Whether you're cycling outside or taking a Spin class, these shorts will ensure a painless ride.
Back in college, when I first started riding my bike for longer distances than just between my dorm room and classes, I would wear my regular workout shorts. And then after each ride, my bike would sit unused for a week while my crotch recovered.
Is that TMI? Maybe—but chances are, if you're reading this, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Soon after, I started getting more serious about my riding and joined a cycling club. They let me in on a little secret: padded bike shorts. Turns out those spandex shorts you always see hardcore bicyclists wearing have a chamois pad sewn into the crotch that provides cushioning and shock absorption to your tender sitting bones.
Maybe it's an exaggeration to say that wearing bike shorts changed my life, but I'd argue they actually did, in a way. Without them, I would have never fallen in love with the sport, and then applied for an editorial internship at Bicycling.com, where I ended up working as an editor for three and a half years.
Bike shorts come in a variety of styles, colors, and price points. Start with any of the pairs below for a smooth, pain-free ride.
Canari Women's Gel Liner Cycling Shorts
Dip your toe into the padded-shorts water by starting with a low-cost liner that you can wear under your regular workout shorts. Liners are also a great option if you're not yet quite ready to venture out in public wearing tight spandex.
Pearl Izumi Women's Quest Bike Shorts
These classic black shorts feature a wide, elastic-free waistband that doesn't dig into your belly. Silicone leg grippers prevent the shorts from riding up as you pedal.
Louis Garneau Women's Fit Sensor 5.5 Bike Shorts
Reflective accents make these shorts perfect for rides that end at dusk. Flatlock seams prevent chafing, while a wide waistband distributes pressure evenly across your abdomen for ultimate comfort. The shorter 5.5-inch inseam lets you show off your legs. Available in black or gray.
Trayl Women's Elite Mountain Cycling Shorts
On days you ride your bike to run errands around town, you may want the comfort of a chamois without the look of spandex. Enter these knee-length shorts, which have a removable padded liner. The stretchy shell moves with you as you ride, and the subtle checkered pattern looks as good off the bike as it does on. Zippered pockets allow you to carry essentials like your wallet and keys hands-free.
Pearl Izumi Women's Superstar Cycling 3/4 Tights
Whether you're riding on a chillier day or just prefer to have your thighs fully covered, these Pearl Izumi capris are a great choice. Moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool, while UPF fabric shields your legs from the sun's harmful UV rays.
SUGOi RS Cycling Bib Shorts
As you start riding longer distances—say, over 40 or 50 miles—you'll want to consider upgrading your shorts. This bib-style pair from SUGOi has suspenders that hook around your shoulders, eliminating the need for a tight waistband. These shorts also feature a high-tech ventilated chamois with extra padding in just the right places, as well as a no-inseam design that eliminates any uncomfortable chafing.
Sweaty Betty Chase Cycle Shorts
No, not all cycling shorts come in basic black. Cycle in style with these colorful, geometric-patterned shorts from Sweaty Betty. High-stretch, moisture-wicking fabric coupled with the requisite chamois guarantees a painless spin. Complete your look with Sweaty Betty's cute matching bike jersey.