How do I Choose the Best Ladies' Cycling Shorts?

Dan Cavallari

Choosing the best ladies' cycling shorts is not a difficult endeavor, but it certainly helps to be educated about the different options available to women. Like men's cycling shorts, ladies' cycling shorts come in three basic varieties: shorts, bibs, and baggy shorts. Which type of ladies' cycling shorts you choose will depend on your riding style and your specific needs. Start by determining what kind of riding you will be doing primarily, and then try on all three types of shorts to see which ones fit you the best and will help you stay comfortable during your ride.

Ladies' compression cycling shorts.
Ladies' compression cycling shorts.

The differences between ladies' and men's cycling shorts are subtle but important. The cut of the shorts will accommodate the most common body styles of women; women tend to have wider hips, so the material will be cut differently to accommodate this. The legs of the ladies' cycling shorts will also be shorter than those of men's shorts to promote comfort and less limited mobility. Comfort is the most important aspect of any cycling shorts, so if possible, try on several pairs before settling on the pair you will purchase.

Some cycling shorts feature a cushioned insert.
Some cycling shorts feature a cushioned insert.

Baggy shorts are a great option for the casual cyclist or for some types of mountain bikers. These shorts mimic the look of regular, non-athletic shorts, and the outer layer of these shorts will not hug tightly to the skin like other types of cycling shorts. These shorts feature a sewn-in insert that will cling close to the body for added comfort, and the insert will also feature a cushion to soften the contact between the bike seat and sensitive areas of the body.

Bibs and shorts that fit tightly to the body may all look the same, but they are not all created equally well. Bibs and shorts differ in their designs: bibs feature shoulder loops that help keep the shorts from sliding downward during riding, and these tend to be more expensive than regular shorts without the shoulder loops. When choosing either bibs or shorts, try to choose a pair that features several panels of material rather than just one or two. This will promote a tighter fit and prevent material from bunching up and causing hot spots or rashes. If you are choosing bibs, look for a pair that features breathable shoulder loops made of mesh rather than Lycra®, which the rest of the shorts will be made from.

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