Thanks to innovative bathroom break features and new strap and chamois designs, the best women’s cycling shorts are more appealing than ever.
However, with so many options, finding the right pair of women’s bib shorts can seem like a daunting task. To help with this important decision, we have tested women’s bib shorts from some of cycling’s biggest brands as well as some smaller ones, which are worthy of equal attention.
Many cyclists consider bib shorts to be the most essential item of clothing in their cycling wardrobe because they offer exceptional comfort and performance compared to waist shorts or baggy shorts.
The women’s bib shorts in this list have been rated on overall comfort, chamois construction, hem and strap design, with the need for comfort breaks considered too. While price is always a consideration in our reviews, this women’s bib shorts best list should have something for most price points.
If you’ve still got questions about bib shorts and whether they are right for you, keep reading until the end for our buyer’s guide to women’s bib shorts.
Best women’s cycling shorts
Gore Distance Bib Shorts+ 2.0
- £200 / $200 / €200 as tested
- Pros: Super-comfortable chamois; soft and stretchy; excellent fit
- Cons: Odd sizing; expensive
Gore’s Distance Bib Shorts+ 2.0 are sublime in comfort and we struggled to find fault with them.
The chamois performs brilliantly and the fit is excellent. The shorts are targeted at riding long distances in comfort and are constructed from an ultra-fine knit polyamide/elastane mix, with a soft reinforced waistband.
The wide bib straps are comfortable and secure, and the legs are laser cut with subtle silicone grippers that have a criss-cross print just inside the hem.
We also really rated the inclusion of the ‘wind stopped liner’, where the chamois is stitched separately from the short outer at the front, which increases airflow.
The only thing we can fault these shorts for is the sizing because according to Gore, our tester should have worn a couple of sizes up. For now, the best approximation seems to be opting for your UK-equivalent size in an EU size, or trying before you buy.
Petrichor Projects Women’s Bib Shorts
- £149 / $190 / €174 / AU$284 as tested
- Pros: Long-distance comfort; great fit
- Con: Limited colour range
The Petrichor Projects Women’s Bib Shorts are well-priced considering their quality and performance.
Made from recycled materials, the women’s cycling shorts are comfortable on big rides. The right bib strap unclips from the hip panel to make toilet stops easier.
Although the Petrichor Projects Women’s Bib Shorts come in a broad range of well-fitting sizes, more colour options would be good.
dhb Moda Women’s Classic Bib Shorts
- £60 / $75 / €65 / AU$100 as tested
- Pros: Great value; clean looks
- Cons: Thin bib straps
If you’re looking for some affordable, comfortable shorts with minimal styling, you can’t go far wrong with the dhb Moda Women’s Classic Bib Shorts.
The bib shorts have a quality seat pad that outperformed expectations in testing and provided enough comfort for long rides.
The fit of the shorts is spot-on, and while the material doesn’t offer any compression, it is supportive. Instead of silicone grippers, zig-zag stitching is used to keep the bottom of the shorts in place.
The bib straps on the dhb Moda bib shorts are thin and can be prone to twisting, but their high stretch makes it easy to pull the shorts down to pee without de-layering.
The straps and mesh support fit around the bust, which is good if you find straps that run straight over the top uncomfortable.
Santini Unico Women’s Shorts
- £169 / $230 / €169 as tested
- Pros: Comfortable over long distances; feel like a second skin
- Cons: Fabric bobbling; short leg
Designed for long-distance road riding, our tester found these bib shorts so comfortable they forgot they were wearing them.
Constructed from a lightweight Italian microfibre and with Santina’s range-topping C3W chamois, the brand has achieved what it set out to do without unnecessary bells and whistles.
The lightweight mesh-panel upper sets these shorts apart from the competitors and our tester found the design held the pad firmly in place, while feeling soft and snug against the skin.
Our only qualms were a slight bobbling of the fabric around the pressure points where the shorts make contact with the side of the saddle, and that it would be good to incorporate some further reflective detailing to keep you seen at night.
Velocio Women’s LUXE Bib Shorts
- £203 / $279 / €233 / AU$339 as tested
- Pros: Luxurious shorts; easy loo break solution
- Cons: High price tag
The Velocio Women’s LUXE Bib Shorts are top-end when it comes to performance – and price.
Made from ultra-soft compressive fabric, the shorts have a close fit that’s typical of high-end kit. Sizing is spot-on and Velocio has extensive guides as well as a wide selection of sizes, which makes finding the right shorts a breeze.
Raw-cut leg ends are neat, and the silicone dashes keep the shorts nicely in place throughout your ride.
The criss-cross bib straps and gathered fabric at the back enable you to pull the shorts down for easy comfort breaks without having to undress.
The women’s-specific seat pad is extremely comfortable and helps keep you comfortable even over rough terrain.
The price is high, but the luxurious feel and neat features might make them worth it in your eyes.
Universal Colours Chroma Women’s Bib Shorts
- £190 / $240 / €220 / AU$405 as tested
- Pros: Great comfort and compression; appealing colour range
- Cons: Price
The Chroma Women’s Bib Shorts top Universal Colours’ range and are well worth their premium price.
The well-cushioned chamois and raw-cut leg hems boost comfort on short and long rides alike while the ‘Natural Calls’ bib feature facilitates toilet stops.
Sizing is spot on, so the highly compressive shorts fit snugly without being restrictive.
Made partly from recycled materials with a classy matte finish, the Chroma Women’s Bib Shorts come in purple, teal, brown and black and seven sizes.
Alé Green Road PRR Women’s Bib Shorts
- £145 / $175 / €140 / AU$215 as tested
- Pros: Thick, supportive chamois; close fit
- Cons: Lots of branding
The Alé Green Road PRR Women’s Bib Shorts have an impressive cut and a supportive 12mm-thick women’s-specific seat pad that makes them a truly comfortable set of shorts.
Refreshingly, the shorts are made from a recycled material that feels no different from virgin material when wearing them.
The fit of the shorts is true to size and close to the body. The classic 4.5cm-wide bib straps might not make loo stops the easiest affair, but this can be forgiven considering the figure-fitting, supportive fit and breathable nature of these shorts.
The teal and fluoro detailing may be just the ticket if you like a bit of loud styling, but there is a black and grey option if you prefer a more subtle design.
Castelli Velocissima 2 Bib Shorts
- £100 / $130 / €100 / AU$160 as tested
- Pros: Super-comfortable; true to size
- Cons: Not so good for loo breaks
The Castelli Velocissima 2 Bib Shorts have a traditional design that might not make loo breaks the easiest, but they deliver a perfect, premium fit, even though they’re at the lower end of Castelli’s range.
The shorts have a women’s-specific seat pad that feels thick without being bulky. It copes with casual riding and pushing the pace on the drops, and is breathable too.
The shorts have lots of panels, which is a bit old-school, but reduced seaming minimises any discomfort around the stomach, and the overall fit is good.
Breathable bib straps and leg grippers that don’t irritate the skin are pluses too. The only other thing to note is the fabric is a bit thin and, as a result, a tiny bit see-through on the rear.
A product must get at least four stars to be included in our best lists, but that doesn’t mean those with fewer than four stars aren’t worth considering, they might just tick the right boxes for you.
Rapha Women’s Pro Team Training Bib Shorts
- £140 / $190 / €165 / AU$245 as tested
- Pros: Superb chamois
- Cons: Lots of seams
Rapha’s Women’s Pro Team Training Bib Shorts sit just below the brand’s top-of-the-line Pro Team Bib Shorts, but share the same top-end, women’s-specific chamois that delivers supreme comfort.
The cut of the shorts is close, which can be expected from performance-orientated shorts, and they are true to size.
Compared to the Pro Team bib shorts, there are more seams here thanks to extra panelling. This didn’t cause any discomfort while riding, but did result in some ‘sausage leg’ bulging.
The shorts are also heavily branded, which might not be to everyone’s taste.
Buyer’s guide to women’s bib shorts | Everything you need to know
What are bib shorts?
Bib shorts are Lycra cycling shorts held in place with straps that loop over your shoulders. To some, though, they can seem like an intimidating mess of straps, zippers and buckles that look uncomfortable.
However, with new designs and high-tech features, women’s bib shorts are more accessible and versatile than ever before and, alongside the best women’s road bike saddles, bib shorts can make cycling a far more comfortable experience.
Why bib shorts over waist shorts?
The age-old decision between cycling shorts and bib shorts continually plagues many female cyclists who just want a comfortable ride. Cycling shorts are easy to figure out, unlike bibs that sometimes seem difficult to use.
However, despite more complicated designs, most women decide they are simply more comfortable once they’ve given them a try. Here are some advantages bibs have over shorts:
- Bibs don’t have an elasticated waistband that can restrict breathing
- Bibs prevent discomfort by reducing pressure around the waist
- Bib straps hold the shorts in place and prevent the chamois from moving around
- Bib straps prevent the rear end from sagging
On the other hand, bibs can be troublesome when a bathroom break is needed.
Typically, you need to remove your jersey (and potentially your helmet and other outer layers) to use the loo with a traditional bib short design. This is tricky and chilly in the winter months.
However, with the introduction of some innovative designs to help women ‘go on the go’, natural breaks aren’t an issue anymore.
Bib short features
Bib straps (and other ways bib shorts stay up)
Bib straps should hold the shorts securely in place without causing uncomfortable pressure on your shoulders. With many new strap designs recently hitting the market, there are plenty of options to choose from to suit your body shape and personal preferences.
The more common strap designs include:
- Classic straps – two parallel straps that run independently over the shoulders
- Halter tops – straps that connect at the back behind your neck
- Built-in baselayer – usually with a chest zipper. These remove the straps almost entirely, making the bibs more like a lightweight bodysuit
- Buckle systems – some shorts have buckle hooks on the straps that release easily for quick bathroom breaks
A comfortable chamois, or seat pad, is without a doubt the most important feature of any cycling shorts or bib shorts.
Fancy straps and high-tech elements won’t make a difference if your chamois is uncomfortable and your ride is miserable. It’s best to try on different brands and different chamois to find the best fit for your body.
It is a good idea too to choose a chamois that is women’s-specific, rather than a men’s or unisex design because it will be designed with women’s anatomy in mind and therefore be better fitting and more comfortable.
A seamless chamois, or one with minimal stitching, is an ideal choice when shopping for bib shorts. Scratchy seams can rub and pinch sensitive areas and lead to a really uncomfortable ride.
Also, make sure the chamois is made from soft material and the fit of the shorts is correct. Too much material will cause bunching and chafing; too little material won’t offer up enough padding.
Beyond different designs, many chamois now also come complete with features such as anti-bacterial and anti-chafing materials. These features also contribute to comfort in different ways and can be much-appreciated additions.
Leg hems are another key feature to consider when shopping for bib shorts.
If the hems are too tight, you could get the ‘sausage leg’ look, which is not only uncomfortable but extremely unflattering. However, leg bands that are too loose will cause the shorts to ride up and you’ll find yourself constantly tugging them down while riding.
Another characteristic to consider is whether bibs have elastic or laser-cut leg hems. Elastic hems are better at keeping bibs in place and preventing the shorts from riding up. They also keep knee and leg warmers snugly in place for cooler rides. Unfortunately, elastic cuffs can often feel tight and uncomfortable against the skin.
On the other hand, laser-cut hems are more flattering since they don’t have seams or elastic to constrict and contort your legs. These tend to be on pricier bib shorts and you might appreciate the less restrictive feel, especially on long rides.
In either case, look for rubberised material on the underside of the hem. This will keep the bibs in place and play nicely with leg warmers. Although watch out for overly aggressive silicone grippers that can lead to skin irritation.
Common questions about bib shorts
What about bathroom breaks in bib shorts?
The number one reason some women don’t wear bib shorts is because of the inconvenience when it comes to mid-ride bathroom breaks.
Not only is this process time-consuming. It also leaves you exposed to the elements on cold days – not to mention out in the open for passing drivers and other cyclists to see.
However, many of the newest women’s bib designs are making nature breaks easier and more modest, with innovative strap designs and buckle systems.
These new designs enable riders to pull the shorts down without removing their jersey. Quicker comfort breaks mean more time riding and less time searching for ‘the facilities’ – something we can all appreciate.
How should bib shorts fit?
When you’re choosing a pair of bib shorts, it’s worth remembering they are meant to hug close to the body.
Often, tighter is better because excess fabric can lead to chafing. A snug fit will also mean the seat pad will stay in the right place when you’re riding. However, it is a balancing act. You don’t want the shorts to feel overly restrictive.
Bib straps might feel tight over your shoulders when you try the shorts on, even if you’ve picked your normal size. This is because bib shorts are tailored to be worn on a bike.
So one of the best tips for trying bib shorts on is to assume the position you would while riding by leaning forward and bending your arms. This will give you the best idea of how they’ll fit when out riding.
Should I wear underwear under my bib shorts?
The short answer to this question is, no. But don’t worry, it’s a mistake many of us have made because, frankly, putting on a pair of shorts with no underwear on can feel pretty strange at first.
Chamois pads are designed to work best when they sit directly against the skin, and underwear can negate the benefits of a chamois. Your undies can create strange pressure points, unwanted friction and, in the worst cases, lead to saddle sores.
What is chamois cream and should I use it?
Chamois cream is an antibacterial viscose cream that helps eliminate friction between your skin and chamois seat pad.
The idea is to stop any rubbing or friction, as well as prevent bacterial build-up, helping to stop you getting saddle sores or abscesses.
Chamois cream is not essential but, as you may have gathered, it can help prevent some pretty unwanted complications.
The best way to apply chamois cream is either to yourself at any pressure points between your skin and saddle or directly to the pad at the needed points.
Make sure you wash your shorts after every wash to prevent build-up but, considering you’ll be using your shorts for exercise and likely without underwear, this is imperative anyway.
How much money should I spend on bib shorts?
Like most things in life, when it comes to how much to spend on bib shorts you get what you pay for.
Many cyclists consider bib shorts to be the most essential bit of clothing for cycling because they do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to staying comfy on the bike, so investing your cash in shorts is a wise idea.
This is particularly the case if you’re cycling long distances or bikepacking, but less important if you’re on a budget, or using your shorts for commuting or shorter distances. Once you start to spend over £75/$95/€85, the returns on investment get more marginal.
But this is often because over this price you’re paying for the prestige of big-name brands, more technical fabrics and more specific functions, such as waterproofing, aerodynamics or extra warmth for riding in cooler weather.