When it comes to fit, the rule for cycling kit is the tighter the better – to the point of actual discomfort if you’re standing upright. Basically if there are any gaps between you and what you’re wearing, or wrinkles where it has a few millimetres that isn’t stretched taut over your skin, it’s too big.
Here’s a roundup of the most important kit and how to know if what's the right size for you.
Cycling clothing is designed and cut to fit when the body is curved over the bike. The number one mistake people make with jerseys is wearing them baggy enough to have a comfy pre-ride coffee in. So if you’re trying a jersey on and it feels too tight across the chest, try leaning over and see how it feels then.
If you want to be aerodynamic – which is what the skintight lycra is trying to achieve – you need it to fit like a second skin. But even if cutting through the air like a Tour de France leader isn’t your mission, we promise, a baggy jersey singles you out as a bit … clueless.
Just in case you skimmed this post and missed the jersey message: kit fit has to be super tight. It’s no different for cycling shorts or bib shorts. Length-wise, there are only rules when it comes to official races. As lycra is more aero than skin shorts that are too long give an unfair advantage (just like socks that come too high up the calf, believe it or not).
You might think you’d get a bit of leeway with shoes but, no. The right cycling shoes are tight and stiff to keep the foot stable on the pedal. While you don’t want them to be like foot vices, a lot of riders do actually buy shoes a size too small so they fit tightly. The exception is in summer when your feet will swell up with the heat. For hot weather, buy the correct size and tighten them up with a BOA dial system.
For cycle helmets, tight isn’t the right word but the fit of the inner ratchet and straps needs to prevent the helmet from moving around on your head if you tip it forward and shake it. That means the chin strap can allow a gap big enough for one or two fingers so as not to restrict your movement, but no more. The correct position will affect how long the straps are, so make sure the hemet sits two fingers above the brow line.
Base layers, arm warmers, leg warmers … all of these pieces of kit need to fit like a glove.
Except for actual gloves that is.
Cycling gloves shouldn't be too tight as they will restrict movement and blood flow, making your hands colder than if you weren’t wearing any.