I had a new student come to my indoor cycling class last night. She rocked it, doing the best she could, given her inexperience and fitness level, but approached me afterward with a deep frown.
“It was a great class, and I loved it and I want to keep coming back, but how do you get past the pain from the saddle?” I felt awful for her, because I know the pain she’s referring. The ache in the pelvis you can’t identify; the heat of chafing; the pinch of pieces/parts.
“Um, well, you kind of have to get used to it,” I replied. “But if you’re invested in coming to class, bike shorts should be your first purchase.”
Her face fell. “Finding something like that is going to be hard.” She gestured to her body. She is plus size.
Truth be told, I was once 240 lbs and a size 20. In some circles, I would still be considered plus size at my current 10/12, because I’m 5’6″ 3/4 (that 3/4 is important!) and 27 BMI. I know the struggle to lose weight and to keep it off; and the frustration of having a bit of it to come back after so many years for no apparent reason other than being over 45.
So for my new friend and my sisters who love cycling but can’t find appropriate clothing, this list is for you.
DO NOT WEAR UNDERWEAR WITH BIKE SHORTS. Underwear will only add to your suffering and not in a good, productive way.
Pay Attention to Thickness of Fabric. Remember Lululemon leggings being see-thru? Yah. That. Cheap shorts have thin fabric. Even if your jersey is longer in the back, part of your butt is still visible. Just no.
***If Any of these companies want to send me some stuff to review, heck, I’ll be HAPPY to do that!***
Shebeest. Sizes 1-3x. Shorts are $80-95 which is on the low end for bike shorts with some quality. Designs are, um, flowery and that’s not me but THIS jersey. Yeah. Killin’ it. I like that. The shorts have wide waistbands akin to yoga pants with extended leg bands that are in a different, stretchier fabric (no elastic = no muffin leg) *No bib shorts, which I think are the best thing since sliced bread for keeping the torso caged. There aren’t any reviews so I can’t say how great the pad is for keeping the girl parts comfortable.
JunoActive 1-3x $$ To be honest, I’m disappointed that they don’t have real bike shorts (i.e. with padding), but if you’re only riding for 45 minutes to an hour, these will do. They come in different colors other than black and you can wear them running. That said, they have elastic around the legs, a minus in my book. Beware the quality of the spandex/cotton as the see-thru factor could be an issue.
Aero Tech Designs $$-$$$ Average pricing from $90. Sizing is limited in 1-2x but 3-4x has several choices (at the time of this writing). “We believe riding a bike is something fun everyone should get to enjoy, regardless of fitness level.” That’s nice. They have mostly their own designs but offer a few by Terry. Again, I can’t say anything about the padding on the shorts, but reviews are good. **A plus is that they’re American made, in Pittsburgh no less!**
Terry Bicycles $$$ Average pricing from $100. Made by a bicycle manufacturer, I’m impressed by the level of information they give about their shorts and more important, chamios. From the reviews, sizes run a little big (1-3x) but check your measurements against the chart. No elastic to be seen and they have a little zipper pocket for your ID and some cash. Designs are similar to what’s available at Aero Tech with similar prices.
Evelyn Hill Cycling $$$ Average pricing from $120. I met Barbara Kornbluh a few years ago at Philadelphia’s bike expo and she’s a firecracker. She and her husband own Tandem’s East in South New Jersey so she knows cycling. While the logo thing is kind of annoying, she does make a quality product. Thick and supportive Lycra with the elusive bib shorts in sizes going to 3x.
I’m sad I can only offer these five choices, but I’m sure there are more out there like Barb’s Evelyn Hill, waiting to be discovered.
GET OUT THERE AND GET RIDING!