You might have seen cyclists on the trail, on the road whilst you are driving, or even on the TV watching the Olympics, but one question you might be dying to ask is why do they all wear such tight Lycra?
Wearing Lycra is synonymous with cycling more than any other piece of equipment and regardless of the height or weight of the cyclist, you will rarely see a cyclist without it.
However, for non-cyclists, this can be baffling and you might be wondering what are the benefits. We have written this article to tell you why cyclists wear Lycra and how it helps them have a successful ride.
What Are The Benefits Of Wearing Lycra Whilst Cycling?
If you are a seasoned cyclist, you will understand the difference between a hundred-dollar bike and a thousand-dollar bike and you will understand the difference between a cheap biking outfit and an expensive biking outfit.
You might be aware of the benefits of wearing expensive Lycra when you cycle but there are still riders out there who question them, and this can lead to heated debates.
Moreover, non-cyclists have been curious why cyclists often wear lycra and for this reason, we are going to share how it can lead to a more successful and comfortable ride.
There are multiple benefits to the material and these include:
Lycra can perform well and has excellent technical properties. There are plenty of fabrics you can find on the market designed to fit you well, but none of them will offer you the same technical properties you should expect from Lycra.
Whilst biking, you need to sweat, and if you don’t your body will struggle to cool off, leaving you fatigued. You also might get stressed and wonder why you are not sweating.
However, not every type of fabric will help you sweat just as you normally would. There are fabrics out there that might make you sweat slower and this will be detrimental to your cycle, affecting both your health and performance.
Lycra on the other hand will facilitate the sweating and will make sure the sweat on the skin is evaporating as fast as possible, making your body sweat faster than necessary. It is a moisture-wicking fabric and will also help you cool down a lot quicker.
Lycra fits well and one of the key rules when cycling is that if an item of clothing doesn’t fit you, you should not wear it when cycling.
A t-shirt that does not fit you properly might get pulled up in aerodynamic resistance or a badly fitted pair of shorts or trousers might fall and sit uncomfortably.
This is why cyclists turn to Lycra. Lycra stays in place despite how you are moving your body and how it reacts with the wind. If you buy Lycra that fits, it will stay where you put it.
Lycra might cost a little more, but it means the clothing will last longer and you won’t have to wear those uncomfortable shirts with the silicone grips attached to make them stay in place or bib shorts with straps over the shoulder to hold the shorts in place.
Moreover, with clothing that fits so well, you will not have to worry about it getting caught in the chain, like normal trousers might. Instead, we can reach our destination, worry-free, oil-free and grease-free.
Plus, most Lycra shorts and trousers have a padded bum, and this can make the ride a lot more comfortable whilst sitting on such a narrow, hard seat for so long. What’s not to love?
Your body accounts for 75% of the aerodynamic drag you experience when cycling. Although this is an estimate, the reality is that you will not stray too far from this and it might even be higher depending on personal circumstances.
To cycle faster, you should aim to reduce the aerodynamic drag on your body and as physics tells us, the smoother the surface, the less drag you might experience. It is found that clothing is a huge factor that increases the overall drag on a cyclist whilst riding.
However, by wearing skin-tight clothes such as lycra, this can be minimized. Lycra will hug every inch of your body and any item of clothing you wear made of the material will stick to your skin without making you feel uncomfortable.
This will allow you to enjoy your ride and ride faster than you could in other items of clothing. Moreover, as you won’t have different items of clothing wobbling around, it will also be a lot easier for you to focus on the ride.
There is also the fact that Lycra will allow you to do more work as you will be spending less energy.
It Looks Good
Finally, to put it simply, Lycra looks good.
Others might find it hard to believe, but if you want to show off that sculpted body you’ve worked on over the years from cycling up mountains and miles on end, tight clothing is going to do just that.
It’s similar to shaving your legs and defines those pipe cleaners. As a result, it also gives us a mental boost.
Are There Disadvantages?
Rather than calling them disadvantages, there are often a couple of things people query when it comes to wearing lycra.
The first one is do I need to wear a Lycra outfit?
We’re here to tell you that if you are a professional cyclist or you are wanting to make a career out of the sport, getting a Lycra outfit will be worth it.
However, if you are only cycling for fun, getting a Lycra outfit might not be as beneficial as you will not be able to get the best out of it, and it could end up being a waste of your dollar.
This is especially relevant if you do not feel comfortable in such tight clothing and you prefer to just wear looser-fit sports outfits.
Lycra is a lot more expensive than most other items of clothing, so you will need to pay a fair amount of money for a high-quality piece of clothing.
You might have to ask yourself if it is worth it as they might last a lot longer than regular items of clothing and they might make you get places faster, but in the long run, they might not be worth it if you only bike for fun.
Whilst Lycra can be amazing, it does not mean you always need to rush out a buy yourself a set as a cyclist.
If you prefer to save your dollar and spend it on a better quality bike or something more important, this is perfectly valid and might be more beneficial to your circumstances.
However, as a professional cyclist, or someone who wants to make a career out of the sport, Lycra is a great material that fits well, helps you sweat and cool down efficiently, and most importantly, can make you reach those higher speeds.
So, what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest bike shop and buy yourself those Lycra shorts you’ve had your eye on for some time!