How to Dress for the Ride

Over the past 50 years, cycling has progressed from primarily a road and track focused activity into something so much more. From road, to gravel, commuting to mountain biking, each kind of riding gets you outside and feeling great. But when it comes to equipment, every kind of riding has it’s own demands, including different types of clothing to keep you comfortable and worry-free during your ride.

Wearing the appropriate clothing for the form of cycling you choose can keep you from overheating, experiencing lingering soreness, and stopping for the things you need. With the proper clothing you’ll also find yourself able to stay in the saddle for longer and going further, which is what every rider wants, right?

We know navigating the market for clothing can be difficult when you’re trying something new. For instance, if you need clothes to go gravel riding in, but you usually do road riding, how will you know which fabrics are best for gravel or what details you should look for while buying?

Well, we’ve made a chart to answer that question and more to give you a better handle on which fabrics, extras, and fits you should look for when buying clothing for road cycling, mountain biking, commuting, cyclocross, and gravel riding.






The Ride

People ride to race, for fitness, or fun. It’s all about the thrill of speed and pushing your endurance limits. You need clothing that won’t flap around in the wind, and can help support your body during long hours in the saddle.

It’s all about getting out in the woods and pushing those technical bike handling skills. You want clothing that’s durable and loose. Speeds are slower than on the road, so you need to stay cool and comfortable.

The commuting are endless. You save lots of money, you stay in shape, and you get to enjoy fresh air throughout the day. Clothing needs to be comfortable and practical, with no need to change when you arrive.

Skin suits are the order of the day. Few CX races last longer than 45 minutes, so anything extra (like pockets) is unnecessary. You’re also on and off the bike and running a lot, so you’ll need clothing that’s not going to ride up or shift around much.

It combines road speed and endurance with MTB handling skills to take you to places you’ve never been before. The distances are long and the terrain can be brutal, so you need clothing that’s very comfortable.

The Fit

Fitted Relaxed Casual or Relaxed Fitted Semi-fitted

The Fabric

Lycra is the most popular material for road cycling clothing. RideDry and polyester materials are popular for mountain biking clothing. RideDry and polyester materials are most comfortable for commuting. Lycra is the most popular material for cyclocross clothing. RideDry and polyester materials are most comfortable for gravel riding.

The Details

 It also helps to have a few well-placed pockets for your necessities (ID, wallet, phone). Be sure your bottoms have a chamois to keep you comfortable for miles in the saddle.  Zippered vents are also a plus. Reinforced material in the inner thighs help your clothing last longer.  Extra built-in pockets helps eliminate a bag or purse.

Reflective elements help you stay visible

 CX is a winter sport, so look for clothing that has a little bit of extra insulation.

For chilly days, try using an embrocation for little bit of extra heat.

 Look for clothing that’s going to be comfortable during long days in the saddle on tough terrain.


Fave Tops

Performance Ultra Jersey Performance Bandit Jersey Performance Sport Heathered Tee Castelli Body Paint 3.3 Skinsuit Castelli La Mones Jersey

Fave Bottoms

Performance Ultra Bib Short Performance Bandit Short Performance Sport Short w/ Liner Castelli La Mones Bib Short

Fave Shoes

Fi’zi:k R5B Shimano SH-ME5 DZR Waterproof  Giro Empire VR90 Giro VR70

Fave Helmets

Giro Synth MIPS Bell Stoker MIPS Performance Life Cycling Helmet Giro Synth MIPS Smith Route MIPS


Performance Sun Sleeve Fox Dirt Paw Glove Performance Hi-Viz Reflective Socks Fox Dirt Paw Glove Performance Dewer Jacket

0 thoughts on “How to Dress for the Ride

  1. This has no useful info. It is poorly written. You call shorts “bottoms”?! The audience most interested in this is probably brand new riders. Would they know what a chamois is? Would a newbie know what embrocation is? The article needs a little more explanation and less advertisement. I’m taking a group of newbies on a ride this weekend. I read this to see if it would be helpful to them if they read it. I won’t be sending them the link. It would not be helpful to them. One more thing. I rode my mountain bike 1,900 miles on singletrack trails last summer. Sometimes I wear loose fitting clothes like the gravity crowd, but usually I wear the same thing I wear while riding my road bike on pavement. Last season I rode 4,000 miles on the road too. And gravel is a different trail surface but it doesn’t require special clothing. One of the main factors that affects whether I wear baggy or Lycra shorts is whether I’ll be mingling with non-cyclist before or after the ride and won’t be able to change into street clothes. I choose baggy when I will want to blend in a bit better. I have some Club Ride brand stuff that is really great to wear for a ride and to blend in afterward. And you always want pockets in your jersey. Whether you will use them or not on a particular ride. Never buy a jersey that doesn’t have pockets.

    1. Dude get over yourself. You’re not the only rider on this planet. Hope you got all your trophies for all your miles ridden. Wow…I’m sure this did help some….if not you then move on.

    2. Hi Jay! Thank you for your feedback and dedication to our sport. We’re sad to hear you won’t be sharing this post with the beginners you know, but hope you keep reading future posts. Best of luck to you and your riding group this weekend.

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