You don’t need specialist clothing for everyday cycling, but avoid any long or loose items that could get caught up in the wheels, chain or other moving parts. Also be sure that any jacket you wear cannot tuck itself under the saddle behind you, pinning you in place.
Also, it is easier to cycle if your shoes have a reasonably stiff sole, as softer more flexible shoes make pedalling a little more difficult, and the pedals will hurt your feet on longer rides. But for a short ride to the shops, school or work, any shoes will do.
If you’re planning to ride at night, or during poor weather conditions, it also makes sense to dress in something that will contrast with the general surroundings. Black clothes do not stand out well against tarmac during murky weather and in the dark, so that old public safety message of ‘wear something light at night’ is still good advice. Something high-vis with reflective strips will also help your visibility, so many everyday cyclists choose a bib or waistcoat to slip on over normal clothes. However, we do wonder if this habit will mean that anyone not wearing bright yellow or orange will be no longer be noticed….
The choice of materials for warmth and weatherproofing used in outdoor clothing is bewildering, so Simply Hike’s guide to fabrics used may help you make some sense of it all.
For cycling-specific clothing information, take a look at Evans Cycles guides to rainwear, gloves, sunglasses, base layers, and shoes, to name a few items. Halfords also have a guide to cycle clothing, as does Wiggle Online Cycle Shop when you select a particular category from their left-hand menu.
The debate goes on, and on, and on.
Suffice to say that the jury is still out in the UK, with no legal requirement to wear a helmet here, so it’s your choice entirely. If a helmet breaks in an accident, does that mean that particular helmet is rubbish or that it did its job? How do you know unless you fancy repeating the experience without a helmet.
This article by Brian Walker gives information on what cycle helmets are designed to do (or not do) and how they are tested. It was written by someone who tests all sorts of helmet, not just cycle helmets, and makes interesting reading, although it is somewhat dated, being published in the June/July 2005 issue of Cycle (CTC’s magazine).
There is also some information on our ‘cycling safety facts and figures’ page.
For guides to choosing, buying, and fitting helmets properly go to Halfordsor Wiggle Cycles, but do remember that retailers make a living by selling you things, so will always encourage you to buy as many extras as possible.
This page includes Evans Cycles, Halfords, Simply Hike, Wiggle Online Cycle Shop, Bike for All/Bike Hub’s buyer’s guides to choosing and buying outdoor and cycling clothing/clothes including helmets (with helmet-tester, Brian Walker, article), waterproofs, fabrics.