What to Look For
The best bike shorts have a high inseam, tapered, seamless leg and eight panels, notes Wheel and Sprocket.com, a Milwaukee-based retailer. This provides a superior fit that is extremely comfortable. Look for these features when choosing bike shorts. Most bike shorts sit at the natural waist and the leg hits mid thigh. Compression garments provide the best support, circulation and breathability during long bike rides. Bike shorts with a blend of polyester, spandex, Lycra and elastic provide a superior fit, according to Wheel and Sprocket. Skins Cycle Pro Shorts for women offer the best fit and comfort among leading women’s bike shorts, Bicycling Magazine notes.
Avoid bike shorts with four or six panels rather than eight. Fewer panels equal lesser stretch and a lesser ability to reduce chafing during long rides. Purchase shorts with a tight fit, but not too tight. The looser the short, the higher chance for chafing and bunching during bike rides. If the shorts pinch or leave red marks on the skin, they are too tight.
Where to Buy
REI, Team Estrogen, Terry Bicycles and Sierra Trading Post offer women’s bike shorts online at price points from low to high. REI offers excellent customer service, outstanding sales and a superior return policy. Sierra Trading Post provides reduced prices. Terry Bicycles offers a selection of high-quality bicycle shorts for the serious cycler.
Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to more than $200 for a high-quality bike short. Lower-priced shorts may contain fewer panels and have larger seams, which may lead to discomfort during rides. The Cycle Pro Shorts by Skins cost $200 because of superior design and quality.
Look for bike shorts that offer padding in the seat and inner-thigh areas. These areas hit the seat more often than other parts of the body and will become sore quickly. Try the shorts on if possible and test them in a cycling position. This will help you determine if the shorts pinch in any way or if they look unflattering or do not add padding in the right areas. Bike shorts come in short, medium and long lengths depending on the intended activity. Short cycling bursts use the short 3- to 5-inch leg length. Average cyclists use the 6- to 8-inch medium length. Long-distance cyclists use a 9-inch or longer leg length. Choose the appropriate length for your biking needs.