What to wear on the bike? What would you like to wear on the bike? A lot of people choose lycra but you do have options other than lycra. Lycra was introduced into the biking world in the 1970’s to help keep the chamois (padding) in place, to be aerodynamic and for printing vibrancy (sponsorship).  Do you really need to be or want to be aerodynamically skin tight & branded when riding on a cycle trail or to the library? Let’s get our style on and get you comfortable on and off the bike.

What you need to consider when choosing what to wear on a bike.

The 2 main considerations are allowing movement and being comfortable.

  • Movement. Clothing will need a bit of stretch or a bit of ease/space to allow movement.  What moves when you ride – your legs (hips & knees) so whatever you choose to ride in it needs to allow your legs to move freely. Your arms though in a constant position need ease and space in the shoulders and upper back to allow your arms to be held in this position.
  • Comfort. Consider comfort in two ways – feeling good about what you have chosen to ride in and being comfortable at the contact points with the bike. Maybe lycra is the right solution for you (Bike in Lycra Padded Bike Pants). But, for many, having lycra will not be the solution to feeling good in the clothes you ride in. So how do we give you another option and still provide comfort (padding) at that critical point – your bottom on the bike seat? (Read more at Bike in Everyday or Recreational Clothes). The answer.. padded bike underwear goUnders. Worn like underwear so you get to choose what you wear over them. In making that choice you will need to match the weather conditions so you are not too warm or cold. If riding in hot weather consider sunburn & heat…back of the neck/shoulders, a back gap or forearms/hands…just use common sense either cover up or apply sunscreen.  Also zips, vents, openings to allow air flow. If riding in cooler and/or challenging weather – wind, rain, cold temperatures.  Think about water & wind proof/resistant, jacket and pants or trouser, layers under, mid, top layers for warmth. A Neckwarmer and Headband can add just the required finishing touch in cooler weather. See Ride in Everyday/Recreational Clothes.
Other considerations include;
  • Safety.  What can get caught in a bike wheel or in your chain drive?  Anything that is long, hanging, loose near the pedals or wheels. Things to avoid are boot leg or flared long pants & long skirts. Shoes need to be enclosed and flat. If you need heels for your destination carry them with you and pop them on once you arrive.  Jandals, while an absolute Kiwi wardrobe essential, are just dangerous on a bike. Clothing provides skin coverage so if falling is a concern then longer garments to cover the legs and arms will provide some protection.
  • Chain grease.  If you choose a long length pant think about tapering into the ankle designs, otherwise the pant leg tucked into your sock look – anyone?
  • Your back gap.  Good height in the waist of your pants or length in the t-shirt should be thought about for anyone not in an upright position on the bike – as you lean forward you can expose a gap between your pants and your top.
Long sleeved merino top & brushed thermal leggings

Cold weather – leggings thermal or brushed

Waterproof jacket - commute riding. goRide

Safety/Chain grease – tapered trousers, long sleeved top

Back gap.  What to wear on a bike. goRide

Back Gap – long T’shirts

Riding in stretchy leggings

Comfort & movement – favorite pair of leggings

Warm, wind proof vest.

Cold weather – warm windproof vest

I choose to ride in simple cotton shorts with padded underwear for family bike rides.

Hot weather – shorts and merino top

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Why Wear Padded Riding Shorts?

Bike in padded lycra pants

Bike in everyday/recreational clothes

Women’s Bike pants Buying Guide

Kids Bike pants Buying Guide

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