What Kit Do You Need For Cycling?
Summer is the perfect time to get on your bike and perhaps discover a new passion. If you're new to cycling, take a look at all the gear you'll need so that you know you've got everything covered.
When you decide that you're going to start cycling more seriously, your first port of call will be a jersey and cycling shorts. A cycling jersey can be long sleeved or short sleeved and is a tight-fitting top that will make you more aero-dynamic on the bike and will feature external elasticated pockets to the back for you to store valuables as well as snacks, a map, and any other small items you may need for your ride.
The main benefit of a proper cycling jersey is that it won't flap around in the wind as you sail along the road and will be specifically designed to be comfortable on the bike, meaning it will be sweat-wicking, windproof, and breathable. Any good cycling jersey will also have a drop-hem at the back meaning it won't ride up as you bend forward into an aero position.
Bib shorts or tights are ones that feature shoulder straps to hold them in place. Their main feature will be a large and comfortable pad to the bottom to protect you in the saddle, prevent chafing, and keep you comfortable over countless miles on the road.
The shoulder straps mean there is no waistband digging into your stomach as you bend forward over the handlebars and they will be made of Lycra to provide maximum efficiency with no extra fabric flying about. They may also feature silicone grippers to the bottom of the legs so that they don't ride up your thighs.
Bib tights are longer versions for winter riding and will be thicker, sometimes with waterproof technology built in.
For women, wearing a sports bra under your jersey will be paramount for comfort and protection. A regular bra will have straps that slip down your shoulders, while a good sports bra will be made in a racerback design, meaning you will be secure and comfortable throughout your ride.
You don't need to wear another top over your sports bra apart from your jersey. During winter, it is better to wear a long sleeve cold weather jersey which is made from thicker material.
A good waterproof jacket is vital for winter cycling as you never know when a flash rain shower might catch you off-guard. The best choice will be one that folds into a small pouch or bag so that you can carry it with you for just-in-case purposes and store it when it's not needed.
Cycling on a road bike, triathlon bike, or TT bike can put a lot of strain on the palms of your hands as you will be leaning on them for long periods of time. This can be one of the biggest learning curves for new cyclists, so a good pair of cycling gloves with padding could come in very handy.
Not only this, if you are cycling during winter, gloves will be crucial. Unlike running, cycling will not warm up your extremities as you are sat in the saddle and so covering your hands will stop your fingers from going numb and can hugely increase your comfort.
Cycle socks will usually be made in a longer length so that they don't slip down inside your shoes, causing irritation and chafing. A good pair of cycle socks will also feature sweat-wicking technology and breathability to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters. Some cycling socks may also provide compression technology, but this is not something that is vital for a comfortable ride.
On sunny summer days or on winter days with a low, glaring sun, a pair of cycling sunglasses will help to increase visibility and stop you squinting for 4 hours on a long ride! Cycling sunglasses will tend to be in a wrap-around style which won't slip off your face as you're moving and provide extra protection for the eyes.
A good pair of cycling sunglasses will have enhanced peripheral vision meaning you can see clearly out of the sides without having to twist and turn your head which is great for performance and safety while on the bike.
Wearing a cycle helmet is essential for all cyclists and you should always wear one when cycling for your safety, especially when cycling on roads with traffic. There are different types of helmet for different types of cycling, such as more basic commuter helmets or super aerodynamic racing helmets. If you are just starting out, you don't need to buy an expensive racing helmet and could look to spend as little as £30 on a good quality product.
Clipless Pedals/Cleats/Road Cycle Shoes
Some people never make the move from regular pedals to clipless due to the fact they can be a little daunting and many cyclists will have stories of times they didn't manage to unclip in time and toppled off the bike. However, clipless pedals and cleats can increase your power and speed as well as provide better comfort.
If you do choose to go clipless, you'll need a set of pedals as well as cleats. The key is to make sure your cleats are compatible with the pedals and that they clip in properly. You can adjust how tight the clip is so that it becomes easier to unclip if you're nervous about getting stuck. You can read our full guide to clipless pedals and cleats here.