The Terry Bicycles Bella offers much to be admired. Made by one of the only women-specific cycling gear retailers around, Terry's mission is to make sure women are comfortable on their bikes, and so our testers embraced this short with enthusiasm. And, as it turns out, we should — there is much to admire with this short. Granted, it's a little pricier than other options, but if you are petite and looking for a women's specific option, the Bella Short might be the perfect one for you. While the Bella Short ranked high in our Comfort and Fit metric, it didn't fare as well in Breathability and Fabric-- in other words, we loved the short's fit and feel, but we didn't love so much the nylon/spandex fabric that is intended to feel "slick and fast" but felt sort of clammy like a swimsuit to our testers.
Terry Bicycles Bella Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Shorter-length, highly technical chamois
Cons: Pinches leg mid-thigh, "swimsuit" feel, awkward chamois stitching on the outside of the short
Manufacturer: Terry Bicycles
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort and Fit
This six-panel short is constructed of "curvy flat-stitched panels", which accounts for how it performed in the saddle. There was no bunching or chafing on the ride, and the short really stayed in place, which we liked. For our petite testers, the 8.5 inseam was killer, but some taller reviewers mentioned that they would really like the short to be another half-inch longer.
The short comes to mid-rise which helps to hold everything in place and not "fold-over" as some shorts with a lower rise can tend to do. We were skeptical about the fabric (see the Fabric and Breathability metric, below), but after taking these shorts of a few hard and hot rides, we had to admit the shorts were more comfortable than we expected them to be.
What we really didn't like are the "Terry leg grippers"-- a thin silicone band that's meant to hold the short in place. The function of this particular feature of the short works as it is intended (they didn't budge during our test rides). However, thin silicone bands around your legs aren't the most comfortable. And, after longer rides, some people may find that their skin blisters under the bands. This happens to a small percentage of people, but it can happen.
Padding and Protection
The Flex Air — the chamois you'll find in Terry's performance bike shorts — has features of a performance chamois, and it feels like it, too. Heat stitched (like every quality chamois is), the Air Flex chamois is a 4-way stretch pad that moves along with the rider in the bike saddle. We loved the size and shape, which offered Goldilocks comfort (not too big or bulky, but not too small and wimpy).
What we didn't love so much were the rougher edges around the chamois. While we didn't experience any chafing issues in this round of testing, any raw edge on a garment is a warning sign of potential dysfunction or deconstruction down the road.
Breathability and Fabric
Here is where the Bella faltered a bit for our reviewers. While the fabric and meant to feel "slick and fast", it struck some of our riders clammy, like a swimsuit. To test this out, we did what all cyclists do — we rode our bikes with the short on until we got too tired and couldn't ride our bikes anymore — and made an amazing discovery: the short wicks sweat like it promised to.
So…the short might feel clingy, but they perform as advertised. Some riders might be able to move past that and enjoy the short. Others, especially former triathletes, might wince a little bit with the memory of soggy tri shorts after the swim.
We also didn't think they were as soft as other bike shorts included in this review, but they are much, much better than shorts with a higher nylon content (and that felt like sandpaper after an hour on the road.)
It's always hard to truly test a short's durability within the narrow window of a few months (no matter how many rides and miles we take these shorts on) because years are different than months, and we want to recommend products to you that will last a long, long time. So, we often look for signs of wear or places where the garment might have a weak spot to give you an idea of what you're getting into when you take our advice and order these shorts online.
While the outer construction of these shorts seems bomber (they held up our wash-ride-wear schedule without losing a thread), we did notice a few details we thought we'd share. As mentioned, the stitching around the chamois has a bit of a raw edge. This could lead to fraying or chafing the more the short is worn and washed.
We also questioned the silicone leg bands. While they held up for us, we've seen these break down after multiple seasons of wear (another reason we don't like silicone leg bands). However, this typically happens around the time you should probably think about replacing the short anyway.
We also appreciated "Terry's Guarantee"-- if you buy the short directly from them, you have a year to return the short to them if you're not completely satisfied with it for a credit or a refund. We think that's a pretty sweet deal, considering not all retailers offer that kind of guarantee on their products.
Sometimes simple is best and that's what the Terry Bella Short offers to its riders: a straightforward short where style basically means function. We appreciate that the short comes in two length options. It also comes in two color options: a black short with a pink stitching detail or a black short with a gray stitching detail. On the bottom of the left leg is a small reflective detail of the Terry logo.
We weren't thrilled with the look of the stitching on the chamois from the outside of the short (other shorts found ways to "hide" or to make this detail look less noticeable) so we deducted a few points for that.
The Terry Bella is a good all-around short for cyclists looking to do anything from an hour spin class to a century ride. While not all our testers were fond of the silicone leg bands, they didn't prevent any of us from riding and having a fabulous time on the bike. In terms of performance, this is a solid garment that will serve you well in the saddle.
While we don't have any specific qualms with the Bella Short we do think it costs more than it has to for what it offered to our testers. There are comparable (and in our opinion, better) shorts on the market that aren't as expensive. However, if you are a fan of Terry or you want to support a women's specific company, you won't go wrong with trusting in their product.
While the Bella Short didn't walk away with any awards, we do think it's a solid contender in the field of women's cycling shorts. Where our testers got hung up was: the clammy-swimsuit feel of the fabric and the price tag.
— Rebecca Eckland