Women's Cycling Gear & Clothing

What you really need

Katie Ridehart
Mar 9, 2022
Female cyclist cycling in front of a wall in the cityFemale cyclist cycling in front of a wall in the city

Why You Should Get Cycling-Specific Clothing

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Unless you’re serious about cycling or want to race competitively, you can wear anything you want. Apart from a helmet, there are no rules when it comes to your clothes and gear!

But, like with any sport, wearing specific clothing or upgrading your gear to meet your unique needs will make you feel more comfortable and improve your performance.

Think of it like this: Wearing jeans and sandals for a leisurely stroll on the beach is fine, but if you ran a marathon in jeans and sandals you’d get some weird looks (you also probably wouldn’t make it to the finish line).

The same goes for cycling.

If you’re a beginner, wearing your regular gym clothes is fine. Nothing should hold you back from riding more, especially not what you’re wearing. So if you feel overwhelmed with the amount of clothing and gear options or simply need to save up before buying cycling-specific clothing, feel free to wear and use whatever you have.

After all, if people can ride bikes naked, you can ride a bike in yoga pants.

When to Get Cycling-Specific Clothing

Once you get serious about cycling and push yourself to ride harder and longer, that’s where the inadequacies of regular gym clothes will start showing.

Underwear will get wedged in places you’d rather it didn’t, the seams on your clothing will feel like razor blades, and your ‘breathable’ cotton t-shirt will start to feel like your own personal sauna.

Plus, you’ll be amazed at how many unexpected areas start to chafe when you’re hot, sweaty, and making repetitive movements.

That’s where cycling-specific clothing comes in. Along with making you look really cool (and fast), here are some of the benefits:

  • Cycling clothes are designed in specific cuts and styles to ensure that they’re comfortable when you’re leaning forward in a cycling position.
  • Flat seams are placed strategically to avoid chafing.
  • The materials used are selected to be breathable, meaning your sweat will evaporate faster and you’ll smell as fresh as a daisy after completing a century (sort of).
  • Instead of carrying your phone, keys and wallet in a bag, cycling jerseys have handy pockets you can store your belongings in.
  • Most activewear has tiny holes that allow it to be breathable. The downside of this is that UV rays can burn you right through your clothes! Many manufacturers of cycling clothing have ranges that have UV-blocking capabilities.
  • Many cycling clothes come in bright colors or have reflective strips to ensure that you’re visible to motorists and other road-users.

Choosing Between Cycling Shorts, Underwear or Bibs

If you don’t already wear cycling shorts, you’re in for a new world of comfort when you buy your first pair! Not everyone will feel comfortable in skin-tight shorts, but luckily you have a few different options to choose from:

  • Lycra cycling shorts: Remember we mentioned that the seams in normal activewear would start to feel like razor blades on a long ride? Lycra cycling shorts have flat seams or are seamless to prevent chafing. They also have a built-in chamois (padding) to keep you comfortable on the saddle.
  • Padded underwear: If you don’t like the look of lycra shorts, you can wear padded underwear and wear them under any shorts or leggings you want.
  • Cycling bibs: Despite the benefits of cycling shorts, they can ride up (or down), the waistband can restrict your breathing, and the padding can shift. Cycling bibs hold everything in place, but on the downside they make nature breaks a little harder.
  • Trail baggies: If you want to wear shorts but don’t want them to be skintight, trail baggies offer the same comfort but are looser. They’re also made to be durable enough to withstand any snags or bumps while mountain biking.

Tradition says that roadies should wear cycling shorts or bibs and mountain bikers should wear trail baggies, but when it really comes down to it, the only thing that really matters is what you feel most comfortable in.

Whatever you end up going with, buy the best pair you can afford - fabric quality makes a huge difference when it comes to their moisture-wicking properties and durability.

Should You Get a Women’s Bicycle Saddle?

Whether women-specific bicycles are a marketing ploy or a necessity is a debated topic, but one thing almost everyone agrees on is the need for women’s bicycle saddles.

While many bicycle components are unisex, women generally have wider sit bones than men. Men’s saddles tend to be narrower and longer, while women’s saddles are wider and shorter.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to saddles and what may work for someone else might not work for you.

Here are the best women’s saddles of 2022 as rated by Road.cc:

  • Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow
  • SDG Allure
  • Brand-X Women's Cut Out Saddle
  • Ergon SR Pro Carbon
  • Brooks B17 S
  • Specialized Women’s Romin Evo Pro With MIMIC
  • Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

The Best Gear & Accessories for Your Safety

  • Helmet: All helmets are required to meet safety standards, so as long as you’re buying from a reputable brand you can rest assured that your helmet is up to scratch. Mountain biking helmets usually have a sun visor while road cycling helmets don’t, but you can wear whichever you like. Either way, look for a helmet that has MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) to disperse force in the event of impact - it adds to the price tag but is a valuable protection to have.
  • Bicycle insurance: There’s nothing worse than having your bicycle stolen or damaged. We’ll cover your bicycle for theft (from and away from home), accidental damage, malicious damage and more! Get a quick online quote today.
  • Lights: Studies show that having a flashing light on the back of your bike increases your visibility to motorists, so you should always use one even during the day.
  • Computer with GPS: Not only does this help you keep track of your stats, it also prevents you from getting lost on your route.
  • Bell or horn: Not all US states legally mandate that cyclists need a working bell or horn on their bicycle, but it makes things a lot easier (and safer) if you can warn pedestrians or hikers that you’re riding up behind them.

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