Benefits of Cycling Clothing

- by Spin11

Bike week is fast approaching and is a huge part in the encouragement and promotion of the benefits of cycling.

Most activities have specific and specialist kit and cycling is no exception. We want to tell you about some of the benefits of cycling kit.

Cycling covers everything from popping to the shops to riding from Mizen to Malin, commuting to work or even riding the Tour de France. There’s a huge range of specialist cycling clothing to choose from depending on your individual needs. Let us tell you about some of the most common items and help you decide what you really need.

First off, something you won’t hear too often from a cycling clothing manufacturer is you can ride a bike without any specialist cycling clothing at all. Yes, it’s true. You can ride a bike without lycra shorts, race fit jerseys etc.

So why then do cyclists go to all that bother with all the lycra? In a word: Comfort.

Your regular clothes are fine if you’re not going too far or not moving fast. It also helps if the weather is good too, but for longer rides, especially if the weather turns cold and wet, you’ll be grateful and a lot more comfortable in cycling clothing. Now that doesn’t mean you have to look like Sam Bennett winning the green jersey at the Tour de France. Lycra is awesome for going fast, but you can get very comfortable cycling kit that doesn’t have to be super tight fitting either. For example, we have several ranges that cater to all levels and discipline of cycling at Spin11. We discuss your groups specific requirements and are then able to best recommend the most suitable range of items for you.

Why is cycling clothing better?

FIT: Cycling clothing is developed and cut to fit properly when you are mainly leaning forward over the handlebars. That means some jerseys and jackets could be slightly longer at the back to keep you covered as well as bib shorts having a higher waist to keep your lower back from becoming exposed.

MOVEMENT: Cycling clothing moves with you as you ride. That’s especially important for bib shorts, because your legs are the part of you that moves the most. That’s the reason why cycling shorts of any kind are made from lycra, because it has enough built in stretch that it doesn’t bunch in areas or chafe. 

PADDING: It may feel odd to some to have essentially a lump of foam in your shorts but it does serve a purpose. The padding in cycling shorts is there for two very good reasons. Providing an extra layer of shock absorption is one reason. Often cycling shorts have varying thickness and density with the pads. The idea is to work along with the padding in your saddle to reduce road vibration. The second and probably the more important reason is, the pad creates an even, soft layer of fabric against your skin. (Just in case you didn’t know or thought it was some form of cruel joke, you don’t wear underwear with cycling shorts). This helps keep a close contact to the skin and helps prevent chafing so rides become more comfortable for longer without getting into serious pain or discomfort afterwards.

SWEAT HANDLING: Ride up a hill in your cotton t-shirt and you’ll quickly discover why cycling clothing isn’t made from it. You sweat, the sweat soaks into the fabric and into your skin, you get wet and cold. Cycling kit is made from specialist materials through which moisture moves away from the skin and can evaporate. This is known as wicking. 

EFFICIENCY: Proper cycling clothing can make you feel faster, go faster by making sure you don’t waste any energy as you ride. The main noticeable difference is that cycling kit is more aerodynamic than regular clothing and because it fits close to the body, there is no spare fabric flapping in the wind slowing you down.

What are the different types of cycling clothing?

SHORTS: The definitive item of specific cycling kit. Shorts or bib shorts are made from lycra materials with a specialist pad stitched inside to cushion your backside, as mentioned above. Bib shorts are the more modern and comfortable option of the two. Yes, they do make loo visits slightly less convenient but it’s a small price to pay. The lack of waist band and the built in braces is what makes the big difference and why they are the go to for the majority of cyclists. 

JERSEYS: Looks and is shaped similarly to any t-shirt but made from a specific synthetic materials. Length varies depending on style, usually has a zipper down the front and three pockets at the back to carry what you need. Jersey fabrics range from ultra lightweight breathable mesh to heavier thermal Roubaix lined for those colder days. 

ARM AND LEG WARMERS: Needing a bit more coverage at the beginning of your ride, arm and leg warmers provide the perfect protection from the early morning chill but can be removed and stuffed into your jersey pockets later on the ride. 

BASE LAYERS: A base layer goes between your skin and your jersey where it does a surprising amount of jobs for essentially what is a fancy hi-tech vest. It helps move sweat away from your skin through to your jersey. It can therefore make you feel coolers and more comfortable in hotter weather. When the temperature drops, it is an extra layer that works to keep you warmer. 

JACKETS: These start where jerseys leave off. Fully waterproof ‘hardshells’ and ‘softshells’ that are both insulating and highly water resisitant. Hardshells are your classic cycling waterproofs, often made from highly breathable fabric so you don’t get too hot and sweaty inside, all while keeping you dry from the poor conditions. Softshells are more an in between style jacket like a light rain cape that can be put on or removed quickly and into your back pocket to protect from on and off showers.

GILETS: A gilet or cycling vest is an outer layer that is mainly to keep the wind off your torso. They are especially great over a long sleeved jersey or jacket in spring or autumn. They can also be made from waterproof fabrics to add an additional benefit in worsening conditions. 

You can be standing in a bike shop or go online and suddenly become overwhelmed and confused by all the different options available. That’s why, at Spin11 we take all the hardship and confusion out of it for you. From a quick telephone conversation, we know exactly what you need to get you and your group or club on the road looking good and performing at your best. Produced for cyclists, by cyclists. It’s that simple.

You can get in touch via the link below.