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    What to Wear Road Cycling

    By Rupert Shanks, Chief Storyteller
    More by Rupert

    Are you Lycra'd Yet?

    The sheer quantity of road cycling gear available nowadays can be mind-boggling. Spending a day out in the wilds on a bike is a wonderful experience. However, it pays to be prepared for Scottish days which could include wall-to-wall sunshine or a bit more variety! Modern cycling gear is fantastic at protecting you from the elements while also keeping you comfortable and warm. After years of experience running trips across the country, we’d like to share our guide to what to wear road cycling in Scotland.

    Check out our video for a summary. Kindly presented by Anna from our Operations team. (Thanks Anna!).

    Upper Body

    Short-sleeved base layer t-shirt or cycling jersey – We recommend breathable and moisture-wicking fabric and a comfortable fit.

    Long-sleeved base layer t-shirt or cycling jersey – For the chillier days, a merino wool long-sleeved top or jersey will not go amiss!

    Lightweight fleece jacket or gilet –  Something you’re able to whip on during a stop. Lookout for elasticated armholes to ensure they’re not restricting you while riding.

    Lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket – Again you want to be able to put this on or pack this away just as easily depending on the weather.

    Lower Body

    Padded lycra cycling shorts/chamois – Perhaps the most important item in terms of riding comfort, bibbed or not bibbed. If you’ve never tried lycra bib shorts then it may feel a little strange, to begin with. But give them a go as there really is no better option for keeping comfortable on the saddle as it keeps everything where it should. If you’re not too keen on the sleeker look you can get padded baggy shorts or wear baggier shorts on top of your lycra ones, but nothing underneath them as that would negate all the benefits that padded shorts offer.

    Leggings or longs for riding – You can get specialised road cycling leggings for the colder rides. Look for leggings with ankle zips so that you can get them on or off as needed during a stop. You can also get long-legged ‘bib shorts’ – but you’ll have to be committed to wearing them for the ride.

    Lightweight waterproof trousers – Optional but useful! You can also get water repellant leggings or leg warmers to wear between your padded shorts and your socks.


    What to wear road cycling in Scotland

    Cycling shoes – It can be a little intimidating at first, and will take a few goes to get right if you’re new to cycling shoes but we do recommend them over just wearing trainers. Because cycling shoes are solid and ‘lock’ into the paddle, it requires less energy and is less stress on your feet. Studies have shown that cycling shoes reduce fatigue, cramping and also knee injuries. However, if you’re new and uncomfortable with the idea of clipping in you can wear trainers with flat pedals.

    Riding socks – To be honest, you don’t need to get specific cycling socks but then again, it does make a difference. Thin merino or synthetic wool socks will ensure that your feet don’t rub and wick away excess moisture. There is considerable debate about how long your sock should be, so we’ll leave that up to you to figure out based on personal taste.

    Neoprene overshoes – We admit that these do look a little silly but if you get cold feet these are a game-changer. They are meant to be worn over your shoes and will keep your feet protected and insulated.

    Head & Hands

    What to wear road cycling in Scotland

    Helmet – Even though there are no legal incentives to wear a helmet in the UK whilst doing any form of cycling, we believe it is essential and non-negotiable if you’re travelling with us. As riders can travel at significant speeds and are often on public roads you should adequately protect yourself in case of a fall. We recommend a snugly fitted helmet. It’s worth looking into the safety certifications of a helmet before buying, and other features like ventilation and aerodynamics.

    Gloves – Full-fingered or fingerless, you will appreciate the option of gloves when riding in Scottish weather.

    Riding Lenses – Clear lens glasses or interchangeable sunglasses (100% UVA and UVB protection).  These are essential and will keep the wind and other things from going into your eyes.

    Other Essential Equipment


    • Backpack or waist bag to carry food, clothing and equipment. (Please note, if you are hiring a bike from us you will receive a small handlebar bag).
    • Waterproof liner or small bag to keep your pack contents dry.
    • 1 x 750ml hydration bladder or water bottle.

    Meet the Author: Rupert Shanks

    “After a spell in the corporate world in London Rupert decided to find a more rewarding way of life involving a closer connection to the outdoors and to his camera! Rupert produces a lot of the photography and video for Wilderness Scotland and works within the Marketing team.”

    View profileMore by Rupert

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