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Jorts and a cotton t-shirt. Just kidding, that’s a terrible idea. If you don’t know why that’s a bad idea, keep reading.
Sure, we’ve worn jorts (jean shorts, for those not in the know) biking before but that’s because we were new to riding and we didn’t know any better, or we just didn’t have the proper gear yet. Sure, jorts are a fashion statement for some but when it comes to optimal performance and comfort when biking, they may not be the best choice. Nothing will chafe your sensitive areas faster than a thick denim seam. Every rider will have their own style, but here are some common things to wear when biking to help you be comfortable and perform to the best of your abilities.
We’ve already talked about jorts, so let’s discuss the next offender; mesh shorts. Sure, these are great for the basket ball court but loose mesh shorts can get stuck on your saddle when you’re climbing or descending and nothing is more terrifying than having your shorts get stuck on your seat when you’re riding through challenging terrain, trust us. Also, they can fall down in the back and expose your backside while biking which is probably not what you had in mind for your ride.
The next common thing we see is yoga pants. While these are incredibly comfortable and people seem to wear them everywhere, they’re not ideal for biking for a couple of reasons. Many yoga pants are made with very thin fabric that will wear out quickly with constant friction from the saddle. They also don’t offer much protection if you take a spill and depending on the fabric, may not be designed for getting really sweaty while biking.
What we recommend is a pair of mountain bike specific shorts, designed for everything you’ll encounter while riding. While shorts come in a variety of different fabrics and weights, most bike shorts are built with durable fabric that won’t wear out quickly and will provide some protection should you fall. Some shorts even feature a bit of stretch to move with you when you’re riding. Good shorts made out of high quality fabrics will even help wick away sweat and help minimize the dreaded “swamp ass.”
Strategically placed pockets are essential too. We’ve had more trail side conversations with other MTB ladies about pockets, all speculating why the apparel industry decided women didn’t need pockets or we wanted pockets that you couldn’t even fit your hand into. Find a pair of shorts that has the pockets you like, perhaps with a zippered cargo pocket to keep your belongings from falling out when riding.
We can’t neglect to mention the importance of the chamois, or padded bike shorts, so do yourself a favor and invest in a good chamois on day one; you’ll thank us later.
Jersey, shirt, whatever you want to call it, a proper one is key. Wearing a cotton t-shirt is a thing of the past for most mountain bikers because once you get a cotton t-shirt wet, it can take a long time to dry. Specially designed moisture wicking fabric will wick away sweat from your body and dry much more quickly than cotton or other non-performance fabrics.
There are different weights of fabric, too. If it’s really hot out, you may prefer a lighter weight fabric that breathes more easily. If it’s cooler, a heavier weight fabric will keep you warm and if it’s moisture wicking, it can still keep you dry.
Also something to consider when choosing a mountain biking top is the level of protection you may need. If you’re downhill mountain biking or riding enduro, you may want a long-sleeve jersey or ¾ sleeve jersey, to provide some protection on your arms if you crash and to cover your body armor or elbow pads. For most mountain bike rides, a short-sleeve jersey is a good go-to choice. Your apparel choices will likely be influenced by the type of riding you’ll be doing along with the weather.
Sure, when you’re just getting into mountain biking, you probably aren’t going to invest in a full new wardrobe after hitting the trails once, but as you get more and more into it, getting a few key pieces will go a long way in making riding easier and more fun.
To keep you comfortable on your next ride, take a look at our moisture wicking jerseys designed specific for the most avid women mountain bikers.