Your guide to budget cycling clothing
Mountain biking is one of the most accessible sports and while it’s all too easy to be tempted by the expensive exotica on offer, you really don't need to spend much if you're just starting out.
If you’re new and want to keep costs down (and who doesn’t?), you’ll be pleased to know there are many low cost choices for most of the essential kit you’ll need to get underway and enjoying road cycling. We've picked out a decent budget option for each item, but take a look around and you'll find plenty more...
Like shoes, expensive research and development on the top-end offerings has down wonders for helmets costing less, meaning that from about £40 you can equip yourself with a lightweight, well ventilated, stylish and safe helmet. Whichever helmet you go for, make sure you try it on as fitting is crucial to your safety – a loose ill-fitting helmet is an absolute no-no – and not all helmets are shaped the same way
At £49.99, Bell’s Slant helmet is bristling with the latest technology such as a ‘Fusion In-Mould’ micro-shell for lightness, an Ergo Dial retention system that is easy to use and 21 internally channelled vents for maximum airflow.
We’ll presume you want to make the leap from cycling in trainers to using clipless pedals, with shoes that clip into the pedals via special cleats. While you can spend a small fortune on the latest carbon-soled lightweight shoes, much of the technology at the top-end has filtered down through the price points.
Shimano offers a wide range of shoes at different prices and we’ve picked the MT21 SPD shoes which at £49.99 feature a rubber sole that is comfortable on and off the bike, with enough grip for all but the most slippery trail conditions. Mesh panels keep your toes cool in the summer while simple laces keep the shoes in place.
There’s a staggering variety of jerseys to choose from, and which one you plump for depends on many factors. Decide on the level of warmth and protection from the elements you want, and whether you need a body hugging XC or baggy casual styled item.
Staying in the middle ground, Endura’s Cirrus jersey (£34.99) is a classic short sleeve design made from PolytexTM material which is light and well breathable. There’s three pockets on the back for stashing tools and nibbles, flatlocked seams for less irritation, a long zip and a fit best described as generous.
You’ll want some decent shorts, and here you’re spoilt for choice. We’re going to make the bold decision and presume that you’re after some baggy shorts. The main things to look for are fit, features and padding. Ensure you try before you buy to make sure they fit around the waist properly, and to suss out the length of the shorty bit – this varies a huge amount. More features will hike the price up, and many shorts feature integrated chamois, a slim pad that offers extra comfort, and is to be recommend.
Dhb’s Earnley Baggy Shorts (£39.99) do well to provide quite an impressive list of features despite the low price. Inside there’s a shaped pad for your comfort and mesh liner, the waist is elasticated and the material is designed for handling some abuse, and you get a grand total of six pockets.
We won’t deny it; we never turn a pedal unless our hands are clothed in a pair of gloves. There’s the safety that if you happen to crash you won’t rip all the skin off your hands and fingers, and they’re also more comfortable with many using gel padding to relieve the pressure that can lead to sore hands.
Fox do a nice line in gloves and its Incline Gloves (£15) standout as being of a simple but stylish design and not costing all that much. A Spandura panel across the top of the hand is flexible enough to not hinder and silicon-dotted fingertips give some added brake lever control. A Terry thumb provides a convenient place for wiping your nose/face.
Glasses prevent wind, grit and bugs getting in the eyes and will reduce tiredness on bright days. And with the approaching summer a pair of glasses to save squinting can be a wise investment. Yes, you can splash out £200 on a fancy pair, but with prices starting from just £30, you really don't need to.
The Northwave Predators (£24.99) are stylish and modern looking with polycarbonate lenses, available in a range of tints to suit different conditions.
All this little lot would set you back £214.95, a little shopping around though will reveal some really quite impressive discounts available.
There are many other bits of clothing that can make MTBing more enjoyable or give you added protection in a wider range of conditions, but these are the absolute essential items of clothing that we consider most important to get you rolling. It’s a good base on which to start, and additional items can be added to your outfit as and when you need them.