Whether you wear chamois as a cyclist or not is your preference, but for those of us that do (?♀️) choosing the best women’s padded bike shorts is an important task. They should be well padded, but not too padded, comfortable at the waist (no digging into the stomach please!), grippy at the thigh so they don’t ride up, and definitely not see-through if you plan on wearing them solo (i.e. no baggy shorts over them).
Just like shopping for most women’s clothes, though, finding a great pair of women’s bike liners can be a challenge. I’ve tried many pairs over the years and below I’ve put together a list of a few of my favorites to help you find comfort in the saddle.
Discover the best padded bike shorts for women that are comfortable, durable, and great for every day riding or multi-day adventures
What are chamois bike shorts?
Chamois (pronounced ‘shammies’) are essentially the pads that are sewn into lycra or spandex bike shorts. Most riders call the whole bike liner a chamois. Chamois can be worn by themselves, which is how most road cyclists wear them, or underneath baggier shorts, which is typically mountain biker style.
Chamois provide a bit more cushion for your tush on the bike saddle and they can help prevent chafing by acting as sort of a compression layer to keep things nice and tight and contained.
FAQs about women’s chamois bike shorts
Do I really need to wear chamois when I ride?
Wearing liners – or chamois – when you ride your bike is a personal preference. Some riders I know never wear chamois, even on multi-hour or even multi-day rides. I typically always wear chamois because I find them more comfortable and they help prevent chafing.
On the other hand, riders who don’t wear chamois typically don’t because they find they chafe less when they don’t wear a liner.
So again, it’s a personal preference. Keep in mind, though, that chafing can be caused by a number of factors including old/worn chamois, poor saddle fit, poor bike fit, and not using chamois cream.
Should I wear underwear underneath my chamois?
No. Bike chamois are meant to be worn without underwear.
How often should I wash or replace my chamois?
It’s definitely a good idea to wash your women’s chamois bike shorts after every ride if possible. If I’m doing a multi-day bikepacking trip I’ll probably squeeze two days out of my chamois before washing them or rinsing them in a river or lake.
As for replacing chamois, that depends on how much you ride and use your liners. Chamois do get worn out and when that happens, the pad and material can become bunched or wrinkled when you ride, causing chafing or discomfort.
There is no set timeframe as to when you need to buy a new pair, but just keep in mind that chamois do have a lifespan and if you’re experiencing chafing it may be because you need a new pair.
I recently tried out these Terry Bella Prima Bike Shorts and they have quickly become my favorite padded liners. Not only are they super comfortable, but the chamois (the actual padded liner part) is just the right size and thickness. Many women’s padded bike shorts are either way too big or not big enough.
Another feature I love about these shorts is that the elastic waistband doesn’t roll down when I’m pedaling, like some other chamois I’ve tried. I’m not sure if this is because the material around the waist is slightly thicker so stays in place or if it’s because these are super high-waisted, which I definitely prefer.
If you’re looking for an all-around great liner that you can take on the trail or on the road, I highly recommend these!
If you want a similar short that is slightly less expensive, check out the Terry Bella Short. It’s made from a different fabric but has the same cut.
The DHaRCO Party Pants used to be my favorite pair of padded liners, but I did find that they stretch out over time (which is understandable, but liners are expensive!). That being said, they’re a really great lightweight option that are super comfortable underneath baggy mountain bike shorts.
While they are designed for mountain bikers they could definitely be used for roadies as well because they’re light, breathable, and not see-through. What I love most about these liners are that they’re super high rise, so they don’t dig into my stomach and I’m not constantly trying to pull them up.
The chamois pad is medium in thickness, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a diaper yet they still provide padding and the thighs have a silicone grip lining to prevent them from riding up.
They also come in fun patterns for those impromptu chamois dance parties out on the trail!
Best Merino Wool liner
3. Kitsbow Tsali Merino ($169)
- Intended use: Road cycling, mountain biking, gravel riding
- Fabric: 53% nylon, 21% Merino wool, and 26% spandex
- Waist: High rise
- Inseam length: Not specified
- Online retailers: Kitsbow
Kitsbow is a small boutique biking apparel company based out of North Carolina. All of their cycling gear is hand-sewn and most of it is made-to-order in the US in an effort to reduce waste and provide guaranteed quality.
The Tsali Merino Cycling Shorts are a favorite among Kitsbow customers for their durability, comfort, and high-quality Italian-made chamois. The merino adds exceptional moisture-wicking qualities to keep you cool and dry on the trail.
These definitely aren’t the cheapest women’s chamois bike shorts on the market, but if you’re looking for gear that is well made and will last a few seasons, these shorts are a great buy.
Kitsbow also makes a nylon version, which is slightly cheaper but no less well made.
If you’re on a budget or you’re new to biking and don’t need an expensive short, then the Terry Universal Bike Short Liner is a great option. At only $40, the price is hard to beat but since it’s a Terry product, you can be sure that it’s great quality and good design.
These shorts are on the shorter side, which makes them great for wearing underneath skirts, dresses, or shorts if you’re heading out on a casual ride.
Rapha is known for making high-end, high-quality cycling gear, so it’s no surprise that their Core Cargo Bike Shorts make this list. With cargo-style pockets on either side, you can have easy access to your phone for photos, snacks on long rides, a credit card if you’re stopping at the store on your way home, or anything else you want to keep handy.
The densely knit fabric is silky soft and these shorts also come with Rapha’s award-winning chamois pad to ensure comfort in the saddle.
If you’re like me and you like your padded liners long so they don’t ride up while pedaling, then the Terry Bermuda Shorts are for you! With an extra-long 11-inch inseam and a high waist, these shorts have you covered.
Like all Terry shorts, they’re also well designed with a small pocket on the leg that’s helpful if you’re going for a spin and want to carry some cash or a credit card.
Since these shorts are so long and made from a slightly heavier material, they’re best worn on their own (i.e. not under baggy mountain bike shorts).
If you want a long short that isn’t quite as thick as the Bermuda shorts, check out the Terry Wayfarer Shorts.
Alright, I know $185 is a lot of money for women’s padded bike shorts, but these chamois are SO NICE. They’re made with a luxurious Italian PRO Transfer fabric that is super silky and soft and provides excellent compression without making you feel like you’re in a bodysuit.
They have a high yoga-style waistband that stays in place when you pedal and the legs are designed with a grippy silicone to prevent them from riding up.
If you’re shopping around for a well-made, well-designed, high-performance bike short, these are your answer.
What are your favorite women’s padded bike shorts? What do you love about them? Let us know in the comments!