what not to wear when cycling

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

Cycling often puts us in a position where we have to try out different gears and attires. More often than not, the goal is to find what fits and throw away what doesn’t. 

But many of us, particularly the entry-level cyclists, simply don’t pay attention as far as dressing up for cycling is concerned. 

Think of it like this: 

Would you seriously don on your two-wheeled steed in rugged jeans, baggy jacket, big shoes, or ridiculously large helmets? 

Well, not exactly.  

In a way, we want to help you avoid attire mistakes that are simply stupid. Whether you’re a rookie or you’ve been cycling for some time now, here’s what not to wear when cycling. 

Things Not to Wear When Cycling


1. Don’t a Wear Cheap, Low Quality Helmet

When it comes to bike helmets, a cheapo pick shouldn’t be your first priority. Granted, it’s okay to look in that direction if you’re on a budget. But you need to think twice before you settle for anything less valuable. 

Remember, a helmet is built to provide the maximum head protection possible. So you just can’t take chances with it. 

When it comes to choosing a bike helmet, there are many factors to consider, with price being the least factor. In fact, our guide on bike helmets puts more emphasis on features that matter. That includes vents for breathability, the right size for the right fit, sufficient padding that feels cushy, and MIPs technology for maximum shock absorption. 

A helmet that doesn’t include these features is simply an inferior bike accessory that you shouldn’t waste your money buying. 

2. Don’t Wear Cycling Clothes that Don’t Fit

Dressing to kill is one thing. And it’s actually fine to look different from other cyclists on the trail. But if you’re wearing baggy clothes simply because they look cool, you’re going to have the worst cycling experience ever. 

When it comes to bike riding, fit comes first. Quality comes second. And then you can save the fashion for whoever cares to notice you as you cruise in the street. 

Remember, cycling is all about aerodynamics. A bike jersey two sizes up won’t cut it for you. And a bigger cycling jacket can cause you more ridicule and deny you the exceptional riding experience that you want. 

The bottom line is this: 

If you’re not wearing tight-fitting clothes, you’re doing it wrong. And that means you end up with less, maybe even zero, aerodynamics than you really should. 

3. Don’t Wear Jeans for Cycling

Not wearing jeans may not be in your list of dos and don’ts for cyclists. But that doesn’t mean you can wear them to a cycling adventure.

Sure, the jeans are great. Combined with your favorite sneakers, they make you stand out just fine. But just because they’re perfect for your daily strolls doesn’t mean they make the ideal choice for cycling. 

Here’s why: 

Jeans have hard seams, which can press hard on the saddle and make you completely uncomfortable. Moreover, the material used to make the jeans is worst at its best for bike riding because it’s thick and inflexible. 

Moreover, cycling in jeans in wet conditions can be more inconveniencing than rewarding. If the seams get wet, the pair of jeans becomes heavy, eventually increasing the effort you’ll need to ride your bike. Moreover, it becomes even harder to give them a stretch where necessary. 

So just don’t stress yourself with jeans. Instead, go with cycling shorts because they’re made of high-quality materials and they fit well. 

Shorts designed for cyclists tend to stretch out well because they’re flexible. Their seams are not only double stitched but they’re also flat, with properly shaped pads that form to the shape of a saddle. 

Furthermore, bike shorts feature fabrics that dry fast, so you won’t struggle in them when cycling in rainy weather. Even the padding underneath these shorts is really helpful, as it ensures there’s less friction between your bottom and the saddle. With less friction between contact points, you can ride your bike while seated for as long as you’d like to be out there. 

4. Avoid Fingerless Gloves

At least you know that you should wear the best cycling gloves before hopping on your bike. But with so many designs appearing from right, left, and center, it’s easy to assume that any pair can do the magic. 

Well, it’s a lot less so. 

We advise you to avoid fingerless gloves as much as you can because they leave parts of your hands exposed to elements like cold, rain, dust, and snow. If anything, such elements can leave your skin dry, chapped, or maybe even worse. 

Imagine wearing fingerless gloves in the snowy region, for example. What you’re doing here is exposing a part of your body to frostbite, which can alter your hands’ dexterity and run an entire cycling experience. 

And what if you fall from your bike by any chance and your hands happen to hit the ground? You’ll end up with terrible scrapes, and that isn’t fun at all. 

Therefore, invest in high-quality gloves that cover your hands. Make sure they have good padding on all contact points. Also, they should snug well straight out of the box. 

We also suggest that you check the condition outdoors before you make a decision on the gloves to buy. If you live in a region where the weather is friendly, then any gloves can do the trick. But if you live in the winter region, where arctic conditions can become so unfriendly, you should consider buying winter gloves because they can keep your hands warm. 

You don’t want to settle for less, and certainly not for fingerless gloves. 

5. Don’t Wear a Sleeveless Jersey

We haven’t seen serious cyclists wearing sleeveless jerseys. And you shouldn’t either. Even if you have biceps to show, you want to cover your upper body parts as much as possible to protect yourself from the external element. 

After all, your safety comes first. And a sleeved jersey partly contributes to that. 

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

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