As you’re heading out for a bike ride, you’re probably wearing a lot more layers of clothing than you used to in summer. And even though it might seem that the most important element about cycling is the bicycle itself, it’s undeniable that cycling clothing is almost as important as the bike. It’s what makes you comfortable, protected from the changing weather conditions, it can cool you off during hot summer days or keep you warm on chilly autumn and spring rides, it allows you to move freely and sit A LOT more comfortably, so clothing is a very important essence of cycling. Today we want to talk more about the aspects of why and what is important in terms of clothing, and this is us giving you a hint that we have exciting news coming your way very soon!
1. Avoid cotton
First, let’s get this out of the way – Cotton is a terrible material for active-wear. Yes, it’s breathable, feels natural, overall is known to be a good quality material, but when you are active, you sweat. When you sweat, your clothing gets wet. When cotton gets wet, it stays wet. In addition, cotton takes a long time to dry out and does a poor job of actually cooling you as that water evaporates. Next time you’re out on a trail, take a look at the people exercising. You will be able to spot the cotton by the dark sweat marks! Performance materials like Lycra, Spandex, Nylon, Merino Wool, and Polyester pull that moisture off of your skin, transferring it to the outer layers of the material, and helping it to evaporate into the air. This transfer-evaporation process also helps to cool you, just how sweat is designed to work! This is something that cotton is horrible at, so when choosing cycling clothes, go for synthetic materials, because they will serve much better.
2. Use cycling shorts
Take bike shorts for example. What makes them different from other active shorts is the padding or chamois. The chamois is a pad of some sort placed between the rider and the bike seat, or saddle. This provides cushion and support without adding too much bulk. On the other hand, a big, cushy saddle can actually create more pressure because of all of that material and bulk from the saddle. This can lead to discomfort in very sensitive areas.
By using a supportive chamois you get the cushion and support that you need without all of that bulk. Also, when you are wearing regular shorts or pants and a big, cushy seat, the friction point is between your body and the seat. When you add padding to your body and use a less bulky seat, you move that friction point to the shorts and the seat leading to less discomfort to your sensitive areas. A larger, bulky saddle can also impact the alignment of your pedal stroke and potentially add stress and discomfort to your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. All great reasons to wear cycling-specific shorts or tights!
3. Try cycling bibs
Another amazing innovation in cycling shorts that are being used more often by cyclists is bibs! Cycling bibs are shorts with straps that come up and over your shoulders, much like suspenders. They look like a wrestling singlet and they are the most comfortable bike shorts ever! They always stay where they are supposed to. Cycling shorts can sag in the back and can roll down in front, leading to all kinds of discomfort! Bibs stay put and eliminate the beltline bunching.
4. Try baggy clothing, if slim fit is not your thing
Not all bike shorts are a tight spandex slim-fit! There are cycling-specific “baggy” shorts designed for riding bikes. Cycling-specific baggies have subtle changes from general shorts (like basketball or jogging shorts).
For one, they are designed so that they don’t catch on your seat as you get on and off of a bike. This is a seldom considered but very important feature! As you get on and off of a bike, you throw your leg over the saddle. If there is an excess of material in the crotch, you are likely to catch the shorts on the saddle, leading to you tipping over! This is both dangerous to your body and your self esteem!
Cycling-specific baggies are also designed to have strategically placed pockets. When you sit on a bike and pedal, your legs are moving up and down. If items are positioned in your pockets in the wrong place they can cause discomfort or fall out during your ride! Cycling shorts are designed so that your stuff stays nicely in your pockets and some pockets even feature zippers.
5. Cycling jerseys for your comfort
Your cycling shirt is made of a material that evaporates moisture (sweat) away from your skin so it will be great for riding. Actually, a cycling jersey is made to do this and a lot more!
A cycling-specific jersey is generally cut to fit a little more snuggly, which is a good thing! When you ride a bike, most of your effort is exerted overcoming the aerodynamics. This isn’t necessarily an actual headwind. Any time that you move forward there is air resistance. A really loose-fitting T-shirt style shirt is going to act as a big sail and hold you back. These specific shirts are also made a bit longer on your back to cover everything that needs to be covered when you lean forward while cycling. ;) Not to mention the pockets on your back for some snacks, keys, phone or water!
6. Protects you from the UV rays
It’s quite obvious you're exposed to sun when riding in the summer, but sadly covering your skin with clothing doesn’t mean you're 100% protected from sunburn. Activewear is designed to be lightweight and breathable. To do this, tiny holes and gaps exist in the material. UV rays can travel through these holes. In the worst cases, you can actually get a sunburn THROUGH your clothing! Many cycling companies are now designing clothing to block those UV rays. To protect your arms and legs, you can also wear sun-sleeves.
7. It’s all made for you to feel more comfortable
It’s not made just to make you look like a cyclist or to have more elements to spend on, it’s actually highly engineered, high-performance aerodynamic clothing. But the primary purpose of cycling clothing is to help you feel comfortable on the bike, to ride longer, and to be more efficient – regardless of your riding level. Whether you’re riding around the block or across the country, cycling clothing will definitely give you a better, more comfortable ride.
On this note we would like to say - stay tuned for news from Velosock, as we’re preparing a big surprise for you and we’re sure you’ll love it!
Oh, and stay warm during your autumn or winter rides!