Your bicycle touring clothing is limited as you need to carry it in your panniers and it must wear and wash quickly and still looks good.
One of the biggest issues I find regarding cycle touring clothing with beginners is they pack too much. On my first trip in Europe over ten years ago I ended up throwing away items early in the trip. Some friends of mine a few days into our Danube Bike trip packed a box with extra bicycle touring clothing and mailed it to our final hotel in Vienna rather than carry it.
Another thing I find is that cyclists love to bicycle touring clothing along the way and frequently will find they have too much stuff even if they did not start the trip that way.
One thing I sometimes do if a flight is involved is to take my old helmet or cycling shoes, use them for the trip and throw them out at the end to save carrying them back.
What Bicycle Touring Clothing to Bring
What you wear must be quick dry, with a fabric that wicks moisture away. The list will depend on expected weather but could contain:
Bicycle helmet – not only for safety but is a legal requirement to wear a bicycle helmet in some destinations. Get one that is easy to fit and has great ventilation.
Sunglasses – to protect your eyes from the sun, dirt and mud, bugs
Cycling Jerseys – I normally take two short sleeve cycling jerseys and do laundry frequently. Some cyclists use wool cycling jerseys which are odorless and require less washing.
Cycling jacket – I take a Gore-tex jacket which I have found to be really good in the rain along with a vest which is easy to remove. Dressing in layers is always a good idea. I prefer a yellow color so motorists can see me but there are many varied opinions in the cycling community about this.
Arm warmers – for those crisp mornings before you warm up I find them handy and some take leg warmers for the same reason although I don’t.
Cycling gloves – one pair to protect your hands from the bumps along the way as you could be riding on rough roads or even cobblestones.
Cycling tights or shorts – again it depends on the expected weather but I usually take two shorts and one pair of cycling pants.
Socks – again I take only two pairs with frequent laundry. Many cyclists use wool cycling socks which are odorless.
Cycling shoes – one pair and some people also bring booties in case of rain although I never have. In warm weather I frequently use sandals instead of cycling shoes which works well on recreation ride or while bicycle touring.
Street clothing – depending on your destination and style of trip you may also require one set of street clothes for restaurants and sightseeing. Again, it depends because if you are camping your bicycle tour clothing is all you will require.
Regarding laundry I carry liquid soap and hand wash my bicycle touring clothing in the sink. I know of others who wear their bicycle clothing in the shower (yes really) and others who use the Laundromat.
I use the Laundromat if staying or camping in one location for a while and taking daily cycling rides. While staying in a Greve in Tuscany for one week we took our laundry into town where they did the wash and we had to return to pick it up. Meanwhile in Verona we just had to figure out which coins to put into the machine.
Must you have all this cycling clothing. Actually no, this is just the ideal situation, on my first trip to Europe I only had the helmet with running shoes and a T-shirt which made the laundry a challenge.
Imagine the great time when you are wearing your comfortable bicycle touring cycling clothing.