Some of us commute to work, we get it. Let’s start by mentioning that this article is not regarding commuting to work via bicycle. We’ll cover that on another day. Today, we’re going to talk about cycling attire on your training/leisure rides.
When cycling for training and/or leisure, we recommend proper biking attire. Cycling attire is designed for.. well, cycling! It was designed with the activity in mind and is therefore fully optimised for the activity. From aerodynamics, to features to breathability, cycling attire is purpose built for cycling and we personally wouldn’t ride in any other attire.
Let’s start with the main ones.
Cycling shorts, chamois, chammys, padded shorts, cycling tights - they come in different names! Cycling shorts usually come with some padding in the groin area. This is to help you with saddle sores on your rides. One of the most common complaints we get from new riders are saddle sores. While there are a variety of reasons people get saddle sores (saddle fit, bike fit, saddle design), a pair of padded shorts or chammys definitely helps!
Some cycling shorts come in as shorts only options while others come in bib shorts. This is up to personal preference. Most guys we know wear bib shorts but some of us like wearing just the shorts as well.
A properly fitted pair of cycling shorts or chammys can help you with your saddle sores. It can also help you avoid nasty abrasions and abscesses. When you go in the market to look for cycling shorts, the next question would be how much do you need to spend? We can’t tell you the answer, but what we have found is that aside from more unique designs, the materials of the shorts and pads improve as the pair of shorts get more expensive.
Added tip: If you find that you still get some abrasions wearing your well fitted cycling shorts (which we have found to be quite unlikely), you can get yourself chamois cream for application!
Jerseys are purpose built for cycling. They hug your skin, so they are aerodynamic. They are usually made of breathable drifit materials for comfort. Most jerseys come with a front zipper for easy wearing. Some also come with pockets in the back for you to put whatever you need or whatever you choose to bring on your ride.
Now this one MIGHT sound like snake oil. Because what’s the difference between cycling socks and any other socks? They’re both made from fabric, they’re both the same shape. So what gives? Well, for one, most pairs of cycling socks are made from faster wicking material. They are also made of stretchable material more often, like sports socks so they keep to their shape better after sweat and active movement. Essentially, it’s the same as wearing office socks to go for a run.
On the first day our intern turned up for work, he was cycling in casual socks, citing the same reasons mentioned above! After a round of nagging by us, he bought himself a pair of cycling socks. He hasn’t turned back since. He now has a collection of cycling socks and sometimes turns up with cycling socks even if he isn’t cycling! (perks of working in a cycling shop – we encourage it!).
Cycling shoes. Cycling shoes are like the gateway to more ‘serious’ cycling. Or at least that’s what the cycling community thinks of it. Cycling shoes for road cycling are also called clipless cleats. They are usually paired with clipless pedals. The irony with the name is that these shoes clip into your pedals for optimum efficiency in your pedal stroke. The reason why clipless pedals are called clipless, even though you have to clip into them is because they come without the toe cages or toe clips that cyclists used to use in the past.
Cycling shoes or cleats are a commitment. They are trickier to use and takes a short while to master, but we haven’t met a cyclist who has gone back to flat pedals after using cleats and clipless pedals.
Last but certainly not least, proper cycling attire requires a good and reliable helmet.
“I crashed riding my bicycle 2 weeks ago and hit my helmet. I was cycling on the road and decided to take it easy and cycled on the pavement/sidewalk. Didn't notice the pavement was mossy from all the rain and washed out when using the brakes. The side of my body as well as the helmet hit the ground and experienced whiplash symptoms. Helmets keep you safe so do wear them even on a chill ride. My upper arm is still painful when moving at certain angles (no broken bones thankfully 😅) otherwise I feel fine. Good thing Specialized offers 20% crash replacement so I'll go there when I find time. 😊 Please do wear your helmets! 😉”
This was posted on a Facebook cycling group a few months ago and we feel that it sums up what we’ve always maintained. It doesn’t matter whether you’re cycling on the road, on park connectors, trails, or if you’re cycling far, near, fast or slow – wear a helmet when you’re cycling. We’ve seen people crack helmets (and unfortunately also heads) while cycling slowly on park connectors. Accidents happen. If you end up not wearing any of the abovementioned pieces of cycling attire, at least keep the helmet on.
At the end of the day, you can wear anything you like to go out and ride. Don’t let not having pieces of clothing stop you (except for helmets of course). But we maintain that proper cycling attire still remains the most comfortable and efficient attire to wear while out on rides. You’ll also look very good decked in gear. It’s a bit of a non-topic in most cycling communities and groups, but road cyclists really like suiting on. You wouldn’t wear gym clothing to a wedding. So why would you do so while cycling?