The Best Cycling Gear for Summer 2021

Last Updated: January 2021

Written by: Cameron Vigliotta 


Quick Guide

TL;DR - Here's a summary of our recommended summer cycling gear:

Product Name

Gear Type

MSRP

Cycling Helmet

$239.95

Cycling Helmet

$89.95

Bike Front Light

$64.95

Bike Rear Light

$59.95

Cycling Jersey

$55

Cycling Jersey

$179.99

Water Bottle

$13.95

Water Bottle

$12.11

Cycling Gloves

$29.99 - $78.99

Cycling Shorts

$136

Cycling Shorts

$50

Sunglasses

$134.95

Sunglasses

$24.99

Cycling Shoes

$330


Blistering temps are no reason to hide in the freezer and throw your cycling season out the window.

As exhausting as it seems, donning the proper apparel. And carrying a few tools can turn any hot summer ride into a memorable spin session. 

With the development of cooling fabrics and specifically designed hydration equipment, it has never been so easy to hit the streets or the singletrack when the temperature climbs.

No matter where your wheels may take you, bring these pieces of gear along to beat the heat.

cycling race summer beach

What to Look For When Shopping for Summer Cycling Gear

As you begin your search for the latest and greatest summer cycling gear, it’s worth your time (and money) to consider what you’ll need to survive the ride.

From fabrics to functionality, these are a few things you should look for as you narrow down your options.

Breathable Fabrics

Think of your body as a house with the windows closed on a hot summer day. As the sun rises and the heat continues to build inside, the only way to find relief is to open every window. 

Much like that house, your active body is producing and storing heat.  That heat needs the opportunity to escape through the pores of your skin. Dress in clothes that trap or absorb moisture, and this is an impossible task.

When shopping for jerseys, shorts, socks, or other cycling apparel, look for natural and synthetic fabrics. 

Natural fabrics, such as merino wool or bamboo, are tried-and-tested materials as they offer lightweight, breathable properties.

If you prefer synthetics, choose options that incorporate strategic ventilation pockets and mesh.  These materials will keep the skin cool and dry faster should they get wet.

Built-in Sun Protection

Besides coating your exposed skin with sunblock, look for apparel that features built-in sun protection with a rating of SPF 30 or more. 

The best way to avoid sunburn while riding is to protect your skin from getting burnt in the first place.

Embrace New Technologies

New technologies are commonly found in cycling fabrics, light sets, hydration systems, and even helmets.

Though it’s best to approach such developments cautiously, don’t be afraid to learn more by speaking with professionals at your local bike shop or online forum. 

These advancements have gained broader attention and acceptance because they work.

mountain bike sunset gear

The Best Summer Cycling Gear

The following products have been evaluated and chosen based on the set of principles outlined above. 

They are lightweight, breathable, sun-protecting, and they incorporate the latest in cycling technology.

Here are the eight suggestions — and a few alternatives — to help you build your ideal summer cycling kit.


Giro Synthe MIPS Helmet

Protecting your melon is paramount, whether you’re hitting the tarmac or the backcountry trail. 
Weighing in at 312 grams, the Giro Synthe MIPS is one of the lightest helmets on the market.  Also offering superior coverage where you need it most.

With 19 vents and an aerodynamic, low-profile design, the Synthe offers superior airflow. Keeping your head cool on the hottest of summer rides.

The Synthe utilizes MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) technology. It is designed to reduce rotational forces occurring due to angled impacts.

Spend the extra $20 for MIPS technology, and you’ll buy not only added safety features but peace of mind as well.

Also Check Out: Giro Agilis MIPS

At 336 grams, the Agilis is slightly heavier, and it offers less ventilation than the Synthe.  However, with features such as MIPS technology and 32 air vents, this a worthy, affordable alternative. 


Cateye AMPP 800 Front Light & Cateye Rapid X3 Rear Light

Cruising into the summer sunset is only enjoyable, so long as others on the road can see you. 
Stand out with Cateye’s AMPP 800 and Rapid X3 light set. They offer superior build quality and versatile mounting systems. 
With 800 lumens in the front and 150 lumens in the rear, Cateye showcases some of the brightest light sets on the market.
Though we wish the charges lasted somewhat longer on both devices. Increasing the battery size would increase the size of these rather small units. It’s a trade-off that’s worth the compromise. 


Pearl Izumi Short Sleeve Quest Jersey

Keeping your body cool and comfortable is one of the easiest ways to get the most out of your summer rides.
Designed for beginners and experienced cyclists alike is the Pearl Izumi Short Sleeve Quest Jersey.
This jersey hugs the torso but won’t restrict arm movement as you alternate positions on the bike.
Pearl Izumi’s Select Transfer material is lightweight and breathable. It’s often found solely in their high-end apparel, but it can be found in this affordable jersey as well.
A 13-inch zip offers extra ventilation while UPF 40+ protection saves your skin on sunny rides.

Also Check Out:​ Castelli Gabba 2 Jersey.

Although more expensive than Pearl Izumi’s Quest. The Castelli Gabba 2's integrated Gore-X fabric offers windproof and water repellent features. It is optimally suited for riding in harsh conditions. 


CamelBak Podium Chill Water Bottle

Believe it or not, the unassuming plastic water bottle may be your most meaningful cycling investment beyond your helmet.
Of the many hydration options that exist on the market today, CamelBak’s Podium Chill water bottle takes first place. Due to its double-walled insulated design and self-sealing JetValve cap. They are designed to prevent unwanted spillage. 
Unlike stiffer water bottles that require you to suck on the nozzle, much like a baby's bottle, the Podium Chill’s softer shell makes it easier to squeeze. The softer shell also makes it easier to store in the cage when not in use.
Best of all, CamelBak has a 'Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee.' This covers you for manufacturing defects for the lifetime of the bottle.

Also Check Out: Elite Fly Water Bottle.

Elite’s Fly water bottle is a cheaper option. But it does lack the insulated and pliant materials found in the Podium Chill. For thirstier riders, we recommend the larger 750ml and 950ml versions.


Castelli Arenberg Gel 2 Gloves

Cycling gloves come in half- and full-finger options. With varying degrees of padding to help absorb the shock of the road. 
Castelli’s Arenberg Gel 2 Gloves offer padding under the knuckles and the heel of the hand. This dampens vibrations across weight-bearing areas of your paws. 
Silicon details on the fingers and palm help to maximize grip, even if your bar tape is soaked after a summer storm.
The top of the glove is made from a mix of mesh and Lycra materials for breathability. And the thumb features a micro-suede fabric. This allows you to rub your nose without inducing irritation. 
Large velcro pull tabs make it easy to put the gloves on. And we love the full-fingered version for those seeking a little more protection.

Pearl Izumi Elite Escape Bike Shorts

Once you’ve conquered the awkward phase of wearing bike shorts in public. Throw on a pair of Pearl Izumi’s Elite Escape shorts to enjoy the pain-free miles ahead. 
They are constructed with the strategic use of Pearl Izumi’s PRO and Select fabrics. The Elite Escape shorts pull moisture away from the skin. Thus, keeping your nether regions cool on the hottest of days.
Meanwhile, sleek Lycra construction allows for optimal movement in the saddle.
The 1:1 chamois features a free-floating 4-way stretch sheet. And a 2-layer suspension core for all-day comfort.
A wider waistband offers superior comfort and support. But, some users have noted that these shorts tend to run on the smaller side. 

Also Check Out: Pearl Izumi Escape Quest Shorts.

Think of Pearl Izumi’s Escape Quest shorts as the cheaper cousin to the Elite Escape shorts.

The same 1:1 chamois provides chafe-free comfort, and reflective elements enhance low-light visibility. But these shorts won’t burn a hole in your pocket if you’re just getting into the sport. 


Oakley Radar EV Path Sunglasses

Cycling sunglasses have a habit of growing in size every season. But they remain an essential item for most riders throughout the year. 
The Oakley Radar EV Path sunglasses are top-of-the-line shades. 
They offer 100% protection against UV radiation. So your eyes don't have to suffer on sunny rides. 
The rim has been removed from the underside of the lens to increase visibility. An adjustable nose piece moves the frame away from the face. This increases ventilation and reduces potential fogging. 
Aside from the many technical specs these sunglasses sport. Oakley offers the EV Path shades in a wide variety of colors to suit every rider and kit.

Also Check Out: X-Tiger Polarized Sports Sunglasses.

If expensive sunglasses don’t sound like a worthy investment, keep things simple with X-Tiger’s Polarized Sports Sunglasses.

The modern design still offers UV protection and interchangeable lenses. But the price tag won’t have you sweating with anxiety as you confirm your purchase online.


Shimano S-Phyre RC9 Road Cycling Shoes

Brands like Giro, Specialized, Bontrager, and Scott often dominate the cycling shoe segment. Shimano has outdone itself with the S-Phyre RC9
The shoe’s wide opening may look like a deterrent upon first glance. But a synthetic leather upper with a burrito tongue design wraps the foot in padding. It’s equal parts comfortable and secure.
Lightweight materials and a well-ventilated upper keep your feet cool in summer. Even thru the uniform tightening system that keeps your feet secure in the boot. 
For a bonus, they come with a pair of socks that are tailored to fit the shoe.

cyclists kissing sunset

Key Takeaways

Finding the perfect summer cycling gear is a balancing act that has no right or wrong answers.

From breathability and budgeting to sun protection and cycling technology, deciding what gear to use comes down to personal preference.

No matter what you choose to bring on your next summer ride. Buy the best gear that you can afford, and your body will thank you for the rest of the riding season.


 About the Author 

Cameron Vigliotta is a freelance journalist and copywriter whose work explores the people, activities, politics, art, and literature of the outdoors. His writing has been featured in by REI Co-op's Journal, Stay Wild Magazine, and Active Interest Media among others. A Massachusetts native, he enjoys running up steep hills until everything hurts, and he doesn’t own a TV.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

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