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Buying guide for Best biker shorts for women

Women have been cycling competitively since the 1950s, but biker shorts and other gear designed specifically for female cyclists first debuted in the 1990s. Once an overlooked clothing item, biker shorts are now the garment of choice not just for cyclists but for any athlete looking for comfortable performance wear.

Biker shorts can be worn to yoga class, on summer jogs, walking with friends, or simply while hanging out. Some styles are also great-looking casual wear that can be worn for a bike ride and then out to dinner at a local bistro without a clothing change in between.

Compression shorts are available with different levels of compression, from thin, light-compression liners to thick, high-compression performance shorts.

Key considerations

Style vs. function

Biker shorts are as much a fashion statement as they are a sports accessory. Because of this, many variations on the original style of biker shorts exist. It’s normal to see biker-style shorts being worn in yoga classes, by runners and walkers, while weight training, and more. Plus, fashion today is even more casual than the athleisure trend that got many of us into leggings full-time. Biker shorts are cool, comfortable, and supportive. For a busy day darting between college classes or running errands, they may be ideal.

Our advice: don’t choose biker shorts based on color or cut alone. Make sure you review the specifications, too, so you know whether the shorts meet your functional requirements.


As with any sports-oriented garment, biker shorts need to wick sweat away from the skin. This keeps you cool. The fabric should encourage sweat to evaporate, rather than absorbing it. This is a key difference between all-cotton clothing and breathable fabric blends. Cotton soaks up sweat, but it retains that liquid and gradually becomes soggy, subsequently losing its shape and rubbing against the skin. In no time, you may find your thighs painfully chafing in all-cotton biker shorts. This is not only uncomfortable, but it can also drastically reduce your performance and possibly put you out of action for days in order to heal.

The best biker shorts tend to be made of synthetic fabric blends that encourage air circulation while simultaneously pulling sweat away from the skin and allowing the moisture to evaporate.

Anti-chafing elements

Chafing is the bane of many bikers’ lives, whether they are elite cyclists or weekend warriors. Cyclists are at risk of chafing from the waist to the middle of the thighs. Extreme mileage can cause hot spots and saddle sores where your body meets the bike saddle. Spin cyclists suffer many of the same issues, even though they may spend only an hour per day in the saddle. If you are getting biker shorts specifically for cycling, look for three key elements: fit, padding, and compression.

  • Fit: Biker shorts for women differ from men’s biker shorts at the waistline; they taper to a slimmer fit. Biker shorts for women should conform to your body as closely as possible to reduce fabric slippage and chafing.
  • Padding: Bicycle saddles are optimized to support the rider and are shaped to the contours of the bones at the base of the pelvis. While eliminating pain during pedaling, this isn’t the most comfortable configuration for long bike rides. Padded shorts have built-in chamois padding that provides a few extra millimeters of durable cushioning.
  • Compression: Biker shorts should provide a degree of compression to help stimulate blood flow, aiding in muscle performance during exercise and recovery afterward.
Did You Know?
Biker short fabric has evolved from natural wool to synthetic fibers, particularly Lycra, which was introduced several decades ago.



The most popular biker shorts for cyclists are compression shorts, which provide all-around comfort. They reduce chafing by staying close to the skin and wicking away sweat. Most include chamois padding to provide an extra layer of comfort in the saddle. They’re available in different compression levels, too.

Bib compression shorts have suspender straps. Cyclists favor this style if they need shorts that will stay in place during long rides.

Skinsuits are a performance style that takes the bib concept even further by attaching a jersey top to compression shorts. A disadvantage of bib and skinsuit biker shorts is that they can be cumbersome and annoying to remove during bathroom breaks.

Mixing comfort with style, baggy biker shorts typically have a built-in padded liner. They are popular with casual riders and mountain bikers.

Liner shorts are thin biker shorts that can be worn underneath everyday shorts to provide compression and padding during rides. Some commuters wear padded liner shorts beneath their clothing for a comfortable bike commute to work.

A combination of fashion and function, cycling skorts feature a compression liner underneath a short skirt.

Chamois padding

Cycling-specific biker shorts have built-in chamois padding, providing a form-fitting layer between the bike saddle and the body, particularly the bones at the base of the pelvis.

Chamois padding – which these days is rarely made of chamois leather – varies in thickness, width, and length. Choose padding that doesn’t extend too far forward or backward and that feels comfortable when walking around and when in the saddle. Lightweight chamois padding is 5 to 6 millimeters thick, while midweight chamois padding is 7 to 10 millimeters thick.


Casual biker shorts may have built-in pockets. Compression shorts will have a pocket sleeve down each leg. Baggy biker shorts are roomier and tend to include multiple zippered pockets.

Adjustable fit

Baggy biker shorts often have hook-and-latch tabs at the waistline so riders can loosen or tighten the shorts for greater comfort or a better fit.

Built-in liner

Casual biker short styles tend to include a built-in liner to provide compression and comfort. Chamois padding may be included or can be added to the liner.

Comfort waistband

Cyclists sometimes find that the waistband of compression shorts is too tight and constricts their breathing. Waistbands with less spandex keep shorts in place without being too tight.

Staff Tip
On a multiday bike tour? Alternate between several pairs of biker shorts so that you always have a clean, dry pair ready.


Chafe creams: Chamois Butt’r Eurostyle Anti-Chafe Cream
When foam padding alone doesn’t help with skin chafing on long rides, this anti-chafe cream is a secret weapon. It includes menthol and witch hazel to help relieve hot spots.

Cycling jerseys: BALEAF Women’s Cycling Jersey
Round out your cycling ensemble with this lightweight, short-sleeved jersey that offers UFP 50+ sun protection and three rear pockets to maximize carrying capacity and organization.

Cycling underwear: DEALYORK Women’s Cycling Underwear
If you want utmost comfort in the saddle, try this padded cycling liner that road cyclists and spin bike enthusiasts alike rave about.

Biker shorts for women prices


Those who are just getting started with biking or spinning and are unsure which gear works best for them can find functional biker shorts for women for $19 to $50.


An excellent array of biker shorts for women in many styles, including racer bibs, can be found at the $50 to $130 price point.


Performance-minded cyclists will find top fabrics and racer-oriented styles for $130 to $210.

Did You Know?
Chamois was originally used only to prevent chafing at the saddle contact point, but it has evolved into a high-tech padding system for the cyclist’s protection and comfort.


  • Wash your biker shorts immediately after a ride or other exercise. Otherwise, untreated sweat and body oils can quickly build up and cause odors to set into the fabric.
  • Only wash biker shorts in cold water (unless otherwise indicated on the care tag). In addition, be sure to air dry them on a drying rack or dry them in the dryer on a cool setting.
  • Avoid overstuffing the pockets on compression shorts. Doing so can reduce their performance and cause chafing.
  • Know how to get the right fit. If your compression shorts shift around as you ride, try a smaller size or a pair with higher compression. If you prefer baggy shorts, be aware that they may shift around during dynamic rides. Adjust the waist tabs for a tighter fit around the waist to reduce bunching and shifting.
  • Decide whether or not you need chamois padding. You won’t need padding if you’re getting biker shorts for an exercise like running, but you will likely appreciate padding for cycling.
Leather is no longer used for chamois padding. Today’s chamois is a blend of soft microfiber and foam padding.


Q. Why do some cyclists prefer bib shorts over shorts that end at the waist?

A.  A common complaint among cyclists is that the waistband of compression shorts constricts the diaphragm. During short rides, this may not be an issue. On long rides, however, it increases the effort of breathing. Bib shorts alleviate this problem by replacing the compression waistband with bib suspenders.

Cyclists may also be frustrated by shorts that slip around during rides; nobody likes having to stop to adjust their shorts. Bib suspenders hold the shorts in place. During a tour or a race, that’s one less thing you have to worry about.

Q. What’s the advantage of wearing high-compression biker shorts?

A. This style of biker shorts, with extra spandex added to the fabric blend, offers more compression around the legs and hips. For cyclists struggling with muscle soreness, compression shorts can help stimulate circulation through the legs and reduce lactic acid buildup. You can ride longer and leg soreness is reduced.

Q. Do mountain bikers really prefer baggy shorts? Wouldn’t these get caught on brush while riding on a trail?

A. Baggy shorts are part of mountain bike culture and fashion, but there is a functional element to them as well. They are made of a tougher fabric blend that includes polyester designed to resist rain and mud and to stand up to tumbles on dirt, gravel, and rocks. The wide hem on each leg leaves enough room to wear knee pads. Lots of pockets with zippers allow cyclists to carry more necessities for backcountry rides, too.

Q. I’m a runner. Can I wear biker shorts?

A. Yes! Biker shorts are popular with runners – without chamois padding, of course – during the hot summer months. They offer compression and breathability but leave most of the leg free. The main goal is comfort and support when running, and biker shorts provide both.


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