With people becoming more health conscious nowadays, cycling as a trendy form of exercise has given birth to many spin class centers and classes. While it may be comfortable to wear gym clothes and sports bras during these cycling sessions, there is a specific science behind wearing proper cycling apparel when riding a bike.
Why cyclists wear bicycle apparel
Bicycle apparel is not only meant to provide comfort for cyclists but also for better aerodynamics and speed while riding. The specific sweat-wicking material used for the top and bottom apparel is also the same material used in other cycling gear such as gloves and socks. Wearing proper bicycle apparel makes riding a lot more pleasant. The right bicycle apparel makes a lot of difference especially when you go on a long-distance ride.
Cycling jerseys are typically form-fitting to reduce drag when you ride and are made of lightweight material like Lycra spandex. Loose clothes tend to capture more air and heavier materials like cotton won’t help you gain riding momentum and speed. Jerseys are usually made of wicking synthetic materials that keep sweat away from the body.
It was cut and designed to fit the natural shape and lines of your body when riding. Jerseys are made of moisture-wicking, lightweight material that has built-in grippers so they stay in place while you are in motion. It comes in both short and long sleeves, depending on your preference and the season you will be using them.
Cycling shorts are made specifically to bring comfort while riding. They come in tight, form-fitting wear since loose clothing creates a large amount of aerodynamic drag and will slow you down.
They are made with panels and stretchy fabric for better movement. Cycling shorts are usually cut longer in the legs and there have built-in leg grippers to prevent from saddle chafing and keep the shorts in place while riding.
When bike riding, it is important to wear cycling gloves. With its lightly padded leather palm, crocheted cotton back, and a Velcro strap, you can ride in comfort and avoid friction from the handlebars.
There are also cycling gloves available with gel padding in the palm and stretchy backs so there’s no need for a Velcro tab.
Cycling shoes and socks
By wearing proper cycling footwear, your feet will have a less painful riding experience as they are made to withstand the constant pressure of pedaling.
Socks for cycling are made from thin, sweat-wicking fabrics, usually with a thicker layer on the sole for padding. On the other hand, cycling shoes are made like cleats for better grip and traction to the bike pedals. They also have stiff soles with attachment points that clip into special pedals.
If you prefer a more efficient biking experience, more cycling enthusiasts prefer wearing cycling bibs since they are more comfortable.
They also do not have an elastic waistband so it does not restrict breathing. They look like cycling shorts but they have built-in suspenders instead of waistbands.
Beanies and caps are not just for daily casual wear, but they are also equally important in cycling. Wool beanies and caps help add insulation to your winter rides. It also helps shield your head from the sun when you ride during hot summer days.
They can also serve as a sweat barrier and help wick away moisture for you to feel cooler when you ride in the summer.
How to choose the right cycling apparel
Whether you are a first-time rider or a professional cyclist, choosing the right biking gear heavily impacts your riding experiences. Knowing the importance of wearing proper bicycle apparel will make a difference once you are on the road.
Below are the top factors that affect your choice of cycling apparel:
Because cycling involves leaning forward, sitting upright, or standing while pedaling, cycling apparel is cut to fit these movements appropriately.
Biking jerseys have longer backs to keep your lower back covered. Long-sleeved jerseys are cut longer than your usual long-sleeved shirts, as they are intended to maintain arm coverage even when you stretch your arms to reach the bike handles. Most jerseys also have a front zipper for ventilation when the temperature rises. This also helps when you are riding during hotter weather.
Most legwear like the cycling shorts is made of Lycra and shaped with bends at the waist and knees so it provides comfort and support when pedaling. They also have a higher waist at the back for better coverage.
When choosing gloves, socks, and shoes, make sure that they have a snug fit and are in your proper size so they do not move around when cycling.
Cycling jerseys usually have a longer cut in the back, unlike normal shirts, for better coverage when riding. The shoulder sections of jerseys are also cut wider for arms–forward comfort. Its sleeves are specially shaped for forward lean and there are back pockets added for easy on–the–go access. Also, some jerseys have reflective trim or highlights for night riding so passing cars can spot you easily on the road.
As for cycling shorts, they differ vastly from normal shorts primarily on its panel construction and padded liner for better movement. Cycling shorts are made with added stretch in the material for full freedom of movement and a padded crotch section to reduce friction from the bike seat and control moisture in the region.
Wearing proper cycling socks and shoes also aid in your riding experience by providing a better grip to the pedals and are lightweight enough for better aerodynamics.
Most cycling jerseys, bibs and shorts available in the market come in a form of synthetic polyester. As you continue to sweat while riding, this fabric helps wick moisture and sweat away from your skin.
Another material that’s available is Merino wool. While wool is much thicker in nature compared to polyester, using it for cycling jerseys render a level of comfort even on warm riding days. Bacteria from sweat, especially in the armpit areas, grows more slowly on wool than on synthetics, so a wool cycling jersey can be worn multiple times between washes before it gets smelly.
With the same purpose, use proper cycling gloves with a padded leather or synthetic-leather palm and moisture-absorbing terry cloth for dabbing sweat or a runny nose. For colder weather, choose a pair of wicking, breathable, full-finger bike gloves.
For cycling socks, Merino wool is a better choice of material as it not only wicks moisture and dries fast, it also insulates even while wet.
Because of how bikes are built, cycling can cause leather burns in the body if you are not wearing the proper cycling gear. Cycling shorts are primarily made with padding to avoid friction from the bike seat while still allowing you to ride full speed without discomfort. A smooth, soft synthetic pad minimizes friction, wicks moisture, prevents bacterial growth, and helps cushion bumps.
The same goes for choosing proper cycling gloves and footwear, wherein padding is very important. Wearing cycling gloves and socks prevent calluses on your fingers and feet, respectively.
Because of its lightweight material, cycling apparel helps you ride better and faster. It is more aerodynamic than regular clothing. The reason why both the jersey and the shorts are tight-fitting is that it reduces drag with no spare fabric flapping in the breeze.
Jerseys are also fitted with other aesthetics like zippers, which adds better ventilation. Some biking jerseys have neck zippers that can also go all the way up like turtlenecks for those colder weather runs.
Proper cycling gear also helps in other areas too. Cycling shoes have stiff soles, so your energy isn’t wasted in flexing rubber over your pedals. That also makes for comfier feet because the pressure on the pedal is spread over your entire foot.
Cycling apparel buying guide
When choosing a cycling glove, you can either go for the full finger type or the fingerless design.
In hotter weather, gloves with short-cut fingers are ideal so you do not sweat too much when riding. They usually come in a padded or synthetic-leather palm and moisture-absorbing terry cloth.
For colder days, you can choose a pair of full-finger gloves that are breathable and help wick away sweat and moisture.
Cycling jerseys should ideally fit the type of weather that you will use it for. While the jerseys you often see are the short-sleeved ones, most cyclists nowadays prefer both the short and long-sleeved options. This way, you have a jersey for different weather conditions.
While long sleeves are ideal for colder seasons like winter, a lot of cyclists now prefer to wear them even during summer rides. Long-sleeved Cycling jerseys provide an added layer of sun protection for your skin.
However, be mindful that long-sleeved jerseys are originally made for the colder weather and come in thicker fabrics. That is why when riding during hot days, it is still better to wear the short-sleeved ones for extra comfort and breeze.
Cycling shoes and socks
While there may be a myriad of socks and shoe options that you think are suitable for cycling, think again.
Socks made of Merino wool are a flexible choice and can be worn both for summer and winter rides. On the other hand, socks made of synthetic materials are ideal for winter use.
Cycling shorts differ from normal shorts because of the stretch in the material that provides freedom of movement. They also come with a padded crotch liner to protect against friction and to reduce moisture.
When fitting cycling shorts, make sure you try on different padding styles to see which has the best fit.
Features of cycling shorts:
Panel construction - There was a time when more panels meant comfier cycling shorts. But clothing technology made it possible that the number of panels would not matter anymore.
Padded liner - Chamois, a soft pad made of synthetic, reduces friction and wick moisture away. This prevents bacterial growth and cushion bumps during the ride. Different cycling shorts have a variety of shapes, thickness, and materials used as well.
Some things to consider include:
Multi-density, open-cell foam liners which provide optimum comfort for long rides.
Gel/open-cell foam liners are perfect for mountain-bike cushioning but are not ideal for long, hot rides.
Closed-cell foam liners are an affordable option but deliver a good performance.
Legs - To prevent saddle chafing, make sure to use a padded liner.
Choosing which pair of cycling shorts to wear will depend on the climate.
For cooler temperatures, go for cycling tights or knickers because these extend right down to the knees. These come with a built-in chamois for proper fit and comfort. But their biggest advantages are the weather-resistant front panels and the reflective detailing which are perfect for winter.
Men can choose between a high cut waist and low cut waist. Women, on the other hand, have more choices of cuts and styles, depending on the manufacturer. In any case, the style you choose for your bib comes down to your comfort and personal preference.
Bibs are made often made with nylon spandex as a base material mixed with proprietary fabric. This increases comfort, breathability, and wicking. Bibs made of lighter fabrics breathe better and are cooler but those made of thicker fabrics are more durable. High-end bibs come with more compression for improved circulation, dimples for aerodynamics, and other features.
Other factors to consider when buying cycling bibs are fit, inseam, panels, and chamois.
If you happen to collect wool beanies and caps, these are great for added protection from the sun or for insulation from cold winds during cycling. It helps protect your head from the harsh elements. It also helps get rid of sweat running from your forehead, which may fog up your view or enter your eyes.
Summary of benefits
Cycling apparel like jerseys and shorts come in various shapes and form. Aside from personal preference, biking jerseys offer specific functions when riding in different weather conditions.
Because of the nature of the sport, cycling apparel values comfort as one of its most important functions. Materials used, such as lightweight polyester and Merino wool, offer the rider better comfort and ease of movement when riding. Both materials also get rid of sweat away from the skin and from the jersey.
Because riding can be done not only during the summers, cycling jerseys were made to fit different weather conditions based on length and material. Long-sleeved jerseys are typically used for colder temperatures. But they can also be used for summer riding to protect your arms from the sun. If you prefer to be more categorical when it comes to your jerseys, you can purchase both so you can interchange.
Many cycling jerseys feature bright graphics. They come in flashy colors and designs so you can easily be seen by motorists. Some jerseys will also have reflective trim to aid visibility. This makes your riding safe at all times.