Why Do Cyclists Wear Lycra?

If you’re a seasoned cyclist, then you understand how much of a difference can be riding a bike that costs thousands of dollars make compared to a hundred-dollar bike. This much is understandable more or less by everyone.

However, many people fail to understand the differences between cheap and expensive biking outfits. One of the most famous yet expensive biking outfit materials that are becoming famous lately is Lycra. Although many cyclists love riding with their Lycra clothes on, there are also riders who are dubious about the benefits of this special fabric, thus leading to heated debates on forums.

To settle this debate once and for all, we’ve invested hours of research into this to find what’s really special about Lycra, if there’s anything special about it, to begin with. In this article, you’ll learn all of our learnings.

Cycling Lycra vs Spandex vs Elastane – What Is The Difference?

According to Wikipedia, Lycra, spandex, and elastane refer to the same material. Elastane and spandex are the material used in different parts of the world. Lycra is a brand name for spandex products manufactured by DuPont company.

Related reading: What To Wear Under Bike Helmet?

Why Do Cyclists Wear Lycra

There are multiple benefits of wearing outfits made of Lycra. In this section, we’ll go through the advantages that you can expect to receive by wearing a Lycra outfit.

Great Technical Properties

One of the most amazing things about Lycra outfits is how well they actually perform. There are tons of fabrics on the market that are designed to fit you perfectly. However, not all of them will offer the amazing technical properties that you can expect to receive from Lycra clothing.

For example, sweating is one of the most necessary things while biking. Unless you sweat, you won’t be able to cool off your body, and you’ll get fatigued easily. Then again, if your body fails to sweat properly for some reason, you’ll get stressed pretty soon.

Now, not all fabrics will help you sweat like you normally would. Some fabrics will make you sweat slower than regular, which will definitely be detrimental for you. It will not only affect your performance, but it’ll affect your health as well.

This is where Lycra makes a great difference. This fabric will facilitate the sweating process by ensuring the sweat on your skin evaporates as quickly as possible. This will aid your body in sweating faster than necessary.

As it’s a moisture-wicking fabric, it’ll also help you cool down faster. So, overall, it’s a great choice for those who want to unleash their fullest potential throughout the ride.

Reduces Aerodynamic Drag

Did you know that your body accounts for 75% of the aerodynamic drag that you experience while riding a bike? Although it’s a general estimate, the reality won’t stray too far from this. In fact, in certain cases, it can even be higher for you.

To ride faster, you need to reduce the aerodynamic drag on your body. As per the laws of physics, the smoother a surface is, the less drag it will experience. It’s found that clothing is one of the major factors that increase the overall drag on a cyclist while riding.

However, this can be minimized to a great extent by wearing skintight clothing. When it comes to tight clothing, there isn’t an any better choice than Lycra. No matter how old, a Lycra outfit or clothing will stick to your skin without making you feel uncomfortable.

This will not only help you enjoy your ride, but it will also help you ride faster than most other clothes would. Then again, as the clothing won’t wobble all around you, it’ll be easier for you to focus on the ride. This is another reason why cyclists wear Lycra. Plus, the fact that Lycra will help you do more work by spending less energy is also true.

Fits Really Well

As we said before, Lycra fits very well. Fit is one of the most important factors for bikers. If a cloth doesn’t fit you well, you shouldn’t wear it while cycling. A badly fitted t-shirt may get pulled up in the face of aerodynamic resistance, and badly fitted trousers or shorts may even fall down, and you definitely don’t want that.

This is where Lycra comes in. This fabric stays in place no matter how you move your body and how the cloth reacts to the wind. It’ll stay right where you put it as long as it fits well. If you’re wearing a Lycra outfit, you can avoid wearing those bib-shorts, the shorts that come with straps that go around your shoulders to ensure they don’t fall down.

Then again, you won’t have to wear jerseys that come equipped with silicone grips to ensure they stay in their place. Trust me when I tell you this, these can get very uncomfortable very fast.

This is why Lycra is considered to be a better alternative to these. Lycra definitely costs more. However, these will last much longer as well, making them a viable option.

Related reading: How To Get Bike Grease Out Of Clothes?

Do You Have To Wear Lycra On A Road Bike?

No, wearing Lycra on a road bike is not necessary. However, if you have a lengthy or strenuous trip, cycling-specific gear will make you feel more at ease on the bike.

So wearing a Lycra to the office or a meeting? This is unacceptable with its bright neon colors and skin-fitting appearance. Most traditional Lycra designs fail to make a fashion statement. There is, thankfully, a middle ground; where fashion meets usability.

Clothing brands are increasingly creating items with the same technical waterproof and sweat-wicking fabrics as cycling equipment. They will still like the way you’d be comfortable wearing them to the workplace, the pub, or a meeting.

What’s Wrong with Lycra?

Despite the amazing benefits, there are two things that people question when it comes to getting their first Lycra outfit.

First of all, do you really need a Lycra outfit? Well, if you’re a professional cyclist or willing to make a career out of it, getting a Lycra cloth is definitely worth it. However, if that isn’t the case, then getting a Lycra outfit may not benefit you that much, as you won’t be able to make the best out of it.

Then again, Lycra clothes are much more expensive than most other clothes on the market. So, you’ll need to pay a decent amount of cash to get one. Is paying the high price for these worth it? Yes, definitely, because they will last much longer than regular clothes. However, getting these may not be worth it for people who bike just for fun.

Related reading: Best Cycling Neck Gaiter Reviews & Buying Guide


Lycra clothes are amazing, but that doesn’t mean that you need to get one for yourself right away.

You can always save that money and spend it on something more meaningful if the situation allows you to do so. This is why we highly recommend considering whether you’ll ever need any of these or not.


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