Women's gear, up first
Women's gear, up first
Lady shredders haven’t always had great options for performance bike apparel. Thankfully, that’s starting to change. Presenting our favorite freeride layers for women.
The midweight, two-way stretch V’al shorts are slim enough to avoid catching on the saddle and they didn’t bag out after a season of use. The fabric’s tough: it stayed intact after a tumble on Utah’s rocky Wasatch Crest. The three-quarter-sleeve Pedigree is playfully styled like a baseball jersey, with a drop hem in back that didn’t ride up even when worn under a pack.
Spez paid attention to the details when building these water-repellant shorts, cutting thigh vents into the side for better breathability and pairing them with a respectable chamois that includes a built-in side pocket big enough for a tool, tube, and Gu shot. (Access the stuff through a slash pocket cut in the overshorts.) The merino top felt cotton-soft and has a nice zip side pocket for cash and keys.
The Yeti Cycles women’s enduro team designed this kit, and their knowledge shows. The shorts are lightweight and slim, ideal for wearing in hot weather. They also have an adjustable waist with a silicone gripper in back and a built-in, low-profile belt to keep things in place. A triangle cut at the hem accommodated athletic quads, and a lumbar pocket held a key and an ID. The jersey’s stretchy elbows weren’t baggy but slid easily over svelte pads. Add Yeti’s Ruby Liner, which has a broad, yoga-style waistband, for an extra $60.
These shorts are made with tough reinforced-nylon panels designed not to tear when you crash. They’re also water repellent. Up front, quick-dry panels dissipate sweat, and the seams sit close to the front of your thighs so they don’t rub when you pedal. Wide knees accommodated pads. As for the jersey, it was silky-soft, breathable, and UV-protective. Polyester knit on the elbows were like ultraminimalist pads, protecting against low-speed impacts, even on rocks. Thanks to Polygiene, it didn’t reek even after three sweaty rides.
Made from burly 6,000-denier polyester, the Demo Race Short offers more protection than anything else on this list, but it also comes in playful prints (like pink leopard). Made for downhill riders, the shorts are comfortable in an aggressive riding position, with stretchy mesh vents on the inner thighs, hips, and lower back. The ratcheting waist lock worked well even with gloves on and never loosened up. Size up if you plan to wear pads.
Shredly launched a few years ago as a woman-owned startup that designs technical, stretchy mountain bike shorts with style and flair. Since then, the company has refined its fabrics and fit. This year’s MTB Short is its best option yet. The oversized thigh cargo pocket and waistband have a faux onyx snap. The fabric is heavy enough that you could wear it for enduro and maybe even downhill races, but it has enough breathability and stretch to make it good for cross-country. The mesh-backed Honeycomb Tank is more XC than DH, with just enough shoulder fabric to protect you from your pack.
Made for the heat, the breezy Siren is tough where it counts—the seat and legs—and super-thin, stretchy, and breathable everywhere else. Internal Velcro closures add insurance to the snap-and-zip waist. The tee is mesh on top and along the sides, perfect for desert riding, and reinforced where it runs under a waist belt to keep it from wearing thin under a hipbelt.
The fabric of these shorts is super stretchy and paired with flexible, breathable panels along the small of the back, hips, and inner thighs for venting and to prevent bunching when you’re crouched in a descending position. Waffle print on the inside was excellent at clearing sweat. The V-neck Skyline short-sleeve jersey was soft and breathable. Its Lycra collar was stretchy enough to squeeze over a helmet.
Former Arc’teryx employees founded 7mesh, which may be why these minimalist Glidepath Shorts look so damn good. Low-profile hip zips access angled cargo pockets big enough for an iPhone6+ and a tube. The microfleece waistband and stretchy front hand pockets felt great. Pair them with Icebreaker’s paper-thin merino, nylon, and Lycra tee. The blend is cooler and more durable than merino but still less stinky than a 100 percent synthetic.
Tough and stretchy, the nylon-spandex Truant is cut long and lean, making it best for cruiser biking and all-mountain. Leave the pads at home. The collared Hermosa has a deep venting neck zip with reflective hits. It also has a slim media port to thread your earbud cord through.
Made from Schoeller fabric—one of the most abrasion-resistant and eco-friendly materials out there—the polka-dot Whitney shorts feel and look great. The thigh cargo pocket is spacious enough for an iPhone 6, and the legs are cut generously for athletic, strong-thighed women. The cap-sleeve merino Kiah pocket tee worked great on the bike (especially in cooler temperatures), but we liked the cut, chest pocket, and color for walking around town after getting off the trail.