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Cycle with Sean Kelly at SportActive

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Wear Lightweight Gear for Cycling Speed Improvements

Last week we discussed bike upgrades that make you go faster. If you’re considering an upgrade or three, you should read it as it provides valuable insights: Bike Upgrades that Make You go Faster.

This is not the end of the go faster story, however. If you’re really serious about travelling as fast as possible on two wheels, then it is important to look at what you are wearing and how you are wearing it.

In this article, we look at how better clothing choices make you go faster.

Two SportActive road cyclists decending in Mallorca - Wear Lightweight Gear for Cycling Speed Improvements - SportActiveEvery gram counts in cycling. Make better clothing choices for marginal gains.


Your helmet may seem pretty innocent when it comes to increasing your weight on the bike, but better quality helmets offer better protection for your head, are lighter, and are more aerodynamic. The combination of lightness and more airflow friendliness gives you a marginal speed advantage. This may not seem like much, but over a 50-kilometre ride, it makes a difference.

Better quality helmets offer better ventilation as they tend to have more and or bigger holes. The fact that they can offer a high standard of head protection yet cover less of your head speaks to their quality.


A shoe is a shoe, right? Not in road cycling. The simple fact is that the lighter the shoe, the less weight you have to propel. There is a reason prices vary so much on cycling shoes. The more expensive shoes tends to be lighter as they have carbon soles. They’re also stiffer, which allows you to transfer more power to the pedals.

They are better ventilated and are more comfortable. Lightness, stiffness, comfort and ventilation all contribute to an increase in your speed.


Clothing that flaps as you ride catches the wind and slows you down. As such, ensure that your clothing is tight-fitting at all times and as much as possible wrinkle-free. For this reason, long sleeve cycling jerseys tend to offer a little less wind resistance than short sleeves.

Consider how you are carrying other cycling equipment such as food and your phone. Is it tucked behind you where it can’t hinder aerodynamics, or is it off to the side, increasing wind resistance?

With this in mind, never tie your jacket to your bike, as drag increases. You may want to look at the placement of cycling gadgets for the same reason.

Like your helmet and shoes, cycling clothes need to be chosen with care.


Road cycling is a sport where you can spend a better part of your day turning the pedals. As such, comfort is a big factor to both your speed and efficiency. Uncomfortable gear will impede your cycling as time on the saddle will be less pleasant. This becomes more noticeable and significant the longer your ride.

The better quality clothes will not only fit better and be lighter but will be more comfortable. Choose cycling gear appropriate to the weather conditions on any given day that is as lightweight and skin tight as possible.

Final Thoughts

To go faster, you have to reduce weight and increase aerodynamics. Although sometimes it may feel trivial, the smallest speed improvement is significant, especially when riding over distance. The difference between achieving a personal best or just missing it could be down to your clothing choices, so choose with care.

Every gram counts in road cycling.

Keep cycling.
SportActive – Faster, Fitter, Stronger.

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