HEAD TO TOE APPAREL GUIDE FOR INDIAN CYCLISTS – BUYERS GUIDE

Shaun George BOTS Guides

Getting into cycling can be quite intimidating especially for a complete beginner. There’s a lot to learn and there’s a lot you can invest in to improve your riding experience. One of those expenses would be cycling apparel. If you’re going to be out cycling then you should look at getting the right kind of kit that’s going to make cycling more comfortable, safe, and efficient. Additionally, you’ll look a lot cooler in the full kit too.

There are multiple pieces to cycling apparel all the way from head to toe. Take complicate things, there is cycling clothing for different kinds of riding conditions and weather conditions. We’ve got you covered here – you can go through our break through of what is what and why you need it.

1. HELMETS

The main purpose of a bike helmet is to protect your head in the event of a collision or crash so it’s wise to invest in the best protection possible. There are primarily three types of bicycle helmets:

  1. Commuter/Hybrid helmets
  2. Road helmets
  3. MTB helmets

There are further categorizations within these types of helmets but we’re not going to confuse you folks with that.

Cycling Helmets are made up of primarily two parts; an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam liner which is designed to compress and absorb shock on impact, and a tough outer shell that protects the EPS foam liner from bumps and scratches. Bike helmets with an ‘in-molded’ construction fuse the inner liner and the outer shell together which creates more strength, protects the shock-absorbing EPS core and prolongs the life of the helmet. Consider helmets that are in-molded as these tend to offer the best kind of protection and also last the longest.

Most bike helmets now also use the MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) to separate the shell and liner with a low friction layer. This reduces rotational trauma caused by angular impacts.

For further information on helmet buying read our BUYING GUIDE – HOW TO CHOOSE A BICYCLE HELMET

2. CYCLING EYEWEAR

If you’ve been cycling for a while you’re probably already wearing cycling eyewear. If you haven’t, you’ll soon develop the urge to shed a few tears on every ride out. Reason being, the headwinds, and dusty conditions outdoors can cause some serious irritation for your eyes. It’s also not a great idea to cycle outdoors without glasses especially if you’re riding in the sun.

FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR IN RIDING GLASSES:

  • UV PROTECTION
  • PHOTOCHROMATIC LENSES
  • EXTRA LENSES
  • ANTI-FOGGING
  • NOSE GRIPPERS

These are just a handful of features to look out for. Cycling eyewear, apart from looking great provides you with full coverage and protects your eyes from all kinds of dust and dirt entry. cycling-specific glasses also provide a phenomenal fit that prevents them from sliding down your face when you sweat.

For more on what you need to know about cycling-specific shades head over to our CYCLING EYEWEAR – BUYERS GUIDE.

3. JERSEYS

Cycling jerseys are widely available today. There are many brands out there and each with their own designs and fits. It’s highly recommended to wear a proper cycling jersey than just a sports t-shirt or a regular t-shirt. It’s going to be awkward the first time around but the benefits are far greater. It takes a while to get used to the super tight fit but that’s the whole point.

2 MAIN TYPES OF JERSEY FITS

  1. Aero/ Snug fit: They’re called aero because they stick to your body like a second skin to provide you with aerodynamics advantage. In fact, they’re usually worn one size smaller to give you that body-hugging feeling. Sometimes, they’re referred to as Euro sizing or Euro-style. You might feel weird wearing them while standing up. But that’s normal because they’re designed to be worn while you’re on your bike.
  2. Regular. Compared to aero jerseys, these have slightly looser fit and would feel more comfortable especially when you’re off the bike. Great for people who don’t bother too much about speed and aerodynamics.

FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR

  • Sweat-wicking fabric
  • Zippers
  • Pockets
  • UV protection
  • Mesh paneling for ventilation
  • Gripper hems

For more on what you need to know about cycling-specific jerseys head over to our CYCLING JERSEY – BUYING GUIDE

4. SHORTS/BIB SHORTS

Bicycle saddles aren’t meant to be as comfortable as your sofa in the living room. So you can expect some level of discomfort if you’ve been sitting on your saddle for over 2-3 hrs without a break. That’s where cycling shorts come in.

shorts/bib shorts have a piece of padding in it called the chamois (pronounced as shammy). The chamois is a piece of padding which has a varying thickness all over to provide comfort and support where it’s needed most on the saddle.

As both men and women have different pelvic shapes, so does the chamois size and width. Hence, it’s very important to buy the correct variation/ fit and size of shorts/bib shorts.

What’s the difference between bib shorts and shorts?

Think of bib shorts as simply the same as normal cycling shorts but with added suspenders.  The suspenders are integrated into the short and are not removable. Some bibs use a similar lycra fabric for the suspenders, and others use a different fabric like a mesh.  As a result, bib shorts typically rise up a little higher on the waist than a regular short and have no waistband or drawstring.  New riders tend to buy regular cycling shorts since the leotard look of bibs can be a little intimidating.

The main advantage with bib shorts is that they don’t move around too much and they let you wear proper aero/tight fitting jerseys – the high ride back means that even short jerseys will not expose your backside.

For more on what you need to know about cycling-specific shorts head over to our CYCLING SHORTS/BIB SHORTS – BUYING GUIDE

5. GLOVES

This is one of those pieces of kit that not all cyclists agree upon. Some like it some don’t. You’ll even spot quite a few professional cyclists who ride without gloves. Then again it also depends on the kind of road conditions they’re riding on.

Those who prefer to go without gloves generally wants to have a better feel and control of their handlebars. Those who wear gloves swear by it because it provides protection to your palms should you crash and they usually provide good cushioning when the roads get rough. Apart from the obvious reason, cyclists also use their gloves to wipe away sweat from their faces.

6. SOCKS

Cycling socks are one of the most talked topics when it comes to cycling fashion. There are many opinions when it comes to sock lengths, designs and patterns.

Too short (below the ankle) and you’ll look like a triathlete. Too long (below the knee) and you’ll look like you’re wearing compression socks or playing soccer. Not that any of these styles are wrong – Ideally they should be long enough to extend until the point where your calf muscles can be seen.

7. SHOES

If you’re a roadie, there are no two ways about it – you need cycling shoes! (not really). What we mean here is that they’re super beneficial. Here’s why:

  • Can generate more force while pedaling – power made during upstroke and downstroke.
  • Utilizes more muscle groups.
  • Protects your feet from the stress of pedaling.
  • Helps maintain more control.

For beginners, it usually requires a few practice sessions before you get the hang of it. There are 2 main types of cycling shoes in the market today – road bike and mountain bike. Both of them use a different cleat system. What is a cleat you ask? A cleat is quite simply the mechanism that helps clip your feet into your “clipless pedals”.

To read more about cycling shoes head over to our BUYERS GUIDE – HOW TO CHOOSE CYCLING SHOES.

We highly recommend wearing proper cycling attire while cycling instead of just normal sporty clothing because cycling apparel can make a world of a difference when on a slightly longer ride. Comfort, performance and overall ride feel is vastly different depending on what you decide to clad yourself in.

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