What am I going to put on? | Health on the saddle – Selle Italia
What am I going to put on?

What am I going to put on?


The pleasure of a spin on our bike is also dependent on our outfit. Over- or under-dressing can adversely affect the comfort of our bike ride – no more and no less than using a badly fitting saddle.


Each time a cyclist gets ready to go out on his bike, he is assailed by the most crippling doubts: what shall I wear today?

It seems like a pointless question for a sport that is renowned for its minimalist attire, but getting your clothes right is a prerequisite for a pleasant ride, not to mention the repercussions it has on your health if you get it wrong.

All cycling fans know that when summer comes around with its sweltering heat there is no option. Rather there is not much of a choice: either you stay at home or you wear a classic full-zip lightweight jersey next to your skin… one you can open during a climb… you are going to sweat heavily whatever you wear. One possible solution when you get to a higher altitude is to store a lightweight cape in your pocket so you have some protection against the cool air on the way down or against an unexpected summer storm.

In spring and autumn, things become a little more complicated: when there are temperature fluctuations throughout the day, you have to make sure you are properly dressed unless you want to feel uncomfortable.

This means you must not exaggerate in one sense or another. Your goal is to avoid sweating but also to avoid getting cold. So what is new? We hear you say. Well, the fact is finding the right balance is anything but straightforward. There is always going to be a time when we leave that really suitable Gore-Tex jacket at home, or when those long pants we decided to wear turn into a sauna…

What about winter? Well, harsh winters seem to be a thing of the past, even in the Northern countries. So, cycling veterans can ride outdoors all year round without fear of interruption, partially because the climate is milder but also due to the comfortable hi-tech apparel available.


A few words of advice

We do not intend to teach our grandmother to suck eggs, as they say. We are well aware that many of you will be fully acquainted with the clothing issue after years and thousands of kilometres on the road. At any rate, feeling hot or cold is such a personal matter that making any sweeping statements would be pointless, as would any clothing charts organised by temperature range.

But perhaps it might be apt to recall an old adage which is still fitting today: “if you don’t feel slightly cold in the first 5 kilometres, you are wearing too many clothes”.

But here are a few simple tips based on personal experience after many a ride “ruined” by wearing the wrong clothes…


Where shall I put it?

Riding out in the morning dressed to the teeth will mean stripping off during the day, and unless you have an army of servants to carry your bags, that will involve having to stash away what you are no longer wearing – or stuff it into your big rear pockets. So it is safe to say, the less we have to take off, the better. Personally, we acquired a new lease of life when we discovered underwear made from microfibre or Capilene. Marvellous: it is warm when you need it and is perfectly breathable when the temperatures soar. Worn underneath a lightweight or a heavier jersey, or a Windstopper if the weather is cooler, it will transition us through the various seasons.


Peel it off and put it back on

To go back to the previous point, wearing long trousers when you ride outdoors in the chilly air of the morning is fine, but what happens when the temperatures rise at midday? A nightmare.

A grandiose idea is “removable” arm and leg warmers: you slip them on when you leave the house, you peel them off when it gets hot – when you stuff them into your pocket, they take up very little space. Fantastic invention.


Hands and feet

When it gets very cold, you need to keep your hands and feet warm. Personally, we are not very keen on heavy gloves and shoe covers. In our opinion, the sensitivity in your fingers is important whilst riding: excessive padding in gloves could make it tricky to handle brakes and gears, so it is a better idea to go for hi-tech materials – for instance, mountaineering gloves – lightweight but designed for very low temperatures.

The same goes for your lower limbs: a good pair of thermal tights is a better bet than neoprene shoe covers which tend to stop the feet from breathing, creating more discomfort than wellbeing…


2.0 apparel

To close on a lighter note: there is a smartphone App dedicated to those who can never make their minds up. It is called “what to wear cycling”, specially designed to give personal pieces of advice on how to dress based on the type of outing, conditions and local weather forecast. A bit like mummy laying out our clothes on the bed for school. If you want to try it, we take no responsibility.




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