Biking tips: mountain biking apparel
Properly selcting mountain-bike specific clothing will enhance your riding experience greatly, reducing discomfort and adding to your overall enjoyment.
In any sport, the proper selection of apparel can add greatly to your enjoyment and comfort; mountain biking is no exception. As the sport has grown, mountain bikes have become better designed, and the same is true for mountain biking apparel. There is a wide variety of outerwear available, and choosing it wisely will greatly add to your overall riding experience.
From the top down, you?ll need a helmet, a jersey, shorts, gloves, socks and shoes. We?ll discuss some common options for selecting each of these items.
Since 1999, all bicycle helmets in the U.S. market must meet or exceed the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard; a helmet that carries this seal will provide the currently approved level of head protection. Helmets come in a variety of fit systems, styles and colors, and should be fit and adjusted by a competent professional. Some options you?ll find will be the size and number of vents in the helmet itself, the comfort and adjustability of the strap system, and the choice of a removable visor. All these options are up to personal preference, so you should test several models to find the one that suits you best.
Many people choose to mountain-bike in a simple cotton t-shirt, but this option is far inferior to some of the inexpensive and comfortable fabric choices currently available. Cotton becomes damp quickly, and does not dry well, which can result in you finding yourself cold and damp, even while exercising. Also, the fit of a cotton t-shirt can lead to chafing while exerting yourself on your bike. A better choice is a loose-fitting jersey made of a wicking material such as CoolMax. Such jerseys are light and comfortable, durable, and allow moisture to dry quickly, which keeps you cool. Numerous stylish choices exist, and long-sleeved versions are available for cooler autumn or early-spring rides.
Mountain biking requires freedom of movement on the bike, but rough patches in the trail mean that padded shorts are an excellent idea. Choose a pair of shorts that has a loose-fitting and durable outer shell (usually tough nylon), with a separate, padded inner liner, typically inside a Lycra inner short. These will prevent chafing and will cushion most riding impacts, while allowing you a good range of motion. Most shorts also feature cargo pockets for carrying snacks or repair tools, which are always a good idea to have with you.
Select a close-fitting and well-padded set of riding gloves. Gloves that are too loose will cause blisters, while an overly tight fit will be uncomfortable. Thick pads for the heel and palm will ease the effect of a bumpy trail, while a fingerless glove will let you maintain a good feel for the grips and brake levers.
Socks and shoes:
Choose a light, wicking sock to keep your feet cool; usually ankle-height is preferred. Shoes are a matter of individual preference and the pedal system on your bike. Pedals without specialized cleats allow a great range of choices; the most important features are stiff sole for efficient pedaling, and a good, aggressive tread for those times when you?re off the bike. A secure, firm fit is desirable, similar to a well-fit athletic shoe. If you have chosen clipless or cleated pedals, make certain you select a compatible shoe. Your local bike shop will be a good resource to assist you on your purchase.
With properly fitting, comfortable mountain-biking apparel, you will ensure that you?re well prepared to hit the trails, and that you?ll feel good doing it!