Staying hydrated on a bike ride is crucial for your wellbeing and performance, but often the consequence of this is the need for a comfort break mid-ride which can be harder for women.
The anatomy of a women’s body puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping up with our male counterparts at a pee stop. To compound matters, the cycling clothing we like to wear seems to make life harder, but we continue to wear these items for the comfy riding experience they bring.
Comfy shoulder straps hold the bib shorts in place rather than an irritating waist band which soaks up sweat and digs into the tummy uncomfortably in the waist shorts kind. Bib shorts also have a higher cut than waist shorts, so even if your jersey rides up you don’t have to worried about any skin exposure.
However, as great as bib shorts are, a standard pair is not very friendly for a mid-ride pee break for women – especially when you are bursting.
For female riders who have opted to fill their jersey pockets with spares, a pump and nutrition – instead of in a saddlebag – taking off a jersey is an absolute pain. It is so easy for everything to fall out onto the floor when the pockets are not tight against your body. And said floor is probably a dirty and leafy forest floor, that is also likely wet.
What’s worse is the winter. Multiple layers on your top half are going to have to be taken off to get to the bib straps to pull your shorts down. So you are squatting – with quads that are burning from drilling it up the last climb – while holding a bundle of winter clothing and trying not to accidentally pee on your sleek cycling shoes.
Men have it so easy. They just dismount the bike, turn 90 degrees and stare blissfully into the picturesque countryside from the side of the road – a few seconds later, all done. Whereas us women are still in search of a suitable pee spot, trekking deeper into the foliage and further from the road, for a little more privacy. Getting stung by stinging nettles on the way is also a common occurrence.
But, there is some good news. The nightmare of needing to pee on a bike ride can be less troublesome than the account above, thanks to the latest innovative designs of women’s shorts by some cycling clothing brands.
The quality of your riding experience does not have to be compromised, as waist shorts are no longer the only option for easier comfort breaks. Practical bib shorts for women now exist which incorporate either a halterneck or zip in its design. No more faffing about is required.
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Halterneck style women’s bib shorts
Standard shoulder straps on these bib shorts are replaced with a stretchy, elastic neck strap that is known as a halterneck.
This clever concept adds convenience to women’s cycling shorts as all you need to do is pull the shorts down, while still wearing all your top layers. The fabric of the strap used is really impressive as it both stretchy enough to pull down completely out of the way when peeing, but also snaps back into place for a tight fit when riding.
dhb Aeron Halterneck women’s bib shorts
Dhb’s halterneck offerings come with a women’s specific Elastic Interface Paris HP chamois pad for comfort on long days out; the chamois is rated for rides over seven hours in length. With silicone particle leg grippers these shorts are also kept well in place, without squeezing the leg.
Giro Chrono Sport Halter women’s bib shorts
These halterneck bib shorts from Giro have a full mesh base layer that wicks away sweat without any additional clothing. A women’s specific Chrono Cytech chamois is fitted in the Sport bib shorts and its smooth construction provides plenty of comfort on both long rides and shorter, more aggressive workouts.
Zip style women’s bib shorts
Placing a zip on bib shorts means you can unzip the side and back of the shorts and avoid having to take off any layers you are wearing on top. These zips are robust, so you can still get a tight race fit pair of shorts with this practical feature included.
Endura FS260 Pro DS women’s bib shorts
Endura’s zip system creates a ‘drop seat’. The shorts are designed to be unzipped completely round the back for a comfort break. It’s a quick and easy system to use, even if it does feel a bit strange the first time. The zip construction is solid, reliable and has an improved stretch, so you don’t need to be worried about your backside bursting open – an understandable concern.
These shorts still have performance in mind with their aero fit and they feature a raw edge grip rib hem with silincone grippers to keep the shorts in place, whatever the effort you are putting in.
Read more: Endura Women’s Pro SL bib shorts review
Gore Wear C5 + women’s bib shorts
Gore’s zip system is slightly different from Enduro’s design with a two-zip construction. The zips are also placed higher up, just above the hips. This design is slightly more reassuring if a disaster with the zip did strike, while offering a similar level of functionality to the Endura shorts.
The C5 shorts have Gore’s women’s ADVANCED seat insert for cushioning the sit bones and minimising pressure as you ride, as well as Gore’s WINDSTOPPER Cup in the front panel to block wind to the groin area.