How to buy Women’s Bike Shorts

How to buy Women’s Bike Shorts

Men’s and Women’s cycling apparel have many similarities as well as differences.  While men’s cycling gear has been around for many years, the women’s cycling apparel is much more diverse and spread across a variety of body types.

The female shape varies greatly from person to person, so there are more choices.  There are cycling shorts for skinny girls – fit and slim, regular Misses, plus size and petite/child types sizes.  Finding the right short is like finding your prince charming, you have to kiss a lot of toads, to marry a prince.  You might have to try several pairs of shorts to find the one that is right for you.  Depending on your mileage on the bicycle, long rides need a thick and dense pad, whereas short, around town bike rides need a focus on freedom of movement and wicking materials.  Following are some examples of typical cycling shorts for women.  Also see How to buy men’s bike shorts.

Women’s chamois pads are designed differently than men’s.  Men’s have a cutout running through the center of the pad, a women’s chamois pad has padding running through the center of the pad as shown below.  Chamois Pads are one of the most important physiological differences, arguably the pad may be the most important when it comes to cycling comfort.  It has to do with what’s going on in the undercarriage region (pelvic area). Men and women have different structures which require padding and support in different places. 

Chamois pads are engineered to provide cushioning where it is needed, and to work in conjunction with a well positioned bicycle saddle – an equally important part of the equation. Cyclists typically spend a lot of time sitting during a bike ride, so it’s critical to get this right.

To choose a bike short for your personal biking style, you first need to know your options. Most cycle shorts have a foam pad sewn into the bicycle seat area. The padding in the shorts range from thick to thin. The thickest pads act as shock absorbers with different types of gel or foam that is formed into shape using an engineered designed based on cycling motion. The padding also reduces abrasion and cushions the seat area. If you are just starting to ride, or the longer your ride, the more density you need in a chamois pad. The elite pads are designed for long distance riders and are engineered specifically for the female anatomy. A more seasoned bicycle rider may want a thin pad in their bike shorts so that it prevents abrasion and yet feels invisible. Using a thin chamois pad is also popular in triathlon shorts where the short is worn for swim, bike, run.

Cycling Shorts are worn without underwear.

The pad in a pair of bicycle shorts is called the chamois pad even though the pads are rarely ever chamois leather anymore. In the 1970’s and 1980’s bicycle shorts were made of black wool with a leather chamois pad sewn into the saddle area to prevent abrasion. In the early days of bicycle racing, the chamois was lubricated with an oil to create a “slip” so the cycling motion was a smooth glide against the skin. The use of anti-chafe creams and lubricants continue to be an important part of cycling as these creams combined with snug bike shorts do wonders to enhance the comfort of a bicycle rider.