Beginner's Guide to Cycling

Cycling gear for getting started

New to the cycling scene? Welcome to a sport that is at one time exhilarating and calculated, fun-loving and serious, messy and uptight. And with that comes the madness of figuring out what to wear, how to wear it, and when to wear it. From bibs to shorts to jerseys, warmers, and baselayers, it may feel as if the options are endless. And if you’re just dipping your toes into this sport, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune right off the bat. So here’s our short list of must-haves and must-dos.

Choose Bib Shorts

Do purchase bib shorts. There are endless debates on the advantages of cycling shorts versus bib shorts, and for the most part, bibs always come out on top. Because, consequently, when you wear bibs, you won’t come out on top—of the waistband, that is. Bibs are essentially like cycling shorts with soft suspenders, which lessens the chances of chafing, sliding, and awkward love handle spilling.

Pay Attention to Fabrics

Don’t wear cotton. If you’re riding for any amount of time, you’re going to sweat. And when you sweat, your clothing will get wet. Cotton stays wet, which results in uncomfortable chafing and cold conditions for you.
Instead of cotton, purchase a cycling jersey made of a breathable lycra fabric. High quality cycling jerseys wick moisture away, so the sweat evaporates instead of staying on your skin and making you cold.

Wear a Baselayer

Do try a baselayer. Especially in the cold, but really, year-round a baselayer is helpful for wicking moisture away and regulating your body temperature. The best baselayers are made of merino wool, which is naturally anti-bacterial and odor resistant (baselayers can get pretty gross pretty quickly). Wool baselayers are also softer on the skin than polyester blends.

Protect Your Hands

Don’t ride barehanded. If you’re a new cyclist, you’re probably going to have your share of falls. Cycling gloves protect your palms from getting scraped up, because even a minor scrape can keep you off the bike for days.

Dare to Clip In

Do try clipping in. The thought is intimidating—you’re essentially locked into your bike unless you successfully jerk your foot out in the perfect way that doesn’t redistribute your weight too much and make you fall (that is, unless you’ve fallen already because you didn’t clip out in time). But learning to clip in is helpful because it prevents your feet from sliding off your pedals and helps you to put more power into each stroke because you’re able to pull back and up on the pedals.

Still unsure? Give us a call.

We’re happy to talk you through any decisions you’re trying to make. You may also want to check out the Hincapie Cycling Society. Membership to this nationwide club includes immediate access to a network of cyclists, discount codes to leaders in the cycling industry, and invitations to club rides in your area. Club members are always happy to answer any questions and welcome new cyclists into the sport!