Hit the trails with the best women’s mountain bike shorts. From ultra-comfy chamois to ride-ready bike shorts, these picks will get you ready to ride.
There’s nothing more annoying than a pair of ill-fitting bike shorts. You want to be able to focus on the ride, not fight with your shorts. Lady shredders used to have to make do with a pair of shrunken men’s shorts, but those days are gone.
We’re happy to report that there is now a wide variety of cycling shorts made specifically for women. We’ve been riding trails across the U.S., including lots of miles in Oregon and Colorado. Our testers include a pro mountain biker, a skilled recreational rider, and a newbie.
And while there isn’t a single pair of shorts that works for every body and ride style, we’ve included a variety of options. Below, you’ll find the best shorts and chamois that will make hitting the trails that much more fun. Get ready to suit up and ride out.
The Best Women’s Bike Shorts & Chamois of 2020
One of the first pieces of advice we give first-time riders is to go out and purchase a pair of shorts with a good chamois. It is the single most important (and often overlooked) piece of gear that will make or break your ride.
After all, we are talking about your butt here! If you’ve ever experienced a saddle sore, you know what we’re talking about. And if you haven’t, let’s try to keep it that way with some of our favorite shorts.
Wild Rye Kaweah: $95
The Kaweah is a fresh take on the Wild Rye Freel short. The general fit is the same, but the Kaweah is a polyester-elastane blend at a more economical price point ($95). There’s a long, wide zippered pocket that’s well-positioned on the lower hamstring; a phone or wallet goes unfelt and unnoticed. The fabric is DWR-treated (and UPF 50), so puddle or downpour droplets roll right off.
Wild Rye is also well-known for unique, fun, eye-catching prints, and these shorts are no exception. We’re especially fond of the Thistle print, a one-of-a-kind, hand-drawn floral illustration created by artist Emberly Modine. Plus, the shorts have casual touches — like non-zipper front pockets and wide belt loops — so they work well for casual, around-town outings post-ride.
Patagonia Endless Rider Liner ($79) & Dirt Roamer Bike Shorts ($99)
The Patagonia Endless Rider Liner is a great starter pair of shorts that will last for a long time. While the chamois does take a few rides to break in, they will very likely become your favorite pair of shorts for your average 20- to 50-mile trail rides.
The legs have outer mesh panels, and the soft silicone leg grips keep the chamois in place. Although you could technically wear these on their own (as I have had to by accident), they go best with a short like the Dirt Roamer.
Built for flowy singletrack and lift-serviced trails, the Dirt Roamer has snaps to integrate seamlessly with the Endless Rider Liner. The nylon-spandex fabric has enough stretch for pedal-friendly mobility and is plenty breathable on hot days. They tend to run a bit small, so consider sizing up for comfort with the liner.
Shredly YOGACHAM: $68
When it comes to women’s-specific mountain bike shorts, Shredly has put in the time and research on what women want and what fits us best. From tall to petite, curvy to thin, the brand has something for everyone. Its well-known and beloved YOGACHAM is the best chamois for women of all riding and body types. We have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love and rave about them.
The chamois is highly breathable, conforms to your body almost immediately, and doesn’t have any extra bulk. The wide waistband and body of the short were inspired by yoga shorts. And we have to say they feel nearly as comfortable as our favorite yoga garb. These pair great with any of the amazing Shredly outer shell shorts; just pick your favorite pattern and go hit the trails.
Velocio Trail Mesh Bib Liner ($139) & Trail Short ($99 on Sale)
Introducing the first-ever MTB bib liner designed for women. Some bikers swear by bibs. The suspender system replaces a waistband, which makes them comfortable, sturdy, slip-free, and removes any opportunity for gut or bladder pressure that can be created by a double waistband. To relieve yourself, you simply drop your bike shorts (leave your top on), and the bibs’ stretch allows them to be pulled down, too.
Pair these with the slim-fitting Trail Short for happy days on the trail. The slide-snap closure on the Trail Short also reduces the amount of pressure at the mid-line. Plus, the short repels water (thank you, DWR finish) and features a low-profile, adjustable waistband to tighten up without the bulk of a belt.
Pearl Izumi Journey: $75
If you’re looking for a basic, streamlined, comfortable pair of riding shorts sans pockets or frivolous fabric, the Journey is here. An elastic waistband provides a smooth, slide-on fit and nixes the potential for snaps or buttons to push into the lower belly. (For some riders, an elastic waist might replace built-in customization that’s offered by, say, a Velcro belt.)
The non-removable interior shorts have a chamois, so there’s no need to pack two apparel pieces for travel. Bonus: The padded liner doesn’t feel like a diaper.
Pearl Izumi’s Journey shorts are comfortable from the trail to post-ride pizza to unpacking the rig — you even forget you’re wearing them. The exterior inseam might be on the shorter side (5 inches, size 6) for some but was five-star in our test run.
Regardless, the internal shorts — a stretchy polyester-Lycra-elastane blend — stay put via a small strip of sticky rubber, and the fabric repels water.
Be it sunshine or tall grass on the singletrack, the Sumi shields your thighs. With a 13-inch inseam (size medium), these long, durable shorts cover nearly the entire upper leg, even when you’re clipped into your pedals. (In contrast, the Kaweak has an 11.5-inch inseam, and the Journey’s is 5 inches.)
Two front pockets with zipper closures are complemented by one large, lower pocket on the left leg — that’s spacious enough to hold a phone — and another small pocket on the back side of the waistband. Also, these shorts don’t fall off: There’s a snap, Velcro, and zipper front closure plus an adjustable Velcro belt.
Have a favorite pair of women’s bike shorts we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.