Women’s cycling kit - what should I wear while out on my bike?

New to cycling? If you're fairly new to cycling and are wondering about what women's kit you need Raleigh have some suggestions ...

Gone are the days where women had to make do with baggy men’s cycling jackets and unflattering cycling shorts. There is such a vast range of ladies-specific cycling apparel out there to give you ultimate comfort while out on your ride. 

With our unpredictable weather and varied trails in the UK, it can be hard to know what to wear when riding your bike. Different types of cyclists will also need different types of gear. Road riders will sport a tight Lycra based kit in bright colours, while mountain bikers will opt for baggier and more protective clothing. Here’s how to get kitted up before getting on your bike.


Padded shorts may seem like an odd idea, but there’s one very good reason to wear them. Most cycling shorts are made up of at least one layer of foam, which provides an extra layer of shock absorption between you and the saddle. Padded shorts are also designed to be worn without underwear, minimising the risk of chafing. It’s especially important to go for a ladies’-specific set of shorts with female padding to fit our different shape down there.

The other place where padding is useful is your hands, most cycle gloves have a thin layer of padding sewn into the palm to ease the vibrations from the handlebars. 


Whether you choose padding or no padding in your shorts, there are still a few different styles to choose from. For the road cyclist you have a choice of traditional waist shorts, or bib shorts which have built in braces to hold them up. The lack of waistband on bib shorts make them so much more comfortable. Lycra isn’t your only option in the short department, most mountain bikers and leisure riders will choose a more casual, baggier pair. Women-specific ranges offer a better fit to suit slightly wider hips.

Base layers

During the winter months, layering up is essential. Although you soon warm up when pedalling, wind chill should not be forgotten when dressing for a ride. The other advantage of a base layer is that it will help move sweat away from your skin.


Although there is nothing stopping you from wearing a normal sports top, there a several advantages for wearing a cycling jersey. They are longer at the back so that they don’t ride up when you’re cycling. Most will also have in built pockets at the back which is useful for your riding essentials and saves you taking a bag. Some will also have hi-vis markings which is an advantage if cycling on the road. A lady’s jersey will give you a more flattering fit, they’re often shorter and smaller at the waist to suit our body shape.


Just like walking and running jackets there are different types, the jacket you use will largely be determined by weather conditions. In most conditions you will want to be wearing a softshell jacket to shield you from the wind, remember that although it may not be windy conditions you will encounter extra wind chill when cycling. If you are cycling in the rain, or potentially rainy conditions, you will need a waterproof. Different weights are available depending on how long you will be using it for. For example, a commuter who rides to work everyday in all weathers will need a heavier duty one than a leisure rider who only rides occasionally at the weekend. Like jerseys, a ladies’ jacket will give you a more flattering and comfortable fit.

Arm and leg warmers

Some road riders will opt for arm and leg warmers if riding in mixed weather. These can be easily taken on and off, so you have the option of sleeves or no sleeves. 


Choosing cycling shoes can almost seem as complicated as the bike itself. Firstly, you have the option of clip in shoes that attach to your pedals, these make pedalling more efficient as you can pull up with one foot as you push down with the other. If you don’t fancy being that attached to your bike, you can use non clip cycling shoes with regular pedals, these have a stiffer sole than a trainer so are still more efficient when cycling.

If you have particularly dainty feet, choosing women’s shoes will often be a better option. Just like regular shoes they cater for smaller sizes and give you a better fit. They are also narrower and come in more feminine colours.

If you have more advice, or any questions about your cycling kit, head on over to our social pages to discuss. We’d love to hear from you.  Or why not share a picture in your kit?