Many cyclists who ride far or fast on a bike wear cycling-specific clothes. These clothes are tight fitting so they can efficiently wick moisture from the body. They are also aerodynamic, and they allow your limbs to move without restriction.
Despite all of the above, there are many casual cyclists who don’t want to don tight-fitting cycling clothes. They just want to jump on the bike and travel from A to B without fuss and without the aspiring athletic look. Maybe they’re commuters.
Even keen cyclists often find it tiresome to dress themselves up in cycling gear before every ride. Many would rather just get out there in whatever trousers and shirt they have on.
You can ride a bike in your everyday clothes, of course, but some clothing items are better than others for bike riding. If the material you wear is unyielding, you may struggle to even get on the bike, and if it doesn’t wick moisture, you could end up a sweaty mess.
So, what kinds of casual bicycling attire are out there?
Jackets are an awkward thing to buy for cyclists because waterproofing and breathability are at odds with each other. You want a jacket to keep the rain out, but if it’s as waterproof as a plastic bag you’ll end up drenched in sweat when cycling.
Because of the above, you either have to spend a lot of money on a jacket made with a technical membrane fabric, or you buy a jacket that is just water resistant enough for what you need.
If your bike journeys only last a few minutes, as they often do for casual cyclists, a cheap water resistant jacket that breathes is a decent choice. You can buy lightweight water-resistant cycling jackets that don’t look too “serious”.
Cycling Trousers & Shorts
Cycling trousers and shorts are better if they’re made from a moisture-wicking material like polyester. And if they have a small elastane (Lycra) content they’ll be stretchy and allow freedom of movement.
A pair of cycling trousers is likely to have flatlock seams for durability and to reduce chafing in strategic areas.
Cycling-friendly features in a pair of trousers include pockets and a tapered ankle that doesn’t snag on the bike chain. If you intend riding in all weathers, you can get water-resistant trousers with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating.
Most cycling trousers and casual shorts are not going to be padded, and you may not need padding if you have a cushy bike saddle. For extra comfort, it is possible to buy padded undershorts that you can wear beneath trousers or shorts.
You can buy casual shirts or dress shirts made with stretchy materials that wick moisture from your body. What you should avoid is regular cotton shirts.
Although cotton is good at subduing the smell of sweat, it also absorbs moisture and acts like a sponge. Thus, it becomes uncomfortable to wear on a bike and you arrive at your destination wet.
Shirt materials that are good for cycling include polyester and Merino wool. Both have strong moisture-wicking properties. As with other garments, a small elastane content (aka Lycra or spandex) makes the material stretchy.