When you’re looking to drop some hard-earned cash on your next road cycling clothing purchase, it’s helpful to get a recommendation from someone you know (or even, heaven forbid, trust!?).
You don’t want to overpay for a cycling jersey created for a chiselled whippet, which makes you look like a trussed up Cumberland sausage and falls apart on its fourth wearing.
So here is my list of recommendations for cycling clothing by category (some of which I might have made up).
The recommendations come from the perspective of a 39-year old male cyclo-enthusiast (that’s me!) that is looking for kit that works well, is good quality, looks good and is at a good value price point.
If you have a similar perspective (you don’t need to be 39… I won’t be for too much longer), then hopefully you’ll find this a useful resource.
Disclaimer About My Incompetence
The following list is categorically not a list of the absolute best product in each category. I’m neither qualified to judge nor have access to a whole load of products to test.
What it is is a list of the products I’ve used regularly and over a prolonged period. It’s a list of things that I’d recommend to a mate if he/she asked what I’d suggest. My position is that in my personal experience these items have worked well. They’ll do the job and do it well.
So consider yourself my mate (BlogReaderMate), take heed of my recommendations and pick yourself up something nice.
Disclaimer About Affiliate Links
Just so you know, the links below are mainly affiliate links. If you click and buy something, I’ll get paid a small commission whilst you pay the same price.
Alors! On with the recos!
Short-sleeved Cycling Jersey: Rapha Core jersey
Hmm, I’ve started with a difficult category. Of all cycling clothing items, your basic cycling jersey is probably the least crucial in terms of performance. It’s purpose isn’t to keep you warm, dry or protected from the wind. Though you can buy jerseys with features that aim to cover these bases, I’d argue these belong to a different category (‘specialist jersey’ perhaps?).
I’m talking about a jersey that you throw on for a ride in the summer, with three pockets at the back and…. that’s about it.
Some of the jerseys in my wardrobe that fit this category have been received for free when I’ve ridden for a charity (Macmillan in 2013; Princess Alice Hospice in 2018) or on a corporate cycling day.
In fact, I’ve only ever bought one basic cycling jersey (and it’s even not the one I’m going to recommend).
The choice of your cycling jersey really comes down to personal preference in terms of design and fit. It’s more a fashion item (who are we kidding, most pieces of cycling clothing are fashion items!). You’ll definitely want to meet a minimum standard in terms of quality. Higher quality material tends to be more comfortable to wear, more flattering on your MAMILspread and more hardwearing.
So bearing all that in mind, my personal favourite is the Rapha Core Jersey. I’ve got the navy blue version, which is smart and understated. It doesn’t scream ‘Rapha’ (because not everyone wants to scream Rapha…). It’s made of a lightweight fabric with a bit of stretch and is in a fit that doesn’t make me look like the aforementioned northern sausage (erm…). It has a nice little zipped pocket for keeping my keys safe.
Historically, Rapha gear was only available on its own website (or in the stores) but now it seems that some of the range can be bought from Wiggle or Chain Reaction. Happy days…
Link for UK & US readers: click here to view on the Rapha website*
(* Not an affiliate link – I could have linked to Wiggle but they don’t always have all sizes in stock (or any of them…))
Bad Weather/Winter Cycling Jersey:
Well. This. Should. Not. Come. As. Any. Surprise.
(Assuming you’ve read more than two of my blog posts)
I’ve written a full review of the Castelli Perfetto, where you can get all the details.
In short, ever since its introduction as the Castelli Gabba in 2011, this jersey has become the de facto standard for anyone that rides in the wind and rain.
In the business world, it’s said that CEO’s don’t get sacked for hiring Goldman Sachs as their advisor. Recommending the Perfetto to you is similar – you just can’t go wrong. Also, you can’t sack me.
Get the long sleeve version (I’m not sure who buys the short sleeve – the overheated arm brigade perhaps…).
The Perfetto is available in the following places:
(Everyday) Bib Shorts: dhb Aeron
Everyone’s ass is different. FACT!
But enough with the science.
The level of comfort provided by a pair of bib shorts (specifically the padding design) will differ from rider to rider.
Thankfully, I seem to have a very forgiving rear end (we all have a superpower – perhaps this is mine), so I tend to find that most bib shorts are ‘as broad as they’re long’ in terms of comfort level.
So with that all said, from my stable of shorts that includes caks made by Specialized and
In terms of value for money, the dhb Aerons win, marrying good quality and performance (mine have been going strong for many years) with a smart look (I like the red ‘cuffs’ on mine).
You can buy yourself a pair of dhb Aerons on the Wiggle website (and their sister site: Chain Reaction Cycles).
(Also, feel free to read my extensive guide to the best cycling shorts for road cyclists).
Thermal Bib Tights: dhb Aeron Bib Tights
This category demonstrates why this post doesn’t tell you the best clothing item for a given task.
I’ve only ever worn one pair of bib tights. I didn’t even pay for them.
A few years ago, Wiggle sent me a set of winter tights to test, along with a winter jersey. So I cannot tell you which are the ‘best’ thermal bib tights.
What I can say is that I really like these ones. Which I guess is the point of a recommendation.
I don’t wear them all that often. Where I can, I’ll use leg warmers with my normal cycling shorts. But when the weather is really wintry, there is nothing quite like a set of thermal tights.
They fit well and the construction (does that mean the sewing?) feels pretty robust. Which is important, as thicker material bib tights do tend to require a bit more manhandling to put on and get in position. They look as good as when I boug…. was given them.
Wiggle updates the range every year. Click the links below to see this year’s version of the Aeron (with ‘Flashlight technology’ apparently).
Leg Warmers: GripGrab Classic Leg Warmers
It’s a similar picture with the leg warmers. I haven’t tested every leg warming sheath on the market. I can only say what works for me.
And the answer to that is the ‘Classic’ Leg Warmers made by GripGrab.
Unliked the bibbus tightus though, I bought these myself. I got my first pair back in November 2016.
Back then (before I saw the light), on colder days, I tended either to wear tights over my bib shorts (never under your shorts) or to wear the bib tights above.
Now leg warmers are my ‘go to’ wintry weather wear. They’re easier to put on than tights and they look good with shorts*.
(*They are what pro-riders are wearing when you think they might accidentally have put their tights on underneath…).
They allow for a reduced cycling wardrobe as well. You can keep using your cycling shorts year round, without having to buy a similar number of pairs of bib tights for the colder months.
Unless you’re riding through mud or you have tremendously sweaty lower legs, you don’t have to wash them as frequently as your shorts.
The GripGrab ones (in size Medium) are a good length such that a reasonable amount can tuck under my short legs. The rubberised gripper at the top (the Gr-allGr-ag end, if you will) keeps them in place without being restrictive on my quads and hamstring.
Final piece of recomm-evidence: I bought another pair. In hi-viz yellow. Just for shotz and gogglez.
Link for UK readers: Click here to get latest price / purchase
Base Layer: Erm…..
Doing well on this one. What sort of recommendation post is when the ‘expert’ (ha!) can’t come up with one?
A Sportive Cyclist recommendation post, that’s what.
I’ve only ever bought one dedicated cycling base layer (from dhb, who else?). It’s fine – it’s got an extra wind-protecting layer of material on the chest and makes me look like Robocop (in my mind…).
But if we look at what I do, rather than what I say (or write), I’m clearly not that picky about base layers.
For most rides, I’ll pick from a varied palette of base layers that I’ve acrued over the years, either for general outdoor pursuits or as freebies from a series of 10k runs that Nike used to organise in London (before there was RideLondon, there was Run London).
I’m open to the idea that I have to wear a cyclo-specific base layer (particularly if Rapha wants to send me one to review) but really, any t-shirt/vest made of a material that wicks away moisture rather than keeping it close to your skin, should be fine.
Particularly if you pair it with a
Winter Cycling Gloves: Sealskinz
I’ll be honest, I haven’t found the perfect cycling gloves, particularly for very low temperatures.
I tend to suffer from Raynauds syndrome, and find cold hands extremely painful (i.e. more than my other extremities…). I really need full-on cold weather gloves when the windchill sends the mercury below zero (centigrade…). And those sorts of gloves tend to be bulky.
These Sealskinz (the ones in the photo), whilst somewhat bulky, do meet all my other requirements. They’re warm, comfortable, have a soft bit to wipe snot off your face. (Importantly) I can still operate the bike whilst wearing them.
I bought these gloves a few years ago (probably getting on for 7 years) so Sealskinz designs have moved on. And become a little less garish in terms of colour scheme.
The equivalent glove now (available here) comes in black and neon yellow options.
Now I just wish someone could invent some super-warm gloves that come with slightly less bulk.
Helmet: Kask Vertigo 2.0
Is a helmet a piece of clothing? Whatever.
I’ve used the Kask Vertigo 2.0 for a couple of years (it was another gift from my sister and brother-in-law…). It replaced a Met helmet that I had for yonks, which looked pants and, I’m pretty sure, would offer no protection in a crash.
Initially I thought it gave my bonce the sense of being somewhat mushroom-like. Then I realised that all helmets do that, particularly for my deceptively large cranium (the words on this blog have to come from somewhere).
Once fully Lycra’d up and riding the bike, the Kask looks in proportion and (I think) smart, in its black and red livery.
It fits securely with the little dial at the back that tightens it around your skull. Despite that last sentence sounding terrible, it is comfortable to wear. I’ve barely noticed it on even my longest rides.
To be clear, it doesn’t have MIPS. Or it isn’t MIPS. Or it doesn’t have MIPS technology (Mont makes mental note to look up what MIPS means). But presumably (as it’s made by reputable manufacturer) it provides the level of protection that the law requires. So that’s all good.
I can’t find the Kask Vertigo 2 available to buy anymore, so you’ll have to make do with a link to the Kask website (where they absolutely do have plenty of other helmets to buy).
That’ll Do Donkey, That’ll Do
I could keep going. I’ve got some great Star Wars pants that I’d like to recommend (you’d have to wear them on top of your bib shorts, for obvious reasons). I won’t test your patience though.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself (in cycling terms) over recent years. Lesson one: wearing the right clothing makes for a more pleasant (or bearable) ride on the day.
Have enough pleasant/bearable rides in inclement weather conditions and you start to train your monkey mind into believing that you can be comfortable on the bike, whatever the meteo. That’s pseudo-psycho-pscience.
So those are Mont’s cyclo-clothing recommendations. What are yours? What is your favourite piece of cycling armour? What keeps your bits comfy? Let me know in the comments below.