JmanPiddy's picture

Needing cycling safety clothes, suggestions?

Hello Bike Calgary forum, 

As you guys can see from the title I am looking into getting some cycling safety clothes but let me tell you a little about me first and what I have in mind. 

Pretty much all my life I have been on the larger side. All through school, I was always conscious of my weight and the clothes I wore and it has carried it's self on until now When I'm at the age of 25, it's got to stop. Since I hit my 20s I have been getting bigger and bigger due to the decrease in exercise yet I'm eating the same amount of bad foods. I have now finally decided to put my foot down and get it sorted out before it takes over.


So, two weeks ago I had changed my diet massively from anything I wanted and desired at the time to only have a banana shake for breakfast, chicken, veg and brown rice for lunch then for dinner I would have the same as lunch or change the meat option. This alone has made massive improvements in a way where I am feeling much healthier and loving it. Now, I am going to sell my car and buy myself a bike but I want to get all the safety equipment and clothing as possible. for example, what do you think of the padded shorts here I have seen the roads are dangerous especially for bikers and I don't want to be caught in a bad situation without some gear. I know that a helmet is a must but what else would you guys recommend to make my ride as safe as possible? anything from clothing to equipment for my bicycle?


Really looking forward to speaking to you all and see what options I have for when I'm on 2 wheels.





Cword's picture

Don't over think this

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the bike?  I can't really think of any. Sure,folk will say you need a helmet, but even then that descision may be arbitrary, or based on need, skill, weather, or even just making drivers happy. I wear one commuting, but not always on casual weekend rides. I've "used" mine, that is, struck my head, but every occasion has been winter ice, or after a freezing rain. 

Crazy bright "look at me" clothing? Cycling is prefectly safe in any colour clothing, but if a vest or bright color make you feel more confident then go for it. If an accident happens the driver will still say "you came out of nowhere" "I didn't see you". Fact is, you can't make them see you, it's as if bicycles are made of recycled Romulan (Star Trek) parts and cloak and uncloak randomly.

Glasses for keeping the sun and bugs out of your eyes.

Padded gloves if your bike requires an aggressive posture and you're prone to wrist/elbow issues.

Folks have been riding safely for hundereds of years in ordinary clothing.  Most cycle specific clothing has more to do with comfort and durability.

Bike equipment has much more to do with your safety. Good functioning gears, brakes, steering, bike fit, all effect your ability to control the bike and what it is doing with you aboard. Lights, reflectors come into play if you choose to ride, or are forced to ride in low light conditions. Even summer days get dark in a heavy thunder storm.

My favorite handy accessory; a rear view mirror. I favour a helmet mount, or eyeglass mount when I forgo the helmet. It helps me stay more aware of what's coming up on me from the rear without turning to look. I like it so much that I miss it when walking in crowds.

As you head into this please know thet there aren't a lot of firm answers, cycling needs and wants are as varied as personalities. You'll find that as your experience grows your needs and desires will change. Look first to your comfort, and enjoyment, so that you will want to continue.




Crivak's picture


I agree with the above. There isn't a lot of cycling safety equipment you'll need for a commute, but what you might want depends on your commute. 
You definitely won't need to over think it. But here's some information for you anyway. 

When I was 24 was about when I started cycle commuting, I highly recommend it. At most you'll want a rear red light and a front white light. Its required by law after dark, but it can help you stand out on the road at any hour of day, and especially if its a bit overcast like it has been. My first set was a super cheap $30 pack I bought for winter and it was a waste of money. This site is a good resource for lights and MEC has a good selection (I now use a cygolight hotshot for the rear and a mec zinger for the front). If you really want to get something cool for the bike that'll help you stand out on the roads, these revolights are pretty sweet but have no personal experience with them.
edit; here's an article about lights from Trek.

If you plan on riding with long pants and your bike doesn't have a chain guard, you might want an ankle strap. These generally also are reflective. Something like this. You wrap it around your right leg so your pants don't get caught in any gears. I've never had this problem but you see quite a few people with these on their jeans just in case. 

A helmet is not actually required, there is no law for that here. If you'll be on the road at any point or traveling faster than 20kmh I do recommend one anyway and it sounds like you want one regardless. Just get one that you like, they're more or less all the same. More expensive ones simply have more vents or weigh less. The exception to this is a bike that's set up with MIPS. They're a bit more expensive usually but if you want to feel safe this would be the helmet upgrade option. Helmets do expire since the foam and glue can break down, so don't get one used that's older than 3-5 years. They're also only good for one impact if you do fall. 

Gloves are more for comfort than safety. That said if you do fall you're likely to try and break it with your hands, which can scrape your palms. I wear something like this because I tried them on at the store and liked them. Heheh. But these can run anywhere between $30-60+. Try to find some you like on sale. Similar line, as the above poster, sunglasses. Keeps the wind and bugs out. For three years I just used a pair of cheap $20 ones picked up from sportchek but you can get some nowadays that will stay clear or darken based on the sunlight.

If your commute is long or you'll be trying to ride hard, you might want to wear sports specific clothing and bring your work clothes in a bag. You can get bags that are reflective as well. Either a rack and pannier setup or a backpack. For example I have an osprey bag with their huge bird logo on it that's fully reflective. It also has a slot to fit a rear light. 
Personally I just wear normal clothes, and one of my favourite commuter shirts is a regular Nike Pro tee, but you can go the extra mile and look for fully reflective bike specific clothes too. For example, Sugoi has a whole collection called Zap. Also their site is really good to check for sales. A budget version of this is just a regular old safety vest or a shield

If you haven't bought a bike yet I highly recommend one with some hydraulic brakes. They're not necessary but after swapping my commuter to a hybrid with some cheap hydraulics, they're a must have for me. Reliable in the rain, feather light, I can modulate it easily, reactive, etc. 


So, it depends. How far is your commute? 5km? 10? 15+? Will it be mostly on roads, or on paths? Lots of hills? I think once you ride it once, you'll feel more comfortable. Just remember that the roads are USUALLY only dangerous if you make them dangerous. Don't pull out in front of any cars unexpectedly, follow the rules of the road, be courteous, keep an eye out, etc. The most dangerous place is always the intersection so that's where you want to know where everybody is before continuing. And don't feel like you must ride on the far right of the road at all times - if it's safer for you to take the lane and force cars to pass at a safer breadth (or wait entirely) then do that. You might be interested in these urban cycling skills courses if you're unsure.

Finally, if you haven't found it yet, here's the City of Calgary's cycling page with some resources as well.

edit; oh, and final comment. If you're selling your car to get a bike, make sure you have good locks for your bike and a place to bring it indoors. Two wheels, two locks.  Mine is always indoors but when I do need to lock it somewhere I have a small u-lock for the rear, a large u-lock for the front that I also attach to the post, a seat cable and an extra cable between the ulocks. Never leave lights, helmets or bags on them, bring them with. Write down the bike serial, maybe register it places, take pictures, etc. Bike safety is theft safety :D

BowCycle's picture


I would add wear not snug but close fitting clothing when riding. And most importantly, be consistent in your riding. By that I mean, don't move off the roadway into parked car areas when riding. Keep yourself visible. Have fun!

goforstars's picture

selling your car that fast?

Presumably you are waiting a few months before you do that unless car hasn't been used /seldom used.

Congrats. when you get around to it. Life will be different but not impossible unless you live very far from transit.

You will want safety/sunglasses. Bugs are reality when you ride frequently...and chinook winds blow sand/other stuff.

JmanPiddy's picture

Wow, Loads of good

Wow, Loads of good information here guys. I am going to take a few minutes to read through all the information properly and then get back to you all!



sclim's picture

Safety is a practiced habit

Good for you. I recommend taking the Urban Bike Skills Course: it should be free if you are a "Friend of Bike Calgary" member. It really helped me. Helmet is not mandatory by law, but take it from me, you must wear one. I used to be pretty casual about helmet belief, knowing that with my Martial Arts training I can fall safely from any angle and still protect my head. Until I was smoked on a highway by a lady who turned across my path without seeing me because she was using a cell phone. I couldn't walk without a cane for 2 months. But it took me a while to realise that I was almost killed, and without my helmet I would have incurred serious brain damage (I have no momory of my brief involuntary flight through the air, but I landed on the back of my head, as my helmet can attest. Being unconscious, I was not using my much valued Martial Arts skills, obviously).

My accident experience colours my perceptions, obviously, but I go to ridiculous lengths to be seen. I wear a helmet with flashing built in front and rear lights, I wear reflective clothes and a safety vest with built in LED flashers, and have ordered a MOVA bike jacket with flashing LED lights.I have bought a pair of LUMMA handlebar grips that have front and rear lights, but also project a red laser line on the road to demarcate my bike lateral "boundary-line". I feel better and less nervous wearing these things. I ride with the assumption that cars are going to hit me unless I take preventitive action, so I make sure I make eye contact with every driver that I can see. I don't make unpredictable moves. My accident has also made me a better (more predictable) pedestrian and road runner.