Why you need special cycling kit for riding an indoor trainer

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The need for indoor riding gear is real. (Photo: Wahoo)
The need for indoor riding gear is real. (Photo: Wahoo)
  • Indoor training on the latest smart bikes and apps, can be brutal.
  • Without natural airflow, you sweat a lot more.
  • Cycling clothing brands are responding with new indoor specific gear. 

Lockdown triggered an explosion of indoor cycling innovation.

From the improved user interfaces and device syncing of popular virtual riding apps such as Zwift, to smart training bikes, the development curve has been immense.

The latest smart trainers boast sophisticated electromagnetic resistance, capable of mimicking every meter of a real world climb, virtually. For years indoor training bikes were criticised for ruining pedal stroke rhythm, but the latest versions can correct imbalanced in your pedalling, benefiting you on outdoor rides.

With superior smart training bikes and unbelievably lifelike virtual riding apps cyclists are riding further, and with greater intensity, in their living rooms.

When you are cranking way on your smart trainer, in the privacy of your own home, fashion isn’t important, but comfort is.

The idea of dedicated indoor riding gear might sound ridiculous, but some of cycling’s most regarded brands are now marketing garments for exactly that purpose.

The latest indoor riding shorts are cut with generous mesh panels, to facilitate optimal breathability. (Photo: Zwift)

Mesh makes for a cooler indoor ride

Ventilation and perspiration management are two problems for the indoor rider. If you are applying peak effort without the benefit of that natural airflow a bike generates rolling at speed, keeping cool is difficult.

Without adequate airflow to cool down your skin, sweat can become unmanageable. The latest indoor riding shorts are cut with generous mesh panels, to facilitate optimal breathability.

Although these shorts, with their huge mesh bits, are way too daring to wear in public, they serve a very real purpose for riders on a brutal hour indoor ride.

Riders tend to remain in a specific position for much longer on an indoor training bike, creating the potential for pressure points. Some cycling clothing brands are addressing this issue with additional padding, applied to their indoor specific cycling shorts.

Indoor training does not require a helmet, which theoretically increases rider comfort, but lack of airflow can be problematic. Even for those who have access to a powerful fan, no indoor training bike experience can ever replicate the natural airflow of an outdoor ride, at speed.

Sweat accumulation can become a discomfort issue, stinging the eyes and dripping all over your training bike. The traditional sweatband serves a purpose in this regard, but it can feel odd to wear, for some.

To provide superior moisture wicking around the head, in a more comfortable and familiar configuration, some cycling apparel brands are now producing mesh caps.

Some brands are also making indoor training caps, from lightweight spacer mesh. This promises to absorb some of your cranial sweat, preventing it from becoming an annoyance.

The humble towel is a crucial part of any indoor training session, but keeping it perfectly balanced over your handlebars can be challenging.

Special indoor training towels with looped corner hooks, prevent the infuriation of having a towel drop to the floor, just when you need it most, after that punishing interval effort.

As more riders engage with digital training platforms such as Zwift, logging hours of intense riding in their homes, the idea of indoor specific gear starts making sense.    


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