Clothing made specifically for cycling offers many benefits including comfort, safety, and improved performance. This guide will explain all the key pieces of apparel you’ll want to be outfitted with so you can maximize your biking experience.
Gone are the days when you need to dress head-to-toe in spandex as a cyclist. Sure, there is still plenty of spandex to choose from, but also a variety of materials and styles to fit your personal preference and style.
Let’s first take a look at the primary pieces of bike clothing every cyclist should have. After that we’ll dive into materials and price point differences.
We realize #1 and #2 are not “apparel” per se, but you’ll want to factor your helmet and sunglasses into your overall “look”.
Wearing a bike helmet is a must! To get the right fit and style for you check out our Helmet Buying Guide for assistance. We’ve got helmets designed specifically for mountain bikers, recreational riders, and road cyclists. Many are equipped with advanced technologies like MIPS and ANGi which provide extra support in the case of a crash. Additionally, our Sena helmets offer Bluetooth connectivity allowing you to communicate hands-free while riding.
Biking gives us the awesome experience of receiving sun on our face and wind in our hair. Unfortunately, this wonderful experience can also make us vulnerable to dangerous UV rays as well as debris swept up in the air blowing around. Sunglasses are an easy way to ensure your eyes are protected. Glasses also provide wind and bug protection to keep your field of view clear and without tears! Additionally, in colder weather and/or if you are doing some hard-core mountain bike riding, goggles can be worn for extra protection.
Cycling jerseys (short and long-sleeved) are designed to keep you dry, cool, safe, comfortable, and performing optimally. And they have pockets in convenient locations for when you are riding.
Pick and choose which options are most important to you and then get shopping!
Many bike jerseys are designed with performance in mind and will be made of stretchy fabric, fit snugly, and have an athletic look. But you can also find many loose-fitting jersey styles designed for the casual cyclist that wants to wear relaxed clothing. Regardless of whether or not a bike jersey is made for performance or casual riding, almost all will include:
If you are cycling in colder seasons, it is all about layering. You’ll want to have a long-sleeved jersey and/or arm warmers. You can learn more about cold weather cycling apparel options on our Cold Weather Cycling Apparel Guide and our Guide to Winter Cycling blog.
Many people equate long sleeves to cool weather. Not so fast! There are a number of long sleeve jerseys that are designed to keep riders cool, even in hot temperatures, while providing a high level of SPF protection. There are even warm weather sun sleeves that you can add to your existing short sleeve jersey for full sun protection.
Cycling jackets and vests are an asset when riding. They can keep you dry, warm, and protected from the elements. But, when it’s time to lose the extra layer, they fold up small so you can store them no problem in a back jersey pocket or small bike bag.
Cycling jackets and vests include many of the same features as bike jerseys like breathability, wind and water resistance, pockets, visibility, and more.
The Chamois (pronounced “sha-mee”), is the padded area on bike shorts, bibs, and pants. Its main job is to keep your bum comfy on longer rides but it also reduces friction and wicks away moisture. Chamois’ come in a variety of shapes, thicknesses, and materials (including gel).
Going into public with tight-fitting spandex shorts or bibs not your thing? You’re not alone. Luckily there are lots of great alternative riding shorts that have a padded snug-fitting liner under a looser-fitting outer short. These casual-looking shorts transition easily from the bike to the coffee shop or brewpub after the ride (view our men and women styles).
Liner Shorts (sometimes referred to as cycling underwear) have a built-in chamois and can be worn under your favorite pair of regular shorts or pants.
To finish off your cycling outfit, we need to address your feet! One of the surest ways to improve your cycling experience is to incorporate the use of cycling shoes and socks. You’ll improve your pedaling efficiency, gain more stability while riding, eliminate unnecessary stress on your hips, knees, and feet, and you’ll likely go faster exerting less effort!
As you’ll see while shopping for bike apparel, there can be a wide range of price points for seemingly identical items. If you dig a little deeper, however, looking at materials and features, you’ll discover some big differences.
Just like any other item, when you spend more, you get more. As the quality of clothing goes up, so does technology and engineering. You get better materials that will transfer moisture better and keep you more comfortable. You get better-designed padding that will sit better underneath you and lead to less discomfort. You get garments that are cut and fitted to move better with your body for more comfort. For the performance-motivated rider, you get materials and designs that are more aerodynamic and will reduce your drag as you ride your bike.
In the end, the more you spend, the better your experience. Riding a bike should be fun, but if you aren’t comfortable, it won’t be fun!
Visit any of our ERIK’S stores to shop our amazing selection of cycling apparel. We’ll get you dressed up in style for your next bike ride! You can also peruse all of our bike clothes online at shopERIKS.com, order up what you like, and have it shipped directly to you.