You have been standing in your closet for five whole minutes, rummaging through drawers, and tossing things around in frustration. You’re going on a ride and your favourite shorts AND jersey are in the wash. You only have 3 other pairs of shorts and five other jerseys… Why is this SO upsetting?
Maybe you’ve been here before, or maybe not. But the reason this all-too-familiar scenario occurs, is because what we wear cycling makes a huge difference in terms of comfort on our rides. The reason we have favourites is because we have found something functional and comfortable, so we can focus on riding and not pulling at fabric while trying to steer a bike.
So what makes cycling clothing ideal? Here are 5 simple rules for picking cycling attire you will want to use again and again:
1. Choose a good fabric.
Lycra, polyester, merino wool. These are common cycling attire fabrics with special moisture-wicking properties, helping you to stay dry and comfortable. Lycra and merino wool are exceptional at keeping moisture away, reducing smells and moderating temperature. Merino wool is especially great for warmth, but can be worn in warm weather as well if light enough. It is very soft and durable. Lycra is excellent for warm weather, and ideal if you will sweat a lot. Often cycling attire will have synthetic blends including polyester and other synthetic fabrics. Ultimately, the fabric should feel good on your skin. Make sure you check the label.
Check out this jersey from MAAP. On the pricier end, but this is on my wish list. Form-fitting and a moisture wicking fabric to keep you comfortable. Also looks great! Thumbs up.
2. Think about chafing.
Is something too tight? Does the waistband of your shorts dig into your hips? Does the zipper at the top of your jersey rub your neck? These are all things to examine closely before leaving the store, as you will pay for it later on a long ride. Better to not waste your money on yet another seldom used jersey, and check thoroughly.
3. Think about storage needs.
Do you carry a lot of food on your rides? Do you want a secure compartment for your phone? Are you doing a multi-day bike trip? Cycling addiction = many hours on the road = the need to bring fuel and safety items along. Usually this means carrying things on you, either in your jersey, jacket or short pockets. Look for deep, highly elastic pockets if you intend to carry a lot. This will ensure your items don’t fall out and your jersey doesn’t sag and pull.
4. Check the elasticity & fit.
Again, a highly elastic waistband and pockets are ideal for storage. The fit of the jersey can be subjective and depends on your goals. If you are looking for something speedy with less wind resistance, go for a form-fitting jersey with minimal loose fabric. If youʼre riding leisurely around your neighbourhood or commuting to work, loose fabric shouldnʼt be an issue. In general, shorts should be form-fitting to reduce the rubbing of extra fabric. On the flip-side, don’t go overboard and buy a size too small for that extra competitive edge.
5. Padding, padding, padding!
You’ve seen obscenely giant shorts in the shop that look like a diaper. You may laugh at the almost comical amounts of padding, but hold your judgment: these highly-cushioned shorts will become your best friend if youʼre an avid cyclist. A basic chamois reduces pressure on your groin areas, allowing you to ride comfortably for much longer. Trial and error will work, but in general you should choose something with some substantial padding if you want to ride for more than an hour and avoid saddle sores.
Itʼs true: Cycling gear expenses can add up quickly; but a smart investment strategy can save you from hoarding clothes you donʼt end up wearing. Depending on how much you cycle, or value comfort, your wardrobe may look different. These are guidelines to help you make wise choices.