Although it’s perfectly acceptable to wear regular, every day clothes to cycle in, we can’t emphasise enough how wearing specially designed cycling gear can improve your comfort and enjoyment of cycling.
If you’re just popping to the shops, commute a short distance, then civvies - with padded knickers of course - are perhaps more appropriate than Lycra. However, if you’re looking to go any distance we recommend these essentials to help your enjoy miles of comfortable riding.
We understand cycling can be an expensive hobby to enjoy. Before you even get to the clothing, a decent road bike can set you back over £1000. So to make sure we don’t put you off even more, we’re highlighting only the crucial kit that really will improve your cycling.
First things first. Budgeting.
Set a budget, buy the best you can, and remember to be realistic with your expectations of the kit. A £30 pair of shorts just won’t be the same as a pair you’ve spent £160 on. They will still make your ride more comfortable than unpadded shorts, but don’t expect a Ferrari when you’ve paid for a Punto.
Be savvy and read kit reviews. Reviews will help you understand whether a garment will suit your body shape.
1. Cycling Shorts or Bib Shorts
Probably THE most important bit of cycling kit you can buy. They may not look flattering at first sight but a well-fitted pair of padded shorts are an absolute must if you want to be comfortable in the saddle.
There are 4 main features that help cycling shorts or bib shorts be more comfortable than your average pair of shorts:
1. Chamois Pad. Sitting on a tiny perch for hours can be uncomfortable for even the most hardened of cyclist. A tiny slither of padding can make ALL the difference, trust us. The size, shape and thickness of padding is of personal preference, but don’t assume that thicker is necessarily better.
2. Seam-free crotch. This helps prevent any chafing on the inner thigh against the saddle as you pedal. If there was a seam between your thigh and the saddle, the continual pedalling motion would cause some serious rubbing.
3. Waist band. As a bib short fanatic I find this style the most comfortable after hours of cycling bent forward at the waist. However, many of my friends disagree, specially with the design advances we’ve seen in waisted shorts, with higher waists and softer style bands.
4. Tight Lycra. Many people discuss the compression qualities of using tight Lycra, although this may be the case it’s also so the material doesn’t snag on anything, such as the saddle, as you pedal.
When you have bought your bib shorts, always remember that they are designed to be worn without any knickers. If you need any convincing, read our rather frank account of ‘Why You Shouldn’t Cycling Wearing Knickers’.
Great shorts to get you going
Short fingered cycling mitts are essential cycling kit in our book. Your hands can work up quite a sweat on a nice, warm day, so it’s a wise idea to let gloves mop up the perspiration, while keeping your hands dry and a nice safe grip on the handlebars.
There’s also the element of comfort and protection, the padding helps absorb the shocks and vibrations from the road so you’ll feel more comfortable through your arms and shoulders.
Plus, there’s that handy patch of material on the side of the thumb for gently wiping your nostrils.
Gloves to get you through any ride
Perhaps a surprise to many, but I can’t imaging ever riding without cycling glasses. Not because I have poor vision, but to avoid damage to my eyes.
Wind, road debris, rogue branches they’re all out to get your eyes when you’re out cycling. Don’t let a tiny bit of grit stop you from enjoying your ride and potentially ruining your long-term vision.
You could wear your regular sunglasses, however as you can imagine, there are a number of benefits to wearing specific cycling glasses.
1. Profile. Cycling glasses will be shallower than most ordinary glasses so the will fit comfortably under your helmet.
2. Wraparound Arms. I’ve rolled over a pair of my own sunglasses after looking down too quickly while riding into a small pot hole. The arms of cycling glasses are designed to wraparound your head so minimise movement and stop them falling from your head.
3. Weight. The materials used are often lighter, so you won’t get headaches while in the saddle. I’ve worn a metal pair of sunglasses once and I’ll never do it again after the migraine I suffered.
4. Lens Type. Often it’s impractical to wear dark sunglass lenses if you’re riding in unfavourable conditions. Cycle glasses often come with different coloured lenses, so if it’s overcast you can wear lenses that help brighten conditions.
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We realise that whether or not you wear a cycling helmet is a deeply personal decision, and we’re not about to get involved in the debate. However, it is important to point out that if you would like to get involved in any charity cycling events, sportives, or group rides, you often won’t be allowed unless you are wearing a helmet.
You don’t need to stick to a traditional road helmet, we have lots of options. The most important factor when buying a helmet is to ensure you get the correct fit. For each of the helmets we stock, we provide a comprehensive fitting guide on each page.
5. Sports Bra
Regardless of the size of your breasts a good fitting sports bra is a necessity. Although cycling isn’t considered a high-impact sport, a supportive bra will not only minimise any bounce but also stop any distractions from unwanted movement.
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