Cycling Gear: Safety, Helmets, And Clothing

The right equipment can make all the difference when cycling, both for comfort and safety.

A well-prepared cyclist should have a range of clothing and protective equipment, including a helmet, cycling shorts, absorbent shirt, and cycling shoes. Designed for maximum comfort as well as improved safety, the right cycling clothing is not just a matter of style, it's a matter of well-being.

Helmet: By far the most important article of protective equipment for a cyclist is a helmet. In most states, cycling without a helmet is illegal, and in any case, it is not a good idea. Cycling helmets are designed to protect the wearer in case of accident. Most are designed for a normal-sized person falling from a height of one meter on to a hard surface like a curb. In the process of guarding against a fall, the helmets are partially crushed or destroyed, and thus cannot be used multiple times. If a helmet has taken a heavy blow, even if it does not appear to be damaged, it should probably be replaced.

Today's helmets are made out of dense plastic and foam, and guard against a blow by distributing the pressure along a greater surface area. For this reason, choosing the right size helmet is important, not only for comfort, but for safety. In order to perform properly, a helmet has to fit snugly and securely against the wearer's head, touching on all sides. The chin strap and other straps can be adjusted to ensure a tight fit, and to keep the helmet from falling off in case of a fall. If you do not strap your helmet on, it will come off, and it will not protect you at all.

Cycling Jersey: Most cycling jerseys are made out of synthetic materials and fibers, and are designed to absorb sweat and moisture and keep it away from the cyclist's skin. In the process, they help keep the cyclist warm and dry, increasing comfort and allowing longer trips with greater comfort. The shirts also come with a neck zipper, allowing the rider to adjust the amount of breathability and temperature.

Many cycling jerseys also come with large pockets to hold snacks or water bottles when on the road, allowing the long-distance cyclist to carry all necessary supplies with them on the ride. In addition, most offer increased safety, in the form of highly reflective patches and tape, which show up bright against a car's headlights. This can greatly improve a cyclist's visibility for passing cars at night and can help keep a rider safe.

Cycling Shorts: Spandex bike shorts are made with extra padding in the rear for maximum comfort on long rides. Also made to absorb moisture and conserve warmth, a good pair of cycling shorts can greatly improve a cyclist's performance and health. Highly elastic and expandable, cycling shorts are meant to be tight on the wearer, decreasing the amount of movement of the fabric and eliminating any chafing or rubbing that might occur with constant leg movement. Though short to expose the legs and give them total freedom of movement, the shorts also help conserve body heat and maintain the cyclist's temperature, even in cold weather.

Cycling shoes: For the avid rider, a pair of cycling shoes may be the final addition to their cycling costume and can greatly increase a rider's leg power. Tight-fitting, with a durable outer layer, the shoes concentrate the power of a cyclist's foot on the pedal, giving the cyclist more grip and leverage for powering up hills or on steep inclines. Other shoes have built-in clips, which clip onto special bike pedals and secure the cyclist's feet to the bike. This improves power, allowing a cyclist to both push down on the pedal and pull up. This allows a cyclist to relax and forget about the pedals on long stretches.

© High Speed Ventures 2011