The Best Padded Bike Shorts to Make Your Rides Way More Comfy

Feeling sore every time you ride a two-wheeler? Slip into these padded bike shorts to make each cycling session way more enjoyable.

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Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty

It seems like everyone is getting out for more bike rides right now. With the warm weather and social distancing still happening, it's a fun way to explore your 'hood and get in some cardio outdoors. The only problem: Sometimes clocking double-digit miles on a two-wheeler can lead to discomfort in not-so-convenient areas.

Luckily, padded bike shorts exist and are made to literally pad your ride and make your miles more comfortable so you can ride longer—even if that means sticking to a spin bike in your living room. "Once you try on padded bike shorts, it's rare you'll ever go back to non-padded shorts when you ride," says Beth Bridgham, REI senior product developer. "In addition to padding your seat, the sleek, stretchy material doesn't ride up, chafe, or bunch, which helps you stay comfortable so you can focus on enjoying your ride."

The added layer of cushion between you and your saddle can also provide a barrier to bruising, points out Emily Forsdick, a sales representative for Backcountry. "Taking the step of wearing a chamois [the technical name for the padded piece of the short] will help keep you performing at your best, so you progress to harder and longer bike rides," she adds. (

How to Choose the Best Padded Bike Shorts for Your Ride

You can wear padded bike shorts no matter what terrain you're cruising or what distance you're covering. The key to finding a good pair, though, is one that feels like a second skin, notes Bridgham. When trying them on, you might also notice that the waist position might feel slightly low in the front, but high in the back as you stand—and that's okay. They're engineered to rock on a ride so that construction will feel better in a seated position, explains Bridgham. "As soon as you jump on a bike, you'll notice the front waist shift slightly up and the back waist shift slightly down, settling the waist into a balanced position," she adds.

When you're deciding between different bike shorts and padding thickness, consider the distance and type of terrain, advises Forsdick. "Road bikes are fully rigid or without suspension, leaving the rider to feel every bump in the road. This makes a chamois important for road riders," she says. Some long-distance road bikers might also prefer bibs, which go over the shoulders and usually come with thicker padding. Mountain bikers, on the other hand, often ride downhill and with full suspension on their bikes (which helps absorb shock), so padding is less crucial to comfort. Mountain bike shorts also typically hit farther down the thigh, since mountain bike saddles sit lower and could knock around your thighs. A general rule: "The more the suspension, the less need for a chamois," points out Forsdick.

Choosing the best padded bike shorts for you (and how you style them) also comes down to preference. Most bike shorts are designed so riders can sport them solo, but some people prefer wearing more loose-fitting shorts over top. Underneath, Bridgham suggests skipping the underwear so the chamois sits next to your skin. "As crazy as it may sound, the seams from underwear can rub and unfortunately cause painful blisters where you do not want blisters," she says. (

The Best Padded Bike Shorts for Every Rider

If you're still having trouble making your padded bike shorts pick (or figuring out how to wear them), look at examples of other women riders who crush road rides or mountain trails and mimic their style, says Forsdick. Even better, let this guide below help you choose a comfortable option—whether it be for long rides, short rides, mountain or road—so your next bike ride is your best yet.

Best Overall: Giordana SilverLine Short

padded bike shorts giordana
AMAZON

For top-notch cushioning, construction, and a stretchy, supportive fit that's anything but restrictive, look no further than these Giordana shorts. Recommended by Forsdick, the yoga-inspired waistband makes them comfy around your middle, while the padding means you won't feel sore during or after your ride. And Amazon reviewers love them, with one customer sharing, "They are very stylish but most importantly, they are incredibly comfortable, and I was able to ride my bike for several hours without experiencing any soreness."

Buy It: Giordana SilverLine Short, from $119, amazon.com

Best Value: Pearl Izumi Escape Quest Cycling Shorts

padded bike shorts pearl izumi
AMAZON

Silicone grips along the bottom seam of each leg keep these padded bike shorts in place, while the smooth fabric offers compression and wicks moisture, so you're never sitting in too much sweat. Plus, they have built-in UPF to protect you from the sun on outdoor rides. Reviewers agree that these run a bit small (so don't be afraid to size up), and one shopper noted that they're best worn for rides under 50 miles: "Have been wearing Pearl Izumi cycling shorts for several years and continue to favor the quality and fit. Quest shorts are best for rides <50 miles. For longer rides, the higher level Elite and PRO shorts are preferred." (

Buy It: Pearl Izumi Escape Quest Cycling Shorts, $50, amazon.com

Best Amazon Ratings: Beroy Bike Shorts

padded bike shorts beroy
AMAZON

With nearly 3,000 reviews, these bike shorts still earned an impressive 4.5 rating with 70 percent of buyers giving them five stars. Besides being easy on the bank account, customers say these shorts make their rides much more comfortable and "don't feel too much like a diaper"—totally key since padded shorts can feel a little bulky. What's more, you can choose from many different colors and patterns to fit your cycling style.

Buy It: Beroy Bike Shorts, from $24, amazon.com

Best Padded Bib: Castelli Free Aero Race 4 Bibshort

padded bike shorts castelli
AMAZON

If a long ride is on your calendar, you'll want to slip into some bibs. Castelli—a brand leader in the bike industry, according to Forsdick—provides the perfect pair. In addition to a seamless padded seat, you get everything you need to pick up speed on the road, including an ergonomic fit on the upper half, which lays flat and will keep you cool. One reviewer raved: "I am SUPER picky about chamois comfort and these bibs have a superb chamois! All-day comfort and no chafing. Fabric is nice and compressive."

Buy It: Castelli Free Aero Race 4 Bibshort, $200, amazon.com

Best Padded Mountain Bike Shorts: Backcountry Covert Liner Short

padded bike shorts backcountry
BACKCOUNTRY

Forsdick is a fan of these because they offer just the right thickness of cushioning under your bum. The smooth material feels great against the skin, while the silicone grips around the legs keeps them from moving around as you pedal. Forsdick suggests wearing longer mountain bike shorts over of this padded pair so you have extra protection from your seat hitting your inner thighs.

Buy It: Backcountry Covert Liner Short, $42, $55, backcountry.com

Best for a Barely-There Feel: Club Ride Apparel Jewel Cycling Bikini Brief

padded bike shorts clubride
AMAZON

A go-to for Forsdick, this pair looks just like workout underwear, but offers a light chamois for shorter rides or mountain-bike journeys and attachment loops for your shorts. "The padding is the lightest I've found," says Forsdick. Besides the thin cushioning underneath, the breathable stretch fabric and flat waistband also add to that practically unnoticeable feel. (

Buy It: Club Ride Apparel Jewel Cycling Bikini Brief, $35, amazon.com

Best for Extra Storage: Terry Bike Bermuda Shorts

padded bike shorts terry
REI

Shorts and leggings with pockets are always the way to go—even when talking about padded bike shorts. And this pair fits that criteria, making for easy carrying of your phone or fuel with a single pocket located on the side of the thigh. These nylon and spandex shorts also provide a soft and stretchy fit, making your miles breeze by in comfort. On top of that, one REI reviewer claims they're buttery soft and perfect for hitting the mountain: "These shorts are just like butter on your body. So soft and comfortable, they also have the right looks as well. Love the pocket. I mountain bike 5 times per week 5 to 15 miles.They feel great!"

Buy It: Terry Bike Bermuda Shorts, $90, rei.com

Best for Expanded Sizing: Machines for Freedom Endurance Bib

padded bike shorts machines for freedome
MACHINES FOR FREEDOM

Created specifically with women in mind, this bib was years in the making. The result of extensive research and testing, it offers a chamois that will better fit the shape of your body, straps that can be customized for your height and chest size, plus leg and waist bands meant to provide compression without restriction. Better yet: It's available in sizes XS to XXXL. And, it's perfect for indoor and outdoor cycling, as one shopper points out: "I can't say that I have ever had more comfortable bibs. I have worn these on long rides and well as shorter spins. The quality is excellent. Ordering another pair. Hoping MFF does knickers or other warm weather gear."

Buy It: Machines for Freedom Endurance Bib, $235, machinesforfreedom.com

Best Budget-Friendly Pick: Eco-Daily Cycling Shorts

padded bike shorts eco-daily
AMAZON

If you're searching for an extra short pair of padded bike shorts that's breathable and wallet-friendly, these have you covered. Available in three bright colors as well as black, these shorts are a favorite among reviewers for their thick foam padding, which doesn't rub as you ride. One user especially loves the chamois' coverage for both the front and rear: "I've been looking for cycling pants specifically with padding in the front and it's been tough finding any bottoms that comfort both my rear AND my lady front. Of course pictures always look promising, but test riding them is the only way to verify that things are as comfy as they look. And I'm happy to say that these are!"

Buy It: Eco-Daily Cycling Shorts, $22, amazon.com

Best for Casual Riding: Nooyme Bike Shorts

padded bike shorts nooyme
AMAZON

As Bridgham suggested, you want to find a pair of padded bike shorts that fit like second skin—and these are it. "The fit is perfect and the chamois is just enough—not bulky—and it doesn't stick out the front or the back. The shorts feel like a second skin and I literally forgot I had them on," raved a customer. You get everything you could want in a pair of bike shorts, whether you're riding inside or outside for long or short miles. Slip into 'em for your next Peloton class or when you hit the open road.

Buy It: Nooyme Bike Shorts, from $25, amazon.com

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