Best Value Riding Kit

Lester Perry | Wed 4th Nov 2020 16:39

Whether you’re taking on one of the many Rail Trails around the country, or simply taking on your daily commute, you don’t need to break the bank to ensure your cycling gear is comfortable and up to the task.

These days, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies and the “flow-down” of technology, we’re seeing fit and fabric technology that was once reserved for pro-level clothing, trickle its way down to the affordable and more entry-level gear.

Take a read below of our recommendations for value clothing for Cycle Trail and Commuting use.

New Zealand’s variable weather means it’s important to be prepared for all eventualities. Layering your clothing helps you obtain the optimum temperature regardless of temperature, adding or removing layers to remain comfortable whatever the conditions. Depending on the weather, it’s worth considering a base layer. Worn next to the skin, a ‘base layer’ is your first line of defence against the cold. Available in long, short, or sleeveless, a base layer could be a woven synthetic or something natural such as wool. Generally, the synthetic option will wick sweat better and keep you drier, while the wool option will keep you warm even when wet.

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A traditional yet effective short sleeve cycling Jersey. A thermal longsleeved jacket. A lightweight ‘shell’ style jacket.

Next in your layering, a jersey specifically designed for cycling is ideal. The days of a classic ‘lycra’ style cycling jersey are all but gone unless you’re a road cyclist or serious mountain biker. Nowadays lightweight, loose-fitting shirts are common, and many still incorporate a zipper of varying lengths in the front to further help with ventilation. Leave your sweaty cotton tees at home & select a synthetic top with a weave that promotes sweat evaporation, breathability, and dryness, ideal on a hot Central Otago summer expedition!

If the weather forecast is looking shaky we recommend taking a long-sleeved thermal layer of some type with you. A warm, windproof jacket is a must-have if the temperature drops. Throw a waterproof shell jacket over the windproof jacket if your day gets damp or really cold. If it’s getting damp but not cold, keep the thermal jacket in your bag and wear the waterproof shell alone. If you’re riding on the road at all during your journey it’s worth considering the visibility of your outer-most layer, a myriad of fluro and reflective jacket options are available.

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A chamois liner short. The Chamois itself, and a baggy outer short.

Bike shorts should be a key part of your cycling attire, but unless you’re a svelte, tanned, sparkly-shoe wearing road cyclist, wearing traditional lycra will likely raise an eyebrow of onlookers, and strike fear in the wearer! Fear no more, you can get all the benefits of the lycra short without anyone knowing you’re wearing them. Enter the chamois liner short. Designed to be worn under baggy shorts, liners use lightweight and breathable fabrics to keep you cool and comfortable. They feature a classic cycling chamois/pad that’s designed to ease pressure and reduce chafing. To get the most out of your liner it’s best to wear them under a loose-fitting cycling-specific short rather than regular cotton ones, and wearing underwear underneath is a strict no-no for maximum comfort. The cut and fit of the shorts are designed to be comfortable while sitting on the bike, reducing bunching, chafing and snagging, and fabrics are generally lightweight and breathable.

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It’s all well and good to have your torso and limbs protected from the elements (or out in them if it’s a nice sunny day!) but what about your extremities? You're only as comfortable as your hands and feet are. It’s recommended to wear well-fitting, breathable socks, again avoid cotton as it will hold perspiration, and keep your old farming socks for use in your gumboots! Cycling socks are available in every colour under the sun, amongst the many options you’ll surely find something to suit your tastes. Breathable and lightweight, cycling socks are the ideal way to keep your feet from feeling warm and sweaty in your shoes. Particularly on back to back days riding you’ll see the benefits of technical socks.

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Short-fingered gloves offer comfort and protection. For cooler weather and added protection choose a Full-fingered glove.

Cycling Gloves are an important part of completing your riding kit. Short fingered gloves are great for cycle trail riding as they keep your hands cool while the padded palms help protect your hands against small vibrations and ease the pain of a long day holding the handlebars. Besides the comfort factor, wearing gloves offers the bonus of added protection if you have the misfortune of crashing off your bike.

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Handy Accessories -

Cycling glasses come in all shapes and sizes.

If you’re tackling a trail during the height of summer, a pair of cycling sunglasses will come in handy, protecting your eyes not only from the sun but also any dust which may be present if it’s windy or kicking up from riders around you. If you’re in and out of the sun, maybe under the forest canopy where the light is coming-and-going, consider a pair of Photochromic lensed glasses. These lenses lighten or darken depending on lighting conditions, ideal for those dappled light rides.

There are a few handy carry-overs from Road Cycling which are great additions to your kit bag to help fine-tune your layering. The fits are slim but this aids in their effectiveness. Arm, leg and knee warmers are simply tubes of stretchy, brushed fleece-backed fabric, pull them up or down depending on your warmth needs.

A lightweight scarf or buff – great for keeping your neck, head or ears warm, either on the bike or in the chilly evenings. You can even use it as an eye mask to help you sleep better while away from home.

A warm hat, beanie or cycling cap - Block out the wind on a cold day with a low profile head covering. Your old home-knitted beanie might be a bit bulky to fit comfortably under a helmet but there are plenty of slimmer options designed to fit under a helmet available.

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