Cycle Clothing Guide

Words by Harry Archer

on 27/12/2017 09:57:28


What clothing you decide to wear when you're on your bike will depend on a number of factors:

  • How often you cycle
  • How far you normally ride
  • The level of cycling that you participate in (leisure, club, professional etc)
  • Your main cycling discipline (road, MTB, commuting etc)
  • The general weather conditions/terrain of the area that you're riding in

This guide will take you through every part of your body and the associated, relevant clothing for that body part. Each section will give you a brief overview of the type of products available and how they are used to help your cycling progress across a range of disciplines.

Head & Neck

At Rutland Cycling we thoroughly recommend wearing a helmet for whatever riding you're doing. To find out more about what helmet is best for you, read our guide to Essential Cycling Accessories, or view all of our available helmets here.

When it comes to 'clothing' for your head, you have a couple of options in addition to your helmet. One option is a Skull Cap - usually made from water repellent material or merino, these Skull caps work to keep your head warm in the winter, stopping the cold air that is entering through the air filters on your helmet. For those riders that prefer to ride without a helmet or someone who is looking for breathable outdoor gear, there is a great variety of Hats and Caps available to make you more comfortable. Winter hats tend to use thermal materials designed specifically to keep your head warm by retaining the heat normally lost via the head. Cycling caps are normally designed to be small, easily packed caps that you can stuff into your back pocket or saddlebag until you require them.

View all Hats and Caps

Buffs are versatile garments designed to keep the neck warm. Buffs are ultra durable, sweat resistant and breathable whilst keeping you neck and ears warm. Nothing says uncool like finishing a ride with bright red ears because you left them open to the elements!

Original Reflective Yellow Buff

Original Reflective Yellow Buff

The Buff is the multi talented piece of clothing that should be in everyone's kit bag. Keeps the cold off your neck or head during the cooler months and can be worn a variety of ways. Why not buy two and pretend to be a ninja?

  • Made with 100% Polyester Microfiber
  • Weighs 35g/1.2 oz and measures 52cm x 24.5cm /20.5 inches x 9.6 inches
  • Buff headwear will not lose its elasticity, is colour fast and will not fade
  • Sizing: fits most adults, but if you require something smaller try Women's Slim Fit or available in Junior/Child (4-12 yrs) or for little people, there's Baby Buff for those 3 yrs and under.


At Rutland Cycling we thoroughly recommend wearing a helmet for whatever riding you're doing. To find out more about what helmet is best for you, read our guide to Essential Cycling Accessories, or view all of our available helmets here.


The benefits of a good pair of cycling glasses can be incredibly important to your performance and long-term health. Studies have shown that the risk of cataracts is reduced in cyclists that wear sunglasses due to lower exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun. When looking for a new pair of glasses there are a number of things to consider:

  • Lens Colour: Grey and brown are excellent for all-round cycling whilst brighter colours are generally to be avoided unless they have been specifically designed for dark or dusty areas. You're aiming to block 75-90% of visible light in bright sun and 35-50% on dull days so it's important that the sunglasses you select offer the correct level of sun blocking. Some Glasses have interchangeable lenses so you can alter your lenses depending on the location of your ride. Photochromic lenses that darken as the sun gets brighter are the class of sunglasses that will cover the largest range of conditions.
  • UV protection: Ultraviolet, or UV, radiation increases approximately 15 percent for every 3,000 feet in altitude so if you are doing a lot of climbing it's vital to have higher UV protection for your eyes. Cheaper sunglasses will have less protection from UV rays and therefore are not suitable for exposed,sunny locations.
  • Wraparound or shield frames: Wraparound frames offer the best peripheral vision (essential in traffic or cycling groups) and are less prone to fogging up or slipping down your nose and tend to be the glasses of choice for Pro cyclists. Shield frames are your more traditional design of sunglasses and are perfectly adequate for leisure cycling and rural commuting
  • Frame material: Normally sunglasses are manufactured with plastic or nylon frames as they are safer and lighter than metal.

Browse all Sunglasses >


Base Layers

The starting point of any good cycling outfit - in hot or cold weather - is a good quality base layer. Close-fitting and made from a range of fabrics including Merino wool, base layers wick sweat away from the body to better regulate temperature and provide a first line of protection against any chills. Choose from different sleeve lengths, and collar heights and thicknesses to find the best option for your riding.


Castelli Flanders Warm Women's Long Sleeve Baselayer

Castelli's Flanders Long Sleeve Base Layer is a must for your winter cycling (or other winter sports) wardrobe. It is made from SottoZero Fleece multidenier, lightweight, 100% polyester, and will keep you warm through -5 to 8c temperatures.

  • SottoZero Fleece multidenier, lightweight, 100% polyester
  • Mesh armpits
  • Temperature range -5 to 8c
  • Flat-locked stitching and long hem

Cycling Jerseys

There's no better way to make yourself look like a Pro than purchasing a cycling jersey. Whether you go for a jersey worn by your cycling hero's, a specific team or brand, the classic novelty look (think Marmite!) or a basic colour combination - it really doesn't matter! In Winter, long sleeves are almost essential (or a short sleeve jersey paired with arm warmers for more temperate days). For autumn and winter riding you might find a slightly thicker fabric is more suitable so look out for Roubaix linings, and make sure sleeve length is suitable. Like a standard jersey, most long sleeve jerseys will have the usual three rear pockets with possibly and additional zipped pocket. For heavier weight long sleeve jerseys you might also find storm flaps behind the zip to keep wind out. In the summer, lightweight short sleeved jerseys work to keep you cool on your rides utilizing a number of clever design tricks to keep the heat away from your body.

Browse all Cycling Jerseys


Cycling Jackets

Cycling jackets come in many different styles that offer varying levels of protection from the elements. The main categories of jacket to watch out for are:

Obviously some jackets will provide more than one of these services - what is key to finding the right jacket for your needs is considering the weather and duration of your rides. Lightweight wind and shower proof jackets are easy to store and carry and can be a godsend during those heavy summer showers when you need protection from the rain but not so much from the cold. Thermal and fully-waterproof jackets will conserve your heat more efficiently, making you very hot if worn in the wrong conditions. However, for cold weather riding they are essential, with the thermal keeping you warm and the waterproof maintaining your core temperature by keeping you dry.

Browse all Cycling Jackets



Gilet is French for vest, and you should really have a vested interest as to what they can offer. The perfect light-weight mid-layer, a gilet is easy to carry and can be used in a large amount of ways. Say you'd just ridden to the top of a hill , you're hot and sweaty and don't want to put on your heavy jacket but also you're keen not to freeze on the descent. Simply slip on your gilet - keeping yourself warm whilst letting through enough breeze to cool you down from your climb. Gilets are sleeveless, windproof (and sometimes waterproof) garments that can be used all year round, especially when combined with arm warmers, allowing you to control your temperature like never before.

Endura FS260 Pro Adrenaline Race Windproof Waterproof Gilet

Endura FS260 Pro Adrenaline Race Windproof Waterproof Gilet

Lightweight, compact, translucent, breathable and waterproof cycling gilet that's perfect for pro racers, enthusiastic sportive riders or anyone who likes to set their own personal challenges.

  • Lightweight compact translucent breathable/waterproof fabric
  • Lightly padded collar and storm flap
  • Full Length centre zipper with sprung puller
  • Reflective trims and prints


Arm, leg and knee warmers can be one of the most versatile cycling garments in your wardrobe. Easy to apply and remove, warmers allow you to take total control of your temperature - keeping you warm in the morning but then able to be easily packed in your back pocket until you need them again in the evening or when the weather gets worse. The ability to remove your warmers really quickly (Some people don't even need to get off their bike!) is what makes these garments so popular - especially amongst road bikers. But within all disciplines, having a set of warmers is beneficial as it can save you from the extra weight taken up by loads of spare layers.

View all Warmers



As any cyclist will tell you, cold hands can make a ride miserable. Trying to brake, steer and keep smiling when your hands have turned to ice is not easy and can reduce you to a shivering wreck by the time you finally get yourself home. Cycling gloves are designed to be flexible, allowing you full ease of movement and are also reinforced to protect you should you fall of your bike. What gloves to go for will depend on the time of year and the style of cycling you are doing. For the winter, full fingered thermal gloves are a must. Using the same technology found in ski and motorbike gloves, full-finger cycling gloves keep you warm whilst still allowing for good air circulation to keep you comfortable. Mitts are ideal for warmer weather riding where you don't really need the extra warmth but are looking for something to reduce the vibrations from the road or trail in your hands.

Browse all Cycling Gloves


Lower Body

Baggy Shorts

If you sometimes want to look less 'bikey', or want to wear something a little bit more substantial for winter or trail riding then baggy shorts could be for you. A favourite amongst mountain bikers, baggy shorts offer the same padding and protection as lycra shorts but are presented to look much more like a 'normal' pair of shorts that you can wear all day on the trail and then carry on wearing during your post-ride pub trips.

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Bibshorts are the go-to for most road cyclists, but they can look a little intimidating to someone new to cycling who isn't quite used to making themselves look a bit strange in the name of efficiency. The major feature that differentiates them from standard shorts are the shoulder straps that keep everything in place, ensuring that your padding doesn't move or chafe as you ride along, and removing any comfort issues from a tight waistband. Once you've tried bibshorts you'll never want to go back to the world of basic cycling shorts are here's why:

  1. Comfort: The lightweight mesh straps ensure your shorts stay in place and there is no pressure or binding points on the skin. There's no waistband either so you won't feel your shorts digging into your abdomen or hindering breathing.
  2. They look the part: In the past it was known for racers to pull up their drawstrings to use as straps to ensure the Chamois padding stayed in place. This gave birth to the concept of the modern bibshort that has a far sleeker, integrated look that - once combined with your favourite jersey - makes you look the business. The cut of the shorts also ensure you won't have to deal with your jersey riding up or your shorts riding down and giving the old couple in the car behind you a face full.
  3. You'll go faster: Close fitting lycra should make you more aerodynamically efficient on the bike, giving you free speed - yay! Plus, the compressive and breathable properties of modern, high performance fabrics, mean you'll get to you destination feeling fresher and cooler.

View all Bib Shorts


Tights are essentially the cold weather version of cycling shorts. Using the same technology for padding and design, tights keep you warm and comfortable when the British weather throws its toys out of the pram. Tights also come in both non-bib and bib options. For the worst weather you'll find many options with warm and fleecy Roubaix lining, and even water resistant fabrics.

View All Cycling Tights



For commuting in the wet and cold days of winter, a set of good cycling trousers can become essential for your wardrobe to keep you dry and smiling. Made with lightweight material that is both breathable and durable, cycling over trousers are easy to take on and off and are provided with a number of clever features and pockets to help you carry your supplies.

View all Cycling Trousers




A good set of cycling socks can make all the difference on big rides. Socks that have been specifically designed for cycling have supportive padding that protects your feet throughout your ride. In the winter, thermal socks are the way to go - keeping your toes toasty throughout the cold months. In the summer, CoolMax socks are fantastic - Helping your feet to breathe and keeping you cool during the long, winding rides of summer. You can also get compression socks that aid muscle recovery by forcing the blood further away from the surface of your skin, oxidising your muscles.

View all Cycling Socks



Another indispensable cycling product, overshoes have a surprisingly large amount of uses. Thick neoprene conceptions work to keep your feet warm and dry in winter by fitting over your cycling shoes and keeping the heat in whilst keeping the elements out, while a sleek aero overshoe will provide far less cold weather protection but can be used to give you an aero advantage during racing or time trials. Overshoes can be used all year round, just ensure that you have the correct type for the season. Summer rides will require a thin and lightweight overshoe, with the thicker and heavier overshoes far more suitable in wet or cold conditions. There are also differences in design between mountain and road specific overshoes so make sure that you check the spec!

View all Overshoes



A good set of cycling shoes is an absolutely vital item of clothing to acquire if you want to revolutionise your performance in the saddle. Cycling shoes are meticulously designed to give you support via their rigid soles and unique fastening systems. Furthermore, good shoes can increase your efficiency on the bike, allowing you to ride further and faster on less effort. Whether you use cleats or don't, cycling shoes are a sure fire way to help you achieve you goals. There are specific shoes for road, MTB and commuting and within the cycle shoe market there is a great range of quality products from big brands that don't have to break the bank. But of course, if you do want to splash out there's no shortage of high end cycling shoes that boast a tonne of clever tech and features.

If you have irregular sized feet (narrow,wide,high arches etc) or you find your shoes uncomfortable, investing in a footbed can be a quick and easy way to bring comfort back to your ride. Just make sure you check the spec to get the correct footbed for your particular needs.

View all Cycling Shoes


Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store

You can browse our entire clothing range online, or you can get your hands on it in your nearest Rutland Cycling store.