Cycling Shorts, Bibs or Skinsuit? What should I wear to be comfortable on the bike.

August 27, 2018

Leopard print cycling bib short for ladies

Padded shorts, the most crucial element for being comfortable on your bicycle. Back in the day there were mostly men's shorts on the market, but currently you can find plenty of cycling shorts especially designed for women. We will discuss the different types of padded bike shorts, designed for the female cyclist.

Always buy shorts with the chamois (padding) designed for ladies; women have wider sits bones than men, so they a need different shape in the padding.

Black is still the most used colour for cycling shorts. It tends to be more flattering, but also bold colourfil prints can be a fun addition to your cycling wardrobe. White or lighter colours look great, but can become transparent after several washings.

All cycling pants have silicone straps on the hem on the leg, the strips key the shorts in place whilst cycling.

Wear your shorts without underwear to prevent friction and chafing. Most fabrics dry quickly after washing, but just to be sure you can be back on your bicycle the next day it’s better to have at least two pair of bike shorts in your wardrobe.

When washing, never use fabric softener, this can affect the absorbing qualities of the padding.

The three most common types of padded shorts


  • Cycling ShortsIllustration of padded cycling shorts or hotpants

    These are tight fitted lycra shorts with sewn-in padding. Ideally your shorts are higher at the back, so your back is still covered when leaning forward in on-bike position. You can buy cycling shorts in different lengths, longer ones to cover the thigh-muscle, shorter ones almost like hot-pants will avoid mid-thigh tan lines.
    Bike shorts are a practical and easy to wear item for road cyclists. Especially beginners start off with a pair of ‘conventional’ padded cycling shorts. When they become more comfortable on the bike they choose to upgrade to bibs or skinsuits, which we’ll discuss next.

  • Bib ShortsIllustration of bib shorts designed for women

    Lots of cyclists never want to go back to wearing ‘normal’ bike shorts after they’ve tried on a pair of bibs. This type has straps that go over your shoulders, the shorts then stay in place better, giving less movement and less friction. You will wear your cycling jersey over your bib shorts.
    When choosing a pair of women's cycling bibs, make sure the straps don’t go over your breasts, to prevent chafing on delicate areas.
    Even though bibs are more comfortable on the bicycle, they make bathroom breaks slightly more complicated. Look for a pair of ladies cycling bib shorts of which the straps can be clipped off to make this a lot easier!

  • SkinsuitIllustration of a cycling suit for women or skinsuit

    The tight and aerodynamic skinsuit was originally designed for time trials and cyclo-cross (cycling on a track with hurdles, such as mud and steep hills) but is making its way to conventional road cycling. This cycling suit which is an all-in-one combination of shorts and jersey was originally designed without pockets. In cyclo-cross you need to occasionally lift your bicycle and you don’t want your wheels to get stuck in your clothes. These days the tight fitted cycling suit can also be designed with back-pockets, making this the perfect practical and streamlined cycling one-piece.

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