In cycling one of the most stressed parts of the body is the groin, and this makes it essential to use appropriate shorts when getting on the bicycle. These shorts are equipped with a special padding, called pad , which serves to protect the cyclist's perineal and ischial areas; usually the pad is made of special materials such as gels or synthetic foams. For example, Poron is highly appreciated by professionals and those who spend a lot of time riding a bicycle, a material ( microcellular polyurethane ) that is very resistant to impacts and is also used for rugby players' protections and in other contact sports. Protection in contact with the saddle is essential to protect the cyclist's health, but it is also important with regards to his performance. In fact, when you feel discomfort, discomfort or pain, your movements tend to become disordered and require greater energy consumption and a waste of strength. There are shorts for cyclists of different models, lengths and suitable for cyclists of both sexes. Furthermore, these items of clothing are made specifically for the different disciplines: road cycling, mountain biking, amateur practice, etc. The choice of the shorts best suited to your needs must also be based on comfort and the degree of protection required. It is always a good idea to choose shorts with excellent breathability, which allow sweat to move away and therefore avoid the formation of bad odors and skin irritation. For example, some special microfibres containing silver, a substance with an antibacterial action that improves comfort for the skin, are excellent. The caseback, for obvious reasons, must also be free of any seams or folds.
The jerseys used in cycling are made of light and breathable material, and are quite close to the body; there are long or short sleeved t-shirts. Among the most used technical materials there is Lycra, which guarantees breathability and elasticity to the shirt; Cotton should be avoided as it tends to absorb sweat and remain wet for a long time. It is important that the cycling jersey fits perfectly to the body; depending on the season, you can wear another thermal garment (for example fleece) or a jacket over the shirt to protect yourself from the wind. When it is cold it is important to prefer "onion" clothing, made up of several overlapping layers: in fact, the rule applies that it is always better to modulate what you wear in many layers, rather than resorting to a single very heavy shirt. Under the technical shirt it is advisable to always wear a top or tank top made of breathable material, which allows the skin to always remain dry even when you sweat a lot. This is obviously indispensable, especially when tackling descents, which can "freeze" the sweat on the cyclist's back and expose him to pain or ailments in the following days. Furthermore, when it is cold, particular attention must be paid to the joints between one item of clothing and another, especially at the neck, wrists or ankles. Small drafts felt in these crucial areas can in fact be very annoying and undermine the comfort of the technical clothing worn.
Gloves are essential accessories for the cyclist, and especially for those who dedicate themselves to mountain biking or cross-country. In winter, thermal gloves are worn, usually in neoprene, which keep the heat inside but do not prevent the skin from breathing. In summer you can use full, light gloves or half gloves that leave the fingers exposed. Regardless of the shape of the gloves, they must have a good grip on the handlebars and guarantee maximum sensitivity even in case of rain. Furthermore, wearing gloves gives you extra protection for your hands in the event of a fall, without forgetting that these can also be used to clean sweat from your face from time to time. Good quality cycling gloves are also equipped with a soft insert in the palm, which allows the vibrations transmitted by the handlebars to be dampened. Thanks to gloves it is also possible to avoid the formation of unpleasant calluses on the palm of the hand.
While common trainers may be fine for beginner cyclists, as long as they have a fairly rigid sole, suitable shoes are essential for those who practice cycling as a sport. Road cycling shoes are low, made with very light materials and equipped with a pedal attachment. Thanks to this system it is possible to pedal in a harmonious (or "round", as they say in jargon) way, optimally transmitting the power of the muscles to the pedals. In the event of a fall or emergency, this attachment system is designed to release quickly. Shoes used for mountain biking and off-road cycling are stiffer and heavier, and usually have a high collar that protects the foot in the event of a fall. Even more aggressive are the shoes made for those who practice cyclocross, rigid and equipped with a good tread that allows, if necessary, to get off the bike and run. The shoes must be made of breathable materials and, at the same time, protect from the cold (in winter) and rain (in all seasons). Lace closures have now been practically replaced by more precise closure systems such as, for example, Velcro or the micrometric ratchet closure (based on ratchet levers). Especially when it is cold, neoprene shoe covers to wear over footwear are very useful, and allow for better thermal comfort even at low temperatures (0-10°C).
Helmet and capes
When riding a bicycle it is essential to wear a helmet that can protect your head in case of accidental falls. On the market it is possible to find many models of bicycle helmets, suitable for different disciplines. For those who practice road cycling, helmets are made with very light materials, and have a distinctly aerodynamic "banded" shape which also allows for optimal breathability. For disciplines such as mountain biking or cross-country, there are specific helmets, more robust and enveloping, which are often equipped with a chin guard and visor. Even if the days appear beautiful and sunny, when cycling it is always good to have a cape with you to protect yourself from the rain. These capes are light and easily foldable, therefore their bulk is minimal, but their usefulness is indisputable not only when it rains but also when you have to face downhill slopes. Excellent fabrics for capes are for example:
- Gore-tex® : material that is impermeable to water, but which allows the skin to breathe and avoids the formation of condensation;
- Windtex : it is a particular thermoregulatory membrane that maintains the ideal microclimate between the skin and the fabric;
- Respira Membranes : windproof fabric that allows the skin to breathe;
- Windstopper : membranes that offer shelter from the wind while allowing maximum breathability. They are especially useful when it's cold.
Cycling clothing prices
The price range regarding cycling clothing is quite wide, since on the market you can find from low-end products (excellent for amateurs or occasional cyclists) to more technical ones for professionals. Here, in general, are the prices you should take into account to purchase cycling clothing and accessories:
- shorts : prices for good quality and properly padded shorts start from 25-30 euros, up to around 60-80;
- technical shirts : the minimum cost for a well-made shirt is around 50 euros, which can easily exceed 100 when purchasing shirts from famous brands or with a high technical content;
- gloves : a pair of light summer gloves usually costs no more than 15-25 euros. The case of winter ones is different, the prices of which can even reach 50-60 euros;
- shoes : they are decidedly expensive accessories, especially if of a medium-high level. For a pair of good shoes you have to take into account an expense of at least 80-120 euros, while for models dedicated to professionals it is not uncommon for prices to well exceed 250-300 euros;
- helmet : a basic model costs no more than 30-50 euros, while those intended for professionals have much higher prices (even 120-160 euros);
- capes : to purchase this accessory you usually don't spend more than 15-35 euros.
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