On the Road: Getting the best from cycling clothing and equipment

Long summer days (yes we’re praying!) are the perfect time for building up the road bike miles, whether training for an event or simply enjoying the scenery. Regular road cyclists can suddenly find that their gear has done rather more miles than they thought; so to make the most of your bigger trips, take the time to check over your bike and your cycling clothing.

 

It’s not all about the bike, it’s about the cyclist; comfort is important, but safety is vital for road cyclists.  As road riders will know, cycling clothing needs to keep the body at the right temperature by allowing for easy adding and removing of layers, and the clothing next to the skin must ‘wick’ very effectively to cater for the specific demands of the sport. For the upper body,  Pearl Izumi have an excellent hi-visibility yellow cycling jacket, which will also provide the essential wind chill protection. Experience shows that it is generally impossible to keep water out totally if it rains, so a jacket must provide wind proofing above all else. Cold arms will also be a thing of the past with comfortable lightweight sleeves. The jacket is extremely visible by day and has reflective bands for dusk or dark, the most dangerous times for road cyclists.

A cold lower back can be a common problem: consider a ‘bib short’ as part of your cycling clothing. This provides protection to the lower back while still allowing choices of upper body layers.  Bibs such as those from 2XU include chamois lining and the option of compression fabric which can help improve circulation. The fabric also wicks effectively to draw moisture away from the legs, to keep a dry feeling even if it is raining. Skins also have a range of shorts with anatomically-shaped padding, compression and excellent wicking properties. Both ranges are available either as shorts or full length leggings.

Cycling shoes transmit your power to the wheels – anyone who has ever struggled with worn or slipping shoes will know that they are frustrating at best, dangerous at worst. Top of the range shoes such as those from Bont are lightweight, vented and allow for replacement of the sole guards and insoles, as well as replacing the cleats when they start to wear. Shoes need to be compatible with overshoes – a professional if unglamorous top tip is to use a plastic bag to help the overshoes to slide on easily without catching on fastenings.

With the cycling clothing sorted, turn your attention to the bike and accessories. Specialist road bike brands such as SRAM will provide all the replacement and upgrade parts that you need; cassettes, chains and brakes as well as smaller parts such as handlebar tape and mini-inflators.

A little extra time and money spent on replacement parts and clothing will pay for itself many times in performance, comfort and enjoying your ride.