THE ULTIMATE BIKE WEAR GUIDE:
WHAT CYCLING CLOTHING DO I NEED?
In this guide we show you all the clothing you need for a successful cycling adventure. We answer questions such as: how can you identify quality cycling clothing? When do cycling shorts fit perfectly? Are there any differences for men and women? And what clothing should you wear at which temperature? We’ll answer all your questions in this comprehensive cycling clothing guide.
Buying a new bike is just the start of your future bike rides. If you really want to enjoy those rides, you’ll also have to invest in appropriate clothing. The wrong cycling bib short can cause saddle soreness and too few or too many layers can influence your performance. To help you find suitable clothing, we have listed everything you need to know in this cycling clothing guide.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE CYCLING CLOTHING?
Whether you’re cycling, riding gravel or mountain biking, the first question most newcomers ask is: why should you wear cycling clothing? The simple answer: comfort. The biggest difference with normal sportswear is the chamois in the pants. The chamois ensures that you sit comfortably on your saddle. This prevents chafing and that prevents saddle soreness. Read our article on how to prevent saddle soreness for more practical tips.
In addition, bike wear is generally tighter than an everyday shirt or sports shorts. Mountain bikers sometimes wear their clothes 'baggy', but close-fitting clothes are more comfortable on a racing bike. It prevents your clothes from flapping in the wind and therefore contributes to your speed.
How can you identify quality cycling clothing?
What makes cycling clothing good? There is quite a difference in budget of each cyclist, but also in the quality of bike clothing. Whatever your budget, the fit has to be right. The clothing should not be too loose, but also not too tight. You won't know until you wear it. Be sure to try on multiple outfits and sizes to see which fit best suits your body.
Cycling clothing must also be able to wick away moisture well and keep out wind and rain in cold and wet conditions. In other words, the combination of clothing must have breathability. Well-breathable bike clothing ensures that your body temperature remains at the right level, so that you can save energy. Which combination suits which temperature? We will discuss this in detail further up the article.
HOW DOES BIKE WEAR FIT?
For starters, there is a distinction between slim fit, regular and baggy fit, especially with upper body wear. Slim fit fits like a second skin, and is aimed at offering as little air resistance as possible; especially suitable for cyclists who want to perform. With a regular fit, the shirt is also made along the contours of your body, but is slightly looser and more comfortable. Baggy is mainly seen in mountain biking and is nice and spacious for optimal freedom of movement and comfort; you also have baggy pants.
The size of a garment may differ per brand or model. Also, every human body has a different size. How cycling clothing fits depends on your physique and which clothing you choose. Especially when you buy online, it is sometimes difficult to determine which size is suitable. Fortunately, we have developed an AGU size chart. This gives an indication of your suitable size. All you need is a measuring tape and our size chart.
Clearly men and women are built differently. Women's bike wear is therefore different from men's bike wear. The hips and upper body in particular make women's clothing fit differently. Cycling shirts and pants for men are therefore very different than for women.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING CYCLING CLOTHING?
The distance and the number of times you ride, are leading when you buy bike clothing. As a rule, this comes down to three characteristics: sustainability, duration and seasonality.
Hw often do you ride; do you cycle at least three or more times a week? Then it is better to invest in sustainable, high-quality clothing. You will wash your clothes more often, therefore the use of sustainable materials ensures that you can enjoy your outfit for longer.
The duration of your bike ride; the thickness of your chamois is often adjusted to the duration of your trip. Pay close attention to the chamois when you buy cycling clothing. In our chamois overview you can see which chamois thickness suits which rider. Green is for short distances, red and black for longer rides.
The seasons in which you cycle; apart from the two previously mentioned characteristics, the seasons logically play a role. The characteristics of your winter cycling jacket are very different from those of a summer jacket. And even with rain jackets there are differences in breathability. So adjust your purchases to the weather influences.
Prices of bike wear can vary wildly from very cheap to ridiculously expensive. At AGU we constantly work on finding the seat spot between quality and price. You may have to pay more, but quality clothing lasts longer and better protects you against the elements. So you may want to save up just a bit before you buy.
WHAT BIKE WEAR DO YOU NEED?
Now that you know how bike wear fits and what to look for when you buy it, we can move on to an overview of clothing items you need.
(BIB) SHORTS AND TIGHTS...
...in other words: cycling pants, are the basis of your cycling outfit. The main characteristic of these kinds of pants is the chamois or chamois pad, the cushion on the inside. A high-quality chamois ensures that you sit comfortably and sweat is absorbed switfly. This prevents irritation and chafing. Before you buy your shorts or tights, always look at the chamois characteristics in combination with the kind of riding yu want to do. The rule of thumb is the longer the ride and the harder your saddle, the thicker the chamois. Nevertheless, the choice of chamois remains very personal. Some riders prefer to cycle long trips on a thinner chamois. Do try it out.
You will see that the prices of cycling shorts can vary enormously. This has to do with the quality standards and characteristics. More expensive cycling trousers are more often wind and waterproof and wear out less quickly.
LONG BIKE PANTS VS. SHORT
If you are looking for suitable cycling trousers, you will come across terms such as bib tights and bib shorts. Bib shorts are short cycling pants, bib tights are long cycling pants. It needs no explanation that you wear bib shorts during warm days and bib tights during winter conditions. If you’ll go cycling in slightly colder temperatures, you can combine bib shorts with leg warmers.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WOMEN'S AND MEN'S BIKE PANTS
Men and women are built differently. Women's cycling trousers, therefore, look different from those of men. The main difference is the chamois. This is shaped differently for women because of the position of the pelvis. For this reason, most men also ride with bibs or suspenders. These ensure that your short or tight stays in place better. Suspenders are not always necessary for women because they naturally have wider hips. Having said that, the majority of our women's shorts and tights have a bib and suspenders. An added advantage is that your lower back is well covered against draft or cold.
Once you have found your shorts, you can move on to a matching or non-matching cycling jersey. Even more so than the bibs, cycling jerseys are available in various shapes and sizes. From thermal base layers, short summer jerseys to wind and waterproof jerseys for autumn.
Whether you go cycling in the summer or winter, an undershirt always comes in handy. This baselayer ensures that your sweat is wicked away so that you maintain the right temperature. You wear your cycling jersey on top of the base layer. These are specially designed for cycling. The front is shorter and has a zipper. The back is longer and always has pockets where you can store bars, gels or accessories such as keys or bank cards.
Both the outside temperature and your effort determine which type of shirt you should wear. During summer, a shirt with short sleeves should do. Will you be cycling in cold, dry conditions? Then choose a windproof jacket with insulating effect. Wear waterproof jackets if you go cycling in frosty and rainy conditions. You can also choose to wear a rain jacket over your midlayer. You can read all about how to cycle best using layers in this blog.
WIND AND RAIN JACKET
You can actually use a wind and rain jacket all year long. Whether you experience an unexpected shower in the spring, or one that you know is coming in the fall. In addition to keeping you dry, a good jacket works as a wind stopper, so you don't cool down as quickly. This item should not be missing in your wardrobe if you cycle all year round. Invest in a wind and rain jacket.
When purchasing a rain jacket, always look at breathability and waterproofing. Some jackets are water resistant, others are waterproof.
In changeable weather, a water-repellent rain jacket will suffice. Do you even brave storms on your bike? Then choose a water- and windproof raincoat. Almost all jackets can be folded into small packages. That way you can easily put them in the back of your jersey.
Cycling gloves are not only nice in the winter, but they also come in handy during summer rides. Winter or summer, most gloves have extra padding to prevent your hands from feeling numb. In any case, make sure that your winter gloves are wind and waterproof to prevent cold fingers. To find the right glove size you can use our AGU size chart. An additional advantage, if you fall off your bike, you’ll be glad that you are wearing gloves at that time.
ARM & LEG WARMERS
Arm and leg warmers are ideal for varying temperatures. They come in handy especially when you start a ride on a cold morning. As soon as the temperature rises, you can easily take off your arm warmers while cycling.
Cycling socks are often forgotten as a part of your cycling outfit, but they should not be missing from your wardrobe. A good pair of socks ensures that sweat is wicked away so that your feet stay dry and at the right temperature. Quality bike socks keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
CAP, HELMET & NECK WARMER
To complete your outfit, add a hat, helmet cap, and neck warmer to your winter cycling clothing. Especially in winter, it is nice to cycle with a hat. Wearing a hat keeps you warm because cold escapes through the head. A turtleneck also called a neck warmer, ensures that you stay nice and warm while cycling.
By the way, you can also wear both a hat and a turtleneck on warm days. With a hat and neck warmer, you protect yourself against the sun in the summer. Choose a thinner version so that you do not overheat. You can even replace the hat with a helmet cap or racing cap.
With clipless pedals you can better distribute your force, so that you cycle more efficiently. Only thing that is left, is finding the right cycling shoes. First look at the type of pedals you use to cycle. Do you have pedals for a racing bike or a mountain bike? Road cycling shoes generally have three holes in the sole, MTB shoes have four or even no holes if you ride with flat pedals.
Once you have found the shoe type, you can proceed to details such as the shoe size, closure, and sole. When fitting, keep in mind that you have about 1 cm of space left in the tip of the shoe. Furthermore, the shoe should not be too tight, but certainly not too loose. Your feet expand when cycling.
The closure helps to refine the fit. You can choose between velcro, dial closures (ATOP or BOA), or a combination of both. Nowadays you see more and more dial closures because they are less sensitive to mud and dirt. Velcro also remains an excellent option because you can easily adjust the size.
Finally, the material, and thus the stiffness of the sole, plays a crucial role. The stiffer the sole, the more power you can put on the pedals. The stiffest sole is made entirely of carbon. They are more expensive to purchase and therefore more suitable for performance cyclists. If you're just starting out with cycling, you'll be fine with a slightly more flexible, nylon sole.
Cycling in the rain is wonderful as long as you don't get wet feet. Shoe covers offer a solution to keep your feet dry. They keep out wind and rain so that your feet also maintain the right temperature. Shoe covers are almost always equipped with reflective elements, which makes you more noticeable in traffic. For the size, always choose a size larger than your shoe size, then you’ll be sure that the shoe cover fits.
Even though it is not yet mandatory in the UK, a bicycle helmet is an absolute must. You can reach high speeds on a racing bike or mountain bike. Even with low speeds, a small mistake can have big consequences. By wearing a helmet you reduce the risk of serious head injury by up to 65%. Don't skimp on your brain, invest in a good helmet!
ROAD AND MTB
Like almost all items in your wardrobe, bicycle helmets are available in different shapes and sizes. For example, you have road bike helmets and MTB helmets. The main difference is that an MTB helmet has a cap in the front to keep dirt out of your face. Real road bike helmets take aerodynamics into account more. Of course, you can also cycle on a racing bike with an MTB helmet and vice versa. As long as the fit is right.
To find the right fit, measure your head circumference. At AGU we use two standards. Size S/M fits a head circumference of 54 to 58 cm, size L/XL fits a circumference of 58 to 61 cm. Once the helmet is on your head, you can adjust it further.
A helmet only protects when it is properly fitted. A loose helmet will slide if you fall down, and therefore will not provide adequate protection. If your helmet fits properly, the outer shell will provide an initial impact, but the EPS foam in the helmet absorbs the force of that impact. EPS permanently deforms, so it cannot absorb a second impact. So if you've had a fall on your head, you should replace your helmet, even if you don't see any cracks or marks on the outside.
When you fall at speed you almost always have to deal with lateral forces. The MIPS system, 'Multi-directional Impact Protection System' offers even better protection in the event of impact from different angles. This prevents brain injuries even better in the event of a fall. As the name suggests, we have used this system in our Vigarous MIPS road helmet.
Cycling glasses protect against more things than just the sun. Dirt, wind and flying insects don't stand a chance when you wear glasses. Just like a bicycle helmet, the cycling glasses must fit properly. You want to prevent your glasses from sliding down when you move your head. Fortunately, you can adjust the temples and nose bridge so that you can make them fit appropriately.
Many glasses come with different lenses. Every color suits different weather. Clear lenses for bad weather, yellow for cloudy, and a dark lens for sunny conditions. If you don't want to change lenses every time, opt for lenses that change color automatically: photochromatic lenses. When finding your glasses, take a good look at the type of lens and the weather forecast.
In addition, check the frame of your glasses. If you opt for a full-frame, you will get sturdy glasses that are generally a bit heavier. There are also half-frame cycling glasses. These are slightly lighter. Finally, there are cycling glasses without a frame. Very lightweight and because the glasses consist almost entirely of 'glass' you have a wide field of view. The Verve HDII is our top model that can be worn with or without a frame.
Apart from the frame or the lenses, it is a good idea to take ventilation into account. There is nothing more annoying than fogged-up glasses. In fact, when your view is obstructed, it can lead to dangerous situations. If your glasses ventilate a little less well, you can always use anti-fog spray.
WHICH CYCLING CLOTHING AT WHICH TEMPERATURE?
Nothing is as changeable as the weather. If you start cycling in the morning at 10°C, the temperature can rise to 18°C after a few hours. The trick to a pleasant ride is to dress in layers, but which clothes do you need at which temperature?Niets is zo veranderlijk als het weer. Start je in de ochtend met fietsen bij 10°C dan kan de gevoelstemperatuur na een paar uur al oplopen naar 18°C. De truc bij een aangename rit is om je in laagjes te kleden maar welke kleding heb je bij welke temperatuur nodig?
|Bib short, short-sleeved thermal shirt, summer shirt, arm, and leg warmers, optional: body|
|Bib short, short-sleeved thermal shirt, winter shirt, arm, and leg warmers|
Bib tight or bib short with leg warmers, long-sleeved thermal shirt, cycling jacket or winter jacket, gloves, shoe covers, hat, turtleneck
|Bib tight, long-sleeved thermal shirt, winter cycling jacket, gloves, shoe covers, hat, turtleneck.|
HOW TO WASH CYCLING CLOTHING?
Once you've put together your perfect cycling kit, you naturally want to enjoy your outfits and accessories for as long as possible. You can do that by washing them properly. It is best to wash bike clothing by hand, but if you cycle more often washing by hand can be quiet an effort. Fortunately, washing your clothes in the washing machine is no problem.
Make sure you wash your clothes as soon as possible after cycling. This prevents bacteria from sweat or dirt from settling. You can wash your cycling clothing as follows:
- Before washing, make sure velcro fasteners and zippers are closed. If necessary, put these items in a laundry bag. Bike clothing is made of thin material and can be damaged more quickly;
- Then turn your clothes inside out to protect the colour;
- Add detergent. Use powder detergent rather than liquid detergent and remember: it is better to use too little than too much detergent. Never use fabric softener;
- Set the washing machine to a hand wash or sports wash position. These are set to low temperatures and a low spin speed by default. In any case, do not wash higher than 30°C;
- Finally, hang your clothes on a drying rack so they can air dry. Lay cycling shorts flat so the suspenders don't stretch.
Read the washing instructions for each item carefully just to see if there are any exceptions. For example, water-repellent fabrics require a different treatment.
Depending on the frequency with which you cycle, it is advisable to have several items in your closet. The more often you wash, the faster your clothes will wear out. It is therefore wise to wear at least two sets per season. It is also nice to be able to vary in terms of base layers and accessories.
Purchasing a complete and high-quality wardrobe is quite an investment, but it always pays off. It is better to save up with patience than to spend immediately.
Enjoy the Ride!