What to wear on a Cycle trip: An essential guide to road commuting

It’s always a good idea to know what kit and clothing you need if you’re into cycling. Whether you’re starting to ride to work, cultivating a passion for road cycling, or want more comfort when riding, this list gives you the lowdown on what to get and why.

What do you wear when cycling?

Unless you have an epic commute (in which case you might prefer to look at the list of road biking tools at the bottom of the page), the priority is to stay dry or warm (or cool if it’s summer) and get to work clean and relatively undisturbed—all while beating traffic.

Cycling to work in an urban environment is a stop/start in nature, so commuters tend to alternate between feeling warm when they move and cooling quickly when they stop at traffic lights and intersections.

Visibility in busy urban environments is also essential, so occupant-focused kits often contain high-visibility and reflective elements and, in some cases, built-in lights.

1.     Bike helmet

Where in the world you ride, helmets will be optional or mandatory, so check the law.

Visibility in traffic is a concern for many passengers, and many helmets come in bright colors with high visibility elements and reflective patches. At the same time, some will even have built-in lights.

Make sure you get a helmet that fits well. Most will have some degree of adjustability. Some pricier models include MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System), an extra layer designed to distribute tilting forces in an accident or collision.

2.     Waterproof jacket

While most waterproof jackets will work, cycling jackets tend to have a longer back and sleeves that keep the rider more protected when in a forward position on the bike.

Passenger-specific waterproof seals are usually priced and packed with features that increase driver visibility, such as bright fluorescent colors and reflective panels. Some also include built-in lights.

3.     Waterproof pants

If you have to commute in the wet weather, you will feel the benefit of waterproof pants, which can be layered over your clothes.

They often have reflective details and zip-up legs, making it easy to put on and take off the shoes without removing the boots.

Another option to avoid getting a soggy half bottom is to wear leggings or Lycra cycling shorts. You can then put on your regular pants, socks, and change of underwear in your bag to pack a dry, clean kit when you arrive at your destination.

4.     Boots and overshoes

The final piece in the dry commuting dilemma is waterproof gaiters. Alternatively, you can keep a pair of shoes for commuting only.

The gaiter pulls on the top of your cycling shoes and is designed to prevent rain and puddling spray from penetrating your shoes. It’s an excellent addition for anyone planning to ride whatever the weather.

For commuting shoes, you can use a pair of sneakers that you don’t mind throwing garbage in, or you can invest in a couple of clipless bike and pedal shoes for a more efficient ride.

Many riders opt for clipless mountain bike pedal systems because they can be easier to get in and out of, which is beneficial for their stop-and-go nature. Mountain bike shoes are easier to walk away from the bike.

You can also get your winter cycling boots, which are weatherproof fabrics to provide extra protection from warmth and rain.

5.     Gloves

Gloves aren’t much of an issue in the summer months, but when the weather starts turning, and transportation involves a cold, wet morning, a pair of gloves would be a godsend.

There are many options available that provide insulation and wind resistance, and a large number have high-visibility colors and reflective spots, which make signal movements more attractive to other road users.

6.     Backpack or basket bags

Being able to carry daily essentials like a laptop, lunch, and wallet is necessary, so invest in a quality backpack. Some have extra straps on the chest and around the waist to help keep them stable while you pedal.

Plenty of commuter packages also feature waterproofing or come with water-resistant, high-visibility covers, reflective elements, and intelligent designs for the office.

If there is an option to mount a rack and bag on a commuter bike, this is often more comfortable and less sweaty on the back than using a backpack. In general, this also means that you can wear more things like a change of clothes and shoes to work, as well as your gym kit for the evening.

7.     Padded underwear

Some riders like to get a little bit of cushioning for their ride, and padded underwear is a good compromise between a complete Lycra bike set and not wearing anything padded.

There are plenty of options on the market for both men and women, and they look just like regular underwear but feature a thin quilted suede cover.

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