No matter when and where you intend on riding your bike, wearing the right type of clothing and accessories can make the difference between a good ride and bad ride even if your bike is in the best shape possible. So whether you are a mountain biker, a road biker or a commuter, in this article we’ll help you choose the best cycling wear that suits your style.
Importance Of Proper Cycling Wear
Though there is nothing wrong with wearing your everyday clothes on a bike ride but being properly suited up for your ride can help you go that extra mile ensuring safety, comfort, better performance and longer rides. Below are some of the advantages of having proper riding wear.
- Safety : Bike wear often comes in bright visible colours and reflective surfaces for maximum visibility in both day and night. Besides, proper clothing gives you more control over your ride.
- Body Heat Management : No matter what the weather conditions are, wearing the proper clothing on your ride ensures optimum body temperature reducing exhaustion.
- Unrestricted Limb Movement : It is not hard to find that one person in the gang who has dealt with ripped clothing while riding a bike. As riding requires a lot of movement of the limbs, it’s important to wear clothing that can handle the stress and doesn’t get in the way.
- Ventilation and Moisture Management : Proper clothing and accessories will keep you fresh and dry by providing ample ventilation and wicking away moisture even in the most hectic riding conditions.
- Protection from the Elements : Even in the wettest of weather conditions and the roughest of terrains, proper cycling wear will keep you fresh and dry.
- Getting in The Mood For The Ride : Just suiting up for your ride can boost up your morale and enthusiasm.
Cycling Wear : For All Terrains & Weather
Now we shall discuss the different bike wear options and a few things to consider based on different styles of cycling. But before we dive into the details of bike wear and accessories for different riding styles, there are a few essentials that you’ll be needing no matter where you intend to ride.
A Few Essentials For Any Riding Style
- Helmets : Helmets are really important bicycle safety accessories which you’ll thank in case things go “out of hand”.
- Gloves : Gloves will keep your hands dry and prevent blisters caused by long hours of holding handlebars. They also provide better grip. In winter they can also provide warmth.
- Waterproof Cycling Jackets : These really come in handy during rainy and snowy conditions keeping you dry and warm on all terrains.
- Shades : A pair of sunglasses can help protect your eyes from sunlight, dust, debris and flying insects while riding.
- Water Bottle : Although not a wearable accessory, it is important to stay hydrated and having your own water bottle around makes drinking a lot more convenient.
For Road Cycling
Planning on hitting the open roads and highways with your bicycle? Then below is your guide to get geared up from head to toe!
- Helmets : No matter where you ride, ensuring safety is a must. Road cycling calls for high visibility and speed. A brightly coloured helmet with reflective patches should be worn on the road. Some variants come with built in lights. Make sure to get one that is lightweight. The pricier variants offer better aerodynamics and are preferred by professionals.
- Torso : Road cycling involves long hours of cycling out on open roads. So it is important to wear something that is bright, comfortable, manages sweat well and helps maintain the perfect body temperature. The best thing to go for is a bike jersey.
Bike jerseys are usually made of a special material called “Lycra spandex”. It is form-fitting to help reduce drag while riding. The material also wicks away sweat keeping you comfortable throughout a ride.
For hot weather, it is best to wear a half-sleeved jersey with a collar (for shading your neck) and a front zipper (for ventilation if it gets too hot). For colder temperatures go for a long sleeved variant with denser fabric
- Pants : Bike Shorts and pants made of Lycra are ideal for road cycling. These are also form fitting apparel which can give you maximum comfort during your ride. The lycra offers breathability. These are also designed to be stretchy to provide for total freedom of movement. Most of them also come with built in crotch liners providing cushioning, eliminating friction and reducing moisture. Bike shorts are ideal for summer. In colder seasons, it is recommended to go for full length pants made of denser material.
- Socks : It is recommended to wear socks to prevent blisters on the foot. Socks that contain polyester or nylon are the ones to go for as they do the job of moisture wicking really well.
- Gloves : For warm weather, gloves with cut out fingers are excellent for absorbing moisture so that the hands don’t slip from the handlebars. In colder conditions, go for a fully clad variant that covers the whole hand.
- Shoes : Road cyclists usually wear special kinds of shoes called “clipless” shoes that attach to the pedals with the help of cleats. These shoes can be “clipped in or out” of the pedal with a twist of the ankle. This mechanism allows for a more efficient pedalling. However this setup is not necessary if your bike pedal comes with harnesses aka “clips”.
- Underwear : Since you’ll be experiencing a lot of friction down in your groin area, it is wise to wear underwear made of soft, breathable and moisture-wicking material. However, if your biking pants or shorts come with built-in padded crotch liners, you can forget about underwears.
- Cycling Shades : A pair of shades or sunglasses can help protect your eyes from sunlight and prevent dust, grit or flying insects from getting into the eyes.
Road Cycling Wear For Rainy Days & Winter
For rainy days, it is advisable to wear a waterproof cycling jacket. Heavier variants of such jackets paired with arm, leg and knee warmers will keep you warm in cold weather conditions. Layering up on your clothing will also help you keep warm.
Bike Wear For Mountain Biking & Cyclocross
Mountain biking and cyclocross involves going offroad and riding on rugged terrains. Below are a few essentials for wearing on the trails.
- Helmets : Helmets are very important accessories for mountain biking and cyclocross. Although a regular commuter helmet is okay for gentle cross country trails, you’ll want a proper mountain bike helmet for rougher terrains. A mountain biking helmet is different from regular bike helmets. These helmets are designed to provide more head coverage which is just what you need in such terrains.
- Torso : Go for a breathable, moisture wicking short sleeve t-shirt or biking jersey if the weather happens to be warm. Make sure that it’s not too tight that it restricts your arm and shoulder movement. Because out on the trails, you’ll surely be finding yourself moving your handlebars a lot more than you do on paved roads. Don’t wear anything too baggy either as there is a chance of your shirt getting caught on nearby tree branches causing accidents. In colder weather, layer up with body warmers and a lightweight jacket. For even colder conditions, go full sleeve with multiple layers topped with a breathable waterproof jacket tough enough to handle branches and mud.
- Legs : Stretchy durable shorts and pants are ideal for hitting the trails. It would be wise to get one with side pockets which will come in handy for carrying small tools and accessories. Variants of these both with and without built in crotch liners are available. No need of wearing underwear if you are wearing the latter version. In colder weather, simply layer up with full length bike tights under your bike shorts.
- Socks : Wear socks to prevent blisters. Ankle high socks made of nylon or polyester are the best options.
- Shoes : Shoes for mountain biking and cyclocross are similar to road biking shoes, but they usually come with extra grip like regular sneakers to help you walk around in those rough terrains. Because there are often times when you’ll have to make small hikes carrying your bike around and over places where riding just isn’t possible.
- Gloves : A pair of open finger cycling or regular gloves can nicely deal with palm sweat and ensure better grip on your handlebars. A closed finger variant will help keep your hands warm during winter.
- Pads and Armour : These are some essentials for cyclocross and mountain biking. Usually, the faster or steeper you are riding, the more coverage you’ll need. Branches, sharp rocks and gravel are not particularly friendly towards bare skin. So you might want to wear knee and elbow pads. Neck braces and and back and chest protection are also available if you are a complete beginner.
- Shades : A good pair of cycling shades will protect your eyes from the sun, dust, branches, dirt and other forms of debris.
Bike Wear For Commuting
A wide variety of bicycles are used by commuters. These range from road bikes, mountain bikes, fixies all the way to foldable and electric bikes. But no matter what type of bike you ride, if you are a commuter going to work from home and back and making short trips around town everyday on your bicycle, then you might consider the following options for clothing and accessories.
- Helmets : As a commuter you are bound to face busy traffic situations almost all year round. Hence to ensure safety, wearing a helmet is very important. A bright coloured helmet is the best choice for riding with all sorts of motor vehicles moving along with you. Some of these helmets come with strips of reflective material and built-in lights for greater visibility in dark conditions.
- Torso : Surely nobody would want to go to their workplaces or walk into the local bar or grocery store cladded in skintight lycra. And most of the time, you will not even find a place to change. So what you really need is something bright and comfortable to wear over your everyday clothes.
A lightweight waterproof cycling jacket is just the right thing for commuting. These will come especially handy on rainy and cold days and make you visible to others on the road. Like helmets, these too often come with reflective tapes and built-in lights. It’s best to get one with a dropped back that can protect you from road spray during wet conditions.
And while choosing everyday clothes, go for the ones that are comfortable and do a good job of wicking away sweat. And keep your tie tucked in your shirt to keep it from flapping around.
- Legs : Although your workplace might not allow it, shorts or “three-quarters” are the most comfortable pants for commuting. But even when you need to put on a “formal” look, it’s wise to wear pants that are not too tight because tight pants can greatly restrict movement and may even cause a wardrobe malfunction. During rainy conditions wear a waterproof trouser over your pants to keep them dry.
For Women & Scottish Men
You can wear yoga or bike shorts under your shorter skirts and dresses. These can be removed upon reaching your workplace or home.
- Ankle Strap : Ankle straps made of reflective material increases visibility on road and also zeroes the chance of your favourite pants getting caught between the crankset and chain.
- Shoes : Sneakers or similar footwear will give you the maximum comfort while commuting. It’s best to avoid high-heels or other fancy footwear. However if you wear shiny leather shoes to work, you might want to keep a pair of waterproof shoe covers handy for rainy weather or if your route is full of potholes.
- Gloves : Gloves can keep your hands from getting sweaty and improve grip. Any open finger gloves are good for the purpose. In winter you may wear your regular mittens or water and windproof gloves that cover the whole hand.
Bike Wear For BMX & Urban Stunt Riding
If you are an adrenaline junkie interested in high flying two wheeler action and doing more than just riding flat on paved roads or trails, Then you should probably consider the following options for getting geared-up.
- Helmet : Helmets are very important if you are stunt riding. Go for something that provides ample head coverage. A skate-style or full face covering helmet is good for the job.
- Torso : Wear a loose fitting T-Shirt or Jersey that enables your arms and shoulders to move freely. In cold weather, go full-sleeved and layer up with your favourite hoodie or jacket.
- Pants : Wear shorts that allow free leg movement. In cold weather you can wear body warmers, Sports tights or yoga pants underneath your shorts.
- Pads and Armour : Grab some elbow and knee pads to avoid injuries in case of accidents. Armour for arms and shins are also available. These are often rented out at your local bike park.
- Gloves : Wear open finger gloves for better grip and sweat absorption. Switch to full fingered in cold weather.
- Shoes : Wear sneakers or converse shoes for a more comfortable pedalling. Wear socks to prevent blisters.
Hopefully by this point you have a good idea about clothing and accessories for riding your bicycle. Being properly geared up not only adds to your riding experience and performance but also leaves you fresh and in a good mood afterwards. So choose your bike wear wisely and happy cycling!