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Newbie Needs Clothing and Safety Help -- Be Kind!(28 posts)

Newbie Needs Clothing and Safety Help -- Be Kind!Terrapin
Aug 2, 2002 7:49 AM
I'm a new rider who just bought a road bike, a Giant OCR2, which seemed like a decent value according to these forums and reviews, and it's fun to ride.

I need advice on clothing. What are some good brands and models of jerseys, shoes, shorts, and helmets (I heard Giro was good, I have a ski helmet from them). I'm 6'1, 200

I'd like clothing that is not too expensive (I don't think I can justify the cost as a new rider), but seems like a good value.

What should I get to be safe on the road? Reflection tape? A vest? What works best?

Anything I should absolutely get, or avoid?

Any advice?

One thing to absolutely avoid....No_sprint
Aug 2, 2002 7:54 AM

Giro helmets are great. I've got 3. Jerseys? Castelli. Shorts? Castelli. Voler is the best bang for your buck in my opinion though. Shoes? I'm 100% Sidi. Reflection tape? What's that?

Keep it upright!
reflective tape is...Steve_0
Aug 2, 2002 7:59 AM
the stuff on my shoes and helmet.
Wouldnt ride w/out it at night. And too many day-rides turn into night-rides for me, so it's always there.

Other things to avoid...

feeling as though you HAVE to get dressed to go bicycling. Wear what you own for now (perhaps get a single pair of bike shorts for now if you backside is tender). As your skills and desires progress, you'll know what you need and/or want.
Avoid: tube socks, white shortsrollo tommassi
Aug 2, 2002 8:02 AM
Agree about Voler, Castellli great too if a bit expensive.
Ah yes, grease is blackTerrapin
Aug 2, 2002 8:12 AM
Agree about the tube socks and shorts.

I'm thinking of going with the polypro t-shirt I wear under my ski shell as a jersey for now.
Those Garneau waffle pattern shorts...Alex-in-Evanston
Aug 2, 2002 8:18 AM
That so many Alberto's guys wear - are quite see-through. Should I tell these guys that they're flashing their crack? What's the protocol here?

Alex, you're riding TOO close!!rollo tommassi
Aug 2, 2002 11:13 AM
I haven't noticed this.....will you point this out for me?
Whoa, whoa... we're supposed to AVOID tube socks? nmempacher6seat
Aug 2, 2002 7:10 PM
Start w/shorts, shoes and gloves (you have a helmet, right?)cory
Aug 2, 2002 8:05 AM
Most important for comfort and endurance is to take care of your contact points with the bike. I'd say get shorts first, then shoes, then gloves (although gloves can really save your hands in a fall, so you might consider them safety equipment along with the helmet).
Most people don't use reflective clothing, though it makes a lot of sense. I sometimes wear a bright reflective vest, like a highway worker's, if I'm touring on a busy road or likely to be out at dusk. The continuing craze for black clothing (tights, shorts, jackets) strikes me as just plain stupid--I wear the brightest stuff I can find, to be visible.
A good source of reasonably priced, reasonable quality clothing is Bike Nashbar, a mail order place ( Performance Bicycle Shop is another (, but they bought Nashbar recently and the difference seems to be diminishing. Nashbar seems to ship quicker--I've waited weeks for Performance orders.
Personally, I don't like lycra shorts and superhero team jerseys, and usually ride in mountain bike baggies and a T-shirt. You'll have to spend a little money on the shorts--at least $40-$50--but they're frequently on sale. sometimes sells Coolmax T-shirts in bright colors for less than $10. They wick better than cotton, and I wear them a lot. Size shouldn't be a big problem in anything. I'm 6'4" and 225, and I can usually find things to fit.
You can spend anywhere from $30 to $200 on a helmet, and I dunno. I usually buy a mid-range Bell or Giro on sale (prices go way down when the new models come out), in the $50-$70 range, and get a new one every couple of years.
There's a lot of hype about mountain bike helmets, clothing etc. vs. road bike equipment, but most of it is just marketing. I wear the same clothes and sometimes the same shoes for both. Works fine. Get the catalogs from Performance and Nashbar, and also, cruise around a couple of bike shops,and you'll get an idea what you need.
Cheapest prices: nmmorrison
Aug 2, 2002 8:12 AM
To getsEager Beagle
Aug 2, 2002 8:07 AM
Stuff that fits - shorts not too tight - decent pad - shirt not too loose - not blowing in the wind behind you.

Glases always - a stone in the eye from a vehicle tyre really runis your day.

Gloves - fall off without them (sooner or later!) and you'll wish you hadn't.

Depending on where you live, waterproof (preferably breatheable) that you can stow in a back pocket/waterbottle cage/in a saddle bag.

If where you are is cold, get the summer stuff, then some long trousers to go over, and a warm full-zip jacket. Full-finger gloves, and mebbe overshoes (I like them, many don't) and thermal socks. I also like gilletts for cool rides - keeps your body warm, but not too restrictive.

Hope that helps.
re: Newbie Needs Clothing and Safety Help -- Be Kind!MJ
Aug 2, 2002 8:13 AM
your best bet is to go to your local bike store (LBS) and check out what they have and ask lots of questions - though you may find better prices for the same kit on the net - I would be wary of buying first time shoes on the net

proper riding gear is helpful for enjoying riding - regulating temperature/sweat and avoiding chafing are all concerns for anything more than recreational rides

the first thing you must have is a helmet - it may save your life - even on recreational rides you should always wear a helmet - lots of brands - cost is associated with vents and snobbery - your brain is very important...

next gloves - helpful for sweat and good in case you fall (everyone falls) -and for colder temperature (full finger if cold)

lycra cycling shorts - your nether regions will thank you that you didn't spend 20 miles on a crease in loose shorts -padding inserts sewn into shorts make things more comfortable

jersey - the last step - avoid bright day glo and get a plain one colour jersey if you're concerned about looking like an idiot - will wick sweat away and keep you warm/cool - dries quickly (try that with cotton!)

shoes - the final step - cycling shoes and clip in pedals pedals - what pedals came with your bike? riding shoes help distribute weight, avoid numb feet/toes and dry out quicker than your expensive runing shoes (which aren't good to ride in anyways) - clip in pedals make you one with the machine though it is an acquired taste - one which once acquired you'll find difficult to ride again any other way

to the initiated and uninitiated alike cycling clothes are bad fashion - but there's a reason why cyclists wear them - they're immensely practical for sitting on a bike all day sweating/freezing - cycling specific clothes are also great because you don't have to worry about getting them dirty with road muck/oil/etc. - they are for getting dirty - road gunk doesn't come out of normal clothes...

brands - lots to choose from - Pearl Izumi is a standard benchmark, Giro, Assos, Nalini... - see what's on offer and ask why it's better than something else

visibility is absolutely necessary for night riding - the better you're seen the less likely you are to get hit - I'd reccomend lights rather than reflectors - but there's lots of night riding strategy which you can post about if you want specifics - I don't think there's anything critical for daytime rides in the visibility department

does that help?
Beg to differ on one point: Day ride requires visibility . . .morrison
Aug 2, 2002 8:19 AM
when it's cloudy, sunrise, dusk. Blue and grey jerseys get lost on the horizon. Otherwise, good advice.
Er, Day-Glo sounds d*** good to me!Terrapin
Aug 2, 2002 8:31 AM
I don't care if I look like a dork, day-glo sounds like a good idea to me. I think once I put on the helmet, we're only talking about degrees of "dorkiness" from then on, anyways.

I used to tour around Nova Scotia years and years ago, and I still have nightmares about logging trucks, so I'm thinking of getting as bright as possible. Do they make an electric neon jersey? ;-)
Somewhat contrary opinion about safety.Spoke Wrench
Aug 2, 2002 8:36 AM
I think there are two quite different types of drivers that we need to defend against.

The first are the inattentive. Everybody has opinions about protecting against them. Certainly lights after dark are appropriate and necessary.

The second are the assaulters. I think that the majority of those people who pass you too closely are trying to scare you. That's assault. When you go too far with the reflective vests, safety flags, winky blinky taillights and the like, you identify yourself to them as a bike rider who can be easily intimidated. Using too much safety stuff is unsafe. You make yourself a target.

I think that you need to stand out, but you don't want to stand out too much. I think that you need to assert yourself like you know what you are doing but without being too assertive. You need to look like you belong in the environment you are riding in without blending in too much.
That's real interesting, Spoke WrenchTerrapin
Aug 2, 2002 8:43 AM
I'll think about that.

I can't imagine why anyone would WANT to "assault" a cyclist. I've yet to see a cylist even make eye contact with a driver.
That's real interesting, Spoke Wrenchdave woof
Aug 2, 2002 9:34 AM
Well, it's pretty difficult making eye contact with drivers. Tinted windows, angles, and reflections make it hard. I check blinkers, the angle of their tires on the road, how far they are out into the corner, if they're inching forward, etc. Tells me more than eye contact. Sorry if off topic.

Check www.pacesporstware.comGiant50m
Aug 2, 2002 8:45 AM
Check this website out. Greate clothing, fits well, durable and affordable. If you see something you like e-mail me, I'll give you a good price.
start with GOOD shorts and a plain color jerseyColnagoFE
Aug 2, 2002 8:53 AM
probably need some cycling socksd too. any helmet is good. you pay more for the style and venting, but all are safe. check out performance. they have good stuff for those just starting out. i'd recommend the ELITE series of shorts.
couldn't agree moreyeah right
Aug 2, 2002 9:22 AM
this advice is basic but good. performance, performance, performance. spend $50 on elite bibs or shorts (still what i ride) and start off with their plain colored, usually on sale for $20 jerseys. perrrrrfect. you may find jerseys you like more later, but this is good to start out. imo anyone who says ride in t-shirts is not your friend, but then again i sweat more than average. don't spend $70 on a jersey to start out with though. if you don't have a helmet already, spend a little more than you think you should, get one with really good ventiliation. get a pair of defeet socks, and try on a few pairs of shoes. after you ride your first 1000 miles make adjustments in your clothing and see what you like.
Performance's basic jerseys are yuckyMelMo
Aug 2, 2002 1:39 PM
I'm a cheapskate, but Performance's basic Coolmax jerseys are too gross even for my low standards. They retain odors like nothing I've ever encountered, and they are kind of itchy. I don't mind it so much in the winter when I'm always wearing an extra layer under it, but for summer, it's worth the $5-$10 extra bucks to buy at least the Coolmax Alta jerseys. I also like Zoic jerseys, which can usually be found on sale for pretty reasonable prices and are pretty comfy (they come in more subdued/tasteful colors than many other jerseys).

Just my .02
interesting...yeah right
Aug 2, 2002 1:47 PM
never had a problem with the itching at all, i think most are pretty soft compaired to team kits. agree on the alta, it's nice. i haven't had problems with smell either, especially not retaining smell. i handwash in woolite fwiw. i would think as a fabric, coolmax is coolmax and would behave the same interms of smell etc., but maybe i'm wrong, any way, no complaints.
Arm WarmersMe Dot Org
Aug 2, 2002 9:14 AM
Where I ride the temperature is often halfway between an jacket and short sleeves. The solution: Arm Warmers. A pair will cost you around $20 (I use DeFeet).

Good things about arm warmers:

1. You don't have to buy long sleeve jerseys. (At least not to start). All your jerseys are now long sleeve optional. To use a military term, arm warmers are 'force multipliers'.

2. Arm warmers are less cumbersome and more aerodynamic than a jacket.

3. If you warm up on your ride, just peel them off and put them in your jersey's back pocket.

I use black warmers, since they go with most everything and don't show dirt.
re: Newbie Needs Clothing and Safety Help -- Be Kind!tarwheel
Aug 2, 2002 9:17 AM
The hardest part of buying cycling clothing is finding stuff that fits. Most of the European brands are sized way smaller than American brands. A couple good places to start are Voler ( and Performance ( both have excellent return policies if you buy something that doesn't fit. Voler has very reasonable prices and good sizing guidelines posted on their website. With every order they include a postage paid envelope if you need to return or exchange something. Performance has a wide range of jerseys and shorts and always has stuff on sale. If you join thie Team Performance, they give you 10% credit with every purchase -- which adds up over time. I have gotten a "free" jersey and helmet with Team points I accumulated over the past year. Performance also has one of the best return policies in the business, which is one reason (in addition to price and selection) why I buy most of my clothes there rather than local shops. Basically, you can return anything to Performance if you keep the receipt and haven't trashed it. I once bought a jacket there that was too large and returned it for full credit over a year later.

Like you, I prefer brightly colored jerseys. I rarely ever buy a jersey that doesn't have a lot of red, yellow or orange in it. Spoke Wrench's theory sounds intriguing but I guess I trust human nature more than him. I don't believe there are many drivers out there who really intend to hit cyclists. Visibility (on inattentiveness) is the big problem and anything that can make you more visible is safer in my book. I've been cycling for 30 years and have never been hit by a car, and I nearly always wear brightly colored jerseys. I suspect that a lot of cyclists who get hit are wearing grey, black or blue jerseys.
My progression . . . avoid cottonms
Aug 2, 2002 10:27 AM
When I started riding, I reluctantly bought bike shorts after a few rides with baggy shorts and regular underwear. I started out cheap and now am addicted to top of the line bibs. If you buy anything that is bike-specific, buy a good pair of cycling shorts -- your bottom parts will thank you if you do and punish you if you don't.

I thought that cycling jerseys were ridiculous (and way too expensive). I wore cotton t-shirts for the first summer that I rode. After a few miles the back of the shirt was as wet as if I had been sprayed with a hose. Also, I always had problems fitting things, like my wallet, spare tube, energy bars, into the small bag under my saddle. My wife bought me a cycling jersey for my birthday that year and I never wore a cotton t-shirt again. Cycling jerseys may look strange to the unititiated, but they are very practical and comfortable. And, cotton absorbs perspiration rather than wicking it away.

Next came shoe and clipless pedals ...

I will spare you all of my purchases, but some final words of advice: (1) buy the best quality that you can afford -- it will work better and last longer than the cheap stuff; (2) check out the stuff at your LBS and ask lots of questions; (3) ask other riders what they like; (4) don't worry about how strange you will look in tight shorts and a gaudy bike jersey -- with a helmet on your head and sunglasses on your nose your friends and neighbors will not recognize you.
re: Newbie Needs Clothing and Safety Help -- Be Kind!klay
Aug 2, 2002 10:59 AM
I think you've gotten some good advice above.

1) Get a quality pair of cycling shorts. I've heard good things about the Performance but I prefer Sugoi.

2) Get a decent jersey. I can't imagine riding w/o those pockets in the back. I tend to go for bright colors just so I am more visible to cars. The synthetic materials are WAY more comfy than cotton and are cut to fit you while you are in a "riding position"

3) I prefer the Smartwool sock, always (on teh bike, at work etc...)

4) You might also want to consider an extra layer under the jersey. A light weight "coolmax" t-shirt helps wick away moisture and I find it more comfortable again my skin. Some say the second wicking layer is also cooler.

5) I can't think of anything else that wasn't already said above.

Don't worry about parading about in skin tight clothing. You get used to it after a while ;-)

Aug 2, 2002 2:06 PM
Buy a pump- you cannot inflate your tires of a road bike at the gas station... I'd avoid a tiny pump if you want to get 100psi into your tires.

Buy a good pair of shorts- pay at least $40-50 for something with a decent pad (don't go to your "sporting goods store" and buy a cheapo canari)- I'm not partial to any one brand, but I hate cheapo shorts!

Gloves- again, spend $20 - 30, or it will be like riding without gloves (ie. don't buy them at Target)... you will be wearing them every ride, so they are worth the money. I have several pairs (so one set is always dry). I buy washable gloves with some fake leather palms... your gloves will be soaked on a hot day anyway.

Cycling socks are worth the money- don't wear cotton socks! Shop for deals if you are fashion conscious. Try your shoes on with cycling socks- not heavy cotton socks.

Eyewear... even at dusk (I have replaceable lens, depending on lighting)- bugs will be your bane if you don't wear lenses.

Helmet- a cheap helmet is usually like a hot house... vents are your friend!

Shoes- spend a bit of money on shoes. I know they seem expensive, but your feet will hate you if you have bad shoes. I swear by Sidis. Beware of size issues if you shop online. Unlike street shoes, you don't want shoes that are too large, too small, or just about right. Sidis run small. I'd try them on before buying. Synthetic "leathers" won't shrink or stretch.

I'd buy some sort of coolmax jersey... tech fabrics are also your friend- they keep you cooler than if you went shirtless, and they dry very quickly (as you ride). Regular polyester cheapo jerseys are like wearing garbage bags. You will be hot and you will stink! I usually shoot for a $40 jersey (shop for sales). Rear pockets and a front zipper are very practical.

When I was new, I WASTED more money than I saved by trying to save money. Watch out for online deals- make sure you know your size- and there is a HUGE difference between Euro and US sizing... any online savings are quickly eaten up if you need to add postage to return something that doesn't fit. Now is the time to exploit your LBS's end of season sales... so what if you pay a bit more now. Watch out for cheap no-name products. You will eventually hate them and never use them. If you buy a hot $30 helmet now, grow to hate it, then buy a $70 helmet, you'll have spent $100 on helmets, even though the first dusty helmet is kept under a pile of coats in your front closet.

I am a former "hand wash only" guy. Now I use the gentle cycle with a gentle detergent. The spin cycle really accelerates drying time. I only air dry bike clothes, and a always wash separately. Beware of anything with velcro getting near your jerseys. Avoid your dryer.

To be safe, ride safe. I have no reflectors anywhere on me or my bike, and there is nothing odd about this.

What to avoid: products sold at Sportmart or similar stores, Target (or similar retailers)... champion team jerseys (I don't care what anyone says, it DOES look plain stupid wearing a "King of the Mountain" jersey in Minnesota- or a full team kit - with gloves AND shoe covers)

If you are new to road bikes, it might seem "poserish" to "wear the gear," but it IS practical... loose clothing flaps in the wind, cotton clothing becomes a wet mess, your hands can go numb without gloves, jersey pockets are a must for me, I wouldn't think of wearing unpadded shorts, if you use cleats you must wear the shoes... and no one will recognize you anyway with a helmet and shades.

Anyway, my advise is based on lessons I learned the hard way. Your mileage may vary. If you drop some dough on your ride, might as well drop some on the "necessities" to make using it enjoyable.
yupyeah right
Aug 2, 2002 2:27 PM
one thing that strikes me is something we hear on this board all the time:

wasting money by trying to save it

shoot, if you're gonna ride some, get the $80 helmet instead of the $35 you're gonna want to replace in three months. avoid the sales where the frame kinda fits-where you wish it fits. same with clothes and accessories. one wasted jersey (many people have several they don't wear anymore for a number of reasons) negates all the times you agonized how to save two bucks on a cassette or chain. be willing to spend to get nice, but not the nicest stuff, or else you'll be upgrading frequently.