All you need to know about buying cycling clothing
Buying cycling clothing can be both fun and overwhelming, with all the colours, styles, zips, compartments, materials and fits available – it’s not a one-size-fits-all affair. The aim of this cycling clothing guide is to introduce you to an array of cycling clothing available for you to purchase from ProBikeKit, and to help you decide what style best suits you as the rider.
Read up on the following sections that cover beginner essentials, advanced high-tech favourites, weather conditioning tips and much more!
You may think that buying a cycling jersey is a simple task, however choosing the right fit and design comes with many options. The finer details are what can make or break a jersey mid-ride when you need it the most, such as the right amount of pockets or the correct zip style.
All in all, the fit of your cycling jersey is the most important factor. If it’s too baggy, then you’ll lack in aerodynamics, whereas on a completely opposite scale, if it is too tight then you may end up losing movement and flexibility in your shoulders and arms, not to mention feeling uncomfortable.
The best tip from us is to check our sizing guides for each cycling jersey, as each brand will vary. For example, Italian brands such as Santini tend to fit quite closely and be on the short side meaning you may have to choose a size bigger than you normally would; whereas other brands may be true to size, or longer. The easiest way is to choose a jersey that is close to the body, form-fitting and most importantly, comfortable to cycle in for extended periods of time.
Temperature and Functionality
Having the right cycling gear is essential considering that you can be out on a ride for half a day, or sometimes, the best part of one! The weather and temperature can change multiple times in such scenarios, especially in between seasons. So, aside from the fit of your cycling jersey you’ll have to consider thickness and material appropriate for the season, as well as temperature and functionality.
What to Wear Cycling in Different Temperatures
When cycling during the hotter months of the year, besides picking out a lightweight, short sleeved jersey, it’s also a good idea to look at additional performance features that can help dissipate heat and keep you as cool as possible during your ride. Zips and the material of your cycling gear are of particular importance. The zips, although you may not think anything of it, can be a crucial part of your ride. The difference between a half zip and a full-length zip can be crucial in the midst of a sweat-soaked ride with the midday sun pounding on your back. The ability to fully open your zip in the heat means that more of your body heat can escape and you’ll cool down efficiently. In terms of materials, most cycling jerseys will have a breathability feature so you will want to check that the one you’re buying to cycle in warm weather has breathable materials – some jerseys will have this more than others.
When the cold weather comes in, your main goal will be to keep warm. Winter cycling jerseys are long sleeved and thicker as standard, and will often feature a higher degree of technology as they have got the difficult task of keeping you warm while simultaneously helping you breathe and perspire easily.
Functionality of Cycling Clothing
There’s a lot more functionality to cycling clothing than just keeping you cool on a hot summer’s day, or warm during the winter. Having three rear-pocket separators rather than two for example, this may seem as though it doesn’t matter, however it can mean the difference between knowing where your energy gels are and losing them amongst the rest of your extras.
It is also worth noting that, if you are not used to wearing a cycling jersey, they usually hang lower in the rear, which may seem odd when you first put it on. However, once on your bike, you’ll see why: the rear panel simply covers the exposed area of your skin when you’re hunched over!
A good pair of cycling shorts can be key to cycling; your legs are doing all the pedalling and you’re sat on your seat the whole time, so obviously what covers and protects your upper legs is extremely important.
You’ll want a good cycling short with a leg-hugging fit, and one that doesn't look as if it’s going to rub too much on long rides, so keep an eye out for minimal seams and smooth designs .
A solid pair of cycling shorts comes down to what’s on the inside, no, not your thighs, we're talking about the padding. Good padding – or chamois, as it’s historically known – can consist of foam and gel, and helps make the ride comfortable and easy on your bottom. After four hours of cycling you’ll soon see why good shorts are all about the quality of padding!
Bib shorts or regular shorts?
A big question when buying cycling shorts is: to go bib, or not to? The cycling community is pretty split down the middle on this one, however the majority of the pro peloton are using bib shorts , due to their efficiency in ensuring that your shorts don’t slide down and agitate your waistline.
The two straps on bib shorts remove the need of a tight waistband so there is already less pressure on your stomach during your ride, helping you to avoid any discomfort. Straps also prevent the shorts from sliding down when you’re leant forwards over the handlebars, saving you both your dignity and comfort.
Regular Cycling Shorts
If you are put off by the thought of wearing bib shorts then no matter, standard cycling shorts have many benefits. They are more comfortable and suitable to summer cycling as there is less fabric and your midsection is left open and free so you are less likely to get hot and sweaty during your ride.
The fit of regular cycling shorts is another aspect to consider. You are dealing with one piece of fabric, so if you are a taller or broader person, then you benefit from not having the straps on bib shorts to worry about and you can find your in-between sizes easily.
Besides this, standard cycling shorts have always been a strong, popular choice, mainly because they range from very affordable, to super high end. For men, another bonus of the standard cycling short is the ability to take a toilet break easily without removing straps!
A cycling jacket is a great garment to have in your wardrobe for those days when a long sleeved jersey and a gilet just won’t cut it.
You have to pick carefully when it comes to cycling jackets, as they come in different thicknesses, shapes and sizes and have different purposes. Before buying a cycling jacket, you’ll want to know whether you are looking for a light, packable rain jacket of a more resilient deep winter jacket.
Choosing the right cycling jacket
Thickness and Fit
A cycling jacket is designed to keep you warm, it’s as simple as that…or is it? Not necessarily. Thickness is a key aspect in the design of a cycling jacket to determine the level of warmth it maintains whilst you cycle. The fit is equally as important, as you want to be as aerodynamic as possible, so cycling jackets have an engineered close-fit designed to enhance your performance.
Pockets and Compartments
As with jerseys, the right amount of pockets and compartments can be crucial for intra-ride re-fuelling and tool-reaching when you need it the most. Having a few separate compartments implemented in the design of your rear jacket pocket is ideal, as this allows you to separate a section off to one type of snack from another, or to keep your greasy multi-tool away from your peanut butter sandwiches!
Technology, Materials and Ventilation
Having the correct warmth, insulation, fit and manoeuvrability are all important factors for your cycling jacket, and sufficient ventilation and technology are also vital to the design. You may be cold when you set off on your winter rides, but after two hours of hard work, you’ll still be perspiring. Choose a material that is lightweight and ensures ventilation during your ride so that you airflow allows your skin to breathe.
Layering up - Cycling Gilets and Baselayers
Because of the length of some bike rides, you’re likely to encounter constantly changing climates and conditions. In these situations, the best thing you can do is layer up, so here’s our quick guide on what to wear when cycling for long periods of time.
A cycling gilet is an odd item of clothing in the cycling world. They can seem like a strange item to place, yet they can be the most useful item of clothing to take with you on a ride. In more temperamental months, switching between layers can make or break your cycle and layering up correctly can have dramatic effects on your performance. The combination of a cycling gilet and arm warmers is a popular choice amongst cyclists, as you can easily remove the warmers mid-ride without affecting your torso or moving about too much. Additionally, you can slip off a gilet whilst still keeping the arm warmers on - an advantage you have over a cycling jacket or long sleeved jersey in those ever-changing weather days.
Being a vital ingredient for Winter Cycling , and even sometimes in the colder Autumn months, baselayers are possibly the most functional, usable piece of cycling clothing in the sport. Their super-slim, close-fitting, second-skin-like nature means that they can be put on unnoticed underneath your cycling wear, keeping you warm without the clunk of a thick, padded jacket.
Baselayers are multi-functional; as well as keeping you warm, they help wick away sweat and moisture. This is especially useful in the hotter months, ensuring that you keep dry and breezy on your ride. They are also designed with compression qualities in mind. Because of the close-fitting nature of a baselayer, sports clothing and engineering has led to the development and enhancement of muscle-protecting technologies that increase blood-flow and help prevent injuries. It is important to note that some baselayers will be more optimised for this purpose than others, and levels of protection and compression will vary.
Tights & Trousers
For the times when standard cycling shorts just won’t cut it, cycling tights and trousers come in. Adding a warm layer to your lower body, a good pair of cycling tights can help make your ride bearable and comfortable while you warm up your legs, whilst at the same time the thin yet warm material ensures that they remain minimal enough to allow movement and hours of legwork.
Following the same rule of thumb as with cycling shorts, a good place to start when looking to buy tights or trousers is to look at the padding. If it is well padded and high quality, then you know you can sit in them for a good few hours whilst cycling.
Cycling trousers on the other hand are more like a sports tracksuit with a more relaxed fit. Take a look at brands such as Sportful , Proviz , and Endura which provide cycling-specific trousers for use over your regular cycling gear - you can’t go far wrong with these.
High Visibility Cycling Clothing
Safety when cycling is paramount, especially when on your bike at night. High visibility cycling clothing can do a great deal in keeping you seen and safe on the roads; it’s not just safety that’s the issue at hand, they actually look really cool too!
Over the Winter months, we always welcome exciting designs and innovations in reflective and visibility clothing to ProBikeKit. A number of our cycling jackets are reflective, stylish and modern, such as this Provis Reflect 360 Jacket .
Now that you have read through our Cycling Clothing Guide, you’ll be armed with all of the knowledge you need to dress for the occasion, feeling completely comfortable on your bike!