Once you get a cycle, you must dress right for a comfortable ride. It is great to begin cycling in any clothes like shorts, sports shoes and a T-shirt but if you start riding seriously you may realise you want the right cycle wear that keeps you dry and visible, that doesn’t flap in the wind and also (let’s be honest) that allows you to show that you are part of a cool culture and lifestyle!
Here is some must-have and good-to-have cycle wear to start creating your cycling wardrobe. Some of the items really help with increasing your performance like shoes with cleats. Go through the list and see what you need.
It is a no-brainer to wear a helmet when cycling. There are plenty of stories on how helmets have saved the lives of cyclists.
Make sure you get a helmet from a recognised brand (else you may just get an unsafe thermocol shell), and that it fits you well; neither sitting separately on top of the head, nor bouncing loosely on it.
Find the right size, the right coverage for your kind of riding (higher coverage if you are an MTB rider), and pick one with as much ventilation as you want.
Want to cycle like a pro? A cycling jersey will provide you not just the “look” but also a whole lot of benefits you’ll want as a rider – breathable sweat-wicking clothing white riding, non-flapping clothing, elasticated hemlines so that your clothing grips you well, back pockets to hold essentials like nutrition packs, clothing that allows you to hunch and stretch as you ride.
The good thing with cyclists – they are not a shy lot and really enjoy bright colours! So go all out and enjoy the designs you cannot otherwise wear in life.
Cycling shorts are very useful for beginners and advanced cyclists alike. They are padded and provide cushioning for the sit bones of a cyclist that can get severely sore with long hours of sitting on the saddle.
Make sure to buy the right size. There are a variety of cycling padded shorts out there. The gel-padded shorts are the best ones rather than foam padded ones. Many cyclists also prefer bib-shorts as they do not roll down the waist and keep the rider highly aerodynamic. Road shorts and MTB shorts are also different. See which ones you want.
Palms take the brunt and impact of bumps on roads while one is riding a cycle. Gloves help by providing a little cushioning and also help in maintaining a grip with sweat absorption, making sure the grips are not slippery with sweat.
Again, select the right size that fits your hands perfectly. Select full fingers gloves if you live in a cold climate region, half finger gloves are best for hot and humid days.
It is important to take care of your eyes, while cycling, protecting them from natural elements like wind, rains, dust and pollution. This also maintains the moisture in the eyes. If something goes in the eyes when not wearing sunglasses, it may cause imbalance and a fall due to sudden irritation in the eyes. Glasses also help protect the eyes from strong sunlight and thus help in vision.
There are many cheap glasses going around in the market but we highly advise you avoid those. Not only are they bad for vision but can also be unsafe for your eyes on breaking, which they might easily in case of a fall.
Premium brands do provide advanced technology that makes a difference, like lenses that change their darkness with changing light conditions. For example, PRIZM™ is an Oakley lens technology designed to enhance color and contrast so you can see more detail. Such technology helps you pick the correct line when cycling, even when the conditions change from full sunlight to sudden shade.
Windcheater Jacket, Rain Jacket and Winter Jackets
They say “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Do not let the weather inhibit you from going outside on a beautiful cycle ride.
As the names suggest, a windcheater jacket and rain jacket become essential on a ride in adverse weather conditions. Go for ones in bright neon colours for visibility and preferably with reflective piping. A winter jacket aims to keep you warm. It’s made to fit snugly, so there is no flapping as you ride and has a high neck that zips up to avoid cold streams of air down your neck.
Read our review about the Heini Nizza cycling jacket.
A cycle and the rider should be visible from a long distance for fast moving vehicles on roads. Reflectors help a great deal by letting drivers know that you are there and maneuver accordingly, especially at night.
Reflectors can also be added to your jacket or vest and be held by a velcro. This is highly recommended for long distance rides, training rides, brevets, etc.
Cycling Shoes & Pedals
Cycling shoes allow the rider to be one with the bike. These shoes have cleats at the bottom so the rider clips on to the bike, and when pedalling, not just his downward push is utilized for a forward motion but also when he brings his foot up in the pedal rotation. It contributes towards the best use of one’s effort in cycling.
If you are heading for a proper training ride, cycling shoes are quite beneficial as they engage your hamstrings as well. You will also have to get pedals that work with cycling shoes. Often the two are brought together to ensure compatibility.
There are also cycling specific flat shoes for cycling (without cleats) that offer better grip on the pedals and have velcro straps as opposed to the laces of normal sports shoes that can get caught in the chain of the cycle and cause an accident while riding.
Likewise, you can check out cleats and pedals as well.
Cycling Shoe Covers
Expect to go through mud-puddles? Or cycle in extremely cold conditions with melting snow? Get shoe covers and keep your feet warm. Cyclists pride themselves on getting out in harsh conditions but also keeping themselves well protected with good gear. Meet Nature head-on in monsoon and winters, but take care of yourself.
Base Layers & Warmers
Speaking of keeping warm, go for base layers in winter cycling. It is impossible to pile on layers and get bulky and warm as a cyclist as it inhibits movement and also increases the weight on the bike.
Hence, special lightweight, highly warm and aerodynamic base layers have been created for cyclists, for the top half and lower half of the body. This is great gear for expeditions like Ladakh cycling trips.
Cheaper options do not provide benefits like sweat wicking, so it is good to buy premium base layers. Arm and leg warmers provide additional warmth, and removable options in case the day starts cold but gets warm later.
Cycling is an aerobic activity, meaning it majorly depends upon the oxygen intake. But the air in cities isn’t so clean. Investing in an anti-pollution mask is necessary for anyone who rides on roads or for commutes. You may be surprised by how black the filters of your mask may get in a city ride.
Cycling socks are different from ordinary socks in many ways. One, they are designed to stay up with constant motion. They are made to stretch as the foot moves but not lose grip. They have good ventilation as it would be horrible to have sweaty feet on rides. And sometimes they provide warmth as well in case of cold conditions cycling. They often come in bright colours that can complement your kit – cycling jersey and shorts combo well.
Cycling Buff & Headwear
Cycling buffs help in a million ways. Actually it is said, there are 32 ways to wear them. These are cylindrical pipes of stretchy sweat absorbing cloth that fit around your head, can be turned into a cap, can be used as a neck protector, can go on your wrist as a band, and can even be shaped as a monkey cap in case of cold. These help in both cold and warm conditions. One of the things they do best is keep hair out of your eyes, off your forehead and allow the helmet to sit securely on your head without shifting. Other headgear includes cycling caps (very fashionable) and warm bandanas.
So that’s a list of the cycle clothes you must have. Out of the ones above we’d say you must have a
Hope that helps. Enjoy making an attractive kit for high performance; it can be a pleasure indeed making an all red or all black kit. Happy riding!
Check out all the essential cycling accessories here.