You can wear most anything to ride a bike. But, clothes especially designed for riding are a wonder. In terms of comfort and function, top-quality bicycle apparel is incredibly well-matched to the task of riding.
In order of priority, apparel-related purchases could be a helmet and shoes, gloves, and some sort of eye protection. The helmet and gloves top the list, because they help to protect you from the ground in case of a fall. Eye protection, such as goggles, keeps bugs and dirt out of your eyes, which also has safety implications. Shoes are so darned practical that they can’t be ignored either. Beyond that, there’s a whole world of dazzling clothes that can help make you a more efficient, more comfortable, and safer rider.
Why choose cycling-specific clothes beyond this? There can be a lot of wind out there in the world. Loose-fitting clothing flaps around, makes lots of noise, traps a lot of air, and makes you feel clammy from the perspiration. Shirts can ride up in the back. There usually aren’t enough pockets in the right places. Drab colors may have looked more normal to a conservative eye, but they don’t do a thing for visibility in traffic.
So, for city riding, consider bright clothes. For cutting through wind, look at reasonably tight jerseys with high-tech fabrics for comfort. There’s a lot to pick from. The issue is function.
That also means wearing riding shorts with padding. You can get casual-style or racing-style shorts –somewhat traditional looking, or very tight.
As far as shirts go, a lot of people still wear cotton t-shirts, and that’s okay, but not ideal. Jerseys, on the other hand, fit tighter, are longer in the back, don’t hold too much moisture, and come in designs for improved visibility.
For colder weather, there are specialized jackets, tights and pants, heavier gloves — a whole variety of great stuff.
Modern pedals are designed to attach directly to the bottom of a shoe. Your foot doesn’t slip off and you can even pull up on the pedal. You just twist your heel outward to detach. But you need special shoes for this. Cleats specific to the pedal you use are bolted to the soles, which are usually made extra stiff. Shoes designed for off-road use might even have replaceable spikes for extra traction when off the bike. All cycling shoes have either flaps to cover the laces or use velcro or another means of attachment. Their fit is usually tighter, and they often have ventilation holes.
Both “roadies” and off-road riders wear special shorts. While mountain-bike shorts are often baggier, all cycling shorts follow the same design principles. They are made from a fabric that wicks perspiration away from the body, have no seams that you’d sit on and have a pad (usually an antibacterial, artificial “chamois”) in the crotch. There are men’s and women’s specific designs. And no, you don’t wear underwear.
Wearing a bright, colorful cycling jersey helps you to be seen by traffic. They’re also designed to wick away moisture. Most have three pockets across the back for your spare tube, energy bar, extra water bottle, etc. The come short sleeve, long sleeve and sleeveless (not legal for racing) in a variety of styles and materials. Cycling clubs and racing teams wear jerseys with their sponsors’ logos. While it’s fine to wear your favorite team’s jersey, you can’t race wearing it unless you’re on that team!
Most serious riders wear special gloves, usually short finger for the road and long finger on the trail (or in colder weather). Most cycling goves have special foam or gel padding on the palm. The nerve that goes to the two smallest fingers (median nerve) goes through the center of your palm. Without some padding here, these fingers might “go to sleep” during a long ride. This could even persist for several hours after stopping. Note: If this happens even with cycling gloves, chances are your position on the bike is incorrect.
Stop in to Cycle Dynamics and get your cycling “uniform”. We’ve got a wide variety of the essentials to choose from, plus cold-weather gear, rain gear and more.