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Cycling Clothing for Leisure and Racing

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 18 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Rain Jacket Layers Wicking Perspiration

Clothing that is ideally suited to the physical demands and the performance requirements of road racing or mountain biking is not going to suit the commuter or daytime shopper leisurely going about their business.

Let’s start with the road racer: one or more layers topped with a snug fitting waterproof and/or wind resistant jacket and shorts whose length should reflect the time of year i.e. shorter in the summer longer in the winter. Common sense, really. The same is true for mountain bikers, although they may opt for clothing that incorporates more pockets for storing items such as maps, compasses and mobile phones.

Wicking Effect

In terms of the layers, you don’t want to either overheat, or become sticky to the point where chaffing begins to affect your ability to both concentrate and ride efficiently. In common with clothing for a number of other sports, you should be looking for a performance material that has a wicking effect. This means that rather than the perspiration remaining on the skin, cooling and making you feel cold, or causing the aforementioned chaffing, it is drawn up and through the material where it can evaporate. In summer, this may be the only layer you need; in winter, there may be the need for more insulation via a second layer in order to keep out the cold.

Rain jackets, in common with all cycle clothing, are available in a range of styles and colours depending upon the manufacturer. It is wise to choose one with reflective properties, and which is tailored so that there isn’t a surplus of material that can interfere with your movement.

Reflective Features

Avoiding a surplus of material is also important for the leisure cyclist. Of course, they are not going to require the snugness of a racing jacket, but nevertheless it again shouldn’t interfere with movement. Choose one that has both waterproof and wind resistant properties as well as reflective features. Pockets are also going to be important for items such as a wallet that are all part of the daily business routine. In terms of underlayers, standard leisurewear is perfectly suited because you won’t be putting in the amount of effort that will produce excessive perspiration.

Specialist wear for the lower part of the body is also not a requirement but avoid either a baggy skirt or suit trousers as the amount of material, again, could prove a problem. It may be an idea to opt for some Lycra pants, especially if you are travelling to work. A quick change on you arrival will ensure you are looking the business for the rest of the day. Alternatively, over trousers should protect trouser material from damage or staining.

Price will always be an issue when choosing clothing. Unless your aim is to look like the coolest dude on two wheels, aim for mid-price rather than the cheapest option. That way you should ensure good performance and value for money. And always ensure that you get the right size – too big is often as bad as too small. You want your clothes to move with you rather than restrict you when your feet are in the pedals.

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