Choosing amongst the best sports bras for cycling can be a daunting task if you have no idea where to start. There are lots of options, from styles that compress the chest, to those that encapsulate the breasts individually. There are those with narrow straps and those with wide straps and a thick chest strap below the bust. Racerback or regular? The decisions can be endless.
Just like saddles, shorts, shoes and even bikes, what makes the best cycling sports bra comes mainly down to personal preference. Not all bodies are created equal, and therefore what works for one person may not work for you. Depending on your bust size, you want to prioritise encapsulation over compression support, or need a bit of both. Another variable to consider is your chosen cycling discipline, and the support you need for that.
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When choosing the best sports bras for cycling, there may be other factors in the mix: endurance riders will need something that stays comfortable all day and night, while something more rigid might work better for HIIT workouts on the turbo trainer.
There are so many options to choose from, so we’re here to help you narrow them down. We’ve rounded up the best sports bras for cycling into one handy list, outlining the pros and cons of each, as well as making recommendations for who they might be best suited for.
Jump ahead to how to choose the best cycling sports bra for you
Shock Absorber Active Multi Sports Support Bra
Combination support for larger bust with inclusive size range
Cycling-specific?: No | Size range: 30B-40HH | Support: High, combination | Straps: Racerback, wide | Underband: Narrow
The Shock Absorber Active Multi-Sports bra uses a combination of compression and encapsulation support to press the bust down towards the chest and prevent it from bouncing. It’s constructed from two layers: an inner layer that encapsulates each breast separately, and an outer to compress. The overall aesthetic is in the crop top style, with a narrow underband.
Since it’s designed for multiple sports, including volleyball and horse riding, it provides a high level of impact support and prevents any unwanted bouncing. There are also side panels made from Powermesh fabric to help with breathability.
This, combined with the wide range of sizes available, makes it an excellent choice for anyone with a fuller bust who may need extra support. For some, it might feel like overkill to wear this on a road ride where bouncing is minimal, however for those with fewer options to choose from due to sizing availability, it can be a great all-rounder for any sport.
The only downside is that the seams are quite bulky, and show through lycra. It also takes a while to dry, which might not be suitable on an overnighter or bikepacking trip. Also, the fit comes up small, so we’d recommend you go up a back size, but keep the cup size the same.
Icebreaker Women's Sprite Merino Racerback Bra
A low-support racerback bra with the antimicrobial properties of merino
Cycling-specific?: No | Size range: XS-XL | Support: Low, combination | Straps: Racerback, wide | Underband: Wide
Icebreaker is all about using natural materials, so it’s no wonder its sports bras are made from a durable merino-nylon blend called Corespun. Merino’s magical properties include thermoregulation in all weather conditions, as well as being naturally antimicrobial. This means less odour build-up so you can wear it for longer between washes.
With its soft texture and short drying time, the Sprite offers all-day comfort and multi-day use that bodes well for endurance cyclists and bikepackers. It also lacks side seams, so there’s less chance of experiencing underarm chafing. Meanwhile, the single racerback strap offers the wearer an unlimited range of motion, and the bra uses a combination of encapsulation and compression support.
It’s important to note that the Sprite offers a low level of impact support, which means it’s probably not suitable for anyone planning to go off-road, sprint up hills, or do an indoor cycling HIIT workout. The generic sizing may also make this a poor choice for those with a fuller bust, though there is space to insert individual cups. Sizing comes up quite snug, so this is a better option for those needing less support.
Velocio Luxe Bra
If you love Velocio’s Luxe bibs, you’ll really love this sports bra
Cycling-specific?: Yes | Size range: XXS-XXXL | Support: Medium, compression | Straps: Regular, wide | Underband: Wide
Hot off the press, the Luxe Bra is a brand new addition to Velocio’s catalogue. Based on its Luxe bibs — luxurious by name, luxurious by nature — the Luxe bra uses many of the same premium fabrics and comes with the same ultra-soft matte finish that feels lovely to the touch. This is paired with microfibre elastic straps designed to sit flush against the skin.
Though the straps are more like regular ones, they don’t sit parallel to each other and come closer together at the back to sit between the shoulder blades, allowing for a full range of movement.
The Luxe bra, being specifically designed for cycling, provides light- to medium- compression support, which is more than adequate for most cyclists. If you’re a multi-sport enthusiast it may not be the one for you, but if all your exercise happens on the bike, then this is an excellent option for many.
Sizing is generic, as opposed to cup-specific, however, the XXS-XXXL size range aims to be very inclusive. Velocio also has an accompanying bra-specific size chart, advising on size based on your overall bust and rib cage measurements.
Sportful Pro W Bra
A combination cycling-specific bra well-suited to smaller busts
Cycling-specific?: Yes | Size range: S-L | Support: High, combination | Straps: Racerback, wide | Underband: Wide
The Sportful Pro W bra was specifically designed with cycling in mind, and provides a high level of combination support. It’s constructed from double-layer fabric, which is perforated to deliver air-exchange and breathability where it’s needed the most.
The polyester blend offers very good moisture management, while the wide elastic underband serves to distribute weight evenly, as well as catch sweat to leave you feeling fresh and dry. The bra comes with a recommended temperature range of 10 degrees Celsius and above, making it a great three-season choice for many.
If you have a svelte physique and petite bust, then you will probably get on very well with the Sportful Pro bra. However with only three sizes on offer — S, M and L — there are plenty of cyclists who won’t find it to be a viable option.
Freya Active Sonic UW Moulded Sports Bra
A high-support encapsulation bra with underwire and moulded cups
Cycling-specific?: No | Size range: 28B-40H | Support: High, encapsulation | Straps: Adjustable, narrow | Underband: Narrow
Not everyone likes the compression or combination style of sports bra that ultimately squashes everything downwards and creates a uni-breast. For those who want to wear something that looks and feels like a regular bra, with a flattering shape under their kit, the Freya Active Sonic bra could be the one.
A wide curvature underwire offers extra support, and is combined with double-lined and firm moulded cups, which provide good coverage and a shapely, feminine finish. The bra is made from Coolmax fabric, which does an excellent job of wicking sweat away from the skin. This, paired with mesh panels for shedding heat, can leave you feeling cool and dry.
The straps are padded for comfort and come with a J-hook adjuster which allows you to convert to a racerback style if you wish. This makes the Freya a versatile option that can be worn with a variety of garments. The only gripe we have is that compared to other bras on this list, the straps are quite narrow, which might be an issue for someone with a very heavy bust, as they can dig in slightly.
Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Sports Bra
Uses 3D-knit technology originally developed for running shoes
Cycling-specific?: No | Size range: XS-XXL | Support: High, combination | Straps: Racerback, wide | Underband: Wide
When Nike released its Fe/Nom Flyknit a decade ago, using technology originally designed for running shoes, it essentially reinvented the sports bra. Unlike its pullover predecessors, which many busty customers found to not be supportive enough, the Fe/Nom provides adequate high-impact support up to a 36D.
Flyknit makes it possible to vary the density, shape and properties of knits across one piece of fabric, meaning the Fe/Nom Flyknit bra is sculpted to provide a combination of compression and encapsulation support with minimal seams, while the fabric is allowed to stretch and breathe where it’s needed most. Gone are the days of lung-restricting sports bras.
What’s more, the Fe/Nom Flynight fits like a second skin and is incredibly soft and silky to the touch. There’s an open weave along the racerback strap for increased breathability, and the bra does an excellent job of wicking away moisture. However, it does take a long time to dry afterwards, and there’s no adjustability in the straps so some may find it too long for their torso.
Reebok PureMove + Bra Motion Sense
Revolutionary sports bra that adapts to your movement
Cycling-specific?: No | Size range: XS-XXXL / A-F cups | Support: High, combination | Straps: Regular or crossback, wide | Underband: Wide
Reebok’s Bra Motion Sense technology can be an absolute game-changer if the Puremove bra fits you comfortably. Incorporating shear thickening fluid (STF) originally used by NASA, the moulding of the bra adapts to your movement, becoming stiffer under impact, and more pliant as you cool down. For those seeking a sports bra that can handle multiple sports, this could be an excellent choice.
Other well-thought-out features include the sleek and silky second-skin-like feel, the wide and adjustable straps that can be worn in the regular fashion or as a cross-back, and the fact that it’s available in half-sizes. This will be a very welcome feature for many who struggle to get the precision fit they need.
However, while the Puremove bra can be revolutionary, you first have to get it on. This is where the design falters somewhat, as the band is extremely stiff and can be quite difficult to fasten. Add to this the slightly unflattering fit that compresses the breasts into a bit of a square-like shape if you have a fuller bust, and you may run out of luck.
It can be a bit hit and miss, but if it fits you, you’ll love it.
How to choose the best cycling sports bra for you
1. Type of support
Sports bras generally provide three types of support: encapsulation, compression, and a combination of the two. It’s helpful to determine which type of support would be best for your body.
Encapsulation bras are constructed with two individually moulded cups to hold each breast separately, rather than squashing them together. This can help to keep everything in place while providing a high level of support for those with a larger cup size. Keeping the breasts parted can be more comfortable, particularly with a fuller bust, as well as allowing air to circulate. Their high-impact support makes them suitable for sprinting, HIIT workouts, and off-road riding.
Compression sports bras do the opposite. They press both breasts together and close to the chest, in order to suppress excess movement. This can be very effective for high-impact exercise, but can also lead to an uncomfortably tight or uneven fit for those with a fuller bust. They’re generally better suited to those with smaller cup sizes, and provide medium- to low-impact support, making them ideal for more gentle rides
Combination sports bras provide a bit of both. These will have separate moulded cups as well as providing compression to keep everything in place while you move. These are suitable for a wide range of cup sizes, and can provide sufficient support for medium-to-high impact cycling. These also tend to be the most comfortable for all-day wear and long-distance riding.
2. Level of support
The amount of support you need depends not just on your bra size, but also on how much you’re moving around on the bike. For most road cyclists, a low- to medium- impact sports bra should be sufficient. However, if you’re blessed with an ample bosom, getting out of the saddle to sprint and climb may require a higher level of support.
If you’re taking your bike onto trails and local singletrack, a high-impact bra should give you the right amount of support.
Bust size will also determine the level of support you need from your sports bra. The larger your breasts, the more support you need.
Sports bras come in a variety of styles — in terms of construction, not aesthetic — and each will have its pros and cons depending on what sort of support you need. Design elements will vary, from the width and adjustability of the straps, whether there’s an underwire or not, and the thickness of the underband. These will all have an impact on how weight is distributed and how comfortable the bra feels.
Shoulder straps will vary in width, orientation, and adjustability. Some will be padded to provide more comfort. Meanwhile, a wide underband can help with weight distribution.
If you have a fuller bust, you may prefer wide straps and an underband. If your bust is more petite, you can get away with narrower straps and the lack of an underband, which in turn makes the bra lighter and less bulky.
There are also different styles of straps, from standard to racerback. Some will be adjustable, allowing you to switch between regular parallel straps and a criss-cross back. Whether or not you choose an underwire bra really comes down to preference.
We can’t advise you on what size you need, but it’s well worth getting your measurements taken when it’s possible.
Encapsulation bras will almost always come with individual cup sizes, while some compression bras will be sized anywhere between XXS-XXL. Combination bras, on the other hand, can be tricky to size correctly. Many brands will provide the equivalent cup-sizes, which is helpful.
Knowing your accurate bra size will help you choose, though if you’re opting for a bra with generic sizing (like XS-XL), you should use your regular jersey size as a starting point. It helps to use a dressmaker’s tape measure to get your accurate chest measurements and consult each brand’s size chart.
Wherever you can, try before you buy. If that’s not an option for you, then make sure the online retailer you buy from offers a good returns policy, and try your new sports bra on before you remove the tags.
How do you know if you’ve got the perfect fit? There are several things you can look for. First of all, the underband should be completely level at the front and back. If it rises at the back, then you’re not wearing the correct size. You should also be able to fit two fingers between the band and your skin. If you can’t, then it’s too tight, whereas if it’s too loose, it’s likely to offer insufficient support and will be prone to chafing.
Next, your whole breast should fit within the cup or designated area, without any over-spill. If you have any bulging at the top or side, then you may need to go up a size.
When adjusting the straps, they should sit securely on the shoulders, and again, you should be able to slip two fingers underneath. Don’t overtighten them such that they dig in.
If all else fails, jump up and down, and determine if the bra is giving you the support you expect from it.
Mildred is a Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews who enjoys everything from road cycling to mountain biking, but is a utilitarian cyclist at heart. Determined to do everything on two wheels, she's even moved house by bike, and can regularly be found pedalling around Bristol and its surrounding areas. She’s spent over four years volunteering as a mechanic and workshop coordinator at the Bristol Bike Project, and now sits on its board of directors. Her expertise comes from previously working in a bike shop and learning the ins and outs of the industry, and she's previously written for a variety of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. At home on slicks and knobblies alike, her ideal ride covers long distances through remote countryside, on mixed terrain that offers a bit of crunch, followed by a gourmet campfire meal and an overnight bivvy beneath the stars.
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