cycling shorts often, you may get a tan line where the shorts end. You can avoid this by switching between shorts with a shorter inseam and ones with a longer inseam.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Triathlon athletes should choose cycling shorts with a smaller chamois that dries quickly so that it won't feel uncomfortable or cause chafing while you run.


Staff  | BestReviews

Additional features

Length

Cycling shorts are available in several different lengths. Longer cycling shorts that end just above the knee typically stay in place better while you ride and can prevent inner-thigh chafing, but some may not find these longer shorts as comfortable. If you only need them for a triathlon or a spin class, you can probably get by with cycling shorts that have a shorter inseam.

Materials

The majority of women's cycling shorts are made from Lycra, which is a durable, stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric that can help keep you cool and comfortable while you ride. It's essential that you choose a fabric that's durable so that it won't tear or grow see-through over time.

Some chamois contain antibacterial qualities to prevent the growth of bacteria that can lead to saddle sores or other issues. This is worth looking into if you bike often or for long distances at a time. It may not be as necessary if you only bike occasionally over short distances.

Comfort

Cycling shorts are designed to increase your comfort while riding, but fitted shorts may become uncomfortable if they're too tight around the waist or the legs. Everyone's body shape is different, so it's difficult to know how a pair of cycling shorts will fit you until you try them out.

Some cycling shorts contain gel grips around the legs that can help ease chafing and hold the shorts in place while you bike, so this is also something worth looking into if you plan to bike often or for long distances.

Color and style

Black is the most versatile color for women's cycling shorts, because you can wear it with anything. But there are cycling shorts available in every color of the rainbow and a variety of patterns. One of these may be a better option if you prefer shorts that reflect your personal style.

Some women's cycling shorts are actually skorts (that is, a skirt with built-in shorts underneath). Not everyone will be interested in these, but they can be a great way to dress up the look of traditional cycling shorts.

Most cycling shorts include flat seams to help prevent chafing while you ride.

Staff
BestReviews

Women’s cycling shorts prices

Women's cycling shorts range in price from around $20 to over $200. While they're all designed to do more or less the same thing, higher-end cycling shorts tend to have high-tech padding that provides better comfort without being too bulky. They also tend to hold up better over the long-term. But it's up to you to decide how much you feel you need to spend on cycling shorts.

If you only ride occasionally, you can probably find a decent pair for $50 or less. But if you intend to bike often and cover long distances, you're better off investing in high-quality shorts costing at least $50 or more.

Tips

  • Consider purchasing multiple pairs of cycling shorts if you ride often, so you'll always have a clean pair.

  • Wash your cycling shorts after every ride to prevent the buildup of odors and bacteria.

  • Cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear. Wearing regular underwear with cycling shorts could cause chafing.

  • Some cycling shorts may run large or small. Always check the manufacturer's sizing chart before you buy to be sure that you're ordering the correct size.

Other products we considered

The Eco-Daily Women's Cycling Shorts are available in nine colors and patterns. Users report that they fit well and allow a full range of motion while still providing the padding needed for long bike rides. The fabric is lightweight and moisture-wicking, and it contains silicone grips around the legs to help the shorts stay in place while you ride. Most say the cycling shorts fit as expected and the manufacturer includes a detailed size chart to help you determine the right size for you.

The CYCEOS Women's Cycling Shorts are available in two different lengths and a number of patterns. Users rave about how comfortable the 4-D padding in the shorts is and how well they stay in place thanks to the silicone grips around the legs. The elastic waistband does a great job of keeping the shorts from sliding down, even on long rides. Most users say the shorts fit as expected, and there's a size chart to help you choose the right one.

It's important that your cycling shorts are made from a breathable fabric or they could cause excessive sweating, which may be uncomfortable.

FAQ

Q. What's the advantage of wearing cycling shorts?
A.
Cycling shorts can significantly improve your comfort while you ride your bike, reducing chafing and cushioning you against the hard bike seat. While you certainly don't need cycling shorts to ride a bike, most who try them never want to ride without them again.

Q. How should I wash my cycling shorts?
A.
Generally, it's usually best to wash them in the washing machine to be sure that all bacteria that may be lurking is eliminated, but you should allow them to air dry whenever possible to help the shorts last for longer. Always check with the manufacturer to see if it has specific washing instructions for the shorts you're considering.

Q. What type of cycling shorts are best for those who bike often?
A.
Choose well-made, high-end cycling shorts that have thicker padding and stay in place well. This may mean spending $50 or more on a pair of cycling shorts, but you'll get your money's worth if you wear them often.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ana
    Ana
    Writer
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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