Men and Women have very different body shapes and anatomies and as such cycling clothing is different for each gender. Women have varied body shapes, making the challenge of finding well-fitting and comfortable cycling clothing arguably more of a challenge for female riders.
Whether it's finding a jacket that is suitable for larger chest sizes, Jerseys not suitable for taller, thinner riders or bib shorts that are too tight for wider hips and thighs - there are lots of things to consider when selecting female-specific clothing. This guide will attempt to give you an insight into what to look out for and the major differences between men's and women's cycling clothing.
Women's clothing is uniquely designed to suit women's body shapes. As such, most tops will have a 'feminine cut' where the waist is cut in and the chest cut wider to enable a comfier fit for women who tend to have narrower waists and wider chests than their male counterparts. Bib-shorts, a vital garment for rides over 10 miles, have a different chamois pad layout for men and women. Women's bibs tend to have padding running through the centre whilst men's shorts have a cut-out in the centre to suit their different anatomy.
Women's shorts tend to have narrow waist circumferences with a wider hip measure and generously cut leg grips to allow for larger thighs. A snug fit is imperative for comfort in bib-shorts, so ensure that you find the right shorts for you. It'll probably feel a bit like buying jeans, some brands and fits will just suit you far better than others it's really a case of trial and error until you find the fit for you. Women's bib-shorts also have an altered strap alignment, fitting wider to avoid the chest area and thus ensure a skin-tight fit.
Accessories such as helmets and saddles are also marketed in some cases as female specific. A women's helmet is smaller and features special design to allow room for ponytails and the like whilst female saddles have altered padding to ensure maximum comfort for the rider. These accessories, combined with the right clothes for YOU (whether it's female specific, unisex or gents) will make sure you're comfortable on your bike, allowing you to ride further and faster than ever before!
Need to find a bike before you get some clothes? Or maybe you want to try a new discipline? Either way - check out our Women's Cycling Guide for everything you need to know about Women's bikes. Why not join us for a Breeze ride as well and find yourself some new cycling buddies to tear up the tarmac with!
Base layers keep you warm and dry by trapping a layer of air between itself and your body to keep your core warm in cold weather. Base layers wick sweat away from your body, again keeping you warm and they are quick drying to ensure you're as dry as you can be. Most base layers are made from either merino wool or thermal synthetic material. Merino wool is soft, stretchy and odour resistant whereas thermal synthetic is thinner- with pricier products drying quicker than merino. Cheaper thermal synthetics can be itchy or uncomfortable so make sure to do your research pre-purchase.
Women's specific cycling jerseys can be expected to feature a feminine cut, characterised by a narrow waist and widened chest. Jerseys are designed to be tight-fitting for the aero-dynamic benefits that brings. However, there are casual fitting items on the market for those who prefer loose fitting clothing. Jerseys with a 'raglan fit' will offer better movement in the shoulder and arms due to the fluid structure of the design allowing for more flexibility and range of movement when compared to standard cycling jerseys.
Elastic hems ensure that you won't suffer from skin being exposed when you move by holding the garment in place whilst also stopping wind chill by closing the air gaps at the bottom of the jersey. Look out for whether the jersey you're looking at features a zipper garage as this will reduce chafing and how many pockets it has, bearing in mind how much you're looking to carry on your person when out on a ride.
There are 4 major categories of cycling jackets. They are windproof, showerproof, thermal and waterproof. Some jackets will cross over multiple sections - What is key to finding the right jacket for you is considering when and where you'll be cycling and the weather, duration and difficulty of your ride. 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. Women's specific jackets will feature a feminine cut and will have slightly more spacious dimensions around the chest.
Truly a cyclist's best friend, a good pair of bib -shorts with the correct fit will revolutionise your cycling, enabling you to go further and faster in more comfort than ever before. Bib-Shorts are designed to be worn without underwear and as previously mentioned, Women specific Bibs have altered padding to suit the female anatomy. Depending on how far you're riding, there are differing levels of thickness for you to choose from - the longer the ride the thicker chamois pad you'll require.
The advantage of Bib shorts over regular cycle shorts are the straps that hold the short in place, removing the movement in the garment and reducing chafing and irritation as a result. The straps are altered on women specific Bib-shorts to ensure a skin-tight fit. This is done by changing the strap angle to avoid the chest area. You should regularly machine wash your Bib-shorts to remove bacteria that can cause sores and discomfort - allow them to air dry though as this will ensure the longevity of the elastic in the lycra.
Never turn down a good excuse to buy new shoes! Cycling shoes are rigid soled and have unique fastening systems that are designed to increase your efficiency and comfort on the bike. Whether you use cleats or flats, there are a variety of options for shoe styles within each discipline (Road, MTB etc). For irregular sized feet there are uniquely designed shoes to cater for your needs whether you have narrow, wide feet or high arches.
Women tend to have narrower ankles and narrower feet in general than males and therefore female-specific shoes start at smaller sizes and are more compact in their geometries. Well fit cycling shoes should be barely noticeable once you get pedalling, you'll know if the fit is wrong as you will begin to suffer with ailments such as hot spots and numb feet. Using a foot bed can be a quick and simple fix in order to get the fit of your cycling shoes absolutely spot-on, especially if your feet are irregularly sized.
Need to get some new clothes but not sure of your size? Don't stress! We've got you covered , simply read through our cycling clothing and footwear size guide and find the right size in no time.
For additional information,guides and advice on everything from Helmets to Hard-tails, check out our dedicated 'Guides and Advice' page. You can also contact us directly or visit us in store. Happy riding!
Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store
You can browse the entire Women's Clothing range online, or you can get your hands on it in your nearest Rutland Cycling store.
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