Do you go for strapless shorts or bibs? Softshell or hardshell? Loose, regular or race fit? The key is finding clothing that fits you correctly and allows you to ride in comfort.
Women’s cycling clothing, though similar looking to men’s, contains key differences that optimise it for the female anatomy. Unlike men, most women’s bodies don’t go up and down in a straight line. Therefore, a women’s cycling jersey, for example, will be larger at the chest, narrow at the waist and wider at the hip area.
So you’ve picked a jersey but what else should you wear? For comfort on longer rides we recommend women’s padded cycling shorts. Whether you choose bib shorts with shoulder straps or strapless shorts, ensuring you are sitting comfortably is vital for enjoyment and performance. The advantage of strapless shorts is they are easier to use for comfort breaks, particularly during colder months, whereas bib shorts with straps require the removal of your upper layers first. Many brands now offer bib shorts with latches on their straps, making the removal of the shorts for toilet breaks much simpler.
Both men's and women’s padded cycling shorts feature a chamois pad- an insert stitched into the shorts that sits between you and the saddle, reducing friction, absorbing sweat and aiding comfort. Women’s shorts are designed specifically for female bodies with the pad placed in a female-specific position and a shorter leg length.
Most of the time cycling places you in a fixed position, so you might think only women with larger bust sizes need to wear a bra when riding. While a regular bra may be sufficient for casual riding or low intensity commuting, riding at any kind of high intensity will cause heat and moisture buildup. So, a breathable and compressive cycling sports bra that effectively transfers moisture away from the skin and provides support is a smart choice.
We’ve looked at what women should wear when cycling but what are the big no-no’s? Given the difference in the female and male anatomy, wearing men’s cycling shorts could easily cause discomfort and ruin your ride. The saddle is a key contact point between you and the bike, so a badly positioned chamois is something to definitely avoid. Equally, a men’s jersey does not cater for the curves of the female upper body and should also not be worn.
What you wear for cycling depends on the style of riding you do and the level of intensity involved. For more performance focused cycling, we would recommend specific women’s cycling clothing. We have already discussed women’s padded cycling shorts and women’s cycling jerseys, but there are also women’s cycling jackets, women’s skinsuits and more. The best women’s cycling clothing is what best suits the riding you do, whether it’s road, MTB or gravel.