Cycling is an excellent way for many people to destress and discover unexplored terrains. Be it cycling out and about in the city centre or some far off nature reserve, there’s always some place to explore, and cycling just amplifies the whole experience.
Cycling can, however, get uncomfortable. Cycling can also be an expensive hobby with all the equipment to acquire. To ease introduction into the cycling world, and to ease the pressure on your wallet, here are a few essential activewear items you ought to invest in before going out for a ride.
Helmets are primarily hats designed to protect riders from head injuries. Any helmet on the market can do that, but with the vast array of options from different brands, there’s a bunch of other factors to consider.
Key factors include:
However, the hierarchy of importance is different for everyone. For competitive cyclists, aerodynamics would be quite high up the list as it helps with speed. If you’re just starting out, perhaps comfort and breathability would be more critical over aerodynamics.
An expensive cycling helmet can be more lightweight and breathable, with a more comfortable retention system, providing you with a safe and secure fit. It all boils down to your hierarchy of needs, which streamlines your decision-making.
Padded Cycling Shorts
A good pair of padded cycling shorts are incredibly essential for any rider. The more time you spend on your bike without padding, the more at risk you are of getting saddle sores, forcing you to rest instead of cycle. Padded cycling shorts also make your overall ride more comfortable, so there’s no reason not to get one.
Again, there are vital factors into deciding which pair you should get that fits your needs and budget.
A good pair of cycling shorts should include:
- a quality chamois (the pad)
- quick-drying, high-wick material
- stretchy compression fit fabric
Cycling shorts are available in two forms: bib shorts and waist shorts. Bib shorts are more comfortable than waist shorts, but if you opt for waist shorts, be sure to look out for a pair with a high, thick band to prevent digging in.
A performance base layer should sit close to the skin and provide a compression fit. A tight-fitting fit is more comfortable for active cycling sessions and reduces chafing or rubbing. It might not make sense initially to wear a base layer while going for a ride in sunny Singapore, but choosing to wear one that is appropriately fitted and has moisture-wicking properties can help you feel more comfortable during the ride. A light base layer will move moisture away from the skin and aid in evaporation, keeping you cool and your skin dry, preventing irritation.
A waterproof jacket can be useful for sudden downpours. There’s a lot of technical terminologies to sift through when searching for a waterproof jacket, but the key elements to look out for are:
Water-resistant is not water-proof. Water-proofed jackets typically come with a claimed rating of at least 10,000mm, have taped seams and storm-proof zips. Water-resistant will usually come with a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating and be more lightweight, making it more convenient to carry around.
Breathability is also rated — ratings above 10,000g can help you from feeling humid inside. Typically, the more waterproof a fabric is, the less breathable it becomes, so there are some trade-offs to be made in your decision. The jacket design is the deciding factor for breathability, followed by the fabric used.
Those who ride fast or race will require a tight-fitting rain cape which minimises fabric flap, maintaining aero performance. Casual riders can opt for a looser fit.
If you are seeking to carry a jacket around, water-resistant options are usually more lightweight and compressible than waterproof jackets which tend to be heavier and bulkier. However, technology has come a long way, and Gore’s new ‘Shakedry’ technology is exceptionally waterproof and very lightweight.
Choosing the right shoe for you at the best price bracket can be a tricky affair, but here’s a couple of tips to help your selection. The major factors you need to consider in shoe selection are the fastening system, sole, cleat style, and how they fit.
There are four different fastening systems: velcro, ratchets, laces, and dials. Velcro offers a lightweight option, and it holds the shoe firmly in place, but they can be difficult to adjust on the move. Ratchets provide more adjustability than Velcro straps, offers a secure fit, and can be easily tightened while riding. However, loosening a ratchet requires both hands. Dials provide security, easy adjustment and hold well. Laces are regular laces which provide excellent hold but are impossible to adjust on the go.
The main thing you want in a sole is for it to be stiff. It shouldn’t bend when you press down on it. The second consideration is weight; the lighter, the better. Different price points offer different material soles, with the cheapest to most expensive being: plastic, carbon composite, carbon-soled. A plastic sole is adequate for a beginner rider, and you can always upgrade if your needs change later on as you learn more about yourself through your rides.
Your choice on cleats is dependent on the type of riding you’re doing. If you need a pair of shoes that are easy to walk in, go for a pedal system that uses two-bolt cleats. For road riding, opt for three-bolt cleats as they provide a broader platform.