Clothing and Gear Needs

Skip to sections on this page: Clothing, Personal Gear, Bike Gear and Stores.

Cycling, like other sports, requires specific clothing and equipment. We’ve described the gear in this link. At the end, you’ll find a listing of store names with their websites where you can find reasonably priced clothing and equipment. Also, try your local cycling and sporting good stores.

If you are a new to cycling, don’t spend lots of money on equipment until you are certain you want to pursue this sport. At a minimum, you must have a helmet. For your first rides, you can get by with wearing regular exercise clothes. If you get hooked on tandem cycling, you’ll want to buy all the gear.


  • Bicycle Helmet – you must wear a helmet. They range in price from $50 to $200. More expensive helmets are not necessarily safer than less expensive helmets. Usually, a higher priced helmet weighs less, has more vents to keep your head cool, and more size and fitting adjustments. Some helmets have visors and some don’t. There are women’s specific helmets and youth helmets. The most important thing is that it fits your head. Have someone help you select a helmet, so they can look at how the helmet sits on your head. The most common brand names are Bell and Giro. If you borrow a helmet, make sure it is in good shape. Helmets that have been in a crash, been dropped and knocked around, or had lots of sun exposure, lose their impact protection.
  • Cycling gloves – these cushion your hands from the handlebars, protect your hands if you fall and do a good job of wiping your nose when it runs. They come in a half finger and a full finger style for cooler days. Prices start about $20 and go up.
  • Cycling shorts – they have a large pad in them to cushion you from the saddle and absorb moisture. Most are made out of Lycra, and fit skin-tight across your rear and your legs. This makes you aerodynamic since fabric isn’t flapping in the wind. Also, they don’t get pinched up in the saddle or caught on the bars getting on and off the bike. No worries, men, the women think you look hot. Road bikers always wear Lycra shorts. Mountain bikers wear Lycra shorts or a loose, baggy style of cycling short. Ladies, be sure to buy the women’s specific shorts. Prices start at $50 and go up. Usually, the higher the price, the more comfortable the short. The pad gets thicker and the shorts get more contoured. You don’t wear underwear with these shorts. Seriously. Underwear slips around, gets sweaty, and can cause rashes.
  • Tights – made of Lycra and extend either to your ankles, just past your knees or to your calves. Wear on cold days over the padded shorts.
  • Cycling jerseys – these fit fairly snug to be aerodynamic. A short or long zipper goes down the front. Get hot, unzip. Get cold, zip up. They are made of moisture wicking fabric so you don’t get chilled from your sweat. They have large pockets in the back for your banana, cell phone, or spare tube. They come in short and long sleeved. Prices run $30 on up.
  • Windbreaker – good for chilly days. Roll it up and stick it in your jersey when you warm up.
  • Cycling socks –They are moisture wicking and ankle high. Usually come in black or white. White shows the dirt faster. Women may wear socks with flowers and cute patterns or match their socks with their jerseys. You can wear any socks, just don’t wear cotton socks. They get wet from your sweat, resulting in blisters and cold feet.
  • Cycling shoes – these have very rigid soles so you can apply more pressure to the pedals. Some have Velcro straps across the top and some lace across the top. There are mountain bike shoes and road bike shoes. They make women’s specific shoes for both styles. Mountain bike shoes have a more aggressive tread on the bottom, like the sole of hiking boots. Road shoes have smooth, slick bottoms, which make walking in them tricky. Some road cyclists wear mountain bike shoes because they are easier to walk in since they have a tread. Some shoes have a cleat system on the bottom of each shoe. The cleat attaches your shoes to the pedal, so your feet don’t slip around. Then, you can push down and pull up on the pedal. You get more power to your pedal stroke, which helps when pedaling uphill. The cleat system requires that you use the matching pedal. You don’t have to wear cycling shoes at first, but use the most rigid soled shoes you own. You’ll want to buy shoes if you keep riding. Shoes start at $60 and go up. Common brands are Specialized, Shimano, Lake, and SIDI. Don’t buy these online unless your first tried them on in the store.
  • Pedals – beginning and novice riders use flat pedals. More skilled and serious riders use what are called clipless or clip-in pedals. They have a specific clip that matches the cleat on the bottom of the cycling shoe. If you are riding someone else’s tandem, you may want to purchase pedals that match your shoes. Then, you can attach your pedals to anyone’s bicycle in 5 minutes. Common brands are Shimano SPD, Look, Speedplay, and Crank Brothers. Pedals range from $60 on up.
  • Eyewear – even if you don’t have 20/20 vision, you’ll want eyewear to protect your eyes from dust and flying insects. You’ll also look very cool.

Personal Gear

Put this stuff in your cycling jersey’s pocket, a fanny pack, a hydration pack, or the small bag under the saddle.

  • Water. Fill up water bottles that you place in water bottle cages on the bicycle. Or fill up a hydration pack that you wear on your back like a small backpack. Some hydration packs just hold water and some also have pockets for small items. You may have heard it called a Camelback. They start about $20 and go up depending on the size of the pack. There are women’s specific and youth packs.
  • Snacks like energy bars or a banana. No chocolate bars. They melt and make a mess.
  • Identification card with your name, address, and phone number
  • Medical card with information about allergies, health conditions, and insurance
  • Telephone numbers for whom to call in an emergency
  • Cell phone with charged battery
  • At least five dollars in case you want to buy a cold drink or bribe your captain to keep riding another 10 miles.

Bike Gear

When riding your bike, you are responsible for ensuring that basic repair tools are on the bike. This list is the minimum you should carry.

  • Frame pump or mini pump
  • Tire levers a small tool that helps you pull the tire off the rim
  • Spare tubes in case of flats – make sure you buy a tube that matches your tire size with the right valve type – Schraeder or Presta
  • Patch kit to repair flat tires and/or a CO2 tire inflator with cartridge – this forces compressed air into the tube for inflation