Tight, black spandex bike shorts may look a bit strange to some people, but for a cyclist, bike shorts, cycling jerseys, bike shoes and other bike-specific gear offer both comfort and function on the bike. Bike apparel has become a large industry and there are endless clothing options for every type of riding and every weather condition.
Why Wear Bike Clothes
The main purpose of bike-specific clothing is comfort on the bike. Bike shorts and jersey's are designed specifically for the needs of a cyclist. These needs include padding in the right places, strategically places seams, tight-fitting, flexible materials that reduce air resistance and allow a full range of motion on the bike, and the right amount of breathability and wind block. Here are some specific items to look for:
Bike Gear - Clothing Essentials
Some people ride in street clothes and have no problem, but if you are going to bike any distance and want to stay comfortable and improve your pedaling efficiency, consider the follow list part of your essential bike gear.
- Bike Helmet
A bike helmet should be on the top of your bike gear list every time you ride. A bike helmet significantly reduces the severity of head injuries such as concussions especially during low-speed crashes. Always wear a properly fitting helmet.
- Bike Shorts
Once you get over your initial, often negative, reaction to bike shorts, you'll realizable that they offer major benefits if you ride any distance. Bike shorts have no seams in the crotch, provide padding to reduce chaffing and discomfort and they are flexible to move with you rather than bind during pedaling. Keep in mind that there are a number of styles and designs, some even look like regular shorts (with a padded liner underneath) so you should try on several brands and styles before you buy. And don't forget, bike shorts are meant to be worn without underwear.
- Cleated Bike Shoes
Cycling shoes come in a variety of styles, and offer specialized fit and function. Most bike shoes now accommodate cleats (special bindings that clip into special pedals) and all offer a stiff sole that help[ transfer power to the pedal. Be sure to buy shoes that work with your pedals and try on a variety of styles before deciding.
- Sun Glasses and Eye Protection
If you cycle, you need to protect your eyes from wind, sun, and flying debris as varied as bugs, sand and gravel. Look for sports sunglasses that are shatter-resistant.
Sunglasses for Sports
Socks may sound boring, but they are one of the most important pieces of exercise gear you can own to make your workouts comfortable and blister-free. Be sure to buy socks that wick the perspiration away in the heat and provide enough cushion and warmth for cold-weather riding.
- Cycling Gloves
Bike gloves offer cushion and protection for cycling. You can find long-finger, short-finger, colorful and functional gloves for cycling. They main goal of a bike glove is to provide padding in the palms to cushion your hands during long rides, to provide protection in case of a fall, to provide a tacky surface for a good grip on the handlebars and brakes, or keep you warm in the cold.
- Bike Jerseys
A bike jersey offers some features you won't find in a tee shirt. The main benefits of a bike jersey include:
- Flexible, tight-fitting material that doesn't flap in the wind and moves with you.
- Fabrics that breath and "wick" your sweat away from your skin to help keep you cool and dry.
- Back pockets for easy access and storage of small items while riding.
- A long front zipper and short collar to help you adjust your ventilation needs to the temperature.
- A longer, wider cut across to back and shoulders, and a shorter front to accommodate the hunched over cycling position and still cover your lower back.
- Bike Jerseys are generally loud, brightly colored designs that increase your visibility in traffic, but if you prefer, you can find jerseys that are a bit less flashy.