The right tool for the job: Cycling Gear.

A couple weeks a go something cool happened. I got a my first reader e-mail from a guy asking if as a beginner triathlete I ride in proper cycling attire. Ok maybe it’s not that cool to you, but I’ve never gotten a legit reader e-mail before, so I thought it was neat.

The reader asked because he found cycling gear to be expensive (and it is!) and thought it would be more cost effective to just wear standard workout gear at a fraction of the price.

The answer is yes and no. I own one Peral Izumi bib, a pair of long pants and an off brand pair of cycling shorts. And if one of those is funky and in the wash, I’ll just wear a pair of gym shorts if I have to… but it’s always a bad idea.

As my Ride-A-Thon approaches (you can pledge here). I figured it was important to take about the importance of proper cycling gear. Byt because I don’t have a better answer other than “You’re supposed to” I went right to the source and contacted Peral Izumi to get some info.

Peral Izumi has a line called “Select Series” which is designed with beginners in mind and sold at a lower cost than some of the real high performance attire. Here’s what PI had to say…

“For cycling to your local coffee store, save your dollars and go with jeans shorts and a tee-shirt!  But for anything over a few miles, there are myriad, and substantial, reasons to invest in proper cycling gear.  First of all is the cycling short.  Nearly all of them have a built-in chamois — or “shammy” in the bike world.  These sewn-in cushions markedly decrease and disburse the weight you place on your butt and your perinium, making for a much more comfortable ride and help eliminate numbness and chafing.  Chamois vary in quality, construction and thickness, but nearly all of them will make your rear end a much happier place.  You can get baggy shorts, or tight, Lycra-type cycling shorts, but both will have the purpose-built comfort you need.

Cycling jerseys are similarly purpose-built.  Good ones tend to fit snugger than a tee-shirt, which eliminates that annoying flapping noise you get if you ride over 10mph, and they have a longer tail in the back — which gives your lower back coverage when you’re bent over the bars.  Better jerseys also have anatomic sleeves: these actually reduce the pull of normally-constructed sleeves because they’re sewn with a riding stance in mind.  

But perhaps the most important element is the fabrics and textiles involved.  Cycling jerseys can be nylon, or polyester, or wool, or spandex/Lycra, or any combination of these fabrics.  They stretch well and are comfortable.  They wick your sweat away so it evaporates quicker.  Some are breathable AND water-resistant, which is critical whenever you ride in misty, foggy or rainy conditions.  Cool-weather jerseys can insulate you, while warm-weather jerseys can allow your skin to disperse heat dramatically better than a cotton tee.  And if you get hungry, or need a spare tube, or some cash, or a cell phone, the built-in pockets at the back of most every jersey hold everything you need.

That’s just a short explanation, Phil.  And it is informed not by our representing Pearl Izumi, but by our hours and hours of cycling every month over the past years.  I’d no sooner ride farther than ten miles without a cycling short than I would go riding without a helmet.  For $100, you can kit yourself out nicely with good, entry-level jerseys and shorts, and if you plan to ride at all, that is money well spent.”

Peral Izumi sent me a Select Bib and Jersey which retail for about $100 for both. I’ve worn the Select Series on my last few longs rides and I have to say they’re just as comfortable as the PI bib that cost $100 alone.

Just to prove my point, I’ll be wearing the Pearl Izumi Select Kit for my 112 mile Charity Ride-A-Thon on September 19th, so tune in to the live stream to check out the gear and pledge to win a bunch of cool prizes!