Getting started in cycling and not sure what gear you need? Here are some of my personal favorites that I’ve tested over the years, from chamois cream to socks! I’ll be adding to this over time, so keep checking back in!
(You might notice that I’m not including any saddles on here. That’s because I think it’s so personal and so specific to every woman, and there just aren’t one or two saddles that will work for everyone. So, for that, head to a couple of local bike shops, get your sitbones measured, and try a few saddles to find what fits you.)
Petal Power Chamois Cream
This chamois cream has become a favorite of mine in recent years, thanks to how silky smooth it is. It also smells freaking amazing, doesn’t feel goopy going on, and works like a dream.
Chamois Butt’r Her’ 10-Pack
But for long rides, I also keep these small packs of Chamois Butt’r on hand. It’s great for really long rides when reapplication is necessary, or for race days when I’d rather keep my gear to a minimum. (They’re also great for the friend who forgot to bring hers, or for traveling. I’ve needed to do a lot of laundry from spilled chamois cream in bottles and containers, but these packets are spillproof.)
Chaffree Women’s Knickerboxers
If you’re riding to work and it’s more than a few minutes away, you should be changing underwear when you get to the office. Do yourself a favor and opt for these knickers instead of regular underwear for your morning pedal in: they’re a bit longer, so you can safely ride in a skirt and not flash anyone, and they’re designed for sweat-absorption and to be, as the name suggests, chafe-free.
Velocio Signature Bib Fly Shorts
If you’ve never tried bib shorts, please do. They will change your life, I promise. And these, with a zipper in the back, allow you to hit the bathroom without needing to take off a ton of layers. These are pricey, but I’ve had mine for almost three seasons, washed them and dried them hundreds of times, and they’re still in great shape.
Club Ride Damsel Cham
Another great riding-to-work or on errands option, since you can wear these under regular pants and still have a bit of a chamois liner in there to make your ride a little more comfortable and a little less chafed.
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Shebeest Petunia Bib Short “Polkamania”
This halter-style of bib shorts is genius for quick pit-stops in the ride, and avoiding the muffin-top issue that plagues us all in shorts.
Terry Bicycle Bella Shorts
If you’re a die-hard short wearer, I don’t blame you, but I do recommend that you choose a pair that’s tailored for women, with yoga-pant-style paneling so they feel comfy even when you’re bent over in the drops on your ride.
Shebeest Bellissima Print SL Cycle Jersey
Stretchy, comfortable, and flattering on pretty much any body type (and I’ve heard that from a wide variety of women!). I love their stuff, and the jersey is no exception. If you like loud colors, this is the brand for you. (I admit, I don’t, but I go for the subtle patterns and shades.)
Velocio Women’s Light Long Sleeve
I have worn this long sleeve jersey more often than literally any other piece of cycling kit that I own, and I own A LOT. It fits great, works fine even in hot weather, and with a vest, it’s fantastic in the cold, and it’s genuinely the most flattering piece of cycling clothing I own. I love the slate gray version, personally.
Terry Women’s Bella Short Sleeve Jersey
This is a great jersey option for the bigger-chested and fuller figured cyclists out there. My sister swears by hers: they’re available in a great range of sizes and are just ultra-comfy.
HZH Compression Performance Socks Pack of 3
Bear with me, because this will sound silly at first, but cycling socks get lost more than regular socks. Maybe the dryer monster prefers my pricey cycling socks to my cheapo 6-packs. Whatever the reason, I hate having one sock from a fun pair left hanging. So, I started swapping over to basic cycling socks instead, and the fact that you can buy a three-pack of these is absolutely awesome. (The slight compression is nice too, especially if you have foot pain after rides like I sometimes do from swelling in my shoe.)
Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Clear Zinc Oxide Lotion
I’m a fan of going natural with skin care when I can, especially after a particularly painful sweat-and-sunscreen-in-eyes incident that almost crashed me. Now, I opt for a sun blocker like zinc for my face because it doesn’t sting, and it stays in place.
Topeak D2 SmartGauge
If you’re a cyclocrosser or a mountain biker, adding a pressure gauge to your ride bag shows that you mean business, and you know what you’re doing. This is just a better way to check tire pressure at low pressures (under 35 PSI) compared to a normal pump, and it’s one of the easiest ways to improve your riding. When you can start assessing what pressure works best for you on certain terrains, you’ll have better traction and better control, and better riding as a result.
Any stretchy skirt
Any stretchy skirt will do—but this is your changing skirt now, so you never end up driving home in your chamois, or stripping down on the trailside as a scout troop hikes by. (Bonus points if you use the skirt to wear for the drive home, sans undies, to let your lady parts get some air! (I like this one because I would also, in a pinch, pull it up as a tube dress, or throw on a nice top and wear it to dinner post-ride!)
Giro Peloton Cap
When it comes to in-ride or post-ride style, there is no greater cure for helmet hair than a stylish, simple cycling cap. It’s a personal favorite in every iteration of hair that I’ve had, from super short to shoulder length. Toss hair in a low ponytail, pull on the cap, and suddenly, you’re cycling chic, not hiding helmet hair.
Pack of 5 Road Tubes
Never get caught with a flat again, and be able to help out a friend—and avoid the insane shop charges of $12 per tube—by bulk buying a set of five tubes and keeping them handy. You’ll end up using them, I promise.
Nuun Hydration: Electrolyte Drink Tablets
I’m a massive fan of nuun, especially now that they’ve made their formula a lot more natural. I love the tablets because they travel SO much better than powder, and the fact that they provide electrolytes, some flavor and just a few calories makes them perfect for in-ride and post-ride hydration. (Also, for hangovers. But that’s another post entirely…)
Clif Bar 12 Bar Variety Pack
Ahh, Clif Bars. Simple, classic food staples for those endurance rides when you want real food but you don’t have a coffee shop in sight. They’re just the right blend of tasty treat and sport-specific snack, and the variety pack is a great way to pick your favorite flavor, or just keep mixing it up! (Their chocolate-cherry gel is also my in-ride favorite when I’m doing any intensity.)
Thrive Market Subscription
I was leery of this subscription service when Peter wanted us to get it, but it’s actually been freaking awesome for all the crazy health food and sensitive skin supplies that we’re super into these days. There are awesome deals on our staples (like Epic Bars for on the road snacks, sardines for him, and our favorite teas), plus eco- and skin-friendly detergents, soaps and makeup. The subscription is pretty inexpensive—think Amazon Prime, but with more health food options, and the boxes come quickly whenever you order. Plus, you get good freebies and deals as you go. We use it to restock our pantry when we’re home, but the other major use is when we’re in areas that don’t have good health food stores or we’re only in for a few days, we’ll get a box shipped ahead to the hotel or rental or nearby post office so we have food waiting when we get to town. It’s a handy system for healthy travelers—I’m actually planning to implement it this fall with the team I work with so that every race weekend, a box of their goodies is ready and waiting, saving me the headache of haunting local health food stores and wasting a ton of time I don’t have!
Fuel Your Ride
My no-nonsense guide to cycling nutrition.
Saddle, Sore: Ride Comfortable, Ride Happy
Why you’re here: get all of your awkward cycling-related questions answered!
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