Rain or shine, race or commute, gear up to ride any day, in any conditions. Here’s our picks for great women’s cycling gear to keep you on the road and in the saddle.
If you’re a new rider looking to jump into cycling this summer, or if you’ve been into it for a while but never feel like you’re dressed for the perfect ride, don’t worry. The ultimate cycling wardrobe is only a few pieces away.
Because you’re starting in the summer, you can begin with just a few items and grow your wardrobe over time. Choose the best layering pieces as you figure out what your riding style is.
And while this list focuses on picks for female cyclists, most of these brands offer similar men’s versions. Also, the checklist used to make up a cycling “capsule” wardrobe is the same for both sexes. So let’s dive in!
Best Women’s Short-Sleeve Cycling Jerseys
Performance Women’s Ultra Short Sleeve Jersey: $80 (on sale for $50)
Despite being the most budget-friendly jersey on this list, the Performance Women’s Ultra Short Sleeve Jersey isn’t going to fall apart after a couple of washes or fit strangely. Rather, Performance Bike has engineered a high-quality, super-simple jersey at a great price point for the aspiring serious cyclist who prefers an all-business approach to her riding.
The jersey is made with built-in UV protection, and the polyester material is made with cooling tech so it wicks sweat neatly away. The back pockets fit anything and everything, and there’s even a small sweatproof zip pocket for your phone.
Unlike many women’s jerseys that sacrifice space on pockets for less fabric used, this is a working woman’s jersey that can fit a spare tube, mini pump, phone, and enough snacks for an epic ride.
For a silky-smooth, breezy feel for summer, SheBeest’s Divine jerseys are where it’s at. The wide rubberized grippers at the bottom help to avoid a sunburn on your lower back. And the fabric is rated UPF 30, so you don’t have to stress over tan lines!
Bonus: If you’re a “loud and proud” kind of cyclist, SheBeest has a ton of wild, crazy prints to pick from in this cut. Its jerseys are super stretchy, so you never feel like you’re in a sausage casing while you ride, even when the jersey actually contours to your curves.
Designed “for those who live boldly,” women’s brand Machines for Freedom designs gorgeous jerseys that have a hefty price tag but will absolutely stand out in a crowd.
The Element Print is one of its latest prints. While eye-catching, it’s not made with bold, splashing neons. It’s more of a subtle geometric print with fun cobalt and turquoise that stands out without blinding.
The design on the SPF 50 material was made “about play as a means of experimentation, expression, and freedom,” and that’s how it comes off. You can’t help but smile when you ride in it.
Three back pockets are available for your gear, and there’s a moisture-resistant side-zip pocket for your valuables. (It’s available in sizes ranging from XS to 2XL as part of the company’s commitment to being more size inclusive.)
Secretly love all things Disney and want a bit of a homage to your childhood favorites? Love jewel tones and attention-catching jerseys that look runway ready? The Velocio Stained Glass ES Jersey calls to mind the intro scenes of “Beauty and the Beast” with a gorgeous stained-glass design inspired by high fashion and architecture.
But the jersey isn’t just about a cool design: Velocio’s ES jerseys are carefully and thoughtfully designed to fit well – not too loose, not too tight. And they hold up for years and years of use.
The ES jersey has fewer seams compared to some of Velocio’s other jerseys, so it looks deceptively simple. But the zipper and three back pockets are designed to last through tons of laundry cycles, without losing shape or stretch to the jersey itself. Like the Machines for Freedom option, it’s a splurge. But you get a high-quality piece that lasts for years.
Best Women’s Road Cycling Shorts and Bibs
The Black Bibs: $40
The biggest sticking point for most women when it comes to switching to bib shorts is that there are very few options available at a low price point. This is especially true when compared to the cheap bike shorts sold in bike shops.
But then, Virginia-based The Black Bibs hit the market, bringing a $40 pair of completely blank, ultra-simple black bibs to the masses. The shorts aren’t fancy, but they’re a well-cut, ultra-comfortable heavy black fabric with a women-specific chamois.
If you’re on the fence about swapping shorts for bibs, this is a low-cost way to test the waters. And you’ll likely enjoy the fit of these so much that you’ll order a few more pairs.
Performance Women’s Ultra Bib Shorts: $80–100
Going for the race-i-ness of the Performance Women’s Ultra Short Sleeve Jersey? Pair it with the Ultra Bib Shorts and create your first perfectly matched kit for just $130.
With the new Ultra TMF Italian chamois designed with women’s anatomy in mind, you won’t end up with a soggy diaper feeling post ride. The shorts are mildly compressive, which makes for better recovery. But you don’t lose the comfort or need to deal with the “sausage effect” of a rubberized grip, as these have a wider silicone gripper.
Over simple black for your shorts? The SheBeest’s Crossword print offers the basic black colorway that can match anything, but with fun white letter accents for a “crossword” effect.
The SheBeest bib shorts are ideal for women who often find themselves making emergency port-a-potty stops mid-ride. The bibs are actually halter-style with mesh paneling, so they’re easy on/off and nice and breezy for hot summer rides.
Terry Bella Short: $112
The Terry Bella Short is ideal for women who don’t want to try bib shorts but want comfort. They’re universally loved by women of all sizes and available in two inseam lengths: 5 inches and 8.5 inches.
Made in the USA, they’re designed for endurance rides and long-term comfort. Unlike most shorts with a tight elastic top, the front panel is elastic-free, so you don’t end up with an uncomfortably tight fit. The fabric is soft and gently compressive, and a silicone leg gripper keeps them in place.
These bib shorts with a zip fly in the back have been called “the Cadillac of bib shorts” by women of all ages and sizes. The zip fly adds the easy ability to pull them down for mid-ride pee stops.
But it’s really the chamois and the compressive material, plus a comfortable mesh panel in the front, that makes these shorts stand out. (And don’t worry: The zipper isn’t visible while riding, and your back is protected by a “garage door” covering.) Even without the zip, they’d make the list!
Best Women’s Road Cycling Accessories
Raincoat – 7Mesh Re:Gen Rain Jacket: $300
Every rider needs a raincoat, even when it’s summertime. British Columbia-based company 7Mesh is all about rainwear, especially because Vancouver is super rainy year-round.
A sudden downpour doesn’t stand a chance against the Gore-Tex Active fabric used in the Re:Gen coat. It’s designed with women in mind, not just shrunk down from the men’s version. And mesh-backed cuffs with zips allow you to have a bit of extra wrist space when needed.
Side zips allow for venting, and completely watertight pockets (with waterproof zippers) mean you can stow your phone safely while you ride.
Base Layer – Pearl Izumi Transfer Base Layer: $90
A base layer goes under your bibs and jersey, wicks sweat in warmer conditions, and keeps you cozy as temperatures drop. Pearl Izumi’s Transfer Wool Long-Sleeve Women’s Base Layer is made with merino wool and polyester and is moisture-wicking, breathable, and antimicrobial.
As a cycling-specific base layer, the back hem is a tiny bit longer, so you’ll always have full coverage. And if cycling isn’t your primary sport, because it’s basic black, you won’t look out of place if you have to toss it on as a running top with sweatpants or leggings to go hiking.
Arm, Leg, and Knee Warmers – Rapha Classic Thermal Warmers: $55–75
Want to create a winter cycling kit for under $150? Add a solid set of brushed merino arm, leg, and knee warmers to your current cycling setup, and you’re good to go.
Rapha’s Classic Thermal options fit great, stay in place, and work with any configuration of jerseys and shorts to keep you cozy, even when the weather starts turning. Dotted silicone grippers keep the warmers in place and make sure that you put them under your kit rather than over.
Vest – Women’s Classic Gilet II: $135
Another piece that’s prime for layering is a vest. In almost any winter conditions, adding arm warmers and leg warmers, a vest, and then a raincoat will put you in comfortable territory.
For spring and early summer riders, a vest can keep your core cozy even while arms and legs stay exposed. Plus, a vest can be crammed into your back pocket if the temperature starts to rise.
The Rapha Women’s Classic Gilet II is even lighter than the original, and the new fit makes it even more ideal for fitting over a set of full jersey pockets. It’s windproof and water resistant, so it’s great for drizzly summer days or early morning rides that will definitely warm up by the time you head home.
Buff – Castelli Women’s Head Thingy: $18–$30
The most random and useful pieces in cycling and general adventuring, a buff can be many things. It can stick under a cycling helmet to act as a cap, or it can be worn around your neck to keep you warmer as temperatures drop.
In dusty conditions, it can cover your mouth so you don’t breathe in as much dust. And on hot days, soaking it in cold water and putting it around your neck can feel amazing. It sounds strange, but try it a couple of times and you’ll almost definitely become a convert.
Gloves – Castelli Women’s Tempo Glove: $70
A mid-range glove that fights wind and rain, like the Castelli Women’s Tempo Glove, is a great starter glove option. Although, admittedly, cycling in all weather conditions means you’ll need to invest in a couple styles of gloves.
But this is a great spot to start for most conditions. Castelli’s women’s Tempo Gloves use Gore Windstopper fabric to protect your hands from wind, while a silicone grip on the palm and fingers make shifting and braking easy even in the rain.
Bonus: A microsuede thumb means you can wipe the sweat off your brow and wipe your nose without snagging your skin on a seam.
Cap – Giro Peloton Cap: $20
Cycling caps aren’t just for looks. They also help keep sweat from dripping down into your eyes, keep your head warm as temperatures drop, and keep the sun out of your eyes.
The Giro Peloton Cap is just one of many great options. But with a few different color options available and a mesh material that’s designed to wick sweat, it’s a great spot to start.
Socks – Sockguy SGX5 Raceday Sock: $12
What’s the deal with cycling socks? You can certainly skip them and wear normal running or daily-life socks to ride. But your feet will be more comfortable in a cycling-specific pair with higher ankles and a bit of compression.
You’ll avoid puffy feet post ride. And the SGX5 are simple and black, so they go with whatever configuration of bibs and jersey you decide on. Don’t commit to a bunch of pairs right away, but do try one and see if you feel a difference.
Shoe Covers – Castelli Evo Shoe Cover: $50
Rain, snow, and cold weather can make the idea of riding outside seem like the worst thing ever. That’s probably because your feet and hands are frozen solid by the end of the ride. And that’s where shoe covers, along with gloves, can completely save the day and the ride.
Shoes are an entirely different topic that we won’t get into here, and we’ll assume you already have a pair of cycling shoes. Keep your toes warm with a pair of shoe covers that can be pulled over them. The Evos are lined with fleece and covered with neoprene to keep you dry.