This is my new 2019 guide to buying cycling clothing in Ireland.
In this guide you’ll find six useful tips on where to buy cycling clothing if you’re based in Ireland.
For all the talk of middle aged men (and women) in lycra by David McWilliams and others, that’s not the only type of cycling clothing people need to wear because the right gear can make the commute by bike much more pleasant – even in the rain.
The mix of cycling gear you’ll need will depend on the type of cycling you’re going to be doing most, from fundraising charity cycles for Irish charities to commuting to work by bike, to heading out for a spin at the weekend (by yourself or in a cycling club like Bray Wheelers where I’m a member).
Whatever type of cycling you’re going be doing, if you want to buy cycling clothing in Ireland, you’ll find this new guide handy.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad cycling gear” reads the sign in the window of my local bike shop Ferris Wheels. And they’re right when it comes to cycle clothing in Ireland anyway. The right cycling gear can make the whole experience of cycling much more enjoyable. So let’s dive right in…
[Full disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links which means I’ll get a small payment if they’re clicked on and then a purchase is made… But all the opinions here are still my own, independent and unbiased views and tips.]
Tip #1: Cycling gear online specialist stores
One of your best options when buying cycling clothes in Ireland is of course to go online. And one of the biggest online cycling success stories even started in Ireland – that’s Chain Reaction Cycles (shown below). They’ve since merged with Wiggle and closed their Northern Ireland warehouse, but they’re still one of the go to places for cycling clothing. Other options include going to Wiggle directly and also Evans Cycles which is somewhere I’ve ordered cycling gear from myself as well (including shoes like this special cycling shoe called the Five Ten Freerider which has extra grippy rubbers soles that are great on normal flat pedals – perfect for commuting in Dublin traffic where being clipped in to the pedals feels too risky to me). Ribble is another option worth looking at (they offer a specialised range of cycle clothing as well as actual bikes), and French-based site EKOI has also been recommended to me because it sometimes offers big discounts on good quality stuff (plus the sizing is accurate which helps buy with confidence). All these sites often have sales on, and they sometime even offer a discount if you simply sign up to their email newsletter, which helps again.
In terms of brands on those sites, my own personal favourite brand is dhb. I’ve bought a few different bits and pieces of dhb cycling gear over the years. including the dhb flashlight cycling shorts (the “flashlight” bit means they’ve got really nicely designed – and big – reflective patterns on them for nighttime visibility which is especially good for winter/night time commutes). I find the dhb cycling gear range offers good value for money, but sometimes, especially in a sale, you might find discounted options for other brands like Altura and Endura cycle clothing that make them worth a look.
Cycle clothing online: Getting the size right
The biggest issue with buying cycling clothes online of course is getting the sizes right. Apart from the obvious option of just returning clothes that don’t fit which is time consuming and often a hassle, I find it can be very useful to browse the customer reviews for sizing tips before hitting the check out button. If a particular brand tends to be the wrong size for the Irish physique (!) often someone will have left a review recommending you order up/down a size which can save surprises down the road.
Tip #2: Cycle gear online – combined bike shop and online stores
Another good option for buying cycling clothes in Ireland are Irish-based stores that have both a physical presence and a good online store. Places like Cycle SuperStore and Cycle Tribe can offer a best of both worlds option because not only can you order from them online, but if you’re near them you can just drop in and try on their cycle clothing range in their shop/showroom if you’re unsure about sizes before buying from them. And I emphasise that last bit about actually buying from them. Whatever about “showrooming” when you’re buying from a big international chain of stores, it’s not really fair to try clothes on at the likes of one of these retailers and then go off and buy the same products from the UK online because it’s a little bit cheaper. (Surprisingly, this must happen quite a bit because Cycle Tribe have a no nonsense policy prominently on their website.)
Outside of Dublin (and even for cycle clothing in Dublin generally), Halfords is another good option – especially if you’re unsure of sizes because you can drop in and try cycling clothes on in their shops before buying from them. Halfords don’t have changing rooms as far as I know, and I wouldn’t recommend you rely on their understanding if you decide to change into cycle shorts on the shop floor (and definitely not cycling bib shorts). But sticking to trying on jackets and gloves will mean you won’t get kicked out of the shop for revealing too much and can give you confidence that you’re buying the right size.
All of these shops will offer sales and special offers from time to time, and Cycle Superstore have a particularly generous offer going for members of Cycling Ireland at the time of writing. Not only do you get a fairly decent money off voucher with every annual membership, you also get an on-going percentage discount as one of their so-called “VIP Club” members/customers. And that’s simply for signing up for Cycling Ireland membership which you might have to be doing anyway if you’re in a cycling club or going racing.
Tip #3: Local bike shops for cycle clothing
When it comes to physical stores, your local bike shop is often a good bet especially if you’re starting out and need advice.
Even though they can often only stock a limited range because they’ve got limited floor space, that can often be a good thing if you’re starting out and are confused by the incredible amount of different types of cycle clothing you can buy.
The staff in local bike shops often also have the time to talk you through the options that are best for you too. One of the bike shops near me is Bike Rack which has a fairly decent range of cycle clothing on display. Another one is Ferris Wheels which has a small selection, but a focus on commuter gear which suits their customer base (including me).
The now unfortunately closed Fitzcycles is where I bought my road bike on the Cycle to Work Scheme, and I was able to use some of that bike to work tax saving towards cycle clothing because “reflective clothing” specifically counts as allowable expenditure on safety equipment. That tax saving is worth bearing in mind if you’re buying a bike on the bike to work scheme anyway like I was – although some would argue you should spend as much as you can on the bike and build up your clothing collection over time.
Tip #4: Cycle clothing in Aldi and/or Lidl
Aldi and Lidl have good ranges of cycling gear in stock too from time to time as part of their seasonal special offers. The only problem is that they only come in to stores once or twice a year and it’s easy to miss the good stuff. The day the offers become available there’s often a queue of eager cyclists outside the shops first thing in the morning. And it can turn into a bit of a feeding frenzy those mornings inside the shops as people scramble to get the best bargains once the doors are opened.
I’m a particular fan of the Crivit range of cycling jerseys, socks and gloves at Lidl because they’re good quality and cheap – and in the case of the gloves you can try them on before you buy. I’ve had less more mixed experiences with their cycling shorts and rain jackets which I didn’t find great. The merino wool base layer tops and thermal leggings at Aldi are cheap and warm but I find them a bit itchy compared to more expensive “branded” items I’d pick up online (like this dhb merino wool thermal base layer that has long sleeves – works really for Irish winters in my experience).
Tip #5: Cycle clothing online – Amazon vs AliExpress
Another option is of course Amazon in the UK, or if you’re happy to wait weeks if not months for delivery direct from China, AliExpress can work well too. Both of those sites are pretty open marketplaces these days, and Amazon sellers are much more dodgy than they used to be, so unless you’re buying a brand you know it’s best to do a bit of research on the merchant themselves. Customer reviews on those sites are unfortunately often biased or even fake, so I tend to look for other clues to quality.
On AliExpress I often find it works well to sort product search results by order volume because at least then you can have some confidence that you’re dealing with a big-ish retailer. The cycling forum on boards.ie is another place where people post about specific brands / merchants they’ve ordered from on AliExpress which they’ve been happy with. That’s especially useful when you’re buying things like cycling shorts where the quality of the padding or so-called chamois is important for comfort when you’re likely going to spending hours in the saddle. The BikeExchange market place could also be worth checking out although I haven’t ordered anything from there myself yet.
Tip #6: Bike club cycling clothing
If you’re in a cycling club then buying your cycling clothing directly from your club in “club colours” is another great option. Many clubs like Bray Wheelers Cycling Club where I’m a member offer an impressive range of high end cycling gear, all well designed in colourful club branding. It can be a bit more expensive to buy cycling clothing from your club because the manufacturing runs are quite small and that drives the prices up because there’s no economies of scale. But the quality is remarkably good in my experience and the kit (which is supplied by custom cycling clothing Ireland-based outfits like VeloRevolution and Spin11) does last for years so it’s well worth the investment.
The other great thing about wearing your club colours is not just the sense of pride you get from that, but also the way you’re treated differently on the road. When I’m out for a spin in my Bray Wheelers top I often get friendly “beep beeps” from passing cars, “hiyas” shouted across the road from other cyclists at the weekend – and even more “respect” on the commute because cyclists in full pro cycling gear now see me as part of the tribe even if I’m “just” commuting on my hybrid bike.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to buying cycle clothing in Ireland.
Now I want to turn it over to you: Which of the tips from this guide are you going to try first?
And where do you shop for your cycle clothing in Ireland? Any advice on cycle clothing shops in Cork, Galway and Limerick in particular?
Let me know by leaving a short comment below right now or send me a quick e-mail.
Updated 1/7/2019: Added info on club cycling clothing and another online store thanks to feedback from Mark Loughran and Tony Martin.