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Indoor cycling clothing: what to wear on the turbo

Joseph Delves
22 Jan 2021

Get dressed up for staying in with our selection of the best jerseys and bibshorts for cycling indoors

Whether by choice or circumstance, indoor cycling has experienced a huge boom. From spin classes to online platforms like Zwift, the past couple of years have seen many of us spending more time pedalling in one place. By consequence, then, this means new things to buy!

So while indoor cycling doesn’t really require more than a set of bibshorts to cushion your soft bits and a pair of cycling shoes to clip into the pedals, it’s now possible to purchase clothing and footwear designed never to be sullied by the splash of a puddle or brushed by the passing of a spring breeze.

Mild cynicism aside, indoor cycling is invariably a sweaty affair, so having a separate set of lightweight kit will help you stay more comfortable. And while your regular summer kit will transfer indoors with little issue, there’s no reason not to treat yourself to something more specific.

Some of it will even work outdoors too...

Indoor cycling clothing: what to wear on the turbo

Castelli

Castelli Insider Jersey

Buy now from Tredz for £75

Billed as the lightest jersey Castelli has ever made, the Insider top uses incredibly light 3D mesh fabric to allow for maximum airflow. Certainly, it’s see-through enough you’d have to be quite brave to wear it outdoors.

Cut with a low collar and high front, there’s as little of it as possible, with the racy trim of the jersey being suited to aggressive training rather than upright gym-style spinning.

At the same time, its skintight shape and typically tight Castelli sizing mean this is probably best suited to slimmer users. With two easily accessible rear pockets, these have also been adapted specifically for use indoors.

Marketed as equally usable outdoors, it’ll serve in the hottest conditions, assuming you’re not too bashful about revealing what’s underneath.

Buy now from Tredz for £75

Castelli Insider Bibshort

Buy now from Tredz for £110

This is Castelli’s road-going knowhow transferred to the indoor arena. With a range of established fabrics and pads, the Italian brand has picked the lightest and most airy bits and assembled them into the Insider bibshort.

Going in a different direction from the other brands shown here, Castelli reckons an indoor-specific bibshort actually wants a lighter pad. To this end, the Insider short borrows the brand’s well-known Kiss Air2 pad which is fairly thin in the interests of breathability.

For the fabric, Castelli employs its Inferno summer-weight material, while raw cuts to the cuffs aim to ease any restriction, a feature expanded upon by the soft Doppio waistband.

With no real reason not to wear them outside too, you even get a pro pocket for stashing your race radio – or more likely a phone for accessing your playlist. Perhaps surprisingly for Castelli, all this translates into one of the brand's cheapest shorts, which makes it hard for them to appear as anything other than good value.

Buy now from Tredz for £110

Le Col

Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Jersey

Buy men's or women's now from Le Col for £150

Employing a race-style cut, this smart-looking mesh-like jersey aims for maximum breathability. For situations where it’s necessary, like going to the gym, it’ll also prevent upper body nakedness.

Just masking enough for the unselfconscious to also wear outdoors in hot weather, it even has four separate rear pockets, three of normal size, plus a more secure stash space.

Ideal for keeping snacks to hand if your turbo is out of reach of a flat space, they'll also hold your locker key or pump and tubes once we’re allowed back outside.

With a low collar and flat raw-edged sleeves, and full zip, it’s designed for temperatures between 20 to 40 degrees, either indoors or out. However, it’ll require washing at a cooler 30°C, which might require you to turn down your machine a notch if it’s to go in with your regular load.

Buy men's or women's now from Le Col for £150

Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training Bibshorts

Buy men's or women's now from Le Col for £150

Made in conjunction with turbo trainer brand Wahoo, Le Col’s indoor cycling kit is both lovely looking and has been designed from the ground up for indoor use.

Key to this is being as breezy as possible. From fast-wicking straps to laser cut incisions down its somewhat revealing side panels, it aims to be as barely-there as possible.

Nicking features from Le Col’s WorldTour-tested lightweight Summer Pro Bib Shorts, the adapted Dolomiti Pro Gel chamois features increased padding to compensate for the lack of movement found when riding indoors. Preventing the saddle causing undue pressure on soft parts, thankfully it’s matched by more opaque fabric across the front and back.

Properly premium in price, it’s up to you if you want to spend so much on something that might not ever see the sun. Also, having to wash at 30°C is a bit of a drag for something that’ll get very sweaty and require regular laundering. 

Buy men's or women's now from Le Col for £150

Madison 

Madison Turbo Jersey

Buy now from Freewheel for £55

Available in loud or muted colourways, this mesh-type jersey does a good job of endearing itself to the indoor cyclist. For one it’s low in overall weight and doesn’t cost too much.

Taking its indoor billing seriously, it does away with any pockets, potentially resulting in a marginally less sweaty back. With very little in the way of cuffs or collar, these areas too should be nicely unrestricted.

Yet perhaps even smarter than either of these features is the fact you can chuck it in a 60°C wash. Good news for anyone used to dealing with rank gym kit, the garment itself is infused with an anti-bacterial coating that should stop anything nasty breeding in the first place.

With a full-length zip, you’ll also still able to do your best Iban Mayo impression while climbing Alpe du Zwift.

Buy now from Freewheel for £55

Madison Turbo bibs

Buy now from Freewheel for £59.99

Using a lightweight fabric coupled to a thicker-than-average chamois, these indoor-specific shorts aim to provide comfort and heat management. Using soft upper straps and cut slightly lower on the front, there’s little to be of irritation when riding in a static position.

Composed of fabric treated to be anti-bacterial, this should help them stay fresh for longer, while unusually, they can be thrown in a comparatively warm 60°C wash.

With standard leg grippers, despite being quite slight, they could probably be pushed into service outdoors on hot days too.

Buy now from Freewheel for £59.99

Alternative solutions

Traditionally, older kit would get relegated to use on the turbo. Also, seeing as you won’t be seen out in it, hunting down the most lurid of the previous season’s pro-kit at knockdown prices is another popular choice.

Liner shorts or those without bib straps are also cheaper and therefore a hit with some riders.

Buy from Rapha for £50

Equally, while it might soak up some sweat, it’s worth noting that you don’t actually need to wear a top while cycling indoors. Of course, you might live in a flatshare and have housemates that don’t want to see you semi-naked and heaving.

Which although a sad waste of your twenties, is just about understandable.

Either way, we reckon the ideal jersey for indoor cycling is breathable, can be easily washed, and doesn’t cost too much. Or, more likely, is actually just a lightweight base layer...

Washing and care

Given how sweaty indoor cycling kit gets, plus the frequent recommendation to wash at low temperature, we’re not fans of letting ours linger.

However, instead of bashing the planet by sticking on a hardly occupied machine wash, a good alternative is to employ the old cycle tourist’s trick of washing your kit in the shower with you immediately after your session.

Hang it up somewhere warm and you’ll be good to go again the next day.