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Cycling in Style: The Ultimate Guide to Biking Outfits
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Cycling in Style: The Ultimate Guide to Biking Outfits

Published June 18, 2024

CYCLING IN STYLE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BIKING OUTFITS

CYCLING IN STYLE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BIKING OUTFITS

Riding your bike as a child, you probably adhered to certain standards when it came to your cycling outfit. A helmet showed you were one of the responsible role models of the cul de sac, and avoiding flip flops, flare jeans, and long skirts made pedaling that much easier (and safer).

If you’re hopping back in the saddle—whether for a workout class, a sporting event, or a leisurely ride in the park—you might be searching for a refresher on how to put together the best cycling outfit.

Look no further—this fit guide covers everything you need to know about dressing for safety, speed, and style the next time you go biking.

PICKING UP SPEED: HOW TO DRESS FOR AERODYNAMIC BENEFITS

Aerodynamics refers to the manner in which moving air will affect solid objects (i.e. you on your bike). The aerodynamic arch nemesis of any cyclist is known as “drag”. It refers to the pull you feel in the opposite direction to the one in which you’re biking (because the pressure of the air behind you is lower than the pressure of the air in front of you).

Drag accounts for 70-90% of the resistance you feel while pedaling, so in order to give yourself an easier ride (and improve your speed), it’s best to dress to your aerodynamic advantage.

Wearing tight-fitting clothing (as close to a full-body skinsuit as you can get) is best practice when it comes to aerodynamics. Even wearing tight-fitting cycling clothes (like Spandex or Lycra) over normal street clothes will result in a 30% reduction in drag. Similarly, a lightweight, streamlined bike helmet will help you move faster.

Surprisingly, wearing uneven textures can also help you pick up speed while cycling. It’s for the same reason that a dimpled golf ball can travel further than a smooth one—creating a “turbulent boundary layer” of air that hugs the ball (or you) and allows smooth air to wrap around more comfortably. This means that choosing cycling clothing with carefully placed seams or patches of different textures could improve your speed.

GEAR FOR SHIFTING GEARS: HOW TO DRESS FOR COMFORT

Dressing for comfort is essential, especially on longer rides when triathlon training or mountain biking. In fact, many cyclists choose to wear padded bike shorts, especially for rides longer than five miles.

Padded cycling gloves or mitts may also help alleviate the pressure placed on your hands as you grip the handlebars tightly (and as more of your weight is channeled through your arms when you lean forward).

In general, layering is key to fostering comfort so that you can adjust as you warm up. Start with a workout crop top or t-shirt as your base layer, and layer with a light activewear jacket or sweatshirt from there. Cycling jackets are designed to keep you warm while still being breathable. They’re also longer in the back to keep you covered as you lean forward.

Tight-fitting activewear will likely be the most comfortable while biking for a couple of reasons:

  • It allows you to move freely.

  • It’s typically designed to wick away sweat.

We also recommend choosing leggings, shorts, or jackets with pockets as your cycling clothing so that you can hang onto essentials like your keys, phone, and headphones without gripping them against the handlebars or losing them to the wind in a basket.

While cycling shoes aren’t necessary for a leisurely ride, closed-toed, stiff-soled sneakers will make pedaling a bit easier. If you’re hoping to bike competitively or for longer distances, lightweight, a Velcro-secured cycling shoe may be worth the investment.

STAYING IN THE BIKE LANE: HOW TO DRESS FOR BIKE SAFETY

The first rule of bike safety is one we’ve all heard since our tricycle days: wear a helmet. Should you fall, wearing a bike helmet decreases your risk of brain injury up to 88%. If possible, buy a biking-specific helmet, and be sure it fits snugly (but comfortably) and evenly on your head.

Additionally, it’s best to make sure your helmet is easily adjustable and won’t move in any direction while buckled. This way, if you collide with something head-on and then hit the ground, your helmet will still protect you on that second impact.

Here are some other cycling outfit safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you’re biking at night, be sure to wear bright-colored cycling gear so that pedestrians, drivers, and other bikers can see you, and consider purchasing a reflective vest and/or helmet.

  • Never wear open-toed shoes which might get caught as you’re pedaling. If your shoes have laces, be sure they’re always tied tightly (Velcro shoes are ideal).

  • Be sure your pants are tight-fitting, or wear cycling shorts. Material from long skirts or wide-leg jeans can easily be caught in pedals or under wheels.

DRESS FOR SAFETY, SPEED AND STYLE WITH P.E NATION

Whether you’re a serious biker or just nostalgic for those childhood rides, P.E Nation has you covered when it comes to cycling outfits.

We offer a wide range of soft, breathable, and comfortable bike shorts in an array of colors and patterns. For more leisurely or colder weather rides, our lightweight, breathable gym leggings will protect you from the elements without sacrificing speed.

If you’re ready to bike in style, grab your P.E Nation gear and get cycling! If you’re also looking to expand your wardrobe in other outdoor activities, check out our guides on the best hiking outfits, running outfits, and tennis outfits today.

 

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Sources:

University of Southern California. The “Aero-Position”: Why Cyclists Study Aerodynamics.

We Are Cycling UK. What clothing to wear on a bike ride.

Northeast Ohio Medical University. Bike Helmet Safety Day of Action.

Rush University. Helmet Safety: Keep a Lid on It. ​​