How To Kit Up For Road Cycling

12 September, 2018

Cycling specific clothing can make for a very comfortable ride. While many hail that you should wear whatever you want, it's important to know that cycling specific clothing actually has a technical function to keep you drier, comfortable, and weather proof which can help you perform better and ride longer! Cycling wear can expand from commuter, road, racing and mountain biking but I'll be covering road cycling kit for the sake of knowing what to wear on a group ride when you're out on the road.
When it comes to road cycling apparel it should fit snugly so it improves your aerodynamics and doesn’t flap in the wind. Cycling jersey's are often designed with technical fabrics to wick sweat away from your body featuring front zippers for functional ventilation, shoulders and sleeves designed for arms-forward comfort and back pockets for easy on-the-go storage access and a longer cut in back for coverage when riding. Cycling bibs and tights have lots of stretch for full freedom of movement and include a soft, padded liner, called a chamois, to provide comfort in the saddle. To know more about cycling shorts and chamois technical and care function, you can read my post about women's specific saddle comfort here.

Cycling Kit
A typical cycling kit setup might include a moisture-wicking base layer, cycling jersey, cycling tights or bibs, fingerless gloves with palm padding, arm and knee warmers, sweat wicking cycling socks, wind vest and lightweight packable rain jacket. This gear should see you through most weather conditions, but when it’s cold you’ll want to add full-fingered gloves and overshoes, merino wool socks, and replace your short-sleeved jersey with a long-sleeved equivalent, a soft-shell jacket as well as your cycling bib shorts with weather proof cycling tights. Look for apparel that has reflective strips to make you more visible at night. 

Road Helmets
When it comes to road bike helmets they must meet specific safety standards. But when it comes to helmet comfort, factors that make your ride more comfortable include ventilation, absorbent pads for moisture control, an adjustment dial to tighten or loosen the cradle that holds the helmet to your head, and an easily adjustable chin strap. Some helmets feature MIPS technology, a low-friction layer that slides independently of the outer shell and limits the rotational forces to the brain when the helmet gets hit at an angle. While style is usually a key factor in helmet decision making, knowing your tech and safety behind a helmet is as important.
Road Bike Shoes and Clipless Pedals
You can ride a bike in just about any shoes, but anyone who rides regularly can benefit from shoes designed specifically for cycling. To better understand cycling shoes function you can read my latest post on the basics of cycling shoes here. Cycling shoes are usually paired with a compatible pedal to hold your feet securely on the bicycle. A "clipless" shoe-pedal combination (which actually involves the shoes clipping to the pedals) offers excellent control with a minimum amount of your pedaling energy lost. It can take some practice getting in and out of clipless pedals, but once you get the hang of it, clipping in soon becomes second nature. You can read more of my post about how to clip in here.

I hope this gives you a better idea of how to cycle comfortably in kit. If you're planning on going on your first long road ride and don't have all the funds or time to kit up fully, I highly recommend starting out with investing in a great pair of cycling shoes and cycling bib shorts. These will make the greatest impact on your ride and comfort while preventing saddle sores and pain in the long term. If your wondering more about kit brands I personally highly recommend, you can read more of my Kits For Women, By Women post.

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