Clothing Technology Explained

The number one important factor when riding a bike is comfort, comfort is not only about enjoying the ride, but getting the most from your performance.

Cycling has a multitude of disciplines and an even more varied level of participants, from professionals to weekend warriors. But we all have one thing in common, we will all face the elements and seasonal weather conditions when we get out and about. Whether that be sun, wind, rain or cold, what you wear can certainly be the difference between a great day, and the coffee shop story of nightmares, if you’re not equipped correctly.

 

HOW MATERIALS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

With synthetic fibres and technologies advancing in designs we now have untold number of fabrics, materials, and compositions at our disposal; but it is the performance elements of those materials and how they are combined together that matter the most. These combinations create the unique fit, added breathability or moisture wicking effects that give the garment its technical performance and make it comfortable and for its intended use

At KOA Sportswear we work hand in hand with our suppliers, suppliers that have a deep understanding of the performance characteristics of the materials they use. Materials are selected from a multitude of countries and combined together with precision to create a performance garment that matches our exacting quality expectations. We want all our garments to support the athlete as they push their limits and look to grow.

 

Some considerations we make; Woven materials are hard wearing and offer good resistance against abrasion whereas knitted fabrics are generally lighter weight and offer a naturally high level of stretch, fit and comfort. Mesh goes one step further to increase the aeration properties of the fabric to improve the overall comfort once again.

Synthetic composites are regularly used to provide specific advantages compared to natural fabrics, for example polyester dries quickly and offers good moisture management compared to cotton and wool, polyamide increases durability and abrasion resistance with elastane increasing the stretch of the fabric to provide a better fit to the body.

To improve the ability of the textile to move sweat from the skin to the outer surface, and to promote faster drying of the material, a hydrophilic finish may be used. Brushed fabrics that are generally found on the inside of jackets or arm warmers not only increase thermal insulation and warmth but also give a comfortable feel against the skin.

 

HOW DO THE DIFFERENT WEATHER CONDITIONS AFFECT THE DESIGN?

When making decisions about how to combine materials and adding design elements, it’s important to first consider its intended purpose, along with the conditions that the garment will face. It’s important to combine materials and designs with real-world riding conditions in mind, which is why we also test products in the real world with real athletes, to ensure that they maintain their intended performance characteristics throughout.

 

Its getting Hot!

As it gets warmer, cyclists naturally wear less on the bike. One of the key goals in summer is to try and keep your core temperature down to maintain comfort and performance. We tend to use fabrics that are lighter weight and specifically designed to wick sweat away from your skin quickly, Mesh is normally located on the side panelling and under the arms to further aid ventilation. It’s also important to take into consideration the UV properties of the garment and the impact that has on comfort in hot weather.

As one of the most important attributes for any fabric being used in hot conditions is to transfer sweat away from the skin, we place this at the heart of our designs

 

There’s a wind chill!

We have all had that feeling when we battle the elements, but the wind feels it’s cutting straight through you, chilling your core, and significantly reducing your body temperature. A major part of this feeling is from moisture, in the form of sweat, that may have dampened your clothing – further adding to this chilling effect.

To combat this, it is important to make use of technical fabrics that aid in moisture evaporation and ventilation, either through a base layer or technical cycling jersey. A top layer (Jacket or Gilet) that has been specifically developed to be used in windy conditions will use a combination of wind blocking, ventilation and moisture control technologies. For example, a knitted polyester construction may be used to aid moisture management, stretch, comfort and fit, combined with a fleece backing to increases thermal insulation and a wind / water resistant membrane to further aid water repellency. The goal is to reduce the impact of windchill on your performance and comfort

 

Wet, Wet, Wet.

This is the most obvious to many riders, it is clear, the purpose of any garment that affects this element, is to keep the rain off you. But more than that, the garment needs to be highly breathable, as without it, you will find the costs of keeping dry from the elements is getting damp from the sweat you are producing. Both having the same effect on your ability to regulate your temperature and stay comfortable. It is important therefor the have materials that aid in sweat control and moisture evaporation combined with stopping water penetration; you will often find ventilation flaps added in underarms positions to help with this process.

 

So cold!

When it gets cold the main function of your cycling clothing is to help retain your body heat and provide thermal insulation against the outside. There are options to do this, but many manufacturers will use the same tried and tested fabrics like Thermolite or Marino wool, but they will apply them in different ways to get the benefits. Much the same as garments that are specifically designed for the wind (as discussed above) a similar combination of fabrics, technologies and treatments will be used to do keep the cold out, albeit refined in each area to bring about the right levels of thermal insulation. It’s important even when it’s cold to make sure your garments still work with you, providing movement, flexibility, and breathability. This is where careful consideration is given to panel variations and fabric combinations that work in tandem together; something that is achieved by working closely with materials experts at our suppliers

 

THE KEY IS LAYERING

As we discussed in our other series of Blogs, layering is an important process when selecting the right cycling clothing.

Wearing a number of layers, as opposed to just one thicker layer, will not only protect you more effectively from the different weather you will come across during your ride but will ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. Wearing layers gives you versatility, and there are three key areas to consider when layering, each of which serves a specific purpose.

 

- Base layer. As this is the first layer that you put on, the primary function of the base layer is to wick sweat and transfer it away from your skin so that you remain dry.

- Mid layer. This helps to trap air inside to keep you warm whilst at the same time being breathable and offering some protection against the outside.

- Outer layer. Generally, this will be your final barrier of protection against the weather and can come in various forms, from a lightweight packable gilet to help block wind on a steep descent through to a fully seam sealed waterproof rain jacket.

 

ITS ALL IMPORTANT

As a Sportswear Brand, we take all these elements into the design of our products, we use quality materials and fabrics, combined with expert knowledge to deliver the very best performance sportswear to support your riding needs. Take a look at our collections where you will find even more about our individual products