When cycling, there’s often a concern for people regarding the basic gears that they should carry. There are different cycling gears & accessories for different needs & hence there’s a lot of education that needs to be imparted to the ones who are new to choosing gears & hence we will throw some light here on what are the recommended gears for cycling ranging from your head to toe.
To be honest, if you are cyclist who just rides for a few minutes a day & on local errands then cycling gears aren’t something you should eye at as normal casual clothing can also help you there. So there’s actually no need to spend your hard-earned money down here. The actual need for cycling accessories & apparels arises when the riding faces a transition from a basic ride to a specialized one like a race or cycling on a mountain trail, snow, etc.
So why is cycling clothing something which is good? Why is it something that we should not avoid but take when going for actual biking? Let’s find out:
- Bike Fit
Cycling gear is made in a way so as to fit properly when the rider leans forward over the handlebars. Thus, cycling clothing has shirts & jackets having longer backs to keep the lower back covered legwears have higher waist at the back as well. The sleeves are also kept longer to provide a covering. Each apparel features bends at the waist & in the knee so that doesn’t pedalling goes undisturbed..
Cycling means movement of the body especially the legs. This is the main reason behind making cycling fabrics out of lycra so as to provide flexibility & stretch.
If you ever ride up a steep hill in a cotton fabric outfit with a polyester jacket on the top, you’ll understand the reason behind cycling clothes not being made up of cotton. The sweat soaks & it doesn’t dry up causing cold. Cycling gear is made intentionally from fabrics through which water can move away from the skin & disappear.
Outer layers for wet weather also have fabrics that shift sweat. ‘ Breathable’ fabrics keep rain out & at the same time, allow sweat to escape. However, even breathable fabric has its limits & can’t vent out the entire sweat when a cyclist is pedaling hard. These are positioned so that they don’t let in water, in places such as the underarms or under flaps at the back.
When sitting on the saddle, the area is small when it comes to the point of contact between the saddle & buttocks. This can cause trouble in the long run in terms of sciatica, hemorrhoids, etc. thus, a bit of padding gives a cushioning & enlarged are for the buttocks on the saddle. i t also provides shock absorption. Padded shorts also are ventilated so as to allow air circulation. This makes the ride saddle sore free.
Proper cycling clothing can ensure that you go faster when you ride. Cycling clothing is highly aerodynamic in design to solve the purpose of being aerodynamic.
With all these covered, now it is time to step into the main cycling clothing & the differences between them as well as an idea on when to wear which one of them. After this, we would cover the other gears too which are needful in cycling.
The main types of clothing in cycling are as below:
These define the basics of cycling clothing & are made up of stretchy Nylon/Lycra & have a pad inside to cushion the buttocks. There are two variants – waist shorts & bib shorts. Waist shorts, as the name indicates have an elastic waist-band to hold the body by the waist. On the other hand, bib shorts stretch from the legs to uptil the shoulder where the straps run across the shoulder & there’s nothing at the waist that holds things in place. Bib shorts are the more comfortable of the two options though using the bathroom can be a bit difficult in them. Yes, they make long rides comfortable with literally no pressure on the waist.
Jerseys in bicycling are shaped like a t-shirt but are made from synthetic materials or a blend of Merino wool & synthetic clothing. A cycling jersey has a high neck to protect from the sun with a zip at the front & pockets at the back or sites to carry minor yet important stuff like phone, cards, cash, etc.
Jersey fabrics have their own spectral range of materials where they can be made from ultra-light breathable mesh to thick windproof & water-resistant fabrics.
It is another fancy yet important need for cyclists. These have padded leather palms & thick back of cottom with a Velcro strap to provide size adjustment. Gloves these days come in many varieties like gel padding in the palm, towelling wipes on the thumb,etc. For winters, there are long-finger gloves available as well & these are available with various amounts of insulation
When the temperature drops there will be a need for covering the legs & every inch of the body possibly. Cycling tights start from the waist & extend down till the ankles. These are mae thick so a to increase the warmth. Like shorts, these have bib & waist varieties & also come with & without padding.
Three-quarter leggings end up a bit above the ankle more closer towards the knees. Hence they are lie midway between shorts & tights. Three-quarter leggings are not as warm as tights & can be used in warm weather as well. Three-quarters are a preferred choice among female cyclists. The field is highly open in terms of market opportunities with Marks & Spencer as well as Levi’s coming done here.
- Arm & leg warmers
These are completely need based, i.e., when needed for cover during early hours of the day, these can be pretty handy. These are advantageous as they can be taken off & put into the pocket when the need is over.
- Base layers
A base l ayer is a clothing material in cycling which comes between the skin & the jersey. Its primary jobis to keep sweat away from the skin by acting as a high-tech vest.
When the temperature drops, base layers which are slightly thicker are recommended as you’ll not just need sweat management but some warmth too. Undershirts or base layers made from Merino wool are highly popular when it’s cold. Some base layers have a layer of built-in windproof fabric, which can be a great friend during cold.
Waterproof or heavier outer layers start where jerseys leave off. There are three main types of these.- ‘thermal’ jackets that provide insulation, fully waterproof ‘hardshells’ & ‘softshells’ that are not just insulating but also highly water-resistant.
Thermal jackets come handy in cold & dry conditions. Hardshells are the classic cycling waterproofs made from breathable fabrics so as to keep sweat away from the inside. Softshells go a level higher & provide both warmth as well as protection from the rain. They are highly popular among mountain bikers but are well-demanded among the roadsters as well.
A gilet or vest is a sleeveless outer layer that keeps the wind away from the torso. Gilets are great in spring & autumn biking complemented with a long-sleeved jersey. They can be made from breathable waterproof material or basic waterproof nylon with mesh backs so as to keep the body ventilated as well while keeping you waterproof.
Cycling is a sweaty business & are made from thin, sweat absorbing fabrics, with a thicker layer on the sole for padding. In winters, many riders switch to Merino wool because it can retain some insulating properties even when wet.
Stiff soles are the highlights of cycling shoes. These also feature attachment points for cleats that clip into special pedals. They fit comfortably & then they stay at that place as they are held by velcro or straps. In racing shoes, riding is amazing but walking is tough but in case of mountain biking shoes, no just the riding but the walk is also comfortable & easy.
Covering the clothing part, we must now move on the gears that are essential apart from these basics mentioned above:
- Water (hydration pack) & Snacks/Energy food
Biking is a sport & hence it will use some strength & stamina of yours. Thus, it will consume you from within & the energy levels will go down too. Since it is a physical activity, there will be constant sweating & loss of water from the body too. Under such circumstances, it will be foolishness not to carry water, hydration packs, snacks & energy food.
- Sunscreen, First-aid kit & Eye protection
You’re going to have some time in the son. Also, there is a fair possibility of injuries too & hence it is essential to carry a basic first aid kit to keep things tidy. Again, sunglass is going to be a basic necessity too. When riding in the day, sunscreen is strongly recommended because rides are going to expose your body for some real tanning.
- Medical info/emergency contact card
Just in those rare cases which everybody prays for to be an impossibility is an unwanted emergency. However, to keep things covered, we must always be prepared & hence emergency contact list must be well-updated.
- Core Bike Repair Items
These things are by no means anything that you would want to miss out on. Be it spare tubes or patch kit, pump or tyre levers, even Allen wrenches should be a part of your expedition.
- The Electronics & Self-protection
Don’t worry as we are not going to ask you to bend the knee too much before technology. However, basic things like torch, cycling computers, GPS device must always be part of your kit. Also, in cases of mountain biking, snow biking, etc., always ensure carrying things related to safety & well-being as you never know when the beautiful nature can go wild. So it is always necessary to carry basic safety items too. Also, the bike must be equipped with front & rear lights so as to not just have visibility & sight of your peloton but also you being seen by others on the road or path.
It is quite evident that cycling isn’t as casual as it seems. Though it is extremely thrilling & will leave you asking for more in terms of adventure & fun once you develop a knack of it, it will be extremely difficult to bike if you are not following the above parameters. It is hence not an option but a compulsion to have these things as the first arrangements when you plan to take a biking trip. Be it any discipline of biking in road, mountain or snow & desert biking, good preparedness will never harm but keep you ready to embrace new challenges more bravely & explore the surprises that biking throws at you. The luggage must be kept minimal & only the necessary things should form a part of your luggage. Since it is not a long drive but biking, you don’t have much options in terms of getting luggage as there is no space around you but just your shoulders to carry things forward. Hence, don’t shy away from choosing the best combination to play as the game is a tough one & it only gets tougher as the journey passes. Also, make sure to be prepared for some hectic riding as well muscles getting flexed as this is what the fun of biking is. Apart from this, speaking of ‘gears’ for cycling, make sure that you have a good command in gear shifting & gear combinations since it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea to navigate bikes that easily with gears.
So, start biking & start exploring the other side of adventure & fitness!