Choosing a bicycle is tough, but putting together a complete outfit of proper cycling clothes (helmet, gloves, shoes, shorts,…)is not easy.
This is a very important part of bicycling and I think every cycler should be very well informed of how to put on a good cycling outfit so that you become a good rider.
Here’s an introduction to cycling clothing, starting with the most important items. (You could easily spend over $1000 on cycling clothes, but you certainly don’t have to.)
The most important part of your outfit is the one that could save your life. It could also be required by law in your area, so you should probably get a helmet.
I would suggest looking at the basic models from a popular name like Bell or Giro. You can probably get one for $30.
Useful information: How to Choose the Best Bicycle Helmet
Bell is extremely useful in the respect. The one I highly recommend is the Bell G234 helmet (cost around $40).
The following are also recommended:
- Bell D230
- Bell 9938
- Giro H3474
- Giro Y2923
The most important piece of clothing for cycling is definitely the bicycle shorts, which feature a pad in the crotch. This padding makes a world of difference in comfort when you are perched on the small, firm bicycle seat.
Shorts aren’t cheap, but they are worth every penny. If you will be riding more than 15 minutes at a time and plan to ride seriously in the future, get some real cycling shorts.
Even if you don’t plan to ride for so long a time, it is very important you wear padded shorts in whereve you go with your bicycle.
Note: You do not wear underwear under bicycling shorts! They are meant to sit against your bare skin.
Gloves are also very important. Gloves can improve your grip on the handlebar, which makes for safer riding, and they also protect your hands in case of an accident. (There’s a good chance you’ll scrape your hands in any wreck.)
Gloves also provide extra comfort for your hands.
The two main choices are full-finger or half-finger. Most mountain bikers choose full-finger gloves since they offer more protection, while most road cyclists choose half-finger gloves since they are lighter weight and don’t make your hands as sweaty.
Casual riders who use flat pedals won’t need to worry much about shoes, but if you plan to ride seriously, you should consider switching to clipless pedals and the special shoes with cleats.
Clipless pedals is the most serious riders use and it is strongly recommended if you plan to go down that route.
This setup provides a more secure connection between foot and pedal, and makes for more efficient riding. It takes a little practice at first, but virtually everyone agrees that clipless pedals are the way to go for serious riding.
You don’t want to get blisters on your feet, so you should invest in a pair of cycling socks, or at least an athletic sock made out of nylon, acrylic, spandex, or a mixture of those materials.
You just want something that is NOT made of cotton. Cotton socks will get saturated with sweat and probably chafe your feet, leading to discomfort and blisters.
Moreover, it’s rumored that sweat from cotton socks is really bad for our health.
While a regular t-shirt will do the job, eventually you might want to get a cheap cycling jersey.
There are two main benefits to using a cycling jersey instead of a t-shirt.
First, jerseys are made of synthetic materials that wick sweat to keep you cool and comfortable. Second, jerseys have three back pockets, which make it easy to carry gear (spare tube, tire levers, energy bar, cell phone, etc.) on your rides.
Last but not least, I suggest wearing sunglasses on every ride. Any sunglasses will suffice. You just need something to keep rocks and bugs from flying straight into your eyes.
This is by far the most important outfit you should put on. Cycling without one will result to untold eye problems.