There are so many rules in cycling. Its one thing to buy a bike. Its another to know how to use it. And an entirely different world when you realise apparel has its own set of rules. With the intimidating do’s and dont’s exemplified by the Velominati, is it a wonder so many riders continue cycling the confines of a park so long? Let’s at least break down the mystery to kit. As fortune has it, we've a few simple tips to have you looking your best in no time.
Support local bike shops where and when you can
Australia is renowned for its inventions and entrepreneurial ventures. Cycling Apparel brands are no exception. So Australians have no excuse for looking like a cat threw us up. To get you kit fit for the bunch and riding as confident as proper kit allows, lets start with a list of Australian brands who literally have your back.
So first of all I’d advise, choose brands supported by Australian LBS. That way you’ll be assisting small local businesses. At the same time you’ll get professional advise on proper fit, while trying it for yourself.
Kit that’s Fitted
Cycling kit is designed to be well fitted. Leave oversized jerseys to riders new to sportive events. While loose may seem comfortable, all the science and research says fitted is better for performance. Aside from offering better aero qualities, kit fabric operates best when it does as its designed - to slightly stretch. The stretch of the fabric allows the moisture to wick - meaning you stay dry. That ensures you’re warm in winter, and you avoid the smell in summer. Plus, your back pockets will less likely sag when storing your phone and food in them.
Benjamin Blackshaw of Chainsmith, looking fine in Velocio
Good kit is engineered to sit best on your body in the ride position.
From Q36.5, "While the wearer may feel a minor degree of strain or notice small creases in the garment when standing upright and not on the bike he or she will be most comfortable and aerodynamic and have greatest ease of motion when riding."
Don’t be surprised if a jersey sits lower at the back and raises at the front. But note, its never a good look to have a white belly exposed. So while you check the front design of your bibs are hidden beneath the jersey hem when you stand, don’t ignore the fact the real benefit are felt when you crouch in the ride position. Check in the mirror the zipper doesn’t ripple at the front or sag at the back - both signs the jersey is too large.
Stick to Basics
When you chose a kit, there are two ways to go. Pattern or classic. If you’re aware fashion isn’t your thing, stick to the basics. Bold colours can be great, but the rule for anyone with concerns about their fashion sense is to match your socks with your jersey or even helmet.
"following seasons isn’t always environmentally responsible"
I often also recommend avoiding seasonal graphics if you’re slightly interested in keeping up with the Jones’. Larger brands can pump out two series of kit a season. That means after a few months it can be considered passé. If you like keeping in touch with current trends, and not being recognised for wearing previous season, then stick to conservative colours and tones. Of course, following seasons isn’t always environmentally responsible. Thats something Q36.5 takes seriously by holding styles for an average of 4 years. Kudos to them.
Rouleur instagram @Rouleurdesire
Pleasing disposition comes with selecting basic colour and graphics. You'll always hit the style beat with classic choices. Unless you’ve attractions to extravagance or celebrate eccentricity, choose socks to match your jersey or helmet.
Colour scheming your kit requires a similar approach to suit choices. as much as the socks, helmet, shoes can match the jersey, a tie, socks and shirt are combined to match a suit.
Weather Specific Add ons
Deciding what to buy first will depend on your budget. The list of articles you could wear on the bike can not be exhausted. Usually you buy appropriate pieces as the seasons require. As Winter approaches you’ll add to your cycling wardrobe to keep warm. But basics to start you off include bib shorts with a great chamois, short sleeve jersey with full zipper and decent rear pockets, short finger gloves to add grip and prevent rash if you come down, a base layer to wick the sweat, and socks with about 5 inches length from the heel.
From there, you can add -
- wind vest & jacket
- wool socks
- arm warmers, leg warmers, neck warmer
- long sleeve jersey
- wool base layer
- booties, toe caps
- long fingered gloves
- winter jacket
- Long bibs
*For tips on Winter Kit see our blog, "How to Avoid Winter"
Buy Quality, not Quantity
When it comes to quality, don’t be fooled by imitation kits, cheap inferior prints or kits bought on bulk sale. Fabrics are important. If you buy low quality they lock in sweat and no matter how much you try you’ll never get the smell out. They can also remain wet to touch and its an uncomfortable feel. I will never ever wear inferior or cheaply made products. The negative experience on the bike has me loose focus on whats most important, enjoying the ride. Its simply not worth it.
Bringing it all together
Classic colours, quality fabrics and cuts, proper fit and appropriate features will ensure you look the goods on a bike. No question about it, when it comes to cycling kit, the rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for.
With a huge array of cycling kit at Chainsmith we are happy to provide you any additional advice on apparel. Tap on the link to see our collection, here.