Cycling is a sport which offers great fitness, competition, enjoyment and stress relief. However, in order to gain the most out of your cycling it is important to invest in the proper equipment and cycling clothing. It is also very important that your bicycle is set up correctly for you.
Lets run through a list of cycling apparel as a sort of checklist by which you can ensure that you get the most from your cycling. Of course you need a bicycle, and then a helmet, glasses, cycling jersey, padded cycling shorts, gloves, cycling shoes and socks.
When purchasing a bicycle, the first thing you should look at is whether the frame is the right size for you. The size depends upon your height, but also on the length of your upper body. These two factors will determine the height of the frame’s seat tube as well as the length of the top tube. Different frame builders often use different angles, resulting in variations in frame proportions. It is best for an expert to assist you personally in ascertaining the correct frame size.
Next you need to make sure that the saddle height is correct, usually allowing for 25 – 30 degrees of bend in the leg when the foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Here again it is advisable that an expert assist you. Other adjustable settings include the length of the stem, the angle of the saddle (which is usually set parallel to the ground) and the fore-aft position of the saddle as it slides on its rails. Once you are fitted properly to your bicycle you can concentrate on kitting yourself out in cycling clothing.
Cycling jerseys (shirts) are made of breathable material and fit snugly so as not to flap around in the wind. On the front the jersey has a zip and at the back it has three pockets in which you can put your spare tube, pump, keys or other items. Cycling shorts made of Lycra and are padded to give more comfort on the saddle. There are cycling shorts with drawstrings around the waist, but many prefer “bib-shorts”, which come with straps which run over your shoulders to hold up the shorts. Cycling shorts fit tightly to reduce wind drag.
There are many cycling helmets on the market these days, many of which are highly adjustable. Look for an indication of whether the helmet of your choice meets the standard of the testing authority. A bicycle shop will be able to guide you in your choice, and will probably not sell a helmet which does not comply with safety standards. Make sure that the helmet is adjusted in such a way that it fits comfortably, yet firmly on your head.
A good pair of sports, or cycling glasses, will protect your eyes from both the sun and any insects or other objects which may fly into your eyes while you are cycling. Look for a pair that fit comfortably, provide adequate protection from the wind and give the required UV protection.
For added comfort on the handle bars, try a pair of cycling gloves, these fingerless leather palm padded gloves will also protect your hands should you come a cropper. Then all you need is a pair of ankle high cycling socks and a decent pair of stiff soled cycling shoes. The shoes should have a firm sole in order to reduce the amount of energy lost in the pedal stroke. If your sole is too soft, and your foot bends around the pedal, you are effectively wasting much of the energy your legs are working so hard to transmit into forward motion.
Cycling becomes much more enjoyable when you are able to ride comfortably and safely with the correct cycling gear. As a better prepared cyclist you will be more efficient in your cycling and get much more out of it.
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