Summer Road Clothing Guide
The best time to ride a bike? Most people think so. Choose the right clothing to maximize your enjoyment; while a short ride to the shops or pub can be tackled in any clothing, longer rides are much more enjoyable in more suitable clothing. So what are the key elements to look for in summer cycling clothing?
Materials which wick sweat away will keep you dry and comfortable when you are sweating. The extra layer of an under vest in summer might seem counter-intuitive, but they do a great job. They will add warmth for early morning chilly starts and then turn to wicking duties once the temperatures go upwards and sweating commences. A good under vest is a true summer essential.
Keeping cool is important when temperatures head upwards and your body temperature increases through exercise. Specialist materials can reduce discomfort on long hot days in the saddle, different manufacturers use different names for materials they use, most short sleeve jerseys are designed for summer use. A ¾ or full zip is another way to help with cooling on long hot summer days, bear in mind a undoing a full zip can leave you a little exposed, another reason to wear a base layer.
It really doesn’t matter if you prefer a classic solid color simple design, some Italian design flair or like to show your support for your favorite bike racing team, jersey’s are quite a personal thing – life would be boring if we all wore the same kit.
Storage in summer cycling clothing often comes down to rear pockets. The classic 3 pocket layout allows for partitioning of the essentials, maybe; emergency / food / cash & phone ? If you never quite have enough storage, consider a under the saddle bag to spread the load.
Keeping comfy on long summer rides is essential, while regular cycling shorts can ‘dig-in’ a little especially around the tummy, Bib-shorts offer more comfort. The only drawbacks for bib-shorts being ease of access for toilet-breaks and the shoulder straps can get a little sweaty. If you are prone to ‘under-carriage’ chafing, applying chamois cream to the pad in your shorts before your ride should help.
Summer Clothing Tips;
Mitts are great for stopping blisters on longer rides and also offering protection for your hands if you have an accident. Another useful feature of mitts is their ability to soak up and remove sweat from your forehead / eyebrows on hot days.
Warm summer rides, often don’t start warm – especially if you like to head out in the quiet early mornings. Arm and leg warmers are great for covering up while the temperature is cooler BUT is due to increase. They take a little bit of rear pocket space up though, they would easily stuff into as saddle bag.
Rain capes are another important item that you only wish you had when it is too late and the dark clouds are forming. With their ultra-packable ability to get into a rear pocket, capes can give extra cover incase the summer storms hit your ride.
Vented helmets allow fresh air to cool your head, they can also allow flying insects to get into your hair. Wearing a cotton cap under the helmet will prevent inspects finding a new home and soak up sweat. Take a spare cap with you to change into if you are having a coffee stop. Nothing is worse than putting a sweaty cap on when it’s time to exit the café…
Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and reduce squinting on bright sunny days. Glasses also stop flying insects from hitting your eyes, which are the most delicate parts of your body. Many glasses come with spare lenses, so you can protect your eyes even when the weather is cloudier or wetter.
Summer base layers are great for wicking away sweat while provding a little extra insulation from heat and early morning chills. These thin layers can reduce the amount of sweat which would otherwise soak your jersey on a hot day. While it might seem counter-intuitive to wear an extra layer in hot weather, a summer base layer can greatly improve cooling.
Short Sleeve Jersey
Nothing says summer like a short sleeve jersey. Summer jerseys offer different attributes for different riders; from tight, aero race jerseys designed for optimum performance to loose fit classic jerseys with three pockets and zip for ventilation and a whole range of options in between.
An essential item of clothing for summer months, bib shorts add a layer of comfort to standard cycling shorts. Where as regular cycling shorts stop at the waist and are held up with a gripper which can dig-in a little, bib-shorts have shoulder straps built in to make for a more comfortable garment. Bib-shorts come in a variety of cuts from tight, aero, race-fit to the more generous regular fit suitable for general road riding. A synthetic pad provides the cussioning for your intimate areas, allowing for longer more comfortable hours in the saddle.
Cycling socks are a much under-rated summer essential. The best summer cycling socks are made from lightweight breathable fabric that keeps your feet cool and dry in hot weather. Sock height and colour is where you can let your pesonal style preferences shine through.
Cotton cycling caps have been around for a long time, perhaps the one item of clothing most associated with bike riding. Caps offer useful functionality for such as simple design, they can be worn with the peak at the front to shade your face, or at the rear to shade your neck.
Summer cycling and mitts go hand in hand together for road bike riders. As well as smoothing out road vibrations, mitts protect from injuries in the event of a fall and provide the best way to quickly remove sweat from your face on hot days. Summer mitts range from aero race gloves to mitts designed for rougher ride surfaces, including extra padding.
While not really clothing as such, glasses are important and desreve a mention. If you have ever enjoyed a nice summer ride, only to experience a large bee try to ram-raid it's way under your eye-lid on a fast descent - you will probably wear glasses. Our eyes are very delicate and need a little looking after. Check out our Glasses Guide for a more detailed blog.