Cycling clothing for beginners – What do you need for your first rides? [Beginners]
You’ll need more than a proper bike to get started on a road bike or mountain bike. With the right cycling clothing you’ll cycle a lot more comfortably. And that’s without even mentioning the most essential part of your cycling outfit: the bike helmet! But how to choose from all the options?
Cycling with a bike helmet is common sense. But cycling bib shorts and proper cycling gloves can make your ride a lot more pleasant as well. This is something few beginners consider.
Still, these seemingly small things can make a world of difference on your bike. But what to look out for when buying cycling clothing for the first time, and what kind of things do you need? How can you tell if a product is good or not? From the top, we’ll walk you through all important considerations.
Bike helmet: the base for safety
A proper cycling helmet is a vital part of a cycling outfit. Luckily, manufacturers realise this as well and created a wide range of colourful bike helmets that suit various cycling apparel.
But what’s important to focus on when buying a bike helmet? First, you’ll need to know what kind of bike you’ll be using. There are different bike helmets suited for various cycling disciplines. For example, there’s road bike helmets, mtb helmets, downhill helmets, and speed pedelec helmets.
Every type of cycling helmet is safe and it’s no issue to use different bike helmets for different cycling disciplines. It’s not necessary to buy multiple cycling helmets if you engage in various cycling disciplines. Although… the one exception is probably the full face helmet, which isn’t the best idea to wear on a road bike or e-bike.
A bike helmet for every budget
As soon as you know your cycling discipline(s), the real quest can start. Often, you’ll have a general budget in mind and you can start looking at helmets around that price point. As a rule of thumb: the pricier the helmet, the lighter it is, and the better ventilation it offers.
More expensive helmets generally also provide better protection. Of course, this doesn’t mean cheaper helmets don’t provide adequate safety. All our helmets were approved according to European norms and regulations and are considered safe. In the end, it’s really a matter of taste deciding your eventual pick.
It’s very important that the helmet properly covers your head. You can find the right helmet size by measuring your head circumference. The size in centimetres is your helmet size. We’ve listed this cm size below every helmet to show which helmet size fits you best. As a result, you can be sure a helmet fits.
It’s alright to feel a helmet on your head, but it can’t be too tight. This will guarantee a headache after your ride. A helmet that’s too loose is no good either. Besides it being annoying during cycling, it’s also unsafe. In the event you really need the helmet to protect you, it could slide off your head and not provide the protection you require.
A nifty trick is to adjust the helmet using the adjustment dial (if your helmet has one) and bend forward slightly. The helmet should still stay on your head. If it falls off right away, it’s too loose.
Cycling glasses against wind, rain, sun, and bugs
A pair of cycling glasses is a real must. Proper cycling glasses not only protect you from the sun, but also keep out bugs, wind, and dirt. This ensures the best vision at all times.
Cycling glasses come in all shapes and sizes, and corresponding prices. There’s more than £175 between the cheapest and most expensive cycling glasses. Does this make the more expensive choice much better? Of course, but that doesn’t mean a cheaper pair of glasses isn’t good enough for you.
Lenses maketh the cycling glasses
The cause of these wildly varying prices is the lens. These come in various tints and versions. A recent development is photochromic lenses.
These lenses automatically adjust to the weather circumstances. Is it sunny? Then the lens will turn darker, and if it gets cloudy, the lens will become brighter again. This eliminates the need for multiple lenses and lets you use a single lens all year round. However, this technology is expensive and will hike up the price quite a bit.
Many cycling glasses come with multiple lenses. For example: a dark lens for sunny weather, a yellow lens for cloudy weather, and a transparent lens for cycling in really bad weather. This is great if you don’t want to pay through the nose but also like cycling when the weather is a bit worse.
What frame or model of cycling glasses suits you best depends on the shape of your head. Not every pair of cycling glasses will fit everyone right away. Most cycling glasses can be adjusted by slightly bending the nose pieces. Ultimately, it’s best to try and see which glasses fit you best.
Ensure your cycling glasses stay in place to prevent them from sliding off your nose at the slightest bump in the road.
Cycling jerseys and base layers
Cycling will inevitably cause you to warm up, even when it’s cold outside. To get rid of the heat, your body will start sweating. But this needs somewhere to go as well. For this reason, wearing a cotton jersey isn’t ideal during cycling. What’s more: your jersey will get soaking wet and won’t dry easily anymore.
The result: your jersey will start feeling clammy. You’ll cool down because the jersey forms a tight layer around your skin. The wind caused by cycling will only make this colder and less comfortable.
A base layer keeps you warm and cool!
You can prevent this cold by wearing a proper cycling jersey and base layer. A base layer prevents perspiration from remaining on your skin, but ensures it’s absorbed through the outermost layer of the base layer. Your sweat can vaporise there – without rendering you cold.
You can wear a base layer on warm days as well as cold days. During cold weather, it acts as an insulation layer and will result in perspiration being drained which prevents you from getting cold.
In warm weather, a base layer will keep you cool. By draining perspiration, it creates a cooling effect. It keeps your body temperature level and ensures you won’t cool down due to the wind on a ride.
A functional cycling jersey
You’ll need to wear a breathable cycling jersey or cycling jacket over the base layer. A jersey was designed specifically for cycling. There’s a large difference between a cycling jersey and a regular sports jersey.
A cycling jersey has a different fit than other jerseys, designed for the riding position. It also has a zipper you can use to increase breathability. The large rear pockets are ideal for bringing along sport nutrition, a cycling jacket, or rain jacket.
Cycling jerseys with different fits
Do pay attention to the fit when buying a jersey and undershirt. An undershirt need to have a tight enough fit to perform well. Your cycling jersey also needs a proper fit. There’s three types of fits: Aero, Regular, and Comfort.
The most common fit for road cyclists are aero and regular fit jerseys. Among mountain bikers, a comfort fit is more common. Furthermore, it’s worth focus on jersey pockets. If zippered, you can store small valuables such as a phone, keys, jewelry, etcetera.
Wind jackets and rain jackets to keep the cold out
Another thing that can’t be absent from your cycling wardrobe is a rain jacket. A wind jacket is ideal for strong winds, when the weather suddenly shifts, or when there’s unexpected rain. A wind jacket is also ideal in these conditions.
A wind jacket can be folded into a tiny package, letting you store it in your cycling jersey’s rear pocket. A wind jacket is also ideal for staying warm during an early race start. Once you warm up a bit or the sun starts shining, you can simply stuff it in your rear pocket.
Do be careful not to buy a wind jacket that’s too large. A jacket flapping in the wind is far from ideal. Does the weather forecast show rain? Then a rain jacket with taped seams is required.
Proper bib shorts with chamois
A pair of bib shorts with chamois is just as important as a proper bike saddle. Cycling shorts or bib shorts are an important part of your cycling outfit. There’s different cycling shorts for men and women.
The chamois in these shorts has a different shape. Women and men have differing pelvises, which the chamois is adapted to. The female pelvis is rotated outward a bit more. As a result, women’s padding is wider in the rear than men’s padding. Women have wider seat bones as well.
There’s also varying thicknesses when it comes to chamois. This is very personal and depends on the hardness of your saddle. Is your saddle relatively soft? Then a thinner chamois is best. If you have a hard saddle, then a thick chamois is often the right pick.
Why this difference in thickness? If your saddle is soft, and your chamois is thick, the effect of your soft saddle is diminished by your chamois. This actually increases pain in the seat bones.
A hard saddle combined with a thick chamois works better. You’ll ‘sink’ into the chamois, but the hard saddle will prevent you from sinking in too deep. A hard saddle with a thin chamois is possible as well, but this comes down to personal preference. Make sure to experiment with the type of chamois that is comfortable for you.
Cycling shoes finish your outfit
Which cycling shoes you’ll need depends on your pedals. Do you have road bike or mountain bike pedals? And if you own a mountain bike, do you have SPD pedals or flat pedals? First, determine what pedals you need before starting your hunt for cycling shoes. This will enable you to search with a clearer focus.
Road bike shoes have three holes arranged in a triangle under the sole. These suit SPD-SL cleats. Mountain bike pedals have two holes side by side. This is for a ‘regular’ SPD pedal. Flatpedals don’t require cleats and you can choose from our Five Ten collection.
The sole makes the shoe
When picking cycling shoes, the sole is essential for the riding properties. The starter models often have nylon soles. The more expensive a cycling shoe is, the more carbon is incorporated in the sole. The highest end models even have a full carbon sole.
A carbon sole makes a cycling shoe much lighter, but more importantly a lot more stiff. This prevents the sole from bending when you’re putting force onto the pedals. This is great for powerhouse cyclists. Still, it does come with its own drawbacks.
For example, a carbon sole will ride less comfortably. This can take some adjusting, especially for cyclists just starting out. In that case, a mix between nylon and carbon is your best bet. This will provide you with the best of both worlds.
When wearing a cycling shoe, it should fit nicely from the get-go. A pressure point in a shoe means you shouldn’t buy it. If it feels like that now, it won’t improve when cycling.
Cycling shoes in the right size
It’s important that you pick the right width and length of shoe for comfortable cycling. When wearing your shoe, you’ll need some extra space for your toes. This should be approximately 0.5 to 1 centimetre. Of course, this is personal, but I wouldn’t go with more or less space.
A good test is to stand on your toes when wearing the shoes. If your toes touch the front, the shoes are a tad too small. Do you slide around in the shoes? Then they are too large. The width is personal preference, this should simply feel comfortable.
Not too spacious and not too tight. If you’re cycling and your body heats up, your feet will expand slightly. As a result, a tight shoe will become uncomfortably narrow. To give you a hand, try our cycling shoe size advice. This increases the likelihood that you pick the right size on your first try.
Cycling clothing for beginners: your cycling outfit is complete!
We’ve covered all bases, your cycling outfit should now be complete. Still in doubt, or would you prefer personal advice? Our superstores have sections dedicated to cycling clothing and we have experts that can tell you exactly what you need.