Moving on from the bike itself that we discussed extensively in the last few shows, in this episode we’re talking about the rider and what to wear whilst you’re riding.
Clothing is one area that many new riders can find hard to figure out, so we’re here to talk you through the options and get you in the right gear from the off. We think that the right clothing for your style of riding is one of the most important aspects of ensuring you have a comfortable and enjoyable ride, so it’s something you’ll want to make sure is on point! Everyone wants to look the part too, right?
In this episode, we talk about everything you’ll be wearing on the upper half of your body, from helmets to jerseys, sunglasses to gloves. We aim to lay out what’s available and what style suits different types of MTBers best, so we hope you enjoy it!
Helmets and glasses
Starting off at the top, we dive into to discussing two key protective items in the helmet and sunglasses. When it comes to what lid you choose, it’s important to say that almost any helmet will do, being that they all have to come up to certain standards legally. That goes for a helmet designed for the road, for regular mountain biking or for more aggressive disciplines like downhill.
As I mention on the podcast, as a racer, I use the Giro Aeon, which is principally a road helmet, but has some great styling and is plenty tough enough for XC-style riding and racing. We both agree though that for your regular rider, a MTB-specific trail helmet will always be the best bet – something like the Giro Phase or Xar.
Unless you’re a downhill-only rider, we’d suggest avoiding full face helmets for regular riding, as they’re not very breathable, lightweight or comfortable for long periods. There are in between models like the MET Parachute helmet, which can offer some enhanced protection for the chin. This might be a good shout if you’re trying to up your technical skills or heading to a bike park.
When it comes to sunglasses, this is one piece of equipment that isn’t compulsory but certainly can help with safety on the trail. Good brands to go for are Specialized, Giro, Bloc at the more affordable end, and Oakley at the pricier side. Look for models that have a tight fit to the face and that have good quality lenses.
Choosing a jersey
Moving down the body, the jersey or top you’ll be riding in is certainly one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll get for riding in. As we mention in the episode though, there are quite a few options that’ll do the trick nicely.
The first is a basic active or running t-shirt. These tops will typically always use a wicking material, which will keep you nice and cool when it’s hot, and on the warmer side when it’s cold out. What they don’t have is some of the the MTB-specific features like a longer back, and therefore won’t be as comfortable when you’re bent over in the riding position.
Road or MTB-specific tops are obviously designer with riding ergonomics in mind. They can be a bit tight and ride up when you’re stood upright, but will be perfect for when you’re hunched over, hands on the handlebars. Most will have pockets for you to stash a multi-tool or pump, and will have either partial or full zips for when it gets hot. All-in-all, they’ll be more functional and comfortable when you’re actually riding, but it’s whether the extra cost over a more basic tee is worth it for the style and amount of riding you do.
A good inbetween option for us mountain bikers is a jersey that’s not too baggy or loose-fitting, but also not too tight or restrictive. Brands like Polaris Bikewear, Gore, and Endura are some of our favourites, so do check them out if you’re after a new jersey.
Getting your gloves right
The final item of MTB clothing we look at on this episode is gloves. Gloves are particularly useful for us mountain bikers for several reasons, and the first of these is for grip. Holding on to the handlebars is arguably the most important contact area you have with the bike, so doing everything you can to improve the control you have can only be a good thing.
The second reason has got to be for protection. When you crash, you instinctively put your hands out to break the fall, and without something to protect your palms, they can easily get badly cut and grazed. MTB gloves will usually have a hardwearing palm with some kind of padding, helping to make them comfortable whilst riding, but also protective if you have a spill.
Here at Mountain Bikes Apart, we’re big fans of Polaris Bikewear, Troy Lee Designs, Fox and Endura, who all make great gloves specifically for mountain bikers. You’ll have to listen to the show to see what we think of waterproof gloves!
What gear do you use?
We’d love to hear what brands of gear you use on your upper half and what you’re experience has been with different items of MTB clothing. As always, let us know on Twitter where Colin’s account is @colinmcgray, and mine can be found at @bytombell. You can also get in contact via the website too.
Stay tuned for Episode 16, where we’ll be delving into the bottom half, covering shorts, shoes and even socks!