Column: How to Shop for bike-ish things: girl’s version

This is a preview of a new column. Article and photos to come in the November issue of Girl on Bike Online Magazine.

Lesson One: Clothing

Say What?!

I know, some of you girls are saying to yourself, “Please, I KNOW how to shop for clothes. I don’t need any help in that department.” But times have changed in the cycling industry; new technology has developed in fabrics, stitching, and construction. Seriously folks, it’s a whole new ballgame. So unless you’re a “clothing technology fanatic” like me, you don’t spend much time reading and testing. Let’s face it; testing can be fun, but constantly reading about tech stuff is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately for you, I’ve read all the dry technical stuff with all the details, and I’ll be constructing a regularly featured column of things you’ll need to know about cycling clothing, plus stuff you’ll want to know (like when you can get a good bang for your buck, and what looks and feels fabulous). Plus for those who want to, you can remain lycra-free.

Here are a few hints about how to shop for bike clothing, for girls shopping around in a store or bike shop:

  • Is the fabric soft?

A lot of us don’t think about this, but it’s true; women have softer skin, so we need softer fabrics. Plus we don’t have an extra layer of protection in the form of hair all over our bodies, the way that men do (generally speaking). So the bottom line is that we need softer fabrics, and even closures should be softer (I avoid scratchy Velcro).

  • Turn the garment inside out. How is the stitching?

Be careful for overlock stitching in sensitive places. The longer the trip, the more important stitching becomes. A three-point junction of stitching shouldn’t feel like an annoying knob.

  • How is it constructed? If it is a technical garment, is it constructed in 3-dimensional “bike position”?

While the garment is still inside out, lay it down on a flat surface. Is it hard to figure out how you’d fold this thing? That’s 3D clothing. While commuter clothing can have a two dimensional construction (it lays flat), road, track, and some mountain biking clothes (rule of thumb, anything with chamois), is better off with a 3D cut.

  • Try on the garment, but don’t just try on the one garment. Take the time to pick out the full outfit: top, bottom, and jacket).

Trying on a full outfit will give you the true feeling of how it will ride. Don’t look in the mirror first. Rather, sit down, or squat down into bike position. If you mountain bike, shift around a lot, and feel for seams that rub you. Roadies should imitate “the drops position”; the garment should fit best in this position and it should not ride up.

  • OK, now look in the mirror

Seriously, cool or dork, whatever you feel comfortable with, own it. C’mon now, we’re still women. If we don’t feel great about the clothes we’re wearing, chances are we won’t wear them. So pick out “the look” for you but pay attention, to the fabric, stitching and construction first, so that you can get girlie in front of the mirror. And have fun with it; it’s shopping, after all!


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10 Responses to “Column: How to Shop for bike-ish things: girl’s version”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Check out She’s a UK based store, but always gives helpful comments about the clothes.

    How do I get to join the Ride network? :o)

  2. girl meets bike Says:

    I will be sending out invitations to join the network on Wednesday, so I’ll send you one. is a good site; they have a good buyer, nice choices.

  3. Atomic Bombshell Says:

    It’s sad, but I’ve been buying men’s cycling clothes for about a year now because I find it’s of a much higher quality than what I can find in the women’s department.

  4. Bike stuff for girls - Cult of the Bicycle Says:

    […] for girls For the ladies who need help in selecting the right riding clothing, Girl Meets Bike writes up some handy tips on what to look […]

  5. Brian Says:

    Oh god, there are so many more important things that the majority of women (and men) are doing wrong in the bike field; clothing barely registers.

  6. girl meets bike Says:

    No offense sir, but this kind of “brush off” attitude with regards to women’s cycling clothing and saddle design is exactly what’s kept women off bikes or in terrible pain while riding for far too many years.
    At any given time while in the saddle, depending on your style of riding, you lean on your crotch/sit bones 55-70% of the time. Are you saying that ALL of the aspects of this contact point is not worthy of discussion? Indeed, Are not ALL the contact points covered by SOME type of apparel, and therefore worth of discussion?
    However, if YOU have a subject with regards to making women more comfortable on bikes, please give us an example of your solution to a problem, and please, with the respect and dignity it deserves.

    Honestly, I don’t understand what’s wrong with getting excited about ALL aspects of bike riding, including clothes. I think that bike clothing is not a frivolous subject, but rather a very frugal subject, in that you will hopefully learn to buy once, buy right.
    Maybe it’s because I grew up in NYC, a fashion capitol, but sometimes I just get excited about clothing. Maybe it’s just a girl thing, or maybe it’s just a ME thing, but you know, bike clothing IS a popular subject for women cyclists; that and what bikes work well for women (and what components), which I address those in other blog posts.

  7. Wooly Danielle Says:

    It’s all about wool ladies. Super fine merino just for ladies. maybe too sporty for the commuter, but has some good stuff.

  8. Paul Says:

    Course, the trick is how do you purchase for your wife (or significant female other) to surprise them with gear when they can’t try it all on for themselves? Sure, I can get her a gift certificate, but that’s really no fun in my book. Not as much as opening something up you can try on, and even use that afternoon if she so desires!

    Do you go for the accessories moreso, or just take your best shot? (Always best to get the smaller size…right?) I know it sounds trite, but I literally just went through this at the bike shop the other day….and ended up bailing on a surprise bike gear gift!


  9. girl meets bike Says:

    This is such a good point. One of the biggest problems in the industry right now is the lack of standardized sizing for women and men, both in clothing and bikes.
    It makes it difficult to shop for ourselves unless we have ample time to try on gear. Clothing can be very deceiving in that what looks good on the hanger, does not always have proper fit.
    May I suggest an idea to make it fun for the both of you? Try to find a good bike shop with some nice women’s clothing and bike accessories. Tell her to have a look around and see what she gravitates towards. If she’s looking at a brand that you know is good for women, suggest she try it on. Chances are she’ll give you an indicator about what she likes, as well as what size she is (pay attention to brands).
    If nothing else you guys will spend some time in a bike shop together, and that can’t be a bad thing 😉

  10. Paul2 Says:

    Are we talking about sports gear? I just use my regular clothes, a suite, even with tie sometimes. Same thing with my female friends.

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