To be able to indulge in your favourite sport, it is necessary to have a race bike. To acquire one or to replace one’s own is not always obvious. You have to choose the material of the frame, the wheels, the peripherals, and know its dimensions to optimize its position. All of these issues will be covered in other articles on my site.
And, to feel good in the saddle, clothing is not secondary, both in terms of comfort and safety. We can, of course, ride a bike in a tracksuit, as suggested – as I read some time ago – the president of a biker club FFCT who favours the spirit of the ride and rises against the “jerseys” runners “. But riding in shorts is still something else. We will see if need be, the interest below.
And, if you are not far from sharing the remark above, we can quite well be equipped sober and discreet; the clothing offer is wide enough and of quality to find, for example, a jersey with a classic design, proposed in different colours rather sober, without the advertising markings that a good number of practitioners deny.
1-Choose your swimsuit by examining it from every angle
For the good season, the cycling jersey is short-sleeved, the zip opening is either short (15 to 18 cm), or total, the lower back usually has 3 pockets (one of which can be zipped, to store keys and mobile phone for example). In addition to the aesthetics of the shirt, we will look at the cut, the weight, the technical characteristics (properties of the fabric or fabrics used, the presence or not of aeration zones, washing indications). The fabrics used today are always more technical and light. The shirt should be comfortable and ensure good ventilation. Tip for the size: avoid choosing too big a size with the idea of being more comfortable. The shirt should be flattened on the torso, without compressing or hindering movements, in a word perfectly adjusted.
We can recommend wearing a functional garment under a shirt. With or without sleeves, this underwear keeps dry by facilitating the evacuation of perspiration. The current fabrics are soft and comfortable to wear.
2-Do does not forget the windbreaker
As the name suggests, this piece of clothing is very useful early in the morning or late afternoon, and in the descent of a collar. Some windbreakers are also protection in case of small passing rain. Existing without sleeves or with long sleeves, this garment is chosen according to several criteria: quality of the fabric, weight, ease of storage in a back pocket of the jersey, presence of vents (sides, back), back pocket.
The size to remember is the one that will best coat the body and arms, without hindering the steering of the bike.
We sometimes see cyclists stuck in windbreaks too loose, giving them the appearance of a Bibendum. Rest assured, it is not the aesthetic aspect that is problematic, it is the consequences in terms of pedalling efficiency. The air rushes into the windbreaker and brakes considerably the progress of the cyclist, forcing him to produce additional efforts to advance. It is not because we are not a runner that we do not want to pedal effectively without too much energy loss.
I advocate a sleeveless windbreaker (with a small straight collar about 4 cm high), which fits more easily in a shirt pocket – associated with cuffs – made with a material impervious to the wind and a passing wave. Like the shirt, wear it close to the body.
3-Privilege your seat
Cycling involves 3 points of support of the body: the buttocks, the hands, the feet. None should be neglected, especially not the first because the bike hours should not be a nightmare, especially that the saddles are rather stiff and often minimalist. The shorts play the role of interface between the buttocks and the saddle. This kind of second skin is to choose carefully. Textile garments, suspenders and “chamois”, whether or not gel or foam, antibacterial treatment, cut, size (not too tight or too loose), location of seams, vents, are the essential points to look at the time of purchase.
My advice: shorts made of a slightly elastic material (lycra type) that can be pressed onto the body without compression, with openwork mesh straps, high-density insert (“chamois”) on the support areas, the band (“elastane”) for support on the thighs.
And although it is not the subject of this article on clothing, the choice of good quality strapless shorts should not overshadow the saddle. Lightweight saddles are available on the market – such as the Italia SLR C59 C59 63-gram saddle and the AX-Lightness Phoenix 62-gram saddle – but the average is about 200 grams. But the current trend, initiated by professional cyclists who, with bicycles weighing less than 6.8 kg, are free to choose “heavy” saddles, is to opt for more comfortable seats, which necessarily have a higher weight on the scale. These include the Italia Sport Gel Flow Saddle, 330 gr. and the San Marco Rolls, 382 gr.
4-Finding shoes on your feet
The foot/pedal connection is essential. All the more reason to choose your shoes. Some (rare) cyclists still ride, but the idea is to have automatic pedals. For shoes, it is not necessarily useful to buy the top. Simply, it must be adapted to its practice (a certain comfort, hold the wedge under stress, ease of engagement/release, foot support system by Velcro strips and sometimes by micrometric loop), i.e. with a more or less rigid sole. A polyamide sole is sufficient to start.
The shoes are all 3-point compatible, i.e. they accept the grips that go with the different pedal models: BBB, look, Ritchey, Shimano, Time, XLC. Only the Speedplay brand requires 4-point drilling (or an adapter is required).
Don’t forget socks or socks, which contribute to the comfort of the foot. Choose with particular care if you are subjected to the heating of the arch.
5-Raise the glove
Some cyclists ride without gloves, why not. However, it should not be forgotten that gloves are used to facilitate the grip of the hanger, to protect your hands from more or less important shaking depending on road conditions, and also in case of a fall. For summer gloves, the questions to ask a concern, in addition to the size (do not compress the hand), the fabric (with a sponge for perspiration), the cut, the pads, the ease of removal. The models include gel inserts.
6-Save your head
The helmet, although not mandatory (except during the race) is essential. In addition to its protective role in the event of a fall, sweat, heat and cold must be taken into account. Be aware that the helmet alone does not sufficiently protect the skull from the sun. To ride in the sun in summer, I recommend wearing a cap under the helmet. Worn correctly, i. e. perfectly placed horizontally in an upright position, the helmet must not compress the skull, squeeze under the jaw, or obstruct vision, particularly by wearing glasses.
7-To see clearly
Finish this detailed examination with the glasses, very useful tool, and not only for the look. Wind, rain, sun, insects are good reasons to wear them.
The ergonomics of the frame is also important for the comfort and harmony of the face.
To be complete, it is also necessary to think counter, heart rate monitor, tin can, cereal bars, mini pump, the bag with the inner tube and small tools. But we’ll talk about it later.
A budget idea
It is not easy to indicate a financial envelope for the 7 items mentioned above, because the scale of prices – which explain the quality of the products and the commercial impact of the major brands – is enormous.
However, to give an idea of the budget to be devoted to basic clothing for sports motorcycling, the cost of complete equipment can be estimated at 400.00 euros: jersey and underwear short sleeves, shorts, shoes and socks, helmet and glasses, gloves, windproof. Of course, the envelope can climb quickly depending on the selected items. For example, some shoe models reach 300 €, and even more. There are also helmets for 250 €. But no need to equip “top of the range” to start the bike, quality products, reliable, comfortable, adapted to its size, and the best cost will suffice.