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  1. #1
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    Technical Clothing

    I'm looking to start getting some proper clothing. By proper I mean the technical/sports clothing that use fabric technology that keeps sweat away from the body and helps maintain the right temperature, not cold and not boiling.

    I've been told that the idea is to have a base layer that is tight fitting (even in the summer) then a top (I'm guessing long sleeve for winter, short for summer) and then an appropriate jacket for the season (or not in the summer).

    Is this what you people do? Any hints before I go and spend my spondoolies? Any suggestions for dynamite brands or ones to avoid?

    Cheers !
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  2. #2
    zul
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    You will only need one layer in summer for (mt biking).

    Fabrics ... that's where I always get confused. There are so many types. Can anyone make sence of all those different fabric types/blends/styles????

    For winter, I have a basic pair of long spandex and another pair of long fleece pants with ankle zips. That way, I can always add or take off the fleece layer without taking off my shoes. For the top, I buy simple mt bike jerseys, one short and one long. After that, I just add a long cotton tee if it's really cold.

    Shell ... I have a great Gortex shell that is mt bike specific but has no hood. If I ever use it backpacking and end up in the rain, I will dearly miss the hood feature. I suggest getting a bike specific shell that has a hood. While Gortex is great, there are now several knock-off materials that probably work just as well. The key word is 'breathable'.

    If you do all sorts of outdoor activities, you should get mt bike specific grear that could also be used for other outdoor sports.
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  3. #3

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    Hi

    I dont know to much about the subject. but the basics you need to know are:
    Never use a cotton base layer you will end up cold and wet.

    A base layer needs hollow fibers this enables the fabric to wick moisture away from the body. I favour Marino wool, its keeps me dry and warm I find it to be extremtly comportable in cold conditions.

    Man made synthetics offer the same performance its just depends on personal tastes. the wool tends not to pong after a could long ride as opposed the synthetics.

    I normaly ride with the base layer and a long sleave bike top usualy from Fox( even in freezing Temps). I cary a light rolled up water proof that I only put on when it gets wet. I also prefer to wear long pants in winter with long lycra underneath

    Summer rides I usualy ride in just the top with a good high end bike short. I carnt fault the Fox gear its my prefered brand for most things.

  4. #4
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    Wool wool and more wool

    My favorite riding clothes are all Merino Wool. It's a bit spendier than the high tech stuff (way spendier than Performance stuff I guess) but it has been worth it to me. I usually just once a week check Ibex's website and see if anything is on sale that interests me. Usually quite a bit off of the normally astronomical prices, and without any fancy shipping usually have the package in three or so days. Great company, great products, wonderful service.

    The beauty of wool (if you get lighter weight stuff) is that with layers you stay warm on the coldest days (-10 F rides, check), and it doesn't overheat you on the 90+ days. Also, I find that I don't actually have to wash the tops after every ride. They just don't smell. And I sweat like a pig.

  5. #5
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    Fabrics ... that's where I always get confused. There are so many types. Can anyone make sence of all those different fabric types/blends/styles????
    The general rule for layers ( with the exception of wool) is wicking polyester. This is not your grandma's polyester. The new generation of stuff is highly engineered for performance, that is moving moisture away from the body for evaporation and cooling, or moving moisture away from the body to prevent chilling.

    You can get really lost in the technical obfuscation: hydrophilic fibers blah blah blah. And you can pay an awful lot, too ; but you don't' have too. Even stores like Target have nice performance T's for $15 or so. While they don't look as cool as your $70 jersey, the function is about the same. Sierra Trading Post, Steep and Cheep - good places to look for deals. You don't have to buy bike specific clothing either... some of my favorite riding shirts are just wicking T's that I got on sale somewhere.

    Bike specific clothing may have features that you won't find in a regular wicking T, like zip pockets or a cut that is designed just for cycling - like longer in the back. Good places to look for cycle clothing are Performance Bike, REI and your LBS.

    hth

    formica

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexandros
    I'm looking to start getting some proper clothing. By proper I mean the technical/sports clothing that use fabric technology that keeps sweat away from the body and helps maintain the right temperature, not cold and not boiling.

    I've been told that the idea is to have a base layer that is tight fitting (even in the summer) then a top (I'm guessing long sleeve for winter, short for summer) and then an appropriate jacket for the season (or not in the summer).

    Is this what you people do? Any hints before I go and spend my spondoolies? Any suggestions for dynamite brands or ones to avoid?

    Cheers !
    You picked a strange time in outdoor gear, all different opinions out there now. Goretex has been outed for not breathing enough for most outdoor activity, windstopper is in the same boat. Layering results in more fatigue from the layers binding on each other if you happen to move around a lot. "Soft shell" is the new thing but good luck in truly defining how water resistant or wind resistant it supposed to be, the range is wide.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    You picked a strange time in outdoor gear, all different opinions out there now. Goretex has been outed for not breathing enough for most outdoor activity, windstopper is in the same boat. Layering results in more fatigue from the layers binding on each other if you happen to move around a lot. "Soft shell" is the new thing but good luck in truly defining how water resistant or wind resistant it supposed to be, the range is wide.
    This is where you have to get educated. Goretex is not the be-all end-all for shell fabric. Most people get dissatisfied with it because they don't understand it performs best is cold temp, low aerobic activites, not a highly areobic activity like cycling.

    Soft shell is a term that is tossed around that actually refers to a "family" of fabric types, but not a specific fabric.

  8. #8

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    Cotton in the winter.....smart.

  9. #9
    zul
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelaySlave
    Cotton in the winter.....smart.
    When you run outta money and that's all you got, that's all you got. I gotta comfortable and warm ride, so I guess you're right ... smart.

    If lovin you is wrong, I don't wanna be right

  10. #10
    mikeb
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    i use an REI base layer top under a canari long sleeve wool jersey with a pearl izumi zephyr jacket.

    i wear lycra bike shorts /tights/endura humvee knickers on the bottom. (this is my winter time gear)

    in the summer, i use the same base layer on cooler days (san francisco does not have "hot" summertimes) along with a short sleeved wool jersey and the same lycra shorts and humvee knickers.

    if you can afford it, wool is the way to go if you live in a climate that gets cold winters and the summer days are not so hot.

    don't use cotton.

    oh yeah, when it comes to socks, i eitherr use wool cycling socks or these black adidas casual sport socks i just recently discovered. no cotton socks though, they tend to get clammy.

  11. #11

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    For base layers you want Capilene flece. They come in silk weight light weight medium and expedition. I like Patagonia but I suppose I'm bias as I have a pro deal with them.
    Anyway they have a good page on why Capilene is better then wool.
    http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/prod...ON=PBL_LANDING

    I highly highly recommend the silk weight boxers. They are just the best.
    http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/prod...WEAR#sku.45096

  12. #12
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    whoa dude, I thought part of the agreement for getting a pro deal is that you don't brag about it!! tsk, tsk...

  13. #13
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    It's pretty simple. You can make it complicated if you really like comparing the properties of different bits of clothing.

    Use a single base layer for most weather, and an additional windproof layer for cold/wet weather.

    The base layer should be wicking. Doesn't matter if it's tight fitting or not. There are many fabrics that are sold as such. I've found PowerDry fabrics to be the fastest drying. However, it and the lighter fabrics with a 'hollow grid' look don't do well with surviving falls- they tend to snag and look ragged after a while. I've found silkweight Patagonia Capilene shirts to be more rugged than anything else.

    For a wind layer, the 'softshell' jackets are good. They breathe well, keep the wind off and provide for a lot of water resistance if looked after correctly. Gore-tex is NOT softshell, despite what their marketing claims say. Goretex is pretty crap for aerobic sports- It is simply not breathable enough for consideration (this applies both to traditional Goretex and to their Windstopper/N2S products).

    For good softshell options, look at shelled microfibre (Marmot driclime or REI generics) or woven softshells without laminated windblocking layers (e.g. the lighter weight Schoeller fabrics).

    When washing your technical clothing, don't use fabric softener as it'll screw the wicking properties of clothing. When washing softshells, use pure soap (or the pricier sports washes for waterproof clothing, but pure soap is just as good). Normal washing detergents can interfere with the water repellent coatings on jackets.
    Last edited by womble; 02-25-2007 at 07:08 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winger
    My favorite riding clothes are all Merino Wool. It's a bit spendier than the high tech stuff (way spendier than Performance stuff I guess) but it has been worth it to me. I usually just once a week check Ibex's website and see if anything is on sale that interests me. Usually quite a bit off of the normally astronomical prices, and without any fancy shipping usually have the package in three or so days. Great company, great products, wonderful service.

    The beauty of wool (if you get lighter weight stuff) is that with layers you stay warm on the coldest days (-10 F rides, check), and it doesn't overheat you on the 90+ days. Also, I find that I don't actually have to wash the tops after every ride. They just don't smell. And I sweat like a pig.
    I totally agree with Winger.
    Merino Wool is all I wear up top.
    And most of it is Ibex, great stuff, lasts a long time, machine washable, doesn't stink, actually wicks moisture off your body, keeps you warm even when wet.
    It really is a miracle fabric.
    One big reccomendation though, only buy Merino Wool.
    It's finer and softer than regular wool.
    I wear it directly next to the skin and it feels really nice. Never had an irritation problem.
    This ain't your granma's heavy knitted scratchy wool sweater.
    Lenny


    Ibex is the best. Check out their Outlet section on their site.
    Sierra Trading Post also has some Ibex stuff from time to time.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by formica
    whoa dude, I thought part of the agreement for getting a pro deal is that you don't brag about it!! tsk, tsk...
    Never read that in the agreement....

  16. #16
    Nat
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    I must be the only person who isn't all ga-ga over wool. It's okay, but I think Capilene wicks better, dries off more quickly, and feels better against the skin. Oh well, I'm glad we all have plenty from which to choose.

    As for summertime, I prefer loose-fitting synthetics, not tight.

    The main tenet I always think of is, "cotton kills."

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    Okay, I'm a n00b without a lot of dough to throw around, so here's what's been effective for me so far.

    Cold weather:
    A snug-fitting base layer of something like Champion's thermal stuff. I prefer the shirts with a zippered neck and higher collar. If it's colder, I can zip it up into a turtleneck. As I warm up, I can unzip it to vent. These are about $15 to $20 at Target. When outdoor shops have sales, I've also picked up some North Face stuff for $20. Over that I'll sometimes wear a cycling jersey and a fleece vest. That does pretty well for cooler weather. For colder weather, I'll wear a fleece jacket with the base layer. If it's around the 20s, I might have the base layer, jacket, and jersey. Those have kept me plenty comfy so far.

    For pants, I usually have my lycra shorts with the chamois, thermal tights on over that, and a pair of Nike shorts/trunks that I picked up on clearance at Kohl's for $6.

    Warm weather:
    I started off with the trunks and a t-shirt, but quickly understood the value of the jerseys. I had been wearing the trunks over my lycra shorts, but since I've trimmed down some I've gone to just the lycra shorts. I still wear the trunks on trails, though, so the lycra shorts don't wind up with any tears in spots that might get me arrested. I picked up a very basic jersey on Amazon.com (just search "cycling jersey" or "bike jersey" or such) for $25. I'd like some of the more fun ones, but I can't see paying $70 for something just because of the designs on it. The brand was Canyon, and it's actually a little larger than I expected. So it's snug enough that there's not a lot to cause drag, but not skin-tight.

    For my personal preference, I prefer the jerseys with the zippered neck over t-shirts with CoolMax or something like that. The neck can trap a lof of heat that I want to be able to vent. So, while you can get synthetic shirts cheap at Target or Walmart, I prefer to spend an extra $10 for basic jerseys so that I have the zip fronts. If I knew how to sew, the alternative might be the long-sleeve stuff being clearanced now and just cut the sleeves off and sew up the ends.

    I get a lot of coupons from a local outdoor store, so when I get ones that are like $20 off a purchase of $50 or more, I'll pick up cycling socks to bump the purchase up to $50 and effectively get the socks for free.

  18. #18

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    Professional help here...

    Quote Originally Posted by zul
    Fabrics ... that's where I always get confused. There are so many types. Can anyone make sense of all those different fabric types/blends/styles????
    How long do you have?

    Like others have said, the simple solution is layering. The layer closest to the body should have wicking properties to transport sweat from the body and keep you comfortable. Most solutions here are man-made fiber based (polyester or nylon) although high-end wool can be as effective.

    Quote Originally Posted by bainsey
    Man made synthetics offer the same performance its just depends on personal tastes. The wool tends not to pong after a could long ride as opposed the synthetics.
    The science of moisture management is pretty complex and can be achieved by selecting the type of fiber (e.g. polyester vs cotton), the filament size (fine filaments are generally better), the filament cross-section or the fabric construction. They work by using capillary action to carry moisture away from the body. As man-made fibers can be extruded into any cross-section, and they tend to absorb less moisture into the fiber itself, they tend to be better. The modern solutions use very fine fibers which as well as promoting the capillary action also feel softer against the skin. The downside of man-mades is that they tend to promote the growth of bacteria which means they end up smelling. The latest technology incorporates silver ions which prevents bacterial growth and keeps your polyester smelling nice, although these tend to be expensive.

    Poylester absorbs (from memory) 2% of it's weight in water but is the worse for bacterial growth. Nylon is 4%, and is a little less smelly. Cotton, on the other hand can absorb 20% of its weight in moisture which is why most people will avoid it in aerobic sports.

    Most of the brands use the same or similar technologies to induce wicking. Like Formica said, its easy to get lost in the (deliberately) obscur technicalities of the marketing prose. The key is to pay for the performance rather than the brand.

    On top of the base layer, it's key to make sure the moisture evacuated has somewhere to go, so avoid cotton which collects the moisture. If you need a jacket, go for the right compromise of breathability (i.e. sweat evacuation!) vs warmth. I use a Gore shell most of the time and a wind stopper fleece when it gets really cold.

    Keep the questions coming...

  19. #19
    zul
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    I have been looking for trunks but still not sure what to purchase. I just did a Google search for Nike Shorts/Trunks ... There are so many out there, all expensive (on the Nike site at least), $40 and up. Still not sure which one would be best for technicle riding ... Adventure Shorts, Feather Weight, Lance Short, Mercurial ... Which ones do you suggest? Is there a more affordable knock-off brand?

    Second, looking for a good recomendation on spandex riding shorts. Is there a good one around $30?

    Great thread (IMO) by the way
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  20. #20
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by zul
    I have been looking for trunks but still not sure what to purchase. I just did a Google search for Nike Shorts/Trunks ... There are so many out there, all expensive (on the Nike site at least), $40 and up. Still not sure which one would be best for technicle riding ... Adventure Shorts, Feather Weight, Lance Short, Mercurial ... Which ones do you suggest? Is there a more affordable knock-off brand?

    Second, looking for a good recomendation on spandex riding shorts. Is there a good one around $30?

    Great thread (IMO) by the way
    If you prefer to wear something over your lycra skinshorts then most casual or athletic shorts will do. Just wear what you already own. You don't absolutely need bike-specific clothing to go biking (other than maybe a chamois). Just avoid straight cotton.
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  21. #21
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    If you sweat a lot like me... get a HALO II headband. I love mine. Pretty cheap and works like a dream.

    I love my smartwool socks because my feet never feet clammy and soggy. Pure comfort.

    I recently got a Fox Flow jersey which will replace my Wally-world Athletic works shirts. (same as under armor) All kidding aside though, the cheapo athletic works shirts do a damn good job. I have a skin tight long sleeve and a baggy short sleeve. Perfect for all summer riding.

    I now insist on Lycra shorts.. so much more comfortable than boxers and shorts. haha. I do wear Adidas baggies over them though.
    ~ it's all good ~

  22. #22
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    I've found wearing an undershirt or base layer to be a huge benefit. I used to wear a nice heavy Patagonia one but then some joker shrunk it (or enlarged me). I've got a few nice ones from Verge right now so I can rotate.

    Other random thoughts.

    Bib shorts or tights are worth their weight in gold. For real winter riding find Euro tighs with a chamios. Depending on local conditions you can pick between plain, insulated etc. If you feel a need for windstopper a vest has worked great for me.

    I love wool, but sometimes if I'm bushwacking, or expecting to crash or feeling the urge to pack 25 lbs. of gear into my pockets then I usually chose a polyester one. I thinkk I'm up to about 8 wool now!

  23. #23
    zul
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat
    If you prefer to wear something over your lycra skinshorts then most casual or athletic shorts will do. Just wear what you already own. You don't absolutely need bike-specific clothing to go biking (other than maybe a chamois). Just avoid straight cotton.
    Do you feel comfortable getting on and off the back of your saddle on steep technical sections? You know, getting your shorts hung up on the seat, not such a good feeling.
    If lovin you is wrong, I don't wanna be right

  24. #24
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by zul
    Do you feel comfortable getting on and off the back of your saddle on steep technical sections? You know, getting your shorts hung up on the seat, not such a good feeling.
    Depends on the shorts. Some hang up, others don't. If I get hung up it's usually (but still rarely) while trying to get back on. Then I just unclip and ghost ride off the back.

  25. #25
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    I like wool and have a few pieces from l-sleeve and s-sleeve to base layers, but what tends to be a problem is that once it gets wet it takes longer to dry than synthetic stuff. It can get wet from sweat too. One of the properties of wool that is an advantage, however, is it will still insulate when wet. On long wet rides I have become soaked and stayed warm and then once I peeled the layers (yes the layer thing is key), those wool layers are heavy.

    I also wear chamois tights (bibs) under shorts like Nat. It may be a modesty thing, but I also like the advantage of handy pockets. Jersey pockets don't do anything for me since you can't really access them with a pack on, but I keep energy bars/gel in short pockets and also have a place for wrappers/trash (even during races!), maps too. I'll even stash a camera in a shorts pocket because you can't get real "action" shots when you have to stop and get your camera out of your pack!

  26. #26
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    I'm curious about the popularity of wool. Are the main benefits:

    1) stays warm when whet

    2) takes longer to smell bad

    Are there any others? What does it feel like compared to synthetics?

  27. #27
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    I'm curious about the popularity of wool. Are the main benefits:

    1) stays warm when whet

    2) takes longer to smell bad

    Are there any others? What does it feel like compared to synthetics?
    It has a more natural feel than CoolMax. That description is elusive, but if you wear it you'll see what I mean. I do like the feel of Capilene better than wool though.

    It does not get staticky like polyesters.

    It seems to lose its shape more easily than synthetics (wool sags).

    It still is a bit itchy (even my high-dollar Ibex stuff). It's not anything like the poofy wool sweater with the giant snowflakes mom gave me for my 15th birthday, but still...

    It doesn't wick as well as synthetics and does not dry as quickly (and therefore feels hotter in the dead of summer). It does feel cozier in the winter though.

    It is WAY more expensive.

    It can shrink. My custom wool jersey shrank two whole sizes after two washings, to the point I had to give it away since I couldn't get it on. Actually I could get it on but nearly had to cut it off. I am not about to hand wash, dry clean, lay flat, wash separately or in any way treat my bike clothing like I would my business suit.

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    Regarding the vest, I have to second those. I've found that as long as I keep more core insulated, my arms can stay warm with just a base layer or arm warmers a lot easier than one might think.

  29. #29
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    Thanks for all the good advice !
    Not much for a man to ask I dare say.. the simple maturity to ensure a limitless supply of clean socks.

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