Simple answer: No, you don't have to. In fact, you can get on your bike in any normal jacket you want<nbsp;< p="">.
The better question might be: is it advisable to get on my bike in a normal jacket? Even simpler answer: no, it isn't.
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Most garments are designed to fit well in an upright position, because few people spend their days sitting down, with their torso leaning forward and their arms stretched far out in front of them. Cyclists, however, do. That's why most commercially available jackets eventually become uncomfortable. They cut in at the shoulders, the wrists are exposed, the kidneys cool down. Overall, rather unflattering.
The 4 ½ benefits of a cycling jacket
1. The cuts of cycling jackets are adapted to the specific posture on the bike. A biker jacket leaves you plenty of room in the shoulder area, so not only can you comfortably stretch your arms towards the handlebars, it's also possible to keep reaching around on trekking handlebars, bar ends or a drop bar without cutting off the blood supply in your arms.
2. If you sit while extending your arms forward, you'll quickly notice that your lower back gets cold - unless you're wearing a cycling jacket. You've probably noticed in the pictures of our cycling jackets that the back hangs way out over the front. This is not a fashion gimmick, it is meant to protect your back from prying eyes and drafts. On the bike, the outerwear always slides up a bit and exposes your back, a long back remedies this.
3. The third part that distinguishes cycling jackets from normal jackets are the sleeves, because they are usually longer than you know from other jackets. The reason is already clear to you - you stretch your arms forward, with any other jacket the sleeves would end somewhere between wrist and elbow. Cycling jackets reach up to your hand, as they should.
4. On a bike, you are going fast, the wind is coming from the front. Therefore, cycling jackets are often tighter on the front than on the back. This keeps your chest, neck and arms warm, but the air can circulate well at the back. Perfect conditions for your bike outing!
4½. Special case hood: the hoods of cycling jackets come in three types: Regular, kinda too big, and kinda too small. A normal hood fits snugly on your head for cool-down. If your cycling jacket has a hood that seems oddly large to you, it fits over your helmet, when it rains, that's very handy. If it seems too small, it fits under your helmet and warms your ears there. So, since the hood of your bike jacket can vary a lot, we'll count it as half the advantage.
Conclusion: Of course, you can also get on your bike in a normal jacket. Here, it all depends on your mileage. If you want to sit comfortably in the saddle for more than two hours, special cycling clothing is a good purchase. First and foremost, a bike jacket and bike pants that are appropriate for the weather.
Casual or skin-tight? The fit of a bike jacket
Many bike jackets are cut quite normally in terms of width, which means they fit like any other jacket. Therefore, you can also just wear them all the time, not just on the bike. Especially the jackets for biketrekking or everyday cyclists do not immediately show their function. This is somewhat different with road bike jackets or MTB jackets.
- Bike jackets for biketrekking
For a trekking tour on a bike, a cycling jacket is the most important piece of equipment along with helmet, biking pants and gloves . When choosing a jacket, the most important factors are what time of year you'll be traveling, where the trip is going, and how long you'll be riding. For a longer bikepacking trip where the weather is unpredictable, you should definitely have a rain jacket and a light windbreaker in your pack. In spring and fall, a jacket with a thin lining is comfortable; for a day trip in summer, an ultralight, rain-repellent bike jacket will do.
In our blog article "The Ultimate Bikepacking Planner" you can learn more about the perfect bike touring gear.
- Bike jackets for road cyclists
Where every second counts, of course, the bike jacket should not offer unnecessary wind resistance. Therefore, road cycling jackets, just like all road cycling clothing, are cut as tightly as possible. The surface is smooth and without hooks and eyes, this also improves aerodynamics.
- Baggy bike jackets for mountain bikers
For mountain bikers, the clothes may be gladly wider cut be, of course, the bike jackets make no exception. A cosy hoodie fits easily underneath, and you can also wear protectors for the upper body or arms underneath without the jacket becoming uncomfortably tight. If you want to wear a thick chest protector under the jacket, you may be better off buying it a size larger
For off-road bikers, jackets and bike pants are made of especially sturdy fabrics so they won't tear immediately if you struggle through brush or do get off involuntarily.
Women's & men's cycling jackets and unisex jackets
There are cycling jackets for women and men, however, the boundaries here are softening more and more. While some manufacturers still strictly separate and adapt the jackets in cut and color to the gender, others tinker with garments in which simply everyone feels comfortable. You can therefore choose what you like and fits well, if you are looking for a women's jacket or a men's jacket you can filter by gender in our jackets, but there is also the choice unisex.
Biking Jackets for Kids
Many families enjoy going on bike rides together, and with good gear, the "are we almost thereaha?" questions may be significantly reduced. When kids are comfortable on their bikes, nothing stands in the way of a relaxing adventure ride, so it pays to outfit even the little ones with a cool and comfortable biking jacket for kids.
The stuff functional jackets are made of
Like other sportswear, cycling clothing is first and foremost functional clothing that perfectly supports its wearer during training, hobby or competition. Therefore, our high-quality cycling jackets have, in addition to a special cut, other thoughtful features to make them comfortable to wear on the bike. On the one hand, there are fabrics and membranes, which are particularly suitable for sportswear, but other functions are also really practical on the road.
Cotton is one of the most popular raw materials for clothes, but for sportswear, synthetic fibres usually have the more compelling properties. They are lightweight, breathable, easy to clean and dry quickly. That's why you'll often find basic fabrics like nylon, polyester or spandex in the descriptions of our cycling jackets.
A hardshell jacket is made of firm, grippy fabric, which is particularly robust and tear-resistant. In addition, hardshell jackets are usually water-repellent and windproof. The fabric is reminiscent of the outer shell of an anorak, but unlike a winter jacket, there is no thick lining sewn in, often there is a mesh lining inside. You can recognize hardshell jackets by the characteristic crackle when they are crumpled.
Softshell is perfect for top layers of all kinds because it's soft, at least water resistant, somewhat stretchy, and it warms well. That's why many cycling jackets are made of softshell. The stretchy softshell cycling jackets give you extra room to move. To ensure that they feel good against the skin, they usually have a soft flocking on the inside, which is excellent at regulating moisture.
Fleece jackets are rarely found among cycling jackets, the reason for this is quite simple: fleece is woolly and warm, but coarse-meshed and therefore not windproof. On the bike you are usually much faster than on foot. A fleece jacket warms pedestrians perfectly, but if the wind whistles through the fabric, the jacket would be useless. As a layer of warmth under a windbreaker, though, a fleece jacket is really cozy.
Membranes in cycling jackets come with two different functions: they are either waterproof or windproof, at best both.
Membranes have different names, usually depending on the inventor or manufacturer. Sympathex is one such designation, it stands for fabrics that are windproof, breathable and waterproof. Waterproof GoreTex is also a well-known name in outdoor clothing.
Under the arms and at the back of many cycling jackets you will find mesh fabric. Here the air can flow in and out unhindered, especially with light summer bike jackets are mesh fabrics therefore very popular.
Thermolayers, or insulating layers, are most commonly found in biking winter jackets . They keep the cold out and the warmth in, ensuring you don't freeze. The warming layers are either padding or membranes, usually cycling jackets for winter combine the two. One of the most well-known warming layers is GoreTex, but there are also winter jackets that contain sheep's wool.
The features and equipment of functional bike jackets
A bike jacket should protect you from wind and weather, but at the same time not make you uncomfortable with its weight or even fill up your backpack all by itself. That's why they come in different qualities. You can buy ultra-light wind jackets that weigh very little and can be packed into a fanny pack. But there are also easy-care softshell jackets or thick cycling anoraks. The more a jacket warms, though, the more bulk and weight it will add.
- Waterproof or water-repellent
Waterproof is not water repellent! A water repellent or waterproof cycling jacket will protect you from light rain or drizzle. For a good downpour you need a waterproof jacket. Here, the fabric doesn't let water inside the jacket, and the seams are taped or sealed as well, so they're absolutely leak-proof. You will find in the specifications of the jackets in our online shop the specification "mm water column". Jackets up to 8000 mm water column are considered water repellent, from 8000 mm water column they are waterproof.
When you play sports, you sweat a lot, and of course it's no different on a bike. Therefore, sportswear breathable. This means that even windproof and waterproof garments allow moisture to escape from the inside. In order for sweat that has formed to evaporate out of the garment, innovative fibers actively wick moisture outward to the surface. This phenomenon is called the "wicking effect."
Normally, sportswear is washable in the best possible way, but for functional jackets this only applies with restrictions, because frequent washings can destroy the membrane of a cycling jacket. Therefore, you should definitely follow the washing instructions and possibly re-impregnate your jacket, after you have washed it.
Modern sportswear often comes with a chemical finish that prevents odors from developing.
To ensure that you don't sweat excessively under your cycling jacket, there are various vents that provide good air circulation. Especially under the arms these openings can be found, often they can be opened and closed with a zipper as needed.
As the top layer of clothing, cycling jackets aren't solely for wrapping you up in good style, they also play a role in your safety on the road! That's why you can get many cycling jackets in bright or vibrant colours, or even neon yellow or pink. Of course, this is a matter of taste. But you will not be overlooked with such a jacket. Many jackets have additional reflective elements for this reason, occasionally even the entire surface of the jacket is reflective.
Of course, cycling jackets have pockets. There are normal side pockets or chest pockets, especially road cycling jackets often have the typical back pockets. Ultralight cycling jackets can often be packed directly into one of the pockets and are then small, handy and safely stored.
- Waterproof cell phone pocket
Unfortunately, your phone doesn't care if it gets broken by rain or sweat. Therefore, sports jackets often have a pocket that is also waterproof to the inside, that is, to the body of the wearer. There, your smartphone is safe from water damage.
For mountain bikers in particular, there are jackets that have soft padding and sturdy hard shells sewn into them, cushioning the impact of a fall. These protector jackets are absolutely recommended for enduro, downhill or freeriders. But they can hardly replace a warming jacket, let alone a rain jacket!
Which bike jacket do I need?
Which cycling jacket is best for you depends not only on your riding style. The area you live in and the time of year also have something to say. In most cases, however, the weather of the day is the final deciding factor. There's only one thing to do: check the weather forecast and have the right jacket in your wardrobe!
A year-round cyclist should definitely have a variety of jackets to choose from
- Bike jackets for spring and fall:
The ideal jackets for fall and spring are slightly warm, yet not too warm and easy to stow. A soft shell jacket is best suited here. On warmer days, a biking vest comes in handy.
Summer jackets don't have to keep you warm, but they do have to keep you comfortable in the rain or strong winds. Lightweight wind jackets or windbreakers and a rain jacket are perfect for this.
There are thick thermal jackets for those who can't keep their hands off their beloved bike even in winter. These jackets are windproof, plus they have layers that provide excellent insulation, thus keeping the heat on the body. Still, they are often breathable. If it snows, a water-repellent finish will keep you nice and dry.
An alternative to a thick winter cycling jacket is the two-layer look: a warm fleece jacket or a thick hoodie or sweater under a bike windbreaker or a softshell jacket is often enough, after all, you're constantly on the move on the bike!
Here in our online shop you can buy cycling jackets in all colours, shapes and sizes and for every season and weather condition. So that you can rely on the quality and functionality of the jackets, we only have jackets from well-known outdoor brands and bike outfitters in the shop, you'll find some from Platzangst, TLD - Troy Lee Designs, Vaude, Race Face, Leatt, Endura or Assos. Look around, browse until you find your favourite jacket and don't forget to stock up on cycling shorts, cycling gloves and a helmet too. Then you'll be dressed stylishly and comfortably when you head out for your next bike ride!
By the way, you can find tour suggestions in our blog!