Perhaps you’ve seen people riding along the highway in their colorful kits, pedaling away in the sunshine. Or maybe your friend brought you along to a local triathlon, and you wondered why all the racers seemed so excited to swim, cycle, and run. However you fall into the sport, you’ll find that it comes with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm for all the gear you can collect. But how do you know what’s going to work for you, and what might just end up sitting in your closet until your next yard sale? In this series of posts, I’ll go through the best buys for beginners and beyond, so you don’t waste time and money.
Kit Up Like a Pro — What Jersey and Shorts to Buy
Whether you’re in an established club or just starting out in the sport, you’ve got to buy the right kit (the cool word for your cycling outfit) to get you on the road in style. While the purple bargain bin jerseys at Voler are really tempting, you may only end up wearing those clothes a few times before they end up buried under other kits you like better. So where do you start?
Look Pro from the Start
Amateur cyclist? Seasoned veteran of the wheel? The recommendations are the same–either way you gotta get your look right. There are two basic ways to look awesome:
- Support the Team: If you’re a part of a cycling or tri club, great! Buy the kits every season and wear them. Get at least one jersey and a pair of bibs that match (you should really buy at least two sets though), and not only will you feel more a part of the team, you’ll also help to advertise the great sponsors that support your club in one way or another. If you’re not a member of a local club yet, consider joining one. You’ll probably make some new friends, get GREAT sponsorship deals on all sorts of gear, and stay challenged to work out and get faster. But most importantly, you’ll have a legit kit to sport on the road. If you’re not a member of the team, it’s a bit touch and go as to whether you can wear the kit. Usually, if you’re something of an alum, it’s a great way to feel connected–in other words, proudly wear your college colors. If it’s a local club, and you don’t know any members/info about their mission, you might steer clear. But often if your local bike shop is selling the kits, it’s OK to buy and wear them.
- Stay Neutral: So you’re not affiliated with any groups or schools, but you still want to look awesome in the saddle–go for a neutral brand’s design. In other words, don’t bother getting last year’s HTC Highroad gear–buy Castelli or Capo’s latest look. Although I generally advocate buying from your local bike shop or from a local manufacturer like Voler, Amazon.com can sometimes be a great place for ideas on looks and fits. For instance, check out the following links to some great Castelli and Capo Kits:
Capo, Voler, and other companies have smart kits that utilize base colors for a matched and totally euro (meaning cool) look. Just don’t bother with any flowered jerseys or purple shorts–trust me on this one. Stick to the simple looking kits.
Shorts or Bibs?
While this does come down slightly to personal preference, bibs are amazing. You know that uncomfortable place where your spandex shorts grip your stomach and your muffin top spills over, so you constantly hike them higher and higher in the hopes that you will find a neutral, iron-ab position? Well, kiss the hiking goodbye, and get set for the cozy, fat-reducing look of bib shorts. If you haven’t tried them, just do it. Sure, it takes forever to get all your gear off to pee (unless you’re a guy) but it’s worth it. Just stop sooner, so it’s not urgent. Oh, and it might seem obvious, but make sure you wear the straps under your jersey . . . you’d be surprised.
Why do I place so much emphasis on getting a nice look together? Well, you’re perfectly welcome to grab some nice black shorts and a green jersey, but if you notice the cyclists or triathletes riding around town who look like they know what they’re doing, they’re almost always in a matching kit of some sort. They look pro, hence they feel pro. Trust me, you’ll probably get to the point where it matters. If we must wear colorful spandex (admit it though, it’s kinda like wearing your superman pajamas when you were a kid–totally awesome and fun), then shouldn’t we look put together?
I’m no spokeswoman for the company, and I’m not getting paid to say this, but I like Voler’s Made in America, local quality manufacturing style. You should also check out their latest gear by clicking the picture below. Look for their full line of “pro” wear that takes all the guesswork out of matching. Plus, since you’ve been referred by The SLO Cyclist (I just referred to myself in the third person), you’ll get $10 in free Voler Bucks just for signing up for their Rewards program! You’ll also earn bucks back for buying from them. There’s not even a catch. I have several kits made by Voler, and they’re top-tier. I highly recommend them. Plus, the rewards program is pretty cool too. But that’s enough sales pitching for now. Check out their pro kits:
As for what to wear during your next triathlon, you’ve got a few options. I recommend getting a tri suit similar to the one shown below by Voler. With a tri suit, like bib shorts, you won’t get the elastic band digging into your waist and causing *ahem* muffin top. The chamois in tri suits tends to be rather light, but you’ll realize why when you’re swimming and running in it. If you elect for the tri suit, you’re pretty much good to go for the entire race–you won’t have to change much. But it’s also easy to throw a shirt over the top of them if, for instance, you want long sleeves on your ride or run. As with all the other kits I’ve listed here, go for simple color combinations.
One note on color and fit: If you have really large shoulders but short and skinny legs, opt for a black top and patterned shorts–or if the opposite is true, flip that around. You’ll find that plain black shorts can be more slimming, and if you’re legs are already too thin, you’ll look top heavy. Of course, my problem is getting my whole body to look too thin . . .
By the way, the Voler tri suits dry so quickly, you’ll almost forget you were swimming, unless you’re still gasping for air. And for you other gals out there, the women’s tri suits seem to fit VERY low cut. You will definitely want a more covering sports bra fit underneath.
Although these selections might seem a bit limiting, you’ll find soon that they actually make you feel more comfortable and take the guesswork out of putting your kit together. Plus, the brands I’ve named here all have excellent quality, and comfortable chamois that will last you a long time. Oh, and you’ll look seriously awesome.
What do you think? Have a kit you totally love? Comment below!