Comfort is the key to enjoying your bike rides. We've tracked down and tried the best women's bike shorts so you don't have to waste money on rubbish.
Women’s bike shorts are designed specifically around the female shape to produce supportive shorts that are comfortable in all conditions. Padded women’s shorts tend to have more padding in the center of the seating area to avoid uncomfortable friction, but not all shorts are made equal.
With such a huge variety of bike shorts for women that differ in quality and in comfort, it can be hard to know where to start.
We’ve taken the task of rounding up some of the best women’s bike shorts around so you can buy with confidence.
Best Overall Women's Shorts
Pearl iZUMi Women’s Escape Sugar ShortsCheck Current Price
Our Budget Pick
Baleaf Women’s 8″ High Waist ShortsCheck Current Price
Excellent 3/4 Shorts
4ucyclingPremium 3D Padded 3/4 TightsCheck Current Price
The Best Women’s Bike Shorts
While researching the market and compiling feedback on the various types of women’s shorts, we found that the softness of the material and the padding placement were the two biggest factors.
According to the majority of reviews and first-hand experiences we could gather up, the best women’s bike shorts are soft, supportive, affordable, and durable; so that’s exactly what we set out to find.
Here are the best women’s bike shorts with varying levels of padding that provide a comfortable yet supportive, firm fit.
1. Pearl iZUMi Women’s Escape Sugar Shorts
These high-quality bike shorts from Pearl iZUMi are a great all-rounder for women. The range of movement is impressive and you get plenty of padding. The subtle but protective padding is more than enough to keep your bottom parts comfortable on short to medium-length rides.
A large waistband stops the shorts sliding down which is the last thing you want when you’re in the zone. These are, without a doubt, an excellent pair of cycling shorts for women. The comfortable padding and good supportive fit is a combination that we feel will lead you to love them as much as we did.
2. Baleaf Women’s 8″ High Waist Shorts
These Baleaf shorts are a fantastic bargain for the multi-purpose casual athlete. They feature a 87/13 percent blend between polyester and spandex that makes them hug tightly while remaining breathable. A high waistband that doesn’t fold over offers protection and coverage even while bending.
A huge, huge plus is that these shorts have hidden pockets. They’re big enough to fit a small phone or iPod in. All in all, we’re really impressed with this fantastic pair of budget bike shorts that rival some of the more expensive brands in terms of quality.
3. 4ucyclingPremium 3D Padded 3/4 Tights
These shorts are well suited to those of you looking something to offer a little more length. The 3/4 padded tights have a lot of padding and coverage that makes them great for winter months. The padding is placed in all the right places.
The range of movement doesn’t feel quite as free as with the shorter shorts but that’s to be expected given the coverage they provide. If you ride long distances over uneven ground, the padding is absolutely perfect, especially when coupled with a saddle for long rides. Cycling tights are great for cold climates and wet conditions and these are a really good option for the colder months.
4. Beroy Women’s 3D Gel Padded Bike Shorts
Next up we’ve got another comfortable pair of shorts with excellent padding, this time from Beroy. These shorts are made from an 80/20 percent polyester and spandex blend that feels comfortable and fits well. The chamois in these is excellent and we’re really impressed with the 3D gel that makes it feel light and airy rather than stifling.
They absorb shocks very well and are durable enough to last for the long run. These are a comfortable pair of shorts with good padding and offer great value for money.
5. Santic Women’s Cycling Shorts
This option from Santic uses great technology to deliver an excellent pair of shorts. There’s a 4D cushion which uses SanticÂElastic technology to make medium-range rides comfortable (between 3 and 5 hours). You don’t need to worry about these shorts riding up as they come with a silicone band designed to help prevent it happening.
With the use of quick-dry fabric, your shorts work to prevent the accumulation of sweat and keep you as comfortable as they can. Santic-R-Feel technology helps to reduce friction in both wet and dry conditions, keeping you comfortable whatever the weather. These are a great pair of shorts that offer excellent comfort and top of the range technology.
A Guide To Women’s Bike Shorts
Finding the right gear is essential to getting a pleasant riding experience. Men and women have different bodies with different needs in order to ensure a comfortable ride. Due to the wide varieties of women’s body types, there are a lot of factors to consider and it may take a while to find the best women’s bike shorts for you.
Your standard pair of shorts simply can’t provide the comfort and protection you need for riding your bike. One of the easiest yet most worthwhile things you can do for yourself and your riding is to find the perfect women’s padded bike shorts.
What Makes Women’s Bike Shorts Different
The biggest thing that sets women’s padded cycling shorts apart from men’s is the chamois design. Chamois is another term used for the padding. In men’s shorts, there is often a tiny gap down the center in the padding.
For women, the padding is one solid piece, including the center. Women will need pillow type cushioning in the front and center with a wider pad in the back. They are designed differently for the same reason that men and women’s bike saddles are different. Another difference is the length of the shorts. In general, women’s cycling shorts have a longer front inseam than men.
More women seem to prefer shorter shorts than men, and as a result, that is mostly what you will find when shopping for cycling shorts. There are some women who find men’s shorts more comfortable than women’s. At the end of the day, comfort is much more important than labels.
Things to Consider When Buying Women’s Cycling Shorts
Before embarking on a long ride, you will want to make sure your shorts are comfortable. If you are shopping in an actual store, be sure to try them on before you buy. When ordering online, make sure you are familiar with return-policies and do not remove any tags until you’ve decided they fit well. In both circumstances, it is best to wear undergarments for trying the shorts on, although you will not when you are actually riding.
Here are some things to look at when you are trying your shorts on:
Does the chamois slide around?
Try moving around and mimic leaning forward on your bike as best as possible. If the shorts are too big, the padding may move, causing massive discomfort when riding.
The pad should fit tightly against the skin without sticking out in the crotch area
How much padding do you need?
For beginners, or if you take very long bike rides, you may want to go with thicker padding. A thick chamois will act as a shock absorber. The padding is usually made up of foam.
Some cyclists prefer not being able to feel the chamois at all. A thin chamois can still help prevent abrasions and add comfort. A thin chamois is especially popular with triathlon athletes because it does not get in the way for the running and swimming portions of the event.
Are there leg grippers?
Many shorts feature silicon strips on the bottom of the legs to make sure your shorts won’t ride up on you. This is a wonderful feature, as long as they do not cut off circulation. On the other hand, if there are no leg grippers or if they are too loose, the ends of the shorts may flap around.
This could be annoying and potentially even hazardous. Due to the fact that women tend to carry more weight in their legs, the cut of the leg grippers is often more generous.
Trying picking your feet up high so simulate pedaling your bike.
How easy are they to remove?
Essentially, you are looking for any features that will help if you need to stop for a bathroom break. These could be zippers, clasps, clips, etc. This may seem insignificant, but you will appreciate the convenience when out riding.
Do you want bib shorts?
These shorts have straps that go up and over the shoulders to keep them up. For women, making sure that these bib straps are not uncomfortable is especially important.
Do they sit on top of, in between, or around your breasts? Finding where the bib straps should rest is a personal preference. Make sure any bib shorts you buy will not be uncomfortable for your chest.
Do you want waist shorts?
If your shorts are not being held up by bibs, they are considered waist shorts. Many women prefer these over bib shorts due to the discomfort the bib straps cause for their chest.
If you go with waist shorts, make sure the waist is high enough that they won’t fall down on you. Another thing to check while leaning over is if the waist is going to dig into your skin.
Are the shorts well made?
When trying on the shorts, check for any bunching or wrinkles in the padding. Even seemingly minor issues can lead to chafing and discomfort on a long bike ride.
When sitting with the shorts on, you should not feel like you are on the edge of the padding. You also don’t want the padding to be so bulky that it may interfere with your ability to pedal.
High-quality shorts often have multiple layers with varying densities for maximum comfort. As technology has advanced, they have also found ways to add perforations for great moisture management.
What materials will work well for you?
Freedom of movement is key when selecting a fabric. Many tight-fitting shorts are made out of Lycra, Spandex, or polyester. These materials are generally very breathable and good options.
If you ride on trails often and choose to go with baggie style shorts, you may find they come in a more durable material. Often, these shorts have an inner layer made of mesh or something similar to keep the padding in place.
What length will work the best for you?
Although you will mostly find relatively short shorts, you can also buy padded cycling capris, baggies, and even skorts.
As the need for female biking gear becomes more obvious, companies are working hard to fit everyone women’s style and budget needs.
Once you find the best women’s bike shorts for you, consider buying a second pair. In order to keep them free from all bacteria, these shorts need to be machine washed, so having more than one pair means you are always ready to ride. It is best to wash your shorts after every ride to remove all of the sweat and bacteria. Although the chamois in these cycling shorts can be (and should be) machine washed, try to avoid putting them in the dryer.
By allowing them to air dry, you are prolonging the life of your shorts, especially if there is any Spandex in them. A good pair of women’s padded bike shorts should last you for several seasons. Many riders also wear them in the fall and spring paired with a stylish pair of leg warmers.
Padded bike shorts are definitely a must-have for anyone serious about cycling.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you prepare to begin your journey towards finding the best women’s padded bike shorts. The female body comes in many forms, and finding shorts that are compatible with yours can greatly improve your ride experience.