Signature Ride Front Page
About the Great Balkini
Cycling Product Reviews
Bicycle Tips
Le Tour de France 2007
Chain Links
Contact Us
Bicycle Tips
Dress the Part

pixelFor anything more than a ride around the block, bicycle clothing is as important to overall performance as wet suits are to scuba divers. Full summer regalia include: shoes, socks, shorts, jersey, helmet, glasses and gloves.
pixelPadded Lycra shorts stretch in all the right ways while offering much needed thigh support. Extra padding is always welcome and this does double duty with layers of technical fabric that work amazingly well in keeping the rider’s nether region cool and dry.
pixelCycling specific jerseys are brightly colored by design. Being seen is paramount. The rear pockets are so placed as to not disturb pedaling action and they hold stuff that riders don’t want to leave home without. Today’s jerseys have amazing wicking properties that keep riders comfortable under a wide range of conditions.  
pixelIndeed, from head to toe the technically garbed cyclist can maintain comfortable body temperature except under the most extreme winter conditions that few venture out in. That’s for extreme personalities and DWI’s neither of which want my help so we’re not going there.
pixelCycling shoes and pedals are the same as ski boots and bindings and just as essential—at least in the 21st century pursuit of active recreation. The disclaimer honors the versatility of the bike that can be ridden everywhere wearing anything. Those choices aren’t available in most other recreational venues.
pixelScuba divers don’t have a choice; at Nubble Light they wear a wet suit or do something else.
If not exactly as life threatening as freezing to death in the frigid Atlantic, shoes and cleats are just as critical to performance. It’s a two piston power plant from the hips down and how securely each piston is connected to the pedal is crucial. Proper foot positioning makes pedaling automatic and the light weight of the boot conserves energy while ventilation keeps feet comfortable.
pixelThere’s no need to worry about emergency exiting as pedal release is automatic in an incident and second nature otherwise. Only an idiot doesn’t find empty pavement and practice the entry and release until it is truly second nature. Golfers hit thousands of practice balls to get better and this is no different. If it takes 100 or 1000 times to get intimate with how the pedal release works what’s the difference?  That’s a minor investment for a lifetime of real riding. In a perfect world where falling on one’s head is outlawed, cycling shoes and shorts are the two true essentials a rider must wear.  
pixelSpeaking of helmets, the formative years of my cycling life were spent not wearing a helmet except some flimsy hair net thing required in competition.  That was then… and now I won’t leave home without one. Rarely I’ll forget but realize a minute or two into a ride and ALWAYS turn back. Common perception equates them with seat belts but that’s false security as the rest of the body is unprotected.
pixelHere’s the not so good news. As well as bike clothing works on the bike, is about as badly as it performs off. The shoes can’t be walked in for any distance, waddling is more like it. The gaudy jerseys with unrecognizable Euro commerce logos are a fashion disaster. They’re also cut as if fabric was spun gold and all riders were as streamlined as Lance. Even marginally overweight riders look as if they’re carrying live pigs in a silk screened gunny sack that may as well replicate the Dead Sea Scrolls for all the sense they make.
pixelThe shorts are even worse. That males actually wear these things in public is proof positive they work brilliantly as no guy in his right mind would otherwise be seen in skin tight Lycra. Men in black spandex look really weird away from the bike. Even worse, if possible, men don’t have a clue when the stuff is worn out and also look seedy.
pixelWomen and form fitting stretch fabrics are made for each other. It’s entrenched in their wardrobe, they’re comfortable in it and it shows. They can be seen anywhere in it and look normal. Meanwhile, a guy at the supermarket in skin tight Lycra doesn’t merely raise eyebrows, he turns heads — exorcist style.
pixelRiding a bike well requires adjusted perspectives. For men wearing less than flattering clothing is one of them. What to do?  Off the bike find a way not to be seen in public for one nanosecond longer than necessary.  Male ballet dancers know better and so should you.

All content © 2010 Signature Ride and The Great Balkini. All Rights Reserved.