You may have the chicest gym gear around, but if you want to get into regular cycling, that sadly won’t be enough. You’ll need specialist women’s cycling kit, from jerseys and shorts to helmets to shoes.
As women, it can be tricky to find cycling clothing that works for us. After all, one size does not fit all.
Bonnie Tu – one of the most influential women in the bike industry – is the founder of LIV, a dedicated cycling brand for women, led entirely by a team of women.
Tu, who is keen for every woman to get on two wheels, says: “It’s only a female cyclist who knows the needs of the female cyclist. What is painful? What makes us uncomfortable or relaxed? This knowledge needs to come from personal experience, so the gear has got to be designed by women.”
TRAIN for HER teamed up with LIV to explore the different types of women’s cycling kit and what the company has to offer to help women discover new possibilities through the sport.
Cycling shorts are undoubtedly an absolute staple of any cyclist’s wardrobe. By finding a good pair of women’s padded cycling shorts that work for you, you can last longer on a bike and avoid discomfort.
The vital ingredients are quality chamois and stretchy, quick-drying fabric. Flat seams are also needed so they don’t dig in and chafe.
Bib shorts – essentially the Lycra equivalent of dungarees – offer the best level of comfort and don’t ride up, but if you’re looking for just a pair of waist shorts, find some with a high, wide waistband. Definitely invest in several pairs – you’ll want to wash them after every ride and, if they are different lengths, you can (hopefully) avoid a bad tan line.
Of course, in winter weather, tights offer greater coverage and warmth as it’s your legs that bear the brunt of the cold. Cycling tights are particularly useful when splashing through puddles in wet weather, too.
These bib shorts feature a slightly higher waist than a regular short and are highly elastic, so can be washed frequently without compromising the fit.
The chamois is designed especially for women (proven and tested by the pros) with a special microfiber fabric that guarantees adequate moisture control and hygiene. The bib strap design is also women-specific and will keep you chafe and adjustment free during your ride.
Friction and overheating are eliminated, too, thanks to strategically placed flatlock seams and stretch thread which accompanies the movements of the body.
Designed with floral graphics against rich black, the fabric here has a lightweight, silky feel while providing optimal compression. Like the Neptune Bibshort, these boast flat seams and stretch thread and a women-specific chamois.
Moreover, they’re very elastic and the wide waistband adds comfort that won’t bunch up as you ride.
Flara Women’s Weather Proof Tights
Essential for the all-weather cyclist, these high grip waistband tights are constructed from windproof, water resistant and thermally insulating fabric to keep you warm and dry. Plus, the women-specific chamois will keep you comfortable.
Six-inch grippers secure at the ankle for easy removal without the added clutter and hassle of stirrups. Reflective detailing offers increased visibility in low light conditions.
Jerseys differ from normal tops in that they are cut with a slightly shorter front and longer back. This means they won’t ride up at the back and expose your skin and will prevent excess material bunching up around your middle.
Storage is really useful, especially if you’re riding in the heat and need to keep up your nutrition, so do invest in a jersey with enough pockets to store energy bars and gels, as well as other essentials.
Most women’s cycling jerseys use a zip closure that comes in different lengths. Full-length zips are great in hot weather as you can open them up to let a breeze in, but they do tend to be more expensive.
Remember, though, unlike with bib shorts, it isn’t necessary to blow your budget with jerseys; cheaper ones will still do the job.
Neptuna Short Sleeve Jersey
Ideal for hot weather rides, the fabric of this jersey wicks moisture, dries quickly and has high-visibility reflective accents. The full-length front zipper makes it easy to take off and on.
It also boasts three rear pockets so has plenty of room to stash snacks, tools and other necessities.
Terra Women’s Long Sleeve Jersey
This jersey has long sleeves for cooler rides. With a full-length zipper, three rear pockets and reflective accents it’s a low profile yet practical jersey.
Zorya Wind Jacket
Easy to pack away in a pocket, this lightweight, windproof women’s cycling jacket provides a comfortable and fitted look that isn’t too tight. It features a full-length front zipper and highly reflective graphics to keep you more visible in low-light.
Helmets are not up for negotiation – you need to wear one. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and styles but they all serve to save lives.
Nowadays, helmets for road riders are lightweight and have a vacuum formed plastic cover in-molded to a polystyrene shell.
What’s more, rather than just being secured with straps, today’s helmets tend to have an additional retention system which can be adjusted to fine-tune the fit. For this, look for something that can easily be adjusted with one hand while you’re on the move.
Modern helmets also boast MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System). This technology allows the helmet shell to rotate relative to the liner and better absorb force during impact.
It’s best to avoid ordering a helmet on the internet; instead, head to a store and physically try on a selection and be sure to ask for advice. You want a helmet that has a snug but not-too-tight fit all round, with no pressure points at the edges. A woman’s specific helmet is great for ladies with long hair.
Rev (MIPS) Womens Road Helmet
This helmet offers flawless protection thanks to the five outer in-mold microshells which combine with a single, continuous internal shell to provide all-in-one construction for maximum structural integrity.
It features effective ventilation and evaporative and bacteria-inhibiting helmet padding. The locking cam buckles keep the webbing anchored securely. Final plus point: it’s protected for 12 months by Liv’s Helmet Crash Replacement Service
If you’re looking to get serious about cycling, you’ll need to ditch the trainers.
Using ‘Clip-less’ or ‘Clip-in’ technology, cycling shoes have a ‘cleat’ underneath that clips into the pedals. This results in increased efficiency and speed as you use the whole pedal stroke to your advantage – pulling up on the pedals as well as down.
Cycling shoes tend to have thinner soles that flex less as you pedal – resulting in better power transfer to the pedals – and have buckles, straps or similar closure systems which prevent your foot from slipping.
When buying your shoes, make sure they’re compatible with your pedal choice.
Macha Women’s Carbon Road Shoes
Lightweight and durable, these offer a stiff and highly efficient pedaling platform combined with just enough torsional flex to allow natural foot, ankle and knee movements during the pedal stroke for supreme comfort during power transfer.
The easy-to-use knobs let you dial in the perfect fit without the added weight and hassles of other closure systems. A microfiber synthetic upper offers superior support at an extremely low weight while conforming to virtually every foot type.
Gloves will offer you additional grip and protection – be it sweaty, slippy hands in summer or cold, stiff hands in winter.
Choose yours depending on the weather conditions you intend to ride in. Either way, you want them to be breathable and wicking.
Zorya Long Finger Gloves
These gloves energize your next low-light ride with dazzling, reflective designs so you can stay protected and visible. With a reinforced leather palm and an elastic stretch back, these stylish yet sophisticated long finger gloves are the perfect accessory for colder rides.
Race Day Women’s Short Finger Gloves
Constructed using lightweight and breathable fabric, these feature a reinforced palm with four-way stretch back and a longer elasticated cuff for comfort.
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