The Best Cycling Gear for Summer

May 2nd 2024

The Best Cycling Gear for Summer

These items keep you cool, comfortable and safe on your summer rides.

Cycling is a great way to get your body moving for fitness, fun and even commuting to work. If you’re just getting started, it may be tempting to go out and buy all the gear. Luckily, you can repurpose a lot of your favorite athletic gear, so you can take your time building the perfect kit. In the meantime, the things you start with should prioritize visibility and comfort. This guide outlines the best cycling gear for summer.

The best summer cycling gear

Summer is one of the best times of year to start cycling because it’s easier to figure out the layers you’ll need. Here are the basics to keep in mind when building your ideal riding kit.

Cycling safety must-haves

The most important cycling gear every rider must have focuses on safety. Cyclists should have a well-fitting helmet. According to research, head injury is the greatest risk for cyclists, comprising one‐third of emergency department visits, two‐thirds of hospital admissions and three‐fourths of deaths.

Being visible to motorists, other cyclists and pedestrians is important, so having a tail light is essential. A headlight, reflection and bright colors also help–many cyclists pick apparel with neon colors and reflective elements, and a headlight helps riders see and be seen. Especially in those dawn and dusk hours when you’re trying to enjoy cooler temps, but visibility is at its worst.

Since accidents do happen, every cyclist should have a mini toolkit, spare tube and pump just in case of a flat. A personal first-aid kit is also important to have out on the road.

Base layers

For the most part, it will be warm enough to keep it simple with shorts and a tee or tank top on summer rides. You can start with whatever fits comfortably and wicks moisture. An athletic top made with moisture-wicking fabric and shorts with a longer inseam are a great start.

Avid road cyclists often like to wear tight-fitting clothing, such as bike shorts and a cycling jersey, because it reduces drag and won’t flap in the wind. Look for jerseys with mesh panels to promote breathability. Some even have pockets on the back for storing lightweight gear.

Mountain bikers sometimes prefer mountain bike shorts–knee-length, baggy shorts equipped with zippered pockets. These make it easy to make aggressive moves on the trails and easily transition to a post-ride drink with friends. Pair those shorts with a technical tee or button-down shirt and you’re good to go.

Many cyclists start out wearing shorts with a chamois pad to provide cushion for the sit bones. The pad can also help wick moisture away, keeping this area of the body dry and less prone to chafe. As you rack up miles in the addle, your sit bones may acclimate and you might find you no longer need padded riding shorts for comfort.

Bib shorts are also popular with cyclists. This style of shorts has built-in suspenders to prevent the shorts from rolling down during a ride.

Finish off your base layers with a high-quality pair of socks. Cotton socks should be avoided because they’re not great at pulling sweat away from your skin to keep feet dry. A light-compression, technical crew sock is your best bet for comfort. The fabric is designed to pull moisture to the surface where it can evaporate, and compression helps promote blood circulation.

Wind and waterproof layers

Like it or not, poor weather happens. It’s easy to be prepared with a good jacket. Cycling jackets are made with lightweight, synthetic materials and can include features like zips and mesh for venting and a hood that goes over your helmet to prevent rain from sliding down your neck.

Windproof jackets are often made with a dense material or multiple layers of fabric to prevent wind from cutting through. Sometimes they’re treated with a water-resistant finish to help rain bead up and roll off the surface. Water resistant and waterproof are not the same. If you’re looking for a fully waterproof jacket, you’ll want to check the inside to see if the seams have been sealed with waterproof tape, and if the zipper is designed to be waterproof. Lots of brands include hang tags on jackets to explain the wind and waterproof features.


Your favorite athletic shoes are fine for starting out, but as you add miles, you may want to invest in cycling shoes that clip into the pedals so you have better power transfer and more control over the full pedal stroke. It takes some practice to get used to clipping in, but once you’ve nailed it, you’ll never want to ride without clip-in shoes again.

A lightweight helmet liner is a great way to keep sweat from getting in your eyes in summer, but it can be used year round for added protection. Bonus: a liner is great for hiding helmet hair when you stop for a mid-ride snack at your favorite cafe.

Men’s Helmet-friendly Hats and Headbands

Women’s Helmet-friendly Hats and Headbands

A few extras cyclists like to ride with include polarized sunglasses, yellow glasses to enhance visibility in low-light conditions, cycling gloves to improve grip on the handlebars. Sunscreen is a must-have, even on overcast days. We love Badger Balm mineral sunscreen products. Fuel and hydration are important to keep your energy levels high on long rides. Our favorites are 2Betties for a quick bite on-the-go and Endurance Tap when we’re riding long. Plus, a storage pouch that attaches the bike frame is the perfect spot to store all your extras.

Now that you’re armed with this guide for the best summer cycling gear, cruise our guide for the best biking gear for winter. A mix of these two will help you build the perfect kit for riding year round.

Check out our blog for more tips to help you take the trail less traveled.