What do I need to wear for indoor cycling?

One of the main things you have to remember when training indoors is to keep yourself from overheating.

You can achieve this by using a fan and wearing appropriate clothing while cycling indoors.

What do you need to wear for indoor cycling? Choose a quick-dry sweat-wicking top to keep you cool. Wear a pair of padded cycling shorts to keep you comfortable. Lastly, use a pair of appropriate cycling shoes.

Now let’s get down to the specifics of indoor cycling wear.

Choosing the top

If you have been riding outdoors for a while now, you might be familiar with cycling jerseys.

They are so popular because they make sense to use outdoors.

They are form-fitting to help reduce air resistance while riding. They also have a longer backside for enough coverage as you bend forward your bike. The pockets are on the back so if you ever need to carry your phone and wallet, they will not interfere with your movement.

Most importantly, they are made of quick-dry and moisture-wicking fabric to help you cool down. They “wick” the moisture away from the skin allowing the air from your movement to cool you down (it is why we use a fan indoors).

Now, you might be wondering if they can double as your indoor cycling clothes.

Most cycling jerseys can also be used indoors. You might not need the close-fitting feature of cycling jersey since air resistance is not a concern. But you will benefit from the quick-dry fabric of the cycling jersey to keep you cool.

Just make sure that the jersey you will be using is designed for summer wear so you will not be prone to overheating while training.

But, you may also use any short-sleeved or sleeveless top as long as it is made of breathable, quick-dry fabric.

Cycling shorts

I recommend you to use padded cycling shorts to greatly reduce discomfort while training and prevent your skin from chafing. The full bib shorts (for beginners, they are the ones with the over the shoulder braces) are optional but can prevent the padding shifting during a ride.

The cycling short’s padding or chamois is made of synthetic materials that are designed to keep away moisture, most commonly silicone gel. It also provides a smooth and soft surface for your skin to protect it from the hard saddle and bumpy rides (in case of outdoor cycling).

Take note that padded cycling shorts are different for men and women owing to the difference in the anatomy. A women’s short’s pad placement will be different than the men’s and should allow a little more room in the hips.

Also, these types of cycling shorts are meant to be worn next to the skin. Yes, you read it right, no underwear necessary.

Using underwear defeats the purpose of the chamois which is to provide a smooth surface to lessen the friction.

Typical underwear usually has seams that may cause irritation to your body parts because of the friction from the constant body movements during your training.

Plus, underwear is usually made of absorbent material so instead of getting the moisture away from your body, you might end up soaking in your own sweat (sorry for the visual).

Also, cycling shorts are designed to fit your bottom snugly. So if you are wearing undies, the cycling shorts fabric might dig in a bit into the former which could also cause some discomfort.

However, if you can’t imagine going without undies while training, you might want to use underwear specifically made for biking. They are made of breathable, stretchable fabric and have built-in padding for your protection.

You can wear these undies with a pair of unpadded cycling shorts or workout shorts that you may already have in your closet.

How about cycling short bibs?

For those unfamiliar with a cycling bib, it is like cycling shorts but instead of a waistband, it has shoulder straps (worn under the jersey shirts) to keep your pair in place.

For indoor training, cycling bibs may work just fine. However, because of the extra layer of fabric on your upper body, it might contribute to heating you up more during an intense workout. In that case, it might be better to use a regular padded cycling shorts.

Cycling shoes

I highly recommend using not just any pair of shoes for indoor cycling but a pair of proper cycling shoes.

By that, I mean the one you can install cleats on to allow your shoe to clip into the pedal of your bike or spin/indoor cycling bike.

Clipping in has some advantages for indoor training. Cyclists swear that it can improve your pedaling efficiency. Likewise, it will prevent your feet from slipping during the most intense moments of your training.

Now there are different types of cycling shoes, and cleats, and pedals. I know that it can get a lot confusing for beginners. But the main thing you have to know is that the shoes, the cleats, and the pedals must all be compatible with each other.

The type of shoes that you use in indoor cycling will depend on the type of pedal that your bike already has (or the ones being used in your spinning class).

If your bike has a flat pedal, then you can only use shoes without cleats. However, you will miss out on the benefits of being clipped in.

I highly encourage you to make the switch to clipless pedals. However, if you are not ready to take the plunge, just make sure you use a sturdy sports shoe.

For most indoor cycling classes, their spin bikes are equipped with SPD (Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) pedals.

These pedals are compatible with mountain bike shoes. This type of shoe has a recessed sole and two-hole design wherein you can attach the SPD-type cleats.

I’m surmising that most indoor cycling classes prefer this type of pedal-cleat system because they do not want protruding cleats scratching their studio floors.

Also, many mountain bikers, as well as casual bikers, also prefer this type of pedal system since they are compatible with mountain bike shoes which are comfortable enough for walking.

On the other hand, many professional road cyclists use road bike pedals and shoes.

Unlike mountain bike shoes, road bike shoes do not have recessed soles. Thus, the cleats that are attached to them protrude from the shoe and it can be quite difficult to walk around in them.

Read here to know more about how to install cleats on cycling shoes and all the things you need to know about pedals and cleats.

Just a reminder though. Whatever type of shoe you choose, always wear socks to prevent chafing of your ankles.

Optional items

Sweat headbands

To keep out the sweat from your face during your training, you may want to wear sweat headbands.

Other must-haves

Fan

Set up a fan to help you lower your body temperature while you are working out, even if the room you’re in is relatively cool. The moving air helps in the evaporation of body sweat which is the mechanism used by the body to cool down.

Water

It is very important to keep yourself hydrated. Make sure you have a water bottle nearby.

Towel

Keep a towel on the handlebars to catch the sweat drips and to wipe off your sweat.

Related questions

Can I wash my cycling kits with other clothes? I would advise you to wash them separately as your other pieces of clothing (denim for instance) may damage your cycling clothes. Turn them inside out before putting them into your washing machine.

Can I put cycling shorts in the dryer? Avoid using the dryer for your cycling shorts. It is best to line dry them. At best, they may tolerate low tumble dry setting. It is always best to check for the care instructions of your clothing.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40 something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live in the glory days of past triathlon glories.

Recent Posts