Best budget women's bib shorts 2022 – comfort without the cost

A good set of cycling bib shorts doesn't need to be an expensive investment. Here's our thoughts after reviewing some of the cheaper and more affordable women's bibs.

Best cheap women's bib shorts
Best cheap women's bib shorts
(Image credit: Future)

As comprehensive as it is, there’s one snag with our “best women’s cycling shorts” Buying Guide: the shorts in it range from £80 to more than £200. That’s a lot of money for a pair of shorts especially as you’re likely to want to buy more than one set and – of course – there’s always the risk of crashing and putting a hole in them on your first ride. 

(It’s always worth checking out the ‘best deals’ tabs at the end of the our other guide though, at time of writing there were some shorts available at less than half price).

This Buying Guide addresses the price issue by focusing on shorts under the £70 / $85 mark. Even in our price bracket there’s a fair amount of variation with our cheapest pair costing half that of the most expensive. 

What’s the difference between the cheaper shorts in this guide and more expensive ones? Generally they have fewer of the ‘latest technologies’ in the fabric and chamois, they may be more basic in design and are often from in-house brands rather than boutique ones.

This doesn’t mean they suit you any less well than a more expensive pair. The best bib shorts aren’t necessarily the ones with the fanciest technologies and designs, they’re the ones that fit your style, bum and budget; we tested some really great ones as part of this guide.  

Because this guide has a lot to do with price, we've ranked our shorts below from the cheapest to the most expensive, starting with those under £60/$75.

We’ve got more advice and FAQs on all things bib shorts at the bottom of the page. And whilst we’re on the subject of comfortable bums, don’t forget to have a look at our best women’s bike saddles guide too. 

Best bib shorts £60 / $75 and under

dhb Women's Bib Shorts

dhb Women's Bib Shorts

(Image credit: dhb)

dhb women's bib shorts

Best for everyday affordability

Specifications

Sizes: UK 8 – 16 (XS – XXL)
Colour: All black
Chamois: CyTech Elastic Interface 'Veloce' chamois
Fabric: Italian Miti performance stretch fabric (82% polyester, 18% spandex)
Easy-pee design: No
Price: £35 / $45

Reasons to buy

+
Price
+
Simple and comfortable bib design

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly thick short and bib fabric, so can be hot
-
Basic chamois

If you’re looking for an affordable set of bibs to try them out or something for a commute or leisure ride, the dhb women’s bibs are an excellent place to start.

The first thing I really liked about these shorts is the fit and style of the short and bib sections. There’s nothing to high, or low, or short, or long; just normal length shorts with simple design bibs which comfortably covered my belly and lower back. Sizing was good with the fit of the UK 10 being just as I’d expect.

dhb Women's Bib Shorts chamois

dhb Women's Bib Shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

The Lycra material is thicker than many others we tested, which does make them warmer than some of the others we tested. The leg gripper is a simple silicon strip which worked well and was perfectly comfortable.

For a low-priced pair of shorts I found the chamois pretty comfortable, it certainly wasn’t the thick foam pad I was expecting. On rides around an hour and in a more sat up position, I didn't feel the need for anything more. It was only on longer rides down in the drops that the chamois didn't provide enough cushioning.


Madison Sportive Women's Bib Shorts

Madison Sportive Women's Bib Shorts

(Image credit: Madison)

Madison Sportive Women's Bib Shorts

Best for a clasp-free easy-pee design

Specifications

Sizes: UK 10 – 18
Colour: Black shorts, white bib
Chamois: 4G-RACE GelCel chamois pad with anti-bacterial fabric
Fabric: Shorts: 75% polyamide, 25% elastane Bib: 82% polyester, 18% elastane
Easy-pee design: Yes
Price: £50 (UK only)

Reasons to buy

+
Low bulk chamois
+
Clasp-free easy-pee design

Reasons to avoid

-
Sizing much larger than expected
-
Warm bib section

Compared to most of the other shorts we had on test, the design of the Madison Sportive is rather back-to-front with a large mesh panel on the front and straps at the rear. This design seemed a little odd at first until you realise it’s all about allowing for a low back which allows you to pull down the shorts without removing the bib. This simple system did its job well and it proved very easy to drop the shorts for a wee.  

The Sportive bibs are quite large compared to what we’d expect. This was particularly evident in the bibs section which was far too long for my fairly average length body. This combined with the style made the front of the bibs quite loose and baggy. The shorts were also larger round my legs than I expected, but the wide gripper did a good job of holding them in place so this didn’t cause any issues.

Madison Sportive Women's Bib Shorts chamois

Madison Sportive Women's Bib Shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

I found the chamois to be pretty effective for rides of around 2 hours. It wasn’t overly bulky and had good shock absorbency in the right places. On longer rides – especially when riding drop bars – I could have done with something a little more effective at the front of the pad but generally the performance was good given the price of the shorts.


Funkier Ioza women's bib shorts

Funkier Ioza Ladies' Bib Shorts 

(Image credit: Funkier)

Funkier Ioza Ladies' Bib Shorts

Best for high-end feel

Specifications

Sizes: XXS – XXXL
Colour: All black
Chamois: single block of high density foam
Fabric: 240g lycra fabric
Easy-pee design: No
Price: £59.99

Reasons to buy

+
Low bulk chamois
+
High quality feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Svelte chamois may not suit all

The Funkier Ioza are an extremely comfortable set of bib shorts with the feel of a much more expensive pair.

The shorts section covered my lower back and belly nicely at mid-belly height. The leg length was relatively shorter than all the other shorts in this guide which played havoc with my tan lines. The leg gripper is nice and broad with the added quality touch of a taped seam.

Funkier Ioza women's bib shorts chamois

Funkier Ioza ladies' bib shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

The bibs are a simple central broad mesh strap at the back and two straps at the front which were both comfortable and cool. The fit is really good with the material seeming to account for my bigger and smaller than average parts with no overly tight or loose sections.

The chamois will suit those minimalists who opt for effective pressure-absorption in a smaller area rather than a larger all-encompassing approach. I really appreciated the lack of bulk and found the chamois really effective, keeping me comfortable on rides of over several hours.


GIRO Women's Base Liner Halter Bib Shorts

GIRO Women's Base Liner Halter Bib Shorts

(Image credit: GIRO)

Giro Women's Base Liner Halter Bib Shorts

Best for combining with over layers

Specifications

Sizes: XS - XL
Colour: Black
Chamois: GIRO Base Liner
Fabric: Main body fabric: 79% polyester / 21% elastane; Mesh side panels: 92% polyester / 8% elastane
Easy-pee design: Yes
Price: £60 / $72

Reasons to buy

+
Well vented

Reasons to avoid

-
Rear pockets difficult to access
-
Halter neck strap visible under jersey
-
Extensive torso section won't suit all

The GIRO Base Liner Halter Bib Shorts have two significant differences from all the other shorts we tested. Firstly, they’re designed to be worn under baggy shorts which makes them suited to leisure cyclists or commuters. 

The side panels of the shorts are mesh so there’s decent airflow even with another layer on top. To complete the stealth design there are three small rear pockets on the shorts although these sit a little high so can be difficult to access.

GIRO Women's Base Liner Halter Bib Shorts chamois

GIRO Women's Base Liner Halter Bib Shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

The other major difference is that rather than a classic or cross over straps, the Giro bib shorts are a halter neck style. The upper / top section of the bibs is a mesh material and is much more significant than most of the other shorts in this guide – it’s more akin to a swim suit than traditional bib shorts design. The halter neck strap holds everything in place. 

This arrangement allows you to take the shorts off without removing your top, although there is more fiddling than some of the other designs as you do need to pull the strap over your head and pull the top section down (this rather took me back to my days of changing for school swimming lessons). The halter neck strap does feel a bit odd round the back of your neck and sits high so it’s visible with a top on. All in all, you’ll either love or hate the design.

The chamois is quite thin but performed well on rides of around 2 hours. The lack of bulk certainly suits wearing as an under-layer where it’s easy to end up with far more bulk than is comfortable.


dhb Women's MODA bib shorts

dhb Women's MODA bib shorts

(Image credit: dhb)

dhb Moda Women's Classic Bib Shorts

Best for lightweight comfort

Specifications

Sizes: UK 6 - 18
Colour: Black or navy shorts, white bibs
Fabric: Shorts: 80% nylon, 20% spandex Mesh: 83% “other fibres”, 11% spandex, 6% polyester
Easy-pee design: No
Price: £60 / $75

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and cool
+
Well fitting

Reasons to avoid

-
Lightweight cross over straps can be a bit fiddly

Similar to the Funkier Ioza the feel and fit of the dhb Moda Classic is of a much more expensive set of bib shorts. The shorts accommodated all my bumps and bulges without any fuss and felt really comfortable on with the zig-zag stitching and stretchy fabric doing their jobs nicely.

At first I didn’t get on with the minimal cross-back strap design, getting myself a bit tied up and in a twist. But once on, the straps are extremely comfortable and very lightweight which makes them great for hotter days. Unlike some of the other cross-back designs, these aren’t designed to be removed for pee stops as the shorts section sits a little too high to stretch them down.

dhb Women's MODA bib shorts chamois

dhb Women's MODA bib shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

The chamois is low bulk and sits nice and evenly in the shorts with very little fuss.  dhb states that the chamois has been developed for three hours in the saddle, but I’ve got on well with these shorts on rides over double that.

At time of writing, these are selling at £35 at Wiggle - so I’ve just ordered myself another couple of sets. I’d have done it at full price too. 

Best bib shorts around £70 / $85

Altura Progel Plus Women's Cargo Cycling Bib Shorts

Altura Progel Plus Women's Cargo Cycling Bib Shorts

(Image credit: Altura)

Altura Progel Plus Women's Cargo Cycling Bib Shorts

Best for extra storage

Specifications

Sizes: UK 8 – 18
Colour: Black or navy
Chamois: Altura Progel Plus women's pad
Easy-pee design: Yes
Price: £70 / $87.49

Reasons to buy

+
Simple and effective easy-pee design
+
Large accessible side pockets
+
Durable material for rougher use

Reasons to avoid

-
Bib strap yoke may not hold over time
-
Sized a little large
-
Reflective leg gripper a little rough

The Altura bib shorts are quite heavy-weight and durable, with both the shorts section and straps being made of a much thicker material than most of the others we tested.  As someone who’s quite heavy on their kit through commuting, bike packing and off-road riding, this is quite a welcome feature - even if they haven’t suited this particularly hot summer so well. The sizing was a little larger than expected, so it’s worth checking the guides before you buy.

There were a couple of features that felt a little too robust for bib shorts. There’s a wide elastic leg gripper that has reflective detailing, but I found this is a little too rough and stiff to be comfortable. There’s also a stiff “iron-on” material that acts as the yoke for the thick elastic cross-straps which results in a hot patch between your shoulders. This also started to delaminate after the first wash, so may not hold up well over time.

Altura Progel Plus Women's Cargo Cycling Bib Shorts chamois

Altura Progel Plus Women's Cargo Cycling Bib Shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

Altura doesn't mention it in the specifications, but the cross straps and lower slung back make it possible to pull down the shorts for a wee without removing the bibs – a feature that hasn’t been very common at this price point.

The chamois is constructed from a combination of foam and gel inserts; a combination that provided plenty of comfort on rides of over 3 hours on road and gravel rides alike. It does appear quite bulky and I didn’t expect to find it comfortable, but was pleasantly surprised how it performed.

The cargo pockets did a good job at holding snacks securely and were easily accessible even with gloves on. They’d easily accommodate a phone or spares if you wanted to preserve your rear pockets for something else. 


Endura Women’s Xtract Lite Bibshort

Endura Women’s Xtract Lite Bib Short

(Image credit: Endura)

Endura Women’s Xtract Lite Bib Short

Best for keeping cool

Specifications

Sizes: XXS - XL
Colour: Grey
Chamois: 500 series pad with Dispersefoam™
Fabric: Main: Lycra 29%, Nylon 71%. Trim: Elastane 10%, Polyester 90%
Easy-pee design: No
Price: £70 / $85

Reasons to buy

+
Good fit
+
Lightweight
+
UPF50+ sun protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Chamois can feel bulky

The Endura Xtract Lite boasts several features which make them great for hot weather riding. Firstly the main Lycra material is noticeably lightweight and the bib fabric is a really open mesh so they’re nice and cool. This is quite different from many of the other shorts in this price bracket, where costs are kept down with more basic – and usually heavier-weight – fabrics. The material is also UPF50+ treated to give you under-short sun protection and maintain those sharp tan lines.

Endura Women’s Xtract Lite Bib Short chamois

Endura Women’s Xtract Lite Bib Short chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

The chamois itself boasts a unique foam which is designed to wick moisture to keep your nether regions dry and cool. It’s difficult to really assess the validity of these technologies when testing products, but I certainly didn’t have any issues with feeling particularly hot and sweaty even riding in these on some of the hottest days on UK records. 

Personally I didn’t find the pad particularly comfortable, though. It felt quite bulky and I ended up having to shift my weight around to avoid numb bits and pressure points. This was less pronounced when riding my flat bar bike than on my road bike when I was in the drops a lot. Conversely, if you like a thicker foam pad these could work well for you.


Alé Traguardo bib shorts

Alé Traguardo bib shorts

(Image credit: Ale)

Alé Traguardo women's bib shorts

Best for large chamois

Specifications

Sizes: XS – XXL (pay attention to the fitting guide as you may want to size up)
Colour: Black (with white or pink trim)
Chamois: Ale Women's 'W4H' - high density 90 kg/cm2 foam
Fabric: Shorts – 80% nylon / 20% cotton Bibs – 75% nylon / 25% elastane
Easy-pee design: No
Price: £70 / $78

Reasons to buy

+
Wide “leg stability” hems hold well without need for silicon gripper

Reasons to avoid

-
Some stitching a little uncomfortable
-
Wide pad made for a bulky feel

The fit and feel of the Alé Traguardo is very much what you might expect from an Italian brand: high quality, slim and comfortable. Having paid attention to the fitting guide, I sized up and was pleased I did with the larger size fitting me well. The wide leg gripper did a really good job of holding the shorts in place without any tightness. 

The shorts section covered my lower belly and back nicely and the slight gripper on the wide mesh straps was really comfortable too. On the downside there were a couple of areas of stitching where seams had been over-sewn that were a little scratchy and itchy.

Alé Traguardo bib shorts

Alé Traguardo bib shorts chamois

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)

The chamois is significantly larger than in any of the other shorts we tested in this review. The advantage of a larger chamois is that it alleviates the risk of any chafing spots by ensuring coverage regardless of your individual anatomy, saddle or riding position – a bit like having a larger gel-filled saddle. On the downside a large chamois can feel bulky and hot and therefore uncomfortable, which is our testing experience of the Traguardo.

Everything you need to know about women's bib shorts

What to look for when buying women's bib shorts

At the top of the check list for any of the best women's cycling shorts is the padded insert, otherwise known as a chamois. There’s a fine line between sufficient padding and too much bulk, and this also depends on the kind of riding you're going to be doing. Long days in the saddle will require more cushioning, but if you’re on and off the bike a lot, for example a quick commute or a cyclocross style ride, you may prefer much less.

The most important thing about the chamois is that it suits your own undercarriage well. This is where writing a review and buying guide gets tricky – what shape and style suits a tester doesn’t necessary suit a reader and vice versa. Nevertheless, the general bulk and construction of a chamois will give you a really good idea of what kind of riding and rider preference it will suit. Our job in reviewing is to take personal anatomy out of the equation and give you as balanced view as possible.

A quick squish test can give you a rough idea as to the level of padding, but also take into account construction: is it made from foam, gel or both? As a rule of thumb the more variety and densities of layers, the more cushioning you will receive, especially over a longer time period (both in terms of riding time and age of shorts) when padding can compress flat – offering little in terms of support.

What's the difference between chamois in men's and women's shorts?


A women’s specific chamois should be shorter and have sit bone padding wider apart and more central soft tissue support than a men's.

One of the biggest causes for short discomfort can be the chamois-to-short interface. Unfinished edges and badly positioned stitching can irritate legs, buttocks and groin. A niggle, when multiplied by several thousand pedal revolutions, can swiftly turn in to full blown painful chaffing and skin loss. To protect yourself from this, the best women's cycling shorts will have flatlock sewing right at the edges of the padding and ensure that the unpadded fringes of the chamois flow a few centimetres below the groin to prevent irritation.

Talking about other anatomical areas that need protection, you might find our guide on the best sports bras for cycling a helpful insight in how to find the best chest support for you.

 

How should you chose your cycling bib shorts?


There are a few key areas to consider when choosing cycling shorts as a woman. Most important is the chamois, whether it’s supportive enough – and in the right places – to be comfortable over long durations. 

Next is the quality of the material and the fit. You should look for a set of shorts which is gently compressive to provide support for your muscles, whilst not feeling too tight or constrictive. Higher quality fabrics tend to give a nicer feel against the skin and are more breathable during hard efforts on hot days.

Wide leg grippers help to keep the shorts in place, whilst also distributing the pressure evenly so as not to dig in. Likewise, wide bib straps do a similar job at distributing the pressure there.

Finally, there is whether the short has an easy-pee system. The straps of a traditional set of bib shorts means you have to remove your jersey to get the straps down when you stop for the loo. Nowadays designers have come up with a variety of ways to help with this by either arranging the straps differently or having zips for access. Whichever design the important thing to remember not to drop the contents of your rear pockets down the toilet.

Why bother with women's cycling shorts?


Women wear cycling shorts for the same reasons men do, that is: to provide additional cushioning for long duration riding. Cycling shorts also have the additional benefits of providing light compression to your muscles and quickly wicking away sweat from your skin. 

Being skin tight has its aerodynamic benefits, with no material free to flap away in the wind, but it also makes for a more comfortable riding experience not having excess material getting in the way and potentially chafing.

Rachel has been writing about and reviewing bike tech for the last 10 years. Cynical by nature, Rachel never really trusts the marketing hype and prefers to give products a mighty good testing before deciding whether they're worth buying or not. 


Rachel's first riding love is mountain biking where she's been European and UK 24hr Champion on more than one occasion. She's not just confined to the trails though and regularly rides - and occasionally races - on gravel and road too.