With summer in full swing across Canada, are you sporting the right kit? Whether you're a veteran cyclist, or just getting started, there are a number of summer cycling clothes essentials that have the potential to turn painful rides (the sort of rides that have us screaming 'what was I thinking?' into the headwind) into pleasant, even fun, adventures (the sort of rides that have us singing 'here I come, Tadej Pogačar!' down the fast descents). Here is our rundown of summer cycling clothes (and other) must-haves for summer cycling.
If you don't have these summer cycling clothes essentials in your summer kit, then you're missing out.
Seems obvious, right? There is a reason there are sunglasses that are intended specifically for cycling. Sunglasses aren't just for visibility when the sunshine is out in full force. Fundamentally, they are a must for protecting your eyes from flying debris, bugs, and the drying effect of strong winds. At NOMAD, we stock a range of options across two of the sport's favourite sunglasses brands - ALBA OPTICS and POC.
Have you ever been caught in the saddle on a hot, sticky summer day with sweat dripping all over your lenses? If you're nodding, we hope you were sporting ALBA OPTICS. Here's why: Your cycling sunglasses need a lens with a coating that allows the sweat to run off so you can maintain visibility of the road or trail stretching out in front of you. ALBA OPTICS sunglasses have a special coating that allows water to bead up, and they provide scratch and impact resistance.
Additionally, ALBA OPTICS offer cycling sunglasses with state-of-the-art interchangeable lenses that are a must-have for any cyclist’s kit. The VZUM lens is the high definition lens by ALBA Optics. In particular, the VZUM ™ F-LENS technology is an impressive interchangeable photochromatic lens that adapts itself to the intensity of the light present in the environment. The S-LENS VZUM ™ ultra-lightweight polycarbonate interchangeable lenses, for example, were designed with a singular goal: To provide athletes – or amateur cyclists, like us – with the ultimate visual experience in all weather conditions and on all terrains.
In practice, this means that the lens automatically changes colour, which protects against harmful UV rays and improves contrast so you can see what's coming. What’s more, their temporary transformation occurs fast, and is gradual and independent of any atmospheric factors. The optical strain is reduced to a minimum and the lenses remain active even on a cloudy day. A single pair of interchangeable lenses can, therefore, equip you for all riding conditions. Cool, eh?
Last but certainly not least, we would be kidding ourselves if we neglected to praise their aesthetic appeal. In a nutshell, ALBA OPTICS sunglasses are cool (and who doesn't want to be cool, particularly when you're in the saddle with your cycling buddies?). We love our ALBA OPTICS so much so that we frequently sport our cycling sunglasses even out of the saddle.
POC is a leading manufacturer of eyewear in cycling and snow sports. The company has a rousing mission: To protect lives and reduce the consequences of accidents for athletes and anyone that aspires to be one. That means offering personal protection and safety via products that are designed with unrivaled quality.
POC is serious about vision on the bike. Its sunglasses feature hydrophilic rubber grips on the nose and temple to ensure a secure fit – even when wet (think sweat on hot summer rides). Additionally, the sunglasses feature Clarity technology from optical industry leaders, Carl Zeiss Vision Sun lens, which allows the lenses to control the color spectrum for enhanced contrast and color definition to keep your vision sharp. Both frames and lenses come in a wide variety of colour options so you can dial into your perfect pair.
Like ALBA OPTICS, we sport our POC sunglasses (which feature an urban flare) on - and off - the bike.
Ensure you have a proper pair of cycling sunglasses for your summer rides.
While we always don base layers when we ride - year-round - we would argue there is particular value to sporting a base layer in the summer. This is easily among the top summer cycling clothes must-haves.
We get it. A base layer in the summer may seem, at first blush, a wee bit counter-intuitive (why pack on the layers, right?).
Remember that, even at the height of summer cycling, pushing through the air on long descents will give you a chill on your chest. Sporting a base layer underneath your jersey could help to prevent any potential summer lurgy.
What's more, the fact is that the construction of base layers renders them tremendously useful in high heat. They are typically designed with lightweight and breathable fabrics that feature temperature regulation to tackle sweat and fight off that 'clammy' feeling on the bike. Base layers ensure high levels of moisture management, keeping sweat from making your jersey feel damp. Plus, base layers are comfortable (it's not uncommon to forget it's even there), and are available in countless, cool designs.
For women's summer cycling clothes, you could even consider a cycling bra (like the SPORTFUL Pro W Bra), which features targeted perforations for breathability and moisture management as well as an elastic underbust band with high level of sweat absorption.
If you're a veteran cyclist, then odds are you already have a decent collection of jerseys, but are they built for summer? During the dog days of summer, when the heat is at its peak, the type of jersey you're sporting could have an impact on your performance.
For example, select jerseys are intentionally designed to beat the hottest days of summer cycling by making airflow and breathability paramount. These jerseys are effective at preventing overheating. They work to keep you dry by wicking sweat and prevent the sluggish feeling of being wrapped in layers of sticky weather. Additionally, they're quick to dry, which is crucial in hot conditions to ensure you don’t get weighed down by your sweat, and some even block UV rays from reaching your skin. Sleeveless jerseys are a fine choice, too (plus they help combat those pesky short-sleeve tan lines!). We know... it's not 'regulation'... but do you really care?
For our MTB friends (and our roadie friends, too!), it goes without saying that summer riding means special summer cycling clothes, like summer cycling shorts. When riding off road in the dirt, you probably won't spend all of your time in the saddle. You may find yourself sitting on a tree trunk for a rest to admire the panorama before you, or sliding down an embankment to try to rescue your bike.
For these types of adventures and more, there are the CHPT3 Dirt Shorts, which are designed to be robust and resilient yet lightweight, stretchy, and multi-purpose. They are simply perfect for summer cycling. There are other options, too, like the CASTELLI Unlimited Baggy Short, which are designed for long-distance endurance rides and feature an unbelievably lightweight yet durable fabric (the DWR finish means that mud and water roll right off!).
When the sunshine is out and the heat is on, a cycling cap can be a game changer. For one (and alongside your proper pair of cycling sunglasses), it reduces your eyes' exposure to the sun. What's more, summer cycling caps, which are typically made from a highly ventilated mesh, work to wick moisture from your head – one of the areas you sweat the most – and promote airflow to keep you from overheating.
Check out our full collection of cycling caps, or give us a shout to learn more about summer cycling clothes.
Obviously, this isn't what summer cycling clothes to wear for summer cycling, but - rather - what to pack before you hop in the saddle. While stocking up on hydration and nutrition is advisable year-round, you could argue that it is particularly imperative in the summer when you're more likely to sweat under the intense heat. Sodium is the primary electrolyte that we lose when we sweat (alongside some potassium), and sodium depletion is one of the causes of muscle cramps. Luckily, there are numerous options to stave off muscle fatigue and fuel your performance - from gels, to chews, and more.
Among our favourites are CLIF Bloks Energy Chews. They are easy solids to consume on the bike and are packed with energy to fuel your ride. There are energy gels, too, such as CLIF Shot Energy Gels, ENDURANCE TAP Energy Gels, and HONEY STINGER Energy Gels. Fun fact: HONEY STINGER Energy Gels can even be spread on toast, stirred into tea, or mixed with water to create a natural energy drink. If you're craving more kick, there are caffeinated options, too, like the ENDURANCE TAP Energy Gels, which feature 35mg of caffeine from green coffee bean extract.
For your hydration, ensure you have proper bottles and cages. If you only have one bottle cage attached to your bike frame, consider supplementing it with a second, or stuff one in a jersey pocket (you can never pack too much hydration - especially at the peak of summer). Stock as many bottles as you can (we try to drink one to two bottles every hour that we're in the saddle under the summer heat).
The bottom line? Your summer cycling clothes can support your performance on the bike, but don't forget about nutrition and hydration.
Summer means longer days - and longer days could mean longer rides. If you are cycling in the heat, remember:
There are numerous ways to prevent over-heating and dehydration - from the summer cycling clothes you wear to what you pack - when summer cycling. If you're like us, you probably love cycling in the summer (particularly after a harsh Canadian winter). Get the most out of it by ensuring you're prepared before you hop in the saddle. We hope this rundown on what summer cycling clothes to wear (and what to pack) for summer cycling provides a helpful start.
Happy (summer) riding, NOMADs!