Cycling Clothes For Beginners (What To Wear On A Bike Ride)

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Ben Jones

Accessories, Bike Gear Reviews


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When you’re starting off a new sport or leisure activity, it can be hard to know what kind of clothing and gear you need.

You want to get the things you really need to get you going. But you don’t want to buy things that you don’t necessarily need (in the early days). You also don’t really want to be buying pro-level gear if you’re planning on starting with amateur-level riding.

First of all, I’d say that you don’t actually need any special kit to get you started, apart from one thing. That’s a good quality cycling helmet., like this one.

Schwinn Thrasher Lightweight Bicycle Helmet with Dial-Fit Adjustment, Sizes for Adults, Youth, and Children

Go to countries where cycling is in the blood (like the Netherlands) and you’ll see everyone cycling in their normal day clothes.

That being said, there’s plenty of affordable kit that will make your cycling journey much more of a pleasurable experience from the very beginning.

Here’s the quick answer:

We’re going to take a look at these (and more) with the assistance of a friend of mine called Mary. If you’re a long-time reader of Bicycle Volt, then you might well remember Mary. She’s becoming a bit of a regular collaborator in these articles and, today is going to help me demonstrate each of the main pieces of kit that I’d recommend you get when you’re starting cycling.

Shall we take a look?

My Top Recommended Cycling Clothes For Beginners

Okay, everyone say hello to Mary. Together we’ll take a detailed look at each of these pieces of kit, using this handy infographic to demonstrate:

This shows the 6 main locations where you can get yourself some useful cycling clothing, and we’ll go through each of these now.

Best beginner bike helmet

What You Need To Know

The number one priority when you’re out for a bike ride is to finish it in one piece. The best way of doing that is to get yourself a good cycling helmet.

Now, you can get these with all sorts of fancy gadgets, ‘Go Faster’ stripes, and integrated video cameras. But the truth is that you don’t really need any of that to get you on the road safely.

Schwinn Thrasher Lightweight Bicycle Helmet

This helmet from long-time bike manufactuer, Schwinn, is an excellent one and will keep you safe.

Top recommendation

Best budget cycling glasses

What You Need To Know

Whilst these might seem like they’re only needed in sunny weather. Just have a think about the situation when you’re cruising along the road at 10mph and meet a bug flying the other way at 10mph…?


So, yeah, I think they’re super important from the moment you get on the bike and start pedaling.

Pyramex Ztek Safety Glasses

The good news is that these are really good value and there’s loads to choose from. I’ve got a full article about them here, if you want more info. Otherwise grab a pair of my top recommended bike glasses here.

Best budget cycling jersey

What You Need To Know

You can wear whatever you like on your top half, so long as it’s comfy and protects you from whatever the weather is throwing at you. Short-sleeved T shirt in warm conditions (make sure you’ve got sunscreen), all the way up to a rainjacket if there’s a cold wind and rain.

Cycling jackets and jerseys are worthwhile considering as they can offer some advantages over standard gear. But you can start without them.

Advantages include:

  1. They are longer at the back, so that they don’t leave a gap at the top of your shorts as you bend over the handlebars
  2. They tend to be closer-fitting, so they won’t flap about in the breeze
  3. They often have lots of pockets for stashing essentials like drinks, snacks, or a handy multi tool for any quick mid-ride repairs

These are my top recommendations for men’s and women’s jerseys and bike jackets:

Spotti Men’s Cycling Jersey with 3 Rear Pockets

Santic Women’s Full-Zip Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey

Santic Mens Windproof Cycling Jacket

CANARI Women’s Tour Cycling/Biking Jacket

Best budget cycling gloves

What You Need To Know

If you cycled as a kid you’ve probably never forgotten the pain of skinned palms when you fell off your bike? Well, it’s time to show that you’re older and wiser and invest in some hand protection.

Cycling gloves are inexpensive but very very useful. They protect your palms from injury if you happen to take a tumble. And they also keep your hands warm in cold weather, and cushion them if you’re riding on bumpy ground.

GEARONIC Half Finger Cycling Gloves

These are a great pair of cycling gloves that come in both fingerless and full-fingered styles

Best budget cycling shorts

What You Need To Know

Alternative to lycra cycling shorts?

I remember when I first got back into cycling as an adult and I thought, you won’t find me in a pair of those tight, stretchy spandex/lycra shorts.

And, do you know what? I haven’t got myself a pair to this day.

Now, that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with them. It’s just that, for me, I don’t really feel I’ve got the kind of muscular, toned legs and butt that I want to show off in a pair of those.

But proper cycling shorts do have an advantage that everyone from beginners to pro-cyclists appreciates. That’s a thick layer of padding on the seat area. It can make all the difference between an enjoyable bike ride, and an uncomfortable cycle with sore, bruised butt cheeks at the end of it.

There’s a couple of options that you can go with and I’ve found that what works best for me, is either:

  1. A pair of my standard loose-fitting shorts with padded cycle undershorts, or
  2. A pair of baggy style mountain bike shorts with a padded lining sewn into the seat

Both of these options work well and are good value.

Top recommendation

Santic Men’s Loose-Fit Padded Bike Shorts

Great pair of men’s padded shorts with a drawstring waist. Comes in a wide range of sizes:

Cycorld Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts with Removable Liner

Ladies’ shorts with a removable padded inner, so you can also wear them as normal shorts when you’re off the bike.

BALEAF Men’s Padded Cycling Underwear Shorts

Men’s padded under shorts (wear them with a standard pair of comfy shorts).

beroy Womens 3D Gel Padded Underwear

Women’s padded under shorts.

Best budget cycling shoes

What You Need To Know

At the bottom of the list, and at the bottom of you, we get to footwear. There’s some great news here because all you really need is a pair of basic sports socks and a comfy pair of sneakers or trainers.

Intermediate and Pro riders will often buy special shoes that clip onto special bike pedals. These do give advantages (you can pull the pedals up as well as pushing them down, so you use less energy). However, when you’re starting off, you won’t really feel the difference. And anyway, having your feet clipped firmly on to the pedals, can be quite unnerving when you’re feeling a bit wobbly and unsure on the bike as it is.

Top recommendation

Just use a pair of sports socks that don’t rub on your skin and a comfy pair of sneakers/trainers.

READ THIS NEXT Do Padded Bike Shorts Help?

Best budget cycling clothing

When you’re just getting into cycling, there’s only one piece of kit that’s essential. That’s a good quality bike helmet to keep your head safe.

Everything else can be gathered up along the way, as you get more into your new hobby.

That being said, there are a number of items of clothing that can really transform your cycling experience from Day 1. If you have the budget available, then I’d recommend investing in as many of the above as you can. It will really transform the experience for you and let you enjoy the cycling.

Have fun.