In this post, we are going to talk in details about cycling clothing.
In fact, there will something about
Cycling clothing for each part of the body
Body can be divided into couple of categories:
- Trunk and upper extremities
- Lower extremities
It is well known that if you build a house, you need to start it from foundations, but this time, we will start it from the roof.
Cycling clothing for the head
When it comes to the head, we have two basic pieces of clothing, helmet and sunglasses. Other optional items, used more during winter are the skullcap, the neckwarmer, ear muffs and “face warmer” or mask.
There are as many different types of helmets as there are many different types of cyclists, but what is mutual for all of them is that they are based on the same principles.
If we stick to the kind of competition you will find the following:
Mountain Bike Helmets
- The most popular are the classic ones with visor.
- Helmet for Trail is also a popular option within the amateur category.
- The helmet for Enduro should be completely different, resembling the one for a motorcycle. It is not in vain that this helmet is the most specific one within the range of helmets for mountain biking.
Road Cycling Helmets
We can make a classification such as it follows:
- Classic helmet
There is not much to talk about the classic type and when it comes to the other two, we can say that their usage is growing increasingly in the professional field because of their great aerodynamics.
The semi-aero gives good ventilation while the Aero is practically zero and it is used for very specific moments such as sprints.
The short-tailed helmets are very specific and they are used mostly for time trial and triathlon. They are extremely aerodynamic, but this type of helmet has reduced ventilation.
This binomial aerodynamics/ventilation is inversely proportional, for obvious physical reasons.
As its name indicates, these are helmets that are produced for customers living in big cities. Lately, these have become trendy for the further proliferation of fixie bikes and urban ones in general. There are plenty of different designs, from the most classic ones to the most extravagant.
Specifications of bike helmets
Now, let’s talk about some of the technical aspects of bike helmets.
Main manufacturing material is polystyrene. Depending on the type of the chosen helmet, material will be of a better or lower quality.
One of the most important things that you have to bear in mind is the weight of helmet case. It is not the same if you wear a helmet weighing 200 grammes or the one of 350 grammes. This “little” detail can affect your entire back.
Another essential characteristic is ventilation. The better helmet ventilation is, the more comfortable it will be for you to use it.
And last, but not least important are straps. In the event of an impact, the cyclist’s safety will depend on a good fit. It is important to assess both straps, main ones and the back ones. Cases with high-end solutions are more comfortable and more effective than the ones with low-end.
And now, let´s talk about the remaining cycling equipment that belongs to the head area. Of course, those are cycling sunglasses.
Types of Cycling Sunglasses
As we all know, there are plenty of sports sunglasses so it is hard to make a proper classification. And because of that, it is even harder to make an exclusive classification for the cycling glasses since many models can be used in several sports.
However, we can talk about two following classifications.
- Glasses for cycling by the type of Mount
- Sunglasses for cycling by the type of lens.
Sports sunglasses depending on the type of frame
This classification considers taking into the account lenses at the same time. So, this is why they are listed in two groups:
- Solar shields frames
- Frames with two rings.
The first group is the one where famous Radarlock Path, Radar Path, Bollé 5 h Element, etc belong.
These are sports sunglasses of excellent quality whose origin can be traced back to the mythical EYESHADES that were popularized by the great Greg Lemond.
These are very light glasses, of aerodynamic shape, with components which are ergonomically optimized and above all, they are very comfortable.
As for the second group of sunglasses, those are, as its name tells, glasses that have two lenses.
If we are talking about two rings frames in the field of cycling or any sport in general, we must mention the Racing Jacket or Flak Jacket, as well as the Rudy Project Stratofly or the Adidas´Evil Eye.0
Although they have two rings, the vast majority of these glasses has a complete frame, which is almost frameless glasses. (invisible?)
I would recommend you this article if you are interested in understanding the matter a bit better.
Cycling sunglasses depending on the type of lenses
There are tons of different lenses for sunglasses so it is not of vital importance to make a classification based on this category.
So, let’s assume that the material used for making lenses is polycarbonate.
A large classification that should be taken into account is the group of polarized lenses and not polarized lenses.
However, in our humble opinion, since cycling is an outdoor activity that considers spending many hours in the Sun and under the reflections of the same, it must require the use of polarized lenses, without any doubts.
There is another article where we explain what are polarized lenses and which are their benefits.
So, if we leave all these factors aside (although they are pretty significant), we can make the following classification based on the color of lenses.
We can talk about:
- Classic lenses
- Mirrored lenses
- Transparent/Yellow lenses
- Photochromic lenses
Classical lenses are usually considered as the ones of evergreen colours: brown, grey and green. The grey ones are also known as black.
Mirrored lenses have become popular in recent years. The mirroring effect has the function of providing higher degree of darkness, something which is very important on a sunny day and during hours of the day when the Sun is at its peak.
If we are talking about yellow and transparent lenses, these are recommended for rainy days or for the parts of a day when there is the little light, such as sunrises and sunsets.
And finally, photochromic lenses are the most common and most attractive option for MTB lovers.
Why is this so?
Because mountain bikers, who go through a great number of places, change the surroundings from very sunny ones to the ones that are darker because of tree shadows, for example.
Photochromic lenses are (Wikipedia) lenses that become darker when exposed to a certain intensity of light, most commonly UV radiation. When activating light is absent, lenses return to their original condition.
This is a common definition. A better definition will be available in our next article.
They are ideal for both cloudy and clear days.
That would be all about glasses, now let’s move on to other items that complete cycling equipment for the head.
It is the name used for a winter cap. But, this is not a usual hat. It is made of specific materials in order to avoid cold getting through to your head. Producers tend to opt for thermal materials that allow air to pass in and out. Other kinds of materials would cause excessive sweating.
Ear muffs (Head Band)
The name says it all. There are cyclists who use ones made of thermal materials which allow the wind to pass, and the ones who opt for materials that are impenetrable. This choice depends on each person.
This garment perfectly protects neck, mouth, and ears. But, during very cold days this may not be enough.
You must admit it, the first time you saw a picture of this piece of garment you thought of Hannibal Lecter.
Face warmer is a very important piece of equipment of every cyclist during winter because it protects him from the cold air that he breathes.
Some manufacturers had put together these four items and made only one piece. When you put a CAP, earmuffs, Neck Warmer and Face Warmer in a single garment it is called Balaclava.
It is the best solution if the winter is hard in the area where you ride.
After going through the clothes and accessories that make the head equipment for a cyclist, we will pass to the next part of the body.
Cycling clothing for the trunk and upper extremities.
The first and most important garment for any cyclist, whether are starting young or as an adult, is the Jersey (Maillot).
Everyone recognises very well the yellow Jersey (Maillot Jaune), so it is well known outside cycling world and most often it is its symbol.
But of course, there are more items of the cycling equipment made for trunk and arms. They are listed here:
- Arm caps
As same as when it comes to the head, there are two essential parts of equipment. Those are Jersey and gloves. The rest of garments is usually more related to winter equipment so they are optional.
We are going to talk about every part of equipment starting with, of course, the Jersey or Maillot.
We going to make a basic classification for this piece of clothing by its sleeves:
- Strapless jersey
- Short Sleeve jersey
- Long sleeve jerseys
The strapless jersey is most commonly used for triathletes. These athletes often paint its dorsal in the area of arms and in this way make it recognizable for the Organization of the event. This is also a good way to save yourself time of changing clothes during the process of transition from cycling race to running race.
The jersey with short sleeves is the one that is widespread within cyclists in general, both for road and mountain, professionals and the amateurs.
The long-sleeve jersey is a piece of equipment used for winter cycling.
Another classification of jerseys can be made by the type of zipper:
- Jersey short zip
- Half-zipper jersey
- Jersey with full zip
Short zip is the most popular among amateurs. They are cheap and very functional.
Half-zipper is also very popular in this group of users since it allows a much more significant amount of air to pass through the chest. This is something that is very important in times when you are making great efforts and the heat is unbearable.
Full zip jersey is the one that is mostly used among professionals. These are very comfortable when opened fully, both because these permit air to pass through the chest or to put the grateful and typical newspaper when a cyclist should ride down a mountain.
Jerseys depending on the type of fabric used for manufacturing
There are several types of tissues, which are called textile fibre. Within these textile fibres, there are a lot of different types including more or less known ones.
Among the most famous are Lycra, Neoprene or the Gore-Tex.
There are many more materials, such as Windstopper, and Thermo-Elastane, etc. This topics is a interesting one and we plan a whole post about it in the future.
Of course, it is worth investing more money in the jersey, since it is garment t closest to the body of cyclist, and the second most responsible for his comfort or, discomfort.
Now, let’s move on to the garments for arms:
The sleeves or arm caps
These are a highly recommended part of the equipment for seasons such as spring or fall when the weather is changeable.
It happens very often that you leave your house in the morning when the weather conditions are intensively cold, and come back at noon when there has been a significant temperature rise.
Changing your winter garment with summer one can be a real pain in the ass. As you can imagine, the winter clothes would make us sweat at noon, and the summer ones would make us feel cold in the morning or the evening.
Good sleeves are ideal both for protecting yourself from the cold in the morning and also when the sun becomes harsh so you just have to lower them or remove them completely.
They are manufactured from tissues elastic and thermal.
Now let’s turn to other cycling clothing
In our humble opinion, gloves are the third most important cycling garment after the helmet, and the shorts (culotte).
When a fall happens, it is a natural tendency of human beings to put their hands forward. If your hands are not protected, asphalt can seriously harm them.
Because of that, use of gloves is essential during winter and summer also.
Summer gloves: they are cut at the height of the first phalanx and manufactured of highly breathable fabrics. These two features provide a good “grip” on the handlebar.
A glove that does not perspire can make our hands sweaty, and a glove made of a piece of fabric that does not have proper mechanical fastening for handlebar can jeopardise cyclist’s safety.
Winter gloves: obviously it is a full glove, whose manufacturing fabrics combine the breathability, features that protect from the wind and that have “the grip”.
Gloves of Gore-Tex which combine these three characteristics are very well known.
Let´s talk about the next part of the body.
Cycling equipment for the legs.
Toes will be separated from legs since we believe that feet deserve different treatment.
If we are talking about cycling equipment, after the jersey, shorts (culotte) are the second garment that is most well known by general public.
What is not so well known is that there exist different parts and various types of culottes.
We must differentiate the padding from other parts of shorts. The padding is a part of the culotte located in the crotch and the one that protects areas that are sensitive such as the perineum or pelvic floor.
A padding of good quality makes the difference between good and bad shorts.
We can establish three major divisions within cycling shorts:
- Cycling shorts according to the gender of the cyclist
- Cycling shorts with or without shoulder straps
- Shorts or Tights
Male shorts are not the same as female shorts for reasons which are more than obvious, so this would be the first major division.
Paddings for women are different than those for men.
Strapless shorts is a classic that is most famous. It is an elastic garment that is mostly used in amateur categories.
Bib shorts are more technical and originally made for professional cycling, but amateur cyclists adopted these as well.
In theory, the function of straps is to prevent excessive pressure on the waist. The bib holds shoulder and that is how the pressure is gone, so sweat is not concentrated in this area.
Many riders prefer it, but there are also others that are more inclined to classic shorts.
There is one thing that should be clear about cycling equipment and that is that there doesn’t exist better or worse equipment, but only the one that is best for every individual cyclist.
Regarding shorts or tights (culottes,) it seems evident that the long ones are for winter and short ones for summer.
The fourth division could be made according to the type of material they are made of. But, as this it have been mentioned before in the section on jerseys, this topic deserves an article for itself and we will publish it in the future.
Warmers are a cyclist garment made for the lower part of the legs, twins and tibiae, which were once used in cold weather. Lately, this cycling equipment has been replaced by long shorts.
Now we turn to the last part of the body:
Cycling clothing for the feet.
There are three types of garments for feet:
As for cycling socks, they aren’t much different from any other type of sports sock. They must be as breathable as possible, cool in summer and hot in winter.
Typically, the ones for summer are cropped and the ones for winter are of medium length.
It must be said that in recent years, manufacturers have developed another type of socks that are very technical, such as waterproof socks. They are ideal if you want to keep your feet dry and hot regardless of the fact does the cyclist use covered boots or not.
They are highly recommended for winter and rainy seasons.
Shoes are an essential part of the equipment for a professional cyclist, but nowadays, even for amateur cyclists.
If we are talking about this category, we must divide it into boots for mountain biking and road cycling shoes because the hooks are completely different, and there are, of course, boots for the triathlon.
Road cycling shoes
Cycling fans are accustomed to seeing professional cyclists wobble the podium or other firm areas when they walk in their boots.
The reason for this is that the boots for road bikes have fasteners with quite considerable coves. This is so because the cleats of the pedals must be large enough to make a grip and optimum pedalling.
The shoes are very rigid and have at least three strips of mooring.
Triathlon bike boots.
They are very similar, but somewhat more open, with a less rigid outsole and somewhat smaller cleat. This found its use in changing positions from bike to running.
They usually have two Velcro fastening.
Shoes for MTB
This type is very different since mountain bikers have to get off their bike on many occasions and take it in tow. For this reason, they are designed with a multitude of heels and smaller cleats.
Usually, it’s velcro adjustments have three straps.
And the last part of the equipment are:
Overshoes can be divided into two types
- Complete overshoes
- Toe cover
Actual overshoes are complete. They are made of windstoppers and thermic materials. They should be as waterproof as possible and cover perfectly the whole shoe.
The bottom must have an optimal opening so it can allow removing gear from the cleats of the pedals.
Toe covers must have the same characteristics of impermeability, but the only difference is that these cover the front of the foot, as their name suggests.
They are used for seasons such as spring and autumn.
So this is the end of our lengthy article. We have created this infographic to sum up everything we tried to elaborate.
All the cycling clothing you should have.
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A warm greeting! See you soon.