Bicycle Clothing: What Cycling Gear to Wear and When
Avid cyclists know there is a wide-range of cycling gear available to choose from. Determining what you will need means asking yourself some key questions.
• What gear is required by law?
• What gear will provide the most comfort for the bicycling I plan to do?
• What equipment is best for the summer/winter conditions?
Cycling store employees should be able to help you answer these questions as you look to purchase new or updated cycling clothing.
What gear is required by Law?
Nearly every government has a regulation or law requiring helmets for cyclist. Some states require them for all riders while others set an age requirement. A good, well-fit helmet could save your life. Whether mountain biking or street cycling, a helmet is a must have for anyone riding a bike.
Though not specifically required by law, many state cycling groups recommend wearing reflective clothing when biking as well. This is another safety benefit, ensuring you are able to be seen by cars and pedestrians.
What gear will provide the most comfort for the bicycling I plan to do?
Having a variety of clothing for cycling is recommended as what you need is based on how long your ride and wear. Cycling shorts are great for longer rides. They help to keep you cool while you are exerting yourself on the roadway. Quality cycling shorts are made of special material made specifically for comfort and moisture control. They usually have a padded seat for extra protection and comfort for extensive riding. Choosing a sleeveless cycling jersey to help keep you cool on long-rides is also recommended.
Mountain bikers who ride through brush and trees should look for a long-sleeve cycling jersey to protect their arms from abrasions. Cycling shirts or jerseys worth their salt will be made of synthetic fabric that is comfortable, lightweight and moisture resistant. This will ensure that, whether long or short-sleeved, the jersey will help a rider maintain a good temperature.
What equipment is best for the summer/winter conditions?
Avid bicyclers hit the road during all kinds of weather, especially if the bike is their primary form of transportation. For cold days, a cycling jacket or a wool cycling jersey will keep you warm against the cooler air while still keeping you dry by sweeping the sweat away from your skin. Windproof jackets are also available for wind and rain protection. Coupled with cycling pants or knee warmers, which keep your knees and legs warm and flexible, these items will help you have a pleasant ride, even when the weather is less than ideal.
As the weather warms, your cycling apparel should mirror what you would wear on long rides. Good cycling or bib shorts and a sleeveless jersey will keep you comfortable and cool. You may want to carry a lightweight, compact cycling jacket with you in case your ride goes later in the evening than you anticipated or you start out your ride early in the morning. There are a number of jackets available that can be easily stowed when the temperature rises. Cycling jacket made of breathable material that incorporates ventilation, like mesh vents, in the fabric are ideal.
There are many choices in bicycle clothing and not all of them are necessary. Depending on what kind of bicycler you are, you may find that less is more. But, if you are seriously into cycling, then choosing a variety of bicycle clothing is in your advantage – you will feel much more apt to get out there on your bike if you have all of the proper equipment, including comfortable clothing that helps to keep your body temperate and dry.
~Ben Anton, 2007