Come with me on a journey that will take a look at Riding Clothing for moderate to intense exercise. Understand what you should be looking for and why it’s a good choice. If you’re riding is easy or low intensity, there is no need for special clothes. Just allow movement and be comfortable… see What to wear on a bike?
What Should the Fabric in Riding Clothing do?
Control moisture & allow movement.
With moisture control you are dealing with two elements;
1. Sweat/heat being trapped creates condensation on the inside of your clothing so allow this mositure to get out so that it is not absorbed
2. Rain – stopping moisture from getting in and being absorbed.
Why do you need to control moisture? Once your clothing is wet, in warm conditions, it will lead to chaffing, and in cold conditions, you will feel cold and uncomfortable with extreme situations leading to hypothermia. The combination of wet clothing & wind is dangerous and riding creates a draft without any help from the actual weather conditions. Find out more… Waterproof or Breathable – Bike Jackets Explained…
Allow Movement. Clothing should stretch and be non restricting. Places that this movement is needed are generally joints so across your shoulders, elbows, hips, butt, knees…
Terms you will come across…
- Wicking – allows moisture to move through the fabric weave, pulling it off your skin onto the surface of the fabric to evaporate which is cooling. These types of fabrics have a direction of pull so don’t wear them inside out!
- Breathable – a bit of a contradiction as it prevents water from entering while allowing moisture usually in the form of body heat out. See our story on Breathable Jackets
- Lycra – lycra is a brand name for the generic term spandex and can also be called elastane. Weaved into a fabric it allows stretch and holding of shape. Our Women’s Padded Bike Pants Buying Guide will help you see the range of choices.
- Fast drying – as the name suggests dries at a rapid rate, usually found in base layer garments. Nike coined the term “Dri-fit”
- Anti-microbial – also called odour resistant, this is a treatment applied to the fabric to prevent the build up of bacteria that leads to smell
- Water resistant – repels water to a certain degree
- Waterproof – does not allow water to pass through the fabric. See our story on Waterproof Jackets
Merino tops are ideal for winter riding
Bamboo, Merino create fabrics that can be…
- wicking, soft, durable, naturally anti-microbial, breathable, warm, regulate temperature
Avoid cotton in your base layers (next to your skin), when you are using your bike for exercise, even in your socks. Why? Cotton is hydrophilic which means it is really good at absorbing water and is not quick drying. It can hold up to 25x its own weight in water. This leads to chaffing in the heat and hypothermia in the cold…
“IF YOU REMEMBER ONLY ONE THING ABOUT NATURAL FIBRES, IT SHOULD BE THAT COTTON IS A TERRIBLE CHOICE FOR MODERATE TO HEAVY EXERCISE”
Nylon, polyester, polyamides, lycra create combinations that can be…
- wicking, breathable, fast drying, odour resistant when treated, stretch, durable
Expect blends, manufacturers create exceptional fabrics by choosing two or more fibres for their performance benefits… So as much as you can match your level of exertion to the fabric features.
Wind proof, water proof, water resistant, seam sealed, breathable, reflective, bright
Includes rain jackets, fleece, puffers, waterproof trousers
With outer layers there is always a fight between keeping you dry – being waterproof – and allowing moisture to evaporate – being breathable. It is not easy to get a good combination of both these things in one fabric. Consider your investment in terms of how often you will be riding in the rain and where this riding will be. Isolated trail riding really demands that you have gear that will keep you safe.
Match the type of outer wear you choose to the place and conditions you are expecting to ride in.
Breathable, warmth, anti-microbial, wind proof, easy to remove – zips/openings, bright
Includes fleece/micro fleece, merino jackets, long sleeve, high necks, hoodies, leggings, shorts, arm & leg warmers
A versatile protective layer that should be easy to get on and off. Cyclists often have a range to choose from in this section of their wardrobe. What you reach for will depend on the season or weather you’re about to encounter. This is the layer often carried in bags or around the waist once you have warmed up.
The amount of warmth and protection you need from a mid layer will be very dependent on the season.
Wicking, soft, anti-microbial, stretch, light weight
Includes sports bras, underwear, singlets, t-shirt, cycle shorts/underwear, socks, gloves, beanies
Any item of clothing that comes into contact with your skin can be considered a base layer. When you are exercising on your bike this layer becomes really important for your ongoing comfort. It must be able to manage moisture so those words breathable, wicking and anti-microbial become important.
Tips for Cleaning Women’s Riding Clothing
- some of these fabrics are water repelling/resistant so not easy to clean which leads to smelly exercise gear… washing straight away or pre-soaking is the answer. Either with a gentle anti-microbial detergent or 1 cup of vinegar in a bucket or wash tub of water
- do not use fabric softener on any technical activewear fabric
- wash inside out in cold to warm water (30 degrees maximum) on a gentle machine cycle or hand wash
- avoid tumble drying as this weakens the lycra in your fabric
- look for technical fabrics that are fast drying, colour/fade resistant & anti-wrinkle
- ALWAYS READ THE CARE LABEL
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