I returned to mountain biking – at least a decade since I last MTB’d – this summer and until recently was going out in a pair of sport shorts and a normal t-shirt.
Most of the guys I ride with have all the gear, and in comparison I felt a little like a kid that forgot his gym kit and was being made to do sport in clothes from the lost property box.
So is MTB clothing just about fitting in and looking cool? or does the correct gear improve your ride?
To test this, I went crazy on the Halfords website taking advantage of the ‘buy one, get one half price’ on all cycle clothing. I kitted myself up without breaking the bank and my thoughts are below:
It has only just got cold enough to start wearing gloves, however most of the riders I know have been wearing them all summer. Every ride I managed to graze and or bruise my knuckles on trees I got a little too close to. I bought a pair of Dare 2b Premium Mitts, they were very comfy, gave good grip and when I did catch my hand on a tree I came away not looking as if I’d been bare knuckle fighting!
Never one to buy high performance clothing, I have always been happy to do any sport from jogging to snowboarding in an ordinary t-shirt. So, trying out the Dare 2b Aftermath Cycle Jersey for the first time I was pleasantly surprised by how much less I sweated, and in particular how well any sweat escaped so I did not end up a wet, sticky mess.
With winter coming, I want to be able to keep mountain biking so something warm was imperative. I chose the Gore Contest Thermal Cycle Jersey, which although thin and lightweight, kept me warm despite it being a chilly day. I also found that wearing it over my cycle jersey did not create the sauna effect I have experienced when wearing a top over a standard t-shirt.
Again, with less-friendly weather on the horizon, I wanted to ensure I had a lightweight waterproof I could take with me on all rides and the Dare 2b Unisex HydroLite Cycle Jacket certainly fit the bill. I didn’t need to wear it on my recent mountain biking excursion, however I have used it twice in light rain and it has kept me dry and also kept the wind off – which will be great when riding.
Cycling Shorts and Underpants
My image of cycle shorts is tight fitting, luminous Lycra – fortunately there are plenty of baggier, less revealing options. I went for the Dare 2b Buckeroo Cycling Shorts, which unfortunately were out of stock so I didn’t get to try them on the ride. However, the Azore Mens Padded Boxer Shorts did arrive, so I wore them under some standard shorts. They made by far the biggest difference of all the clothing – mainly because by wearing them I completely avoided the chaffage that had plagued me up till now.
Although I doubt I went faster or rode better because of any of the above items, I was certainly a lot more comfortable wearing them than my normal sports gear. I sweated less and any sweat wicked away rather than hanging around as damp patches under my arms.
Being more comfy arguably means I have a better ride and can go on for longer, so in that sense they have improved my ride – if not my riding ability.
If there is one item I would say all mountain bikers should have it is a pair of padded cycling boxer shorts, they are amazing and completely cured painful chaffing.