Cycling Equipment: A Complete Guide to Accessories

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When it comes to cycling, the difference is in details. This saying is perfectly valid. You may have the basic cycling gear, namely a pair of pants, a jersey, a helmet and the cycling shoes, but there still are some accessories which, you’ll discover, are more than useful. So let’s take a closer look at them and discover them together.

Arm and leg warmers

Although you may think they were invented just to make you spend some extra-cash, these two accessories are in fact very useful. The best example is when you ride in springtime, the weather is capricious, it’s either too cold or too warm and you may find it hard to decide what to wear, so that you won’t freeze your bones, neither sweat like a horse. This is where arm warmers (a) and leg warmers (b) come into play because you can put them on at the start of your ride, and as it gets warmer (if it gets warmer…),  you can take them off and store them in the back pockets of your cycling jersey. Or why not take them in your pockets and put them on if it gets cold, as it’s easy to quickly pull them on your arms or legs. Actually, arm and leg warmers are the best compromise between long and short equipment.

There are several types of warmers, they may be thicker or thinner, more or less waterproof, and so you can choose them depending on your needs.

Base layer

Though often overlooked, what you choose to wear beneath the cycling jersey is also important. Obviously, all the equipment you wear is important and its different layers have different roles. Basically, there are 3 layers of equipment. First, the base layer removes moisture, the second layer or middle layer provides thermal body insulation while the third and outer layer protects the rider from the elements. Of course, these 3 layers are worn by cyclist only when weather dictates it, however, a base layer is necessary regardless of how cold or hot the external environment is.

Base layer is what comes directly on to the skin. If you wear a cycling jersey on to the skin, it doesn’t mean that you are wearing a base layer and we don’t recommend it. The purpose of this first layer is to remove moisture. Body temperature slightly increases with the effort, so that the body begins to sweat. The sweat that remains trapped between the skin and the jersey must be removed, or else you will feel cold and wet, and this exactly what the base layer does: it evaporates perspiration. Base layers are made of moisture wicking fabrics, transferring it to upper layer, where it is absorbed or eliminated.

The reason why the term of “base layer” is being used for this piece of equipment is because it is something more than an undervest, as it can be of several kinds: with long or short sleeves, or with no sleeves at all, made from high or low density fabrics, or even coming in form of a mesh (pictured right).

Cycling eyewear

Do you really need a pair of cycling glasses? Yes, because you should be able to clearly see the road ahead you when riding a bike. We know it almost sound too obvious, but if you ever rode a bicycle in rain, when the sun was shining, or pedaled along a dusty road with many insects, then you know how hard it can be sometimes to clearly see the road that lies ahead.

Now, could someone wear their usual pair of sunglasses on the bike? Of course they could, but you won’t benefit from the many advantages cycling glasses have to offer. First of all, they are very comfortable and sit very well on your face, so that nothing can reach your eyes. Then, cycling glasses come with high quality lens (of course, depending on model) and have different colors, each suited to a particular type of weather. Light colored lenses are for rainy weather, transparent lenses for normal light while dark lenses protect your eyes from strong sun. However, a pair of good quality cycling glasses will have its price, but we think they are important as the eyes are not the strongest organs of our body.

Shoe covers

Indeed, this accessory is designed for the protection of the cycling shoe rather than the foot itself. The situation changes in case of winter covers, made of insulating fabrics, such as neoprene, protecting your feet in cold weather. Otherwise, shoe covers are very useful in case of rain, because waterproof ones prevent water from entering the shoes and damaging them while thin ones protect them from sand. Let’s not forget their cool look, also appreciated by riders.

Cycling socks

Basically, they have the same importance for the foot as the base layer has for the thorax. If moisture is not removed from the foot, rashes and blisters may appear on the soles, and bacteria will find a good place to multiply in this area.

There are two main types of fabrics socks are made from. There are socks wicking moisture to the upper layer to be removed and socks that absorb moisture. The latter are recommended to be worn only if you have a pair of cycling shoes with very good ventilation.

Cycling caps

Often mistaken with children headwear, cycling caps are made of a cotton absorbing sweat and evaporate it quite very well. The peak is specifically designed not to obstruct your view. Either way, you have to admit that these caps are a nice accessory, to be worn with or without a helmet, or, why not, when you go to the beach!

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