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Finding the Perfect Sports Bra to Support Your Ride

By Megan Flottorp

If you’re fond of cycling and happen to be someone who has breasts, you’ve probably wondered whether your sports bra is doing as much for you as it could be. Regardless of the chest size you’re working with, having the perfect garment to support you can make a big difference when it comes to enjoying your ride to the fullest. What’s more, there are more options available than ever before. There are regular bras, compression bras or encapsulation style that holds each breast separately. You also have to think about strap width, whether you prefer racerback, what kind of material you want, and, well, let’s just say there are many decisions to make.

Now, as with other cycling gear components—there is no magic solution for finding the right sports bra. Everybody is unique, and what works for one person may not work for you. Nevertheless, there are indeed some tips to keep in mind, and a few tried and tested models that get consistent praise from cyclists. So, if you’re in the market for a new sports bra, read on to discover how to pick the perfect one.

Do yourself a favour and get a fit

If you’ve gone through several sports bras and are experiencing considerable discomfort, chances are that you’re not wearing the correct size. For example, if you deal with a lot of irritation due to rubbing, that probably means the band is moving around when it should be sitting snugly in place. Wearing a bra that’s too big in the band and too small in the cup is a common problem that you might not notice much during everyday wear but can be a major buzzkill in athletics. Many retailers specialising in undergarments or athletic gear will happily provide you with a free fit, so it is worth looking into what’s available! If you’re located in the UK, Bravissimo is an excellent option for a professional fitting service.

Woman in sports bra
Find the perfect bra for your ride. © Profimedia

Balance support and breathability

Especially on long, challenging rides, your bra can soak up a lot of sweat and ultimately leave you feeling cold, wet, and uncomfortable. Now, there’s probably no way to prevent the sweat (not that you’d want to), so it’s about finding the right balance between the support you need and how much thickness you want to be tucked underneath your base layer.  If you find that your bra is getting wet, heavy, and cold, you want to invest in one made from a quality wicking fabric that isn’t too thick. We recommend this excellent lightweight but super-strong sports bra from Runderwear. It provides total support without any distractions. Or, try this incredibly comfortable Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra from Smartwool. It is built with a seamlessly knit Merino wool interior for comfort and an exterior design for support.

When you want to feel super snug

For some, the feeling of being extra secure in your sports bra far outweighs any concerns about the fabric being too thick. If it is the ultimate support you’re after, these three brands know how to keep the girls in place and allow you to enjoy even the bumpiest of rides without too much bouncing. The Shock Absorber Infinity Bra anchors your breast tissue, as its design helps reduce vertical movement from the top and the usual support from the band below. In addition, it has an adjustable back strap for ultimate bounce control, and built-in stabilisers on the shoulder straps help control bounce. Likewise, the Sweaty Betty Ultra Running Bra offers compression and encapsulation technology support up to an F cup. Plus, it has padded shoulder straps and carefully placed seams for maximum comfort.

Note that you can also wear a close-fitting vest over your bra for an extra layer of protection and change your top when breaking if you’re feeling chilled from the sweat.

Get support beyond the bike

Maybe triathlon is your discipline of choice. In this case, you will want a bra that performs well across activities. Going from wet to dry and everything in between also means you probably want some serious support. We’ve talked to some ladies working with a lot up top, and several swore that the Anita Dynamix Active was unbeatable when it came to something they could swim in and then go straight to bike and run. To quote one of the believers, “I never feel sweaty in it as the material is fabulous. Plus, my boobs don’t move at all, as it’s really supportive. I’m a 34E / F, and I find it brilliant for triathlon and wouldn’t go back to anything else.”

If it is shape you’re after

Or perhaps you’re looking for a sports bra to enhance rather than squash your chest? Whether you’re dealing with a smaller cup size or just want to create a feminine silhouette in your speed suit, you have plenty of options that offer support and shape. Panache Wired Sports Bra, for example, has formed cups, is really comfy, holds everything in place, and keeps some shape!

Set yourself up for comfort

In addition to finding the right fit, it might also be a good idea to use an anti-saddle sore balm to avoid any irritation. A good smearing of Cycle Glide or some equivalent along where the band goes can help prevent discomfort once the sweat starts flowing. You can also use it on other parts of your body if needed.

Remember that more is not always better

Depending on the size and shape of your chest, you might not benefit as much from a high-performance sports bra. Some riders find that the basic sports collections from Decathalon or Marks & Spencer offer more than enough support, plus they aren’t constrained by unnecessary fabric than can weigh them down when it gets wet. You can also try out tops with an inbuilt shelf bra, and some even claim that riding without a bra (at least on the road) offers the most comfort (although if you opt for this route, be weary of chafing).