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Tried and tested.
Been inspired by those iconic pictures of Princess Di in shorts and an oversized jumper and now on the hunt for the perfect pair of womens cycling shorts? Then you’re in the right place, as part of our job here at Marie Claire UK is to test fit kit for you.
You read that right – as the Health Editor and Ecommerce Writer, we’re constantly searching for gym wear that lasts the long run, doesn’t sweat wick, and is good value for money, too. Best gym leggings? Best running trainers? Heck, even the best oversized gym t shirts? Been there, tried that, and rounded up the best options for you. Next up: womens cycling shorts for all types of workouts.
While we’ve included our go-to’s for cycling, too (Rapha Core Shorts, FYI), we’ve also added our favourite pairs for running, the gym, and more, because they’re not just for cycling. Far from it – they’re actually one of our favourite styles to workout in, especially come summer when it’s scorching outside (chafe cream at the ready..).
Womens cycling shorts: 8 pairs, tested by the Marie Claire team
1. Best padded cycling shorts
Women’s Core Shorts – £75 | Rapha
If you’re a avid cyclist, Rapha are the best shorts I’ve found for bum-padding (no sore glutes from your saddle over here), waist support, and sweat-wicking, too. They’re also a great price point for a brand that designs high-tech performance gear. I wore them for a ten mile bike ride and they didn’t ride up or fall down, either. – Ally Head, Health Editor
2. Best cycling shorts for running
Base Pace High-Rise Short 6″ – £48 | lululemon
While not *quite* as good as their old Fast & Free style which are now sadly out of stock, the new Base Pace design from lululemon come a close second. They’ve got less pockets, sure, but still enough space in the back pocket for your phone, card, and keys. Plus, when I tested them, I thought they felt light, supportive, and kind of like a second skin thanks to the seamless design. – Ally Head, Health Editor
3. Best cycling shorts for the gym
Power 6″ Cycling Shorts – £60 | Sweaty Betty
Perhaps my favourite cycling shorts out of all the pairs I tested, you can see why SB’s Power range is a bestseller. I’ve run two marathons in these shorts and they’re great. Flattering, supportive, and sweat-wicking, they’ve supported me through many a weights session and they’ve never chafed, rolled down or rolled up. They’ve also got plenty of pockets for your belongings – one on each thigh and one with a zip on your lower back, too. – Ally Head, Health Editor
4. Best high waisted cycling shorts
Claude Shorts, £48 | Pocket Sport
I won’t lie to you, I was initially drawn to these womens cycling shorts because of the beautiful blue colour, however, after testing them out during multiple workouts, I can confirm that the fit is just as impressive. They feature a sticky band (also known as a waistband gripper) around the waist which stops them from falling down, and there is even a little internal pocket to put your card and keys. I was worried that the shorts would be see-through or show sweat patches because of the lighter colour, but I haven’t had a flash of underwear or sweat patch in sight so far. – Grace Lindsay, Ecommerce Writer
5. Best adidas cycling shorts
Designed to Move High Rise Short – £22 | adidas
A simple design, these adidas womens cycling shorts are purse-friendly and so a no-brainer if you’re after a pair that won’t cost the earth. When I tested them, they didn’t ride up or chafe – that said, I wouldn’t wear them for longer distances (13 miles plus) as I found that they didn’t sweat wick as well as the other alternatives. Opt for a size down, as they run big, and do note that they also don’t have a built in pocked, meaning they’re better designed for the gym or pilates than running. Also available in plus size. – Ally Head, Health Editor
6. Best Nike cycling shorts
Dri-FIT Epic Luxe Trail Shorts – £49.95 | Nike
I included these in our round up of the best running shorts that don’t ride up, because they’re great and long lasting, in my experience, too. I found them ideal for trails thanks to the number of pockets (seven) and sweat-wicking ability over long hours out on the trails. Great for hiking, too – read our guide to the best UK hikes, here. – Ally Head, Health Editor
7. Best black cycling shorts
Perseverance Short in Black – £62 | PE Nation
Prior to trying PE Nation kit, I had a misconception that it was athleisurewear as opposed to quality performance activewear. How wrong I was. These shorts are the most supportive I tested, sweat-wick seamlessley, and really flatter without causing any leg or tum bulge. They’re tight without cutting in and the sheen of the fabric means they look great for Barre or brunch. Safe to say I’m a fan. – Ally Head, Health Editor
8. Best ribbed cycling shorts
Timeless 5 inch shorts in Tourmaline – £38 | SEFI
I’m a real fan of these ribbed cycling shorts for a number of reasons. When I tested them, I found them to be the perfect balance of soft yet supportive, holding you in in all the right places without cutting you in half or hurting your mid-section. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how they sweat wick – I’ve worn to the gym and on a ten mile run and they were great.
Don’t miss our edit of running shorts that don’t fall down, while you’re here.
Womens cycling shorts: what to look for in a good pair
Good question – because there’s nothing more frustrating than spending your money on kit that won’t support you through your workout.
If you’re after shorts for cycling, opt for the following:
- Adequate bum padding/cushioning – so you don’t get the dreaded numb bum.
- Grip around the stomach so they don’t fall down – essential for short, mid, and long distance rides.
- The right fit around your legs so your circulation doesn’t get cut off mid-ride – as above.
- Buy shorts designed for women – check that the front inseam is long enough and that the leg length is right for you.
If you’re after cycling shorts for workouts like running, weight training, Reformer Pilates and so on, go for:
- Sweat-wicking and breathable – cotton shorts won’t cut it if you plan to get a sweat on in them.
- Supportive – you’re after high waisted that won’t roll down but also won’t cut you in half.
- Pockets that don’t get in the way – if you’re using the cycling shorts for floor work, avoid a zip on the lower back.