I was intimidated walking into a bike shop for the first time after buying my first bicycle. Seeing walls lined with cycling jerseys and racks adorned with padded shorts, I felt as though I needed to dress like a professional cyclist just to fit in with those I would be sharing the bike lane with. However, as a beginner cyclist or an urban commuter, you may be looking for something you can wear on your commute as well as at the office or for after work drinks. While Lycra is a fabric that will stay in place while you do almost anything, there are plenty of casual clothing that will adapt to the strains of a cycle commute.
- Whatever you wear, you want to be comfortable and able to move easily. It's not essential that you buy bicycle specific clothing, however you may notice that some parts of your clothes will wear quicker when using them to ride a bike in. You also don't want to wear clothes that could get caught in your bicycle or cause you to overheat (or get too cold!).
- You want your jacket or waterproof that's a little bigger so there's space for your clothing underneath.
- Trousers with higher fits and reinforced crotch areas are great to keep up with the wear of sitting in the saddle. Some trousers also come with reflective turn ups on the ankles.
- While a reflective vest or jacket is great to improve your visibility, be mindful that other light clothing may get wet or stained if riding through puddles.
- Our favourite all round brands were Lululemon, Patagonia and Rapha.
Tops & Jackets
You want your tops to be breathable, light, and easy to move around in. The first brand I recommend is Lululemon. They offer a wide range of tops in terms of style and comfort for both men and women, all being incredibly breathable and lightweight. Whether you’re going to coffee with friends or pedalling hard, they have a versatile collection with a phenomenal combination of comfort, casualness, and style.
Take the 5 Year Basic Tee - a blend of cotton, lyocelland lycra means it's stretchy and super soft. Chuck on an overshirt when you get to the office and you're good to go. A similar All Yours Tee is made for women.
Patagonia clothing was created by and for the modern explorers of the world for all sorts of outdoor activities. So you could wear these clothes for hiking mountains as well as cycling to work. While they are on the more expensive side, the company is rooted in sustainable, recycled materials and high quality clothing that will last a lifetime. Their Cool Technical Tees from £35 are designed to be worn under your everyday clothes and keep you cool. Also available in a Women's fit too.
Patagonia rain jackets for men and women are great to wear over your top to keep you dry whatever activity you get up to. There's a range of bright colours too.
If you want something that is reflective too, try ProViz REFLECT360 jackets for men and women, £119. The unique design has millions of tiny reflective beads embedded in the material so when a vehicle's headlights hit the jacket, the beads reflective the light back to the light source. Great for cycling in winter and in the dark.
We found the Airism Collection from UNIQLO, starting from £7.90, a great addition to our commuting wardrobe. The lightweight fabric is quick drying that wicks away sweat from skin. For both men and women, they come in a variety of designs such as vests, v and crew neck t shirts and are designed to be worn underneath your daily outfit.
If you're spending a lot of time in the saddle, you'll want something with a reinforced crotch area and a little flexibility.
While Rapha is primarily focused on cycling performance wear, they stock a range of casual cycling wear including these Men's Technical Trousers - £110. Reinforced seams and resilient fabric will make cycling in these a dream. Reflective piping on the inside legs, crease resistant and breathable, these are the ultimate casual cycling pants.
We love the Patagonia Quandary Pants £80 - made from recycled plastic nylon and spandex, these are comfortable and hardwearing. With a gusseted crotch and a curved waistband, they also come in a variety of inseam lengths to ensure a perfect fit. This pair is more suitable for riding in colder temperatures. Available for women as well.
Pearl iZumi Rove Pants are also a fantastic commute to office choice. The chino style pants made from cotton blended with nylon to ensure durability, they have a reinforced crotch and are waterproof. They have a BioViz turn up for improved visibility when cycling in darkness. Available for both men and women.
Nike SB Dri-FIT £54.99 - may have been designed for skateboarders but do a great job as cycling chinos as well. Smart Comfort Ultra Stretch Ankle Length Trousers from UNIQLO are a more budget friendly option at £34.90. While they are hardwearing and comfortable - they are not designed specifically for outdoor activities so don't have reinforced seams or crotches.
In short, shopping for an outfit to wear as a beginner cyclist can be difficult- but it doesn’t have to be! As you look for the perfect kit to wear cycling, whether you’re cruising around town or speeding around bike paths, just remember- comfort rules all! And given that the majority of clothing manufacturers specialize in comfort, your options aren’t as narrow as they may initially appear. See you out on the road!