Gear for 36er rides (clothing and protective)

I did a few searches and didn’t really find much, so…

I got a coker last week and with my finals this semester being done in just a few weeks, I’ll have a lot of time to work on my distance riding. I’ve ridden a 20" for the past 3 years however, and am a total noob to the world of any sort of distance over 5 miles. I have a few questions about gear.

Firstly, keep in mind I live in TX…and it gets freaking hot here. As far as water is concerned, I own a Camelbak Mule, so that’s not too much of an issue.

Now, for my torso. Should I invest in one of this moisture-wicking, form-fitting road cycling shirts? (I don’t know the proper term for them) All of my wardrobe right now is just cotton shirts, which I know are highly impractical for distance cycling in the heat. Any specific brands you guys recommend for this?

What about protective gear? I’ve already experimented a bit with going fast on the coker, just on a very very slight downhill, and I foresee at least a few bad falls in my future. I was thinking a good pair of wrist-guards would be a worthy investment. Your opinions there?

Oh, and a helmet. Your favorites for comfort, especially in the face of intense heat? The one I have now is a really uncomfortable cheap piece of crap that makes my head look like a mushroom, so I’d prefer something sleek, breathable, and relatively cool-looking. :sunglasses:

As far as shoes, I think my flat-soled converse will be fine, I’ve never had a problem with traction before, and it doesn’t rain much in Texas summers.

Ok next…my shorts. I have a pair of cheap bike shorts with a thin layer of padding, but I’ll probably replace them soon. Any recommendations there?

Also, do most of you guys wear anything over the shorts/cycling shirt? (remember, it’s hot here :p)

So yeah that’s a lot of questioning on my part, but I’ve never cycled, uni- or bi-, any distance before, and it looks really fun! I just want to make sure I’m prepared!
Thanks guys, and gig 'em!

Oh, P.S. Does anyone use the Coker PI-Bar handle and like it?

Cotton shirts are fine in the heat as long as it’s dry. You don’t want to be wearing cotton if it’s raining or hot and humid, though.

I wear at least some kind of wrist protection for any serious big wheel riding. Biking gloves may be enough for an ungeared Coker; I use full-on wrist guards for GUni riding.

There is no helmet that’s both cool-looking and cool. Just find the one with the most vents that’s within your price range and wear it.

Any bike shorts are fine; I think Pearl Izumi and Cannondale are among the best makers with some relatively inexpensive offerings. If you don’t want to look like a bike dork, get a baggy shorts with a liner, or else wear a pair of loose athletic shorts over normal bike shorts.

My thinking on protective clothing is that you put it on before you ride only because there is no time to do so at the moment you need it. Which is just an oblique way of saying it is there as a last resort. Basically, the best protection of all is to stay safe.

Don’t do anything on the road you can’t do 100 times out of a 100 off it. If in doubt, don’t do it. Don’t let anyone or anything enter your braking zone (including the potential of things, like unopened car doors).

Anyway, just my 2 cents :slight_smile:

Check out Performance Bike for low-cost, high-performance gear. I’ve bought a couple pair of their century shorts and have been happy with them. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get good gear… just do some shopping around on Google.

I usually don’t wear cargo shorts over my bike shorts, unless I’m riding muni (to protect my bike shorts) or I’m going to be spending a lot of time off my Coker during the ride (to protect my dignity). Then, I’ll throw on some quick-drying lightweight shorts, such as hiking or board shorts.

Once I got some bike jerseys, I’ve never worn a cotton shirt since. They’re so much more comfortable… they can keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It’s nice to have something with a zipper so you can ventilate yourself as needed… and the pockets in back are great for carrying water bottles, power bars and gu packets. Again, you don’t have to spend much money.

Just your luck! They’ve got Texas jerseys on sale

As for pro, all I wear is a helmet and KH gloves. I only wear knee or elbow stuff when doing Coker Muni. On road rides, crashes are so rare that I don’t bother, as most pads will leave some nasty chafing.

When you start riding even further in the heat, take a look into some
or similar product. It’ll help prevent those nasty rashes and chafing you can get from long sweaty rides.

I have to strongly recommend against the Performance Century shorts. They used to be good, but now they’re using aliens for their sizing; the Large size (which is what I wear in every other bike short) is too small for me to put on at all, and the XL is still too tight on my upper legs, with leg grippers so loose they don’t grip at all. They appear to be designed for people with extremely skinny legs, but fat knees.

Nashbar has done similar things in the past, where they kept the same name for a good, established line of shorts, but cut way down on the amount of material in the shorts, making them unwearable. I’d stick with a real clothing brand, or at least something you can try out in the store first.

Congrats on getting the Coker. I live in Austin so I understand the heat of which you speak. I would definitely get some wrist guards even though I only wear bike gloves. I wore cotton shirts for about a week then I invested in some wicking jerseys. If you’re on a budget just go to Target and look for jerseys made for running or exercising. They look just like t-shirts but cost only ten dollars. That’s all I wear. Totally worth it. I would take a look at I’ve gotten all my riding shorts there for years. Unfortunately, the shorts that I currently ride in have been discontinued. I’ve been doing distance riding in Texas for about eleven years now so if you have any questions feel free to ask. I love riding in this heat. Can’t wait for summer. Later.


What sort of distance are you thinking of?

If I’m going to be going for more than an hour or so I really like having some technical fabric. I’m not picky. I have a lot of shirts that I get at running races, I’ve picked up a couple of clearance sale cycling shirts, and for special occasions I’ve got my purple “cosmic grape” jersey.

If you’re “experimenting with going fast” and “see some bad falls in your future” I would recommend some wrist guards. I used 661’s, shredded them in an impressive wipeout, and am in the market for a new pair now (9 months later ???). I used to even ride with elbow and knee pads. They saved me a time or two when I was first learning, and then I stopped wearing them. Sure wish I was wearing them in said wipeout though. But it hasn’t convinced me to start wearing them again, just to stop drag racing :wink:

I like some cycling shorts with some padding in them. No brand preference.

Wear a helmet, pick whatever suits your fancy.

Agreed. The problem for me with cotton in the heat (and it hits 115 in Chico in the summer) is that the area of my back that the camelbak sits on gets totally soaked in sweat, and with cotton that means it stays wet and sticky and nasty. It gets wet with the technical fabric, too, but dries out really quickly and doesn’t feel sticky on your skin.

I’m not a big fan of the glued-to-your-torso feel of normal bike jerseys, but they have big zippers that are nice.

I wear wrist wraps with padded gloves and wouldn’t ever ride the 36 without them… even on the beach.

Padding in the palm and fingers has helped for the two nice spills I had this year plus they are great when you need to reach out and push something out of your way or when you need to grab something and run your hand down something like a rail on a bridge because pedestrians won’t move over! Those pedestrians!!!

Helmet? I’m following this thread 'cause mine looks really stupid. Though I wear it because sans helmet I’d really look stupid on the road. :0

Austin? SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! :wink: (look at my location if you’re confused)

Thanks for the target advice, I’m all for getting the cheapest gear, as long as it works!

Everyone, thanks for all the good advice! Seems the general consensus is that a moisture-wicking material is best for hot rides, so I’ll definitely a good jersey/shirt up.
Also, I do own a pair of KH Pulse Gloves with the wrist padding, I just don’t ever wear them because they’re so darn hot! But I suppose I’ll take the heat hit there cause that’s my most likely injury.

I’ve done about 3000km now on my 36er and only ride with a helmet and gloves for protection- some nice cycling nics, a touring handle and a freeride seat will help in the comfort area. The only bad crash i have had in that entire time involved a malfunctioning caliper brake and a large hiking pack that stopped me rolling out of it properly. The best advice i can give is to ride safe, tuck in your shoelaces, and expect the worst from other people on the road/bike path.


Matt, once your well on the coker you should be fine without the wrist gaurds. I’ve never worn any at all, I upd all the time, just running to my feet mostly. Had a few funky falls where I almost barfed, but my wrist were fine, and those were due to riding on iced/snowed over side walks.

That’s quite odd. I ordered a couple pair about 1 1/2 years ago in Medium (even though I wear Large in most other brands) and they fit me like a glove.

The advice to try shorts on in a store first is good. Find a pair that fits well then shop for it online. If you can score a “free shipping” deal then you’re golden!

I have two pair of those gloves, and I cut the fingertips off one pair for a little cooling (tho not as much as I’d like). Just be sure to add a couple stitches around the seams as they can come unraveled over time.

I use KH Pulse gloves. I sprained my wrist with my first 36" fall before I got the gloves. Now I always where them. I did have another fall after getting the gloves and I also landed on my hand. That time I didn’t sprain my wrist. Maybe it was due to the glove, maybe not. I still where them.
I’d also advise getting different shoes. I love Converse Chuck Taylor’s. They were my riding shoe of choice for about 17 or 18 years. When I got my big wheel, I found that they didn’t have enough cushion in the soles. When I ran out some UPDs from way up there at high speed my ankles got quite a pounding. Now I wear Keen Hybrids. I hardly notice any shock to my ankles when I land on pavement.
The Keens also have more ventilation than Converse. You don’t need to wear any socks. That should make up for the gloves.
When you’re pushing your limits with speed, knee pads and elbow pads might be a good addition. It’ll give you more confidence, if nothing else. It’s also a good idea to do a little practice rolling out of your falls, instead of landing on an outstretched hand like I did. Thankfully I didn’t break anything. There is a thread from last year sometime that posted some videos on rolling out of your falls. Check it out.
Happy speeding.