Perhaps you’ve been lucky and got a bunch of vouchers for Christmas, or maybe you’ve been less lucky and have a too-small pair of white bib shorts that you’re going to be exchanging. Or maybe you’ve been really lucky, and you’re the proud owner of a new bike – but you’re wondering what to wear while you’re on it?
We’re going to assume that you have a helmet. Because, certainly for mountain biking, we think you need one. But beyond that, what should you have? Our team brings you their picks of what your wardrobe shouldn’t be without…
1. Sticky Shoes
Contact points, contact points, contact points.
Without any shadow of a doubt, the best upgrades you can make to your riding are the things that see a connection between your bike and your body. Saddles, grips, gloves, pedals and shoes are the first things on the upgrade list that deserve your attention.
Assuming you’re using flat pedals, a good quality pair of sticky-soled shoes will go a long way to improving your experience. Not only will the soft, textured rubber provide added traction on your pedals so your feet don’t go flailing in the air every time your wheels leave the ground, but shock-absorbing midsoles will also help with vibration damping so that you don’t finish every descent feeling your feet have broken in two. Sure, you can still ride a bike wearing your regular trainers, but you’ll have more comfort, more confidence, and more protection by slipping your feet into a pair of proper mountain biking shoes. If you want to know what to look for, check out all of our shoe reviews right here.
2. Proper Shorts
Getting your first pair of padded cycling shorts is a pivotal moment in any cyclist’s life. Unlike gloves, or flat pedal shoes, or even a riding top, cycling shorts are a specific bit of kit that can only be used for riding. But what a difference a good pair of shorts can make. Worn next to the skin (no underwear here) they provide a snug, padded barrier between you and the bike saddle. Their seamless construction, technical fabrics and snug fit means that chafing is virtually eliminated. Worn under a pair of baggy shorts, they’re invisible, but compared to boxer shorts or briefs, they will dramatically increase how far and how long you can ride your bike in comfort. So that’s only ever going to be a good thing.
Pro-Tip: While some baggy shorts come with padded liner shorts, true cycling comfort nirvana comes from a well-fitting pair of bib shorts (as above). While they can be a pain for going to the loo, they will sit where they’re supposed to for mile after mile and are virtually invisible feeling.
I don’t care if it’s hot or cold, I always wear gloves. Absolutely, always and without fail. Except for that one time when I didn’t and I crashed and ended up picking gravel out of both palms for a week… As well as putting a valuable layer between you and the ground, gloves help stop your hands getting blistered or whipped by passing vegetation. They’re also handy for wiping snot from your face (because snot rockets are disgusting – don’t do it). There are gloves for all temperatures and all hand sizes. Get some, and wear them.
4. Waterproof Socks
“Waterproof socks will change your life!” this is a fact that I’ll happily stand behind. A pair of waterproof socks does more than keep your feet dry in the wet months. They keep them warm, toastie and comfortable, and they boost your motivation. Personally, I struggle to drag myself out of the house on a soggy day, but if I know my feet will be warm and toastie I don’t mind as much, and I’ll actually seek out the deepest of puddles just because I can.
5. Waterproof Shorts
Waterproof shorts, because why wouldn’t you? I’ve always run hot when riding so spent years riding round in summer weight kit all year, not caring about the cold and wet. When weather got really bad I’d just switch to a set of heavier weight downhill shorts and a waterproof’ish jacket. But last year that changed. I got myself my first ever pair of proper waterproof riding shorts. In the past I was put off the rustley, bin bag, clammy feel of waterproof shorts but materials and breathability have come a long way! Now, as soon as the heavens open they’re the first thing I reach for. But they’re not just for rainy days… as soon the trails start getting wet they become essential riding kit to keep your derrière dry(er) and keep the mud out. And the pièce de résistance: cleaning, or lack of. Just give them a hose down post ride and let them dry ready for the next one! And if you want to go on step further, get yourself some decent waterproof riding trousers. They take the whole ‘less cleaning is better’ thing to the next level. Simply slip them off at the back door post ride and you’re nice and clean and dry ready to have a sit down inside with a nice warm brew. Perfect.
Have we missed your favourite item? Perhaps you think you’ve found the perfect brand for one our suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.