I’ve been hanging around The Mom Edit long before I was a contributor, so I’m not naive to the fact that bike shorts were not only once used as an April Fools post, but a team try-on where most of the ladies were less than thrilled about them. That isn’t the case for this post, however, because I love bike shorts and I don’t care who knows it!
To be honest, fashion has never been about other people for me. I believe the best part about fashion is self-expression and feeling our most confident. Bike shorts are just as essential to my own wardrobe as a favorite pair of leggings. I love the look of them, plus they’re just the most comfortable thing to wear in the summer, ever.
The Best Bike Shorts For Women. A Try-On Sesh
Years ago you had to know where to look to find some, but nowadays just about every brand and retailer is selling bike shorts as a wardrobe basic. With all of the options, I found myself wondering are all bike shorts created equal? Is there one pair out there that’s better than the rest? I wanted to find out, so I did a deep dive into Google to find some of the most recommended pairs. In this post I’m trying on a bunch of bike shorts, including the highly praised pair from Girlfriend Collective, the Lululemon Wunder Under short, the $20 Seamless Shorts from Free People, the Salutation Short from Athleta — and more!
In addition to trying on some of the most talked-about pairs, I also tried to choose brands that don’t use loud branding (such as adidias with the three stripes down the side, even though I love ’em). I wanted the most universal + basic everyday pairs to compare. Most of these, if not all, claimed to be “butter” soft (you know, among all the other good things, too). I’m here to tell you that after this try-on, not all biker shorts are created equal!! If you’ve had a bad experience, or are just adventuring into this style for the first time — let me help you find your best pair.
1. The Pleasant Surprise: Outdoor Voices Flow 7″ Short
The cream of the crop. I was so thoroughly surprised by these, especially because I tried a pair of their leggings and did not like them. I expected these bike shorts to be a fail as well, but they actually scored Gold Stars in every category! These babies are really comfortable; I decided after this entire try-on that I think the 7″ is the perfect length for comfort and style. They have a waistband that moves with you, not against you, and holds you in without sucking you too tight (which makes them ideal for squats, too!). The shorts feature a flattering seam down the side of the leg, which I found to just be really nice on the eyes. Like magic, they made it appear as if I had an actual booty (what?!)!! They sit on the higher price end of bike shorts, but they are worth every penny in my opinion. Now I’m curious about their Double Time 7″ Short and their Warmup 5″ Short, too!
2. Almost Perfect: Lululemon Wunder Under Short 10″
This will be my third summer rocking these! This 10″ style is perfect for tall girls, and they also have an extra high rise, which I find very flattering. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a Lululemon snob, I’ve never found a legging that performs better, but I will also say these bike shorts aren’t perfect. The seam on the bottom of the shorts is a bit tight, which isn’t ideal for all leg shapes. About a quarter of an inch of the top often rolls down, but with the extra high waistband, it’s not unflattering or uncomfortable (and it may just be my own torso shape, you never know with rolling issues). These are really soft, and they aren’t even the silky soft Align version, which I imagine would be incredible (bonus: those Align shorts have pockets)! They hold up impeccably — I’ve had mine for multiple years and have put them through intense workouts and just styling out and about.
3. The Best Value: Aerie OFFLINE Goals 9″ Bike Short
These are almost half the cost as some of the more expensive pairs in this roundup (and when on sale, a real score), so for the price they are awesome. The shorts have a great contouring effect with a stronger hold material than the rest of ’em. They feature a seamless front, which I know some people prefer (and is oddly hard to find). The strong hold makes it a bit less comfortable than some of the other options, but that extra support can be flattering, and they didn’t squeeze my skin out at the bottom. The longer 9″ length makes it another pair ideal for long legs! PS: Remember my Crossover Leggings journey? Aerie has crossover bike shorts, too!
4. Yikes! Beyond Yoga High Waist Bike Shorts
Yikes, the pair that failed so badly I actually tried them on twice to see if I was mistaken. First off, the top seam was so tight I was afraid it would bust when trying to get it over my barely-there booty. I gingerly worked them up little by little, and let out a sigh of relief when they were on. The rest of the material fit me, and I double-checked the size (and double-checked my other BY leggings to make sure those — which fit great — were the same size. Yep.), which left me wondering if the design of the top seam is in hopes to keep them from rolling down. But anyone with a booty bigger than mine (which is like, anyone) would have a situation on their hands. They did stay up without rolling down, but having the band roll down would actually feel better than what I was experiencing. Just when I started trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, remembering how soft the Beyond Yoga fabrics felt, I was brought back to reality as my eyes landed on the extra thick middle seam — all you have to do is breathe wrong and you **whispers quietly** get camel toe. NEXT!
5. The Pair With Pockets: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II 7″ Short
I’ll be very honest here — I have tried on a good handful of pieces from Athleta, and I send them back every. single. time. I think I might be the only TME contributor who isn’t a fan. But I went into this try-on with an open mind, and while these weren’t the worst of them all, they weren’t the best. The material is a bit thicker and stiffer than the others, but not uncomfortably so… just, different from anything else I’ve worn. The bottom seams are a bit tight on the leg, which is never great (the reverse muffin top thing is just not the goal), but the pockets (there are pockets!) extend the entire length of the leg, which I found fun. This is the only other pair that went far enough to make my booty look better than normal, plus they are in the 7″ length which I find ideal. Last, the top ¼ inch of band rolled, but for the most part, stayed put. Compared to all the rest, these were…fine.
6. The Sustainable Pair: Girlfriend Collective High Waist Bike Shorts
For the pair that pretty much made every article, listing, and online roundup as one of the best, I was super-surprised at how average these were (maybe even less-than). The material is not buttery soft or super stretchy, but a solid material that would be good for dressing with outfits. I own a pair of their leggings and feel the same way: they aren’t something I would ever work out in. There is extra material around the crotch area that bunches depending on how I stand, which was not super attractive, and made me wonder if I needed a smaller size (except I never wear smalls?). Perhaps they are shaped for a body with a bigger booty to help fill out the material. The top seam is almost too tight, which had me definitely taking back the thoughts on needing a smaller size. This company is amazing for their sustainability efforts, so… there’s that.
7. The Soft Pair: Abercrombie ’90s Contour Bike Shorts
These are so soft — like so so soft. Imagine a fleece blanket that you want to cuddle up on the couch with. The softness has a downside as it attracts fluff, and you need to lint roll more than usual — especially if wearing with a sweater. The seams are perfect, not tight at all, and I couldn’t help but think that they would be amazing for sleeping in. I got bored with all the black shades of this try-on (or blue, when black wasn’t available in my size) so I ordered an additional animal print in this one to spice it up. They’re very much the same, but I’m surprisingly on the fence about the print in real life. Squats are possible in these, but I wouldn’t actually do them because of the blanket-like material.
8. Affordable: Free People Intimately Seamless Rib Bike Short
These were very tiny as I pulled them out of the package (like, doll size) and I was confused if they would even fit. Thankfully, they stretch very well and after pulling them on, thought nothing of it! Regular black was out of stock in my size, so I tried “black sparkle.” The sparkle effect, mind you, seemed barely noticeable online — but it’s laughable how vivid and, uh, gold these are in real life. The brilliant part about them is they have zero seams! No weird digging or pushing or camel toes, making them a very forgiving pair. These have a shorter rise than the rest, landing about ½ inch below my belly button. With this particular “sparkle” style it’s not a buttery material, but I’m wondering if the plain colors are a bit softer. Would be great for normal everyday wear — I definitely wouldn’t work out in them. These are a very average pair, BUT here’s the thing: for only twenty bucks they are very much worth having in your closet, especially if you only want to dip your toe into the bike shorts trend to see if you like the style as a whole!
Shop Bike Shorts!
My highest recommendation goes to the Outdoor Voices bike short, and I’m so pleasantly surprised by that. If you’re looking for a super-affordable pair to just wear casually and/or prefer a medium rise =- the Free People pair is my recommendation for you! For reference, I am 5’9″ and tried on mediums across the board (or the “M/L” in the FP pair).
PS: It’s truly amazing how different each and every pair was — I used to think that leggings were pretty similar across various brands, but after this bike short try-on I’m tempted to do the same for black leggings! Would that be something you’d be interested in (and if so, tell me a brand or two I should include)??
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