Apparel for Cycling: Enhance the Experience
“Why are special shoes, and clothing necessary?” is a common question.
Cycling Shoes–Are stiffer than casual or dress shoes, so transmitting energy to the pedal is more efficient. On the other hand, they are not comfortable to wear off the bike, so a change of shoes is necessary if you are planning to commute to work, or another activity. The Multi Rx shoe is designed to be used in the gym or on a bicycle path. A nice feature of this shoe is the recessed SPD cleat area that allows for more comfortable walking.
Cycling Shorts or Tights–These generally have a padded crotch for comfort on longer rides. Wear long cycling tights or layer regular tights over cycling shorts in cooler weather to help prevent muscle or joint injuries. If you ride for any distance you will need to develop a high RPM (80 – 110) for efficiency. When your legs are moving that fast, baggy clothes will chafe, as will the the seams in ordinary underwear, so you’ll need something clingy like lycra. And if you exert yourself, you will need to have some kind of liner in these shorts to wick moisture from your privates. Bicycle shorts are meant to be worn with no underwear; they are usually made out of lycra and are lined with wicking pads.
Cycling Jerseys–are designed to conform to the body for aerodynamic advantage. Most jerseys have many pockets for holding sunglasses, fruit, etc., and are usually brightly colored for daytime visibility, or white for night riding. Bicycle jerseys are made out of polyester, and are cut longer in the back because cyclists usually ride leaning forward to reduce air resistance. In cool weather, wool is ideal.
Helmet–A helmet, properly worn, protects your head and brain from injury when you fall. This is important because three-fourths of all permanent or fatal injuries in bicycle accidents are head injuries (1). Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of such injuries by 85% (2). With a helmet, your overall accident risk is about the same as a car driver’s (3). The health benefits from cycling more than offset any additional risk of injury.
Gloves–gloves will make your commute much more comfortable, and will offer some protection in a crash. Long fingered gloves really help you stay warm when it’s chilly. Gloves are available in both men’s and women’s sizes.
Eyewear – If you are commuting at dawn or dusk, you should consider wearing clear glasses to protect your eyes from debris kicked up by cars and wind. In daylight, sunglasses are a necessity to protect against UV as well as road hazards.