Big Girl Biking Panties?
August 26, 2011 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Velo girls, help! Where can I find well-fitting, breathable, non-bunching underwear for biking?

I've really gotten into cycling since getting a bike in February, and I've been commuting to work a few days a week as well as going on longer and longer rides on the weekends. I've figured out what works for me clothing-wise for both scenarios except for one thing: panties.

I know many (most?) people don't wear anything under their bike bottoms, but when I tried that it was pretty unpleasant--I really need an additional layer of moisture wicking between me and the bike shorts--and anyway I'd like something I can wear under my regular clothes when I commute, too. What I wear now bunches up annoyingly when I ride, and the ones that do stay in place are made of a non-breathable material, which leads to an entirely different kind of unpleasantness.

So can you recommend some breathable, wedgie-proof cycling panties? I'm a plus-sized girl but can generally wear XL in underthings, and I prefer bikini-style, as boyshorts, hipsters, and tangas don't tend to work with my body geometry (and thongs are just out of the question). I'm not specifically looking for padded panties, as my skorts and shorts are padded and I seem to do fine without any padding for my weekday commute, but I wouldn't turn down those recommendations, either.
posted by rhiannonstone to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah. Maybe not the answer you want. But I've never met anyone who wears underwear under their kit. Females included.

There is a huge range in cycling kits/bibs. You will notice a comfort, fit, and pad difference in the more expensive ones, I promise.

Sugoi makes padded underwear to wear under normal clothing.

"Swamp ass" also comes with the sport :(
posted by straight_razor at 6:03 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I commute everywhere by bike and I always wear underwear under my kit. Always!!! My bike fanatic husband laughs at me but I still think it's a little icky that he goes nude under his bike shorts. I have some from MEC cut along men's boxer brief lines but they apparently don't sell them anymore. These look pretty solid though.
posted by Go Banana at 6:12 PM on August 26, 2011

Is it that you don't like the chamois padding right against your skin, or is it you want more than one layer total? If it's the latter, I second finding a cycling liner. I don't always like skin-tight shorts/pants, so I have a pair of these that I wear under other shorts. E.g. I think these are the padded liners straight_razor mentions. Mine aren't quite as long.

I haven't found good sports underwear in general, unfortunately... My butt shape seems to be optimized for wedgies.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 6:29 PM on August 26, 2011

My wife is a fan of Pedal Panties. They are pretty heavy duty.
posted by quarterframer at 6:49 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do most of my riding in regular clothes and the only thing I've come up with (and this is all through trial and error) is that some bikini briefs are cut at just the right point so they don't ride and they also don't rub against the back of my thigh as I pedal. I gave up on trying to find longer ones that would fit more like a bike short because I couldn't find any long enough on the thighs and boy shorts ride up majorly on me. I basically go to Target and try a few styles to see what works, then go back and buy more of that style.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:36 PM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: The only thing I've had good luck with for my bigger biking booty is Patagonia's expensive undies (usually about $20 each). The ones I have aren't made now, but do you have an REI or other outdoors store you can visit to check them out? I've been using more hiking-specific clothes for biking since I've been switching to looser clothing on the bike, so if you have a hiking store nearby, they may have some options for you. I got my first pair at a fly fishing store of all things because they carried a lot of Patagonia stuff. The material on the Patagonia stuff stretches quite a bit (so even the XL looks a bit on the small side, but it expands a lot), and it stays in place better than cotton or other fabrics because it's the fabric itself and not just the elastic leg-bands keeping it in place. Nothing that's stuck that tightly to your body will be especially breathable, but these are ok.

I have some cut like this that work for me. When I have to buy more, I'm going to try Ex Officio's underwear. It comes in XL and XXL, so that might be an option, too, if the Patagonia stuff is too tight or doesn't fit quite right.

And for commuting, there's always the option of changing them once you get to work if they aren't breathable enough. I think a lot of us end up doing that on hot days.
posted by BlooPen at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2011

Best answer: I have a couple of pairs of the Ex Officio boy shorts *pulls waistband down briefly to check* and am actually wearing a pair now, and am pretty happy with them for use on the bike — much happier than most other brands/cuts I own. (Frederick's of Hollywood is evil evil EVIL on a bike — every single style I have of theirs, bought before going bike-primary, has a vertical seam down the front that is horrible in combination with a bike saddle.)
posted by Lexica at 9:41 PM on August 27, 2011

Best answer: I use the Ex Officio Give-n-Go underpants under my bike shorts. They're a huge improvement over cotton underwear (which holds moisture against the skin), and I've had good results with both the bikini and brief styles for non-bunching butt coverage.
posted by LBS at 9:41 AM on August 28, 2011

As a result of this thread, I went out and got the Ex Officio undies and did a completely informal, uncontrolled, unofficial comparison of Patagonia and Ex O and decided I really do like the Patagonia ones better, though I think the Ex O's are prettier. I thought the Patagonias kept me drier, stayed in place better (no wedgies or camel toe), and stunk less after longer rides. Ex O relies more on the elastic at the leg bands than Patagonia, which relies more on the fabric itself to keep everything in place.

YMMV (and probably does!), but I've put about a hundred miles on each recently and decided to stick with Patagonia.
posted by BlooPen at 1:31 PM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: OK, coming back to report since I have now put the Ex Officio Give-n-Gos, the Patagonia Active Briefs, and SmartWool's MicroWeight Bikini through over 100 miles of testing. For me, the Patagonias are the best, mainly because they fit me best. They're super-comfy in general--I don't feel like I'm wearing undies at all!--and don't ride up in the front or back. Both the Patagonia briefs and the SmartWool bikinis keep me nice and dry and handle the odor issue well, and are quick and easy to clean. The SmartWool bikinis do start to ride up in the back after awhile on me, though they're fine for short commutes--they're also the most stylish, so I don't mind wearing them on days when someone's going to see my panties. The ExOfficios just didn't fit me quite right so they weren't comfortable to wear, and they didn't really keep me as dry as I was expecting, either.

The hardcore commando folks might be happy to know that I've also become a convert--but only for very long rides where I'm going to be wearing the crazy compression shorts. For <2>
Thanks for all the help!
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:06 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oops, that's supposed to say "For sub-20-mile rides in my lightly-padded bike skorts, I still prefer panties."
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:11 AM on October 24, 2011

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