When you’re looking for cycling gear, you need to look for fabrics that wick away moisture. They will keep you drier while you are working out. While it might seem like that is the opposite of what you want, overall you want to stay dry. Sweating obviously cools you down, as does pouring water over your head; even room temperature water will cool you down when you’re hot. However, it is not the water itself that cools you down. The water cools you down because it evaporates, and when it evaporates, it takes some of your body heat with you. That’s how it cools you down. So you want to look for fabrics that help you stay dry by wicking moisture away from your skin and the surface of the clothing. There it will evaporate faster, cooling you down more efficiently. Overall, that’s the best way to stay cool while you’re cycling.
The first thing you should do when you’re looking for cycling clothing is avoid cotton. Cotton is a great material for clothing since it is breathable and absorbent. If you’re only sweating a little bit, an absorbent material like cotton is great. However, if you are sweating a lot, as you might during a workout, you need something that wicks faster than cotton. Due to its absorbent nature, cotton tends to hold onto moisture, and you don’t want that.
Most moisture-wicking fabrics are made of some kind of polyester blend. Don’t let that scare you. The polyester of the 21st century is nothing like the old polyester. Nowadays, the moisture-wicking fabrics are lightweight, absorbent, cool, and comfortable. They absorb moisture on your skin and pull it to the surface where it can quickly evaporate. When the water evaporates, it takes some of your heat with it. That’s how such fabric can keep you cool and dry.
The moisture-wicking polyester also reduces the chances of chafing when you’re riding. When you are cycling, chafing can happen for many different reasons. You can chafe due to your legs rubbing against each other or against the seat; many people actually get chafing on their chest or armpits from their shirts, which is often the result of high seams on their clothing. If the seams are standing up, they can rub against your skin. If the shirt holds moisture and stays wet, it will be even more abrasive against your skin. The moisture will make the shirt cling to your skin, and the salt in your sweat will make it more abrasive, which quickly becomes a serious problem that you have to deal with.
Alternately, you can choose a quality cycling shirt with moisture-wicking fabric and flat seams. Such a shirt will not cause you to chafe and itch even during the hardest hill climbs. Also, a good cycling shirt should fit well, which will help reduce the amount it slides around on your body as well as reduce chafing. These are all factors to consider when choosing cycling gear. A good bicycle is only the beginning of your cycling needs.