Finding Shorts for Cycling is Hard. Why can’t I just ride naked?

Cycling shorts, like saddles, are touchy subjects for any cyclist. We all have different um, bits, and what one person swears by is another person’s ride in hell.

Because I’m cheap, I wait until things go on sale or discount rack before I slap down some cash. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve collected a fair representation of mid-priced bib short options for women who are in the average body size (in the US).

I’m not exactly the average women’s size as I’m 5’7″(ish) and a size 8/10 (UK 12/14). I also have a short torso, long legs and bigger chest than the average so take my opinion or leave it.

First up, the Rapha Core bib shorts. Since I’m blessed with a shorter torso, everything is going to be a little long in the body for me, but dang these shorts were the longest in the leg. Annoyingly so. Like knicker length. Good if you want to avoid tan lines but not overly comfortable as they bunched up behind my knee while I pedaled.

I’m not really enamored with the pad either. It’s thin and while I’ve been on the saddle for 90 minutes with these, that was the limit. The pad is also a bit wide for my liking and chafed in places I didn’t want chafing, even with chamois cream. I do have narrow sits bones so this could be the issue. I got a large but might have been able to size down to a medium.

Next we have Voler. American made of Italian fabrics. Their shorts and bibs have been a long-standing favorite of mine. Because I’m cheap, I have purchased many of their samples, but only used them for teaching class, as the pad is fairly thin, like Rapha.  This pair is the Voler’s Black Label striped bibs and I love them. LOVE. These have a traditional fabric-feel (if that makes sense) vs the usual slicker Lycra. The pad is thick too, which is very nice on my bits. They’ve held up with weight gain/loss and thrice weekly washing. 

My second favorite is by Performance Bike, specifically the Ultra Bib. I have the charcoal and red stripe and like Voler, these have stood up to years of wash/wear. I’m a big fan of the fabric – it’s slick and firm, like a really good body slimmer, but not constricting.   

I recently picked up a pair of the Black Bibs and for the price, they’re great. I would suggest going by the weight sizing chart instead of the measurements. I sized up to an XL and I’m glad I did. The grippers would have been far too tight. 

For my plus size teammates, I do have a few suggestions. I’m VERY annoyed that I can’t offer more for limited budgets.

SheBeest Sizes 1-3x. Shorts are $80-95 which is on the low end for bike shorts with some quality. Designs on jerseys are, um, flowery (so not me). 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.  There aren’t any reviews so I can’t say how great the pad is for keeping the girl parts comfortable. 

Terry Bicycles Average pricing for shorts. I’m impressed by the level of information they give about their shorts, and more importantly, the chamois. From the reviews, sizes run a little big (sizes 1-3x) but check your measurements against the chart. 

Evelyn Hill Cycling is a little pricey, but I’ve tried these on, and they are quality. Barbara and her husband own Tandem’s East in Southern New Jersey. Sizes go to 3x. 

I’ve heard many great things about Machines for Freedom on #zwift when they had their group rides last spring/summer. However they are ridiculously expensive. Like not funny.

I hope my little list helps narrow your choices and gets you out on a bike ride. Or heck, stay inside and join me on Zwift!

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