Or how does one fall into the road cyclist prototype. I'm talking mainly technology obssesion, spandex wearing and clipless shoes.

I start this thread because since riding in a group, I'm questioning the three. I ride an early nineties light steel bike, with no clipless pedals, and I don't have the maillot or pants. I started riding in a group, a couple 100 km rides, and suffered a lot to stay with them, after the ride they told me that clipless pedals would help me stay in the group when they cruise at fast speed. (I was struggling a lot more in the flat than on the hill parts).

So I browsed through the pedal/clipless threads here, and came to the conclussion that clipless provides no significant improvement other than keeping the feet on proper place on the pedal. Now, I wear this:

my "riding" shoe

Because I have had my feet sliding from the pedals indeed, and foud that the shape of this sole (possibly just one of the slots/carves on the sole, not two) does make my feet grip better to the pedal and does well to avoid sliding.

I'm a student so I'm not wealthy, and I rather not buy some pedals and shoes just to check and see no real improvement. But what is more, I use the same bike to commute and to go on longer routes, and I don't see myself going to class or part time job with cycling shoes, or get the platform/cleat pedal combo.

But I also wanted a jersey after those rides, to keep the cereal chocolate bars in the handy pockets, and the pants with cushion, and what is more, I wanted a better, lighter, shifters in brake levers, bike.

I was / am, seriusly considering spending some of my savings in this, that is, in the full equip for a road cyclist, expecting to be able to ride at the other riders pace in an easier way. But I'm afraid that the main reason that I lagged and struggled was that I am just not as fit as them in regards to longer cycling. I live way uphill and daily climb some 6 km in 5-10 % steep, in town, and I usually go on longer routes (30-50 km) some evenings and weekends, but I reckon they are simply more fit.

Now, thinking of buying a new road bike, I would be afraid of leaving it on the city street, so that implies keeping two bikes. For the new bike, I feel weird to get a 1500€ bike and equip it with platform pedals, so I should get clipless, and get shoes, and then, I feel like I have to buy also jersey and pants, and then I started thinking that this is a bit like internet explorer in windows, it goes bundled, you must go with cleats and spandex, because everyone else is doing so, so it must be better, but if it was not that significantly better it is a bit weird, at least to me to just wear this, maybe with a couple pockets on the side:

linen shorts

and keep the cereal bars / banana in the pockets. And to wear just a tight fit tshirt. Because when riding with the road cyclists, I could not help but feel like in a way I'm telling them "stupids" if I can go with older bike, daily clothes and sneakers, and keep up with them, then why the expensive gear??

They were the first to tell me, "don't worry the important thing is the legs", but after a couple of rides I feel like if I want to get regular, I should get the complete set, which I woulddefinitely do if I had more spare money, but, at the point I just refrain from going with them, until at least I equip my bike with cleats. Then I see they are not that much better.

Which leads me to peer pressure, and vendor interest in this pressure. I wanted to purchase one of the cycling jerseys they offer in strava for completing a challenge, come on! 140$ ! seriously ridiculous.

So I'm sticking to riding alone or with my girlfriend, though I really liked going in a group, a lot faster, getting to know new routes, easier to go farther... it's only that either I get the uniform-proper bike, etc, or I feel very self conscious and uncomfortable for a while.

Then again, I see really weak riders riding awesome stuff, and get self conscious again when easily leaving them behind on a climb.

Maybe it's me, yes I'm shy, and I don't like to be the center of attention which inevitably you are when you look so different to the rest of the group, if for a minute. But also, to be honest, I am competitive, and love to fill my ego with this underdog turned to be strong things, of course.

Well, I don't know, I don't wwant to be peer pressured into buying expensive stuff that will not really make a big difference, I don't want to be regarded as "the one who thinks he's better than us" by riding my crap bike on a tracksuit and sneakers and keeping up, and whatever, possibly this is a non issue, but the truth is after a while, I didn't really came back to the group, which is a pity. I guess I'd rather go to the psychology exhange, or does this happen more than I imagine?

Thanks for the patience. It's good to be able to say this to strangers. The question, mainly, would be, do you feel there is a definite peer pressure around this things? or a definite selling interest from shops? have you ridden with no uniform on uniformed groups, or being in a group you have someone without the standard equipment? should I care less?

  • 3
    Clipless pedals do help. Short of that you can use toe straps with the shoes you have. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 12:12
  • 2
    Seems too opinion based. Do what you want.
    – Batman
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 13:27
  • 4
    Clipless pedals or toe clips will help, but do not put them on and join a ride. You need to practice with them first. Padded shorts also help on long rides & they don't have to be spandex. Plenty of places maked padded biking cargo shorts.
    – Gary E
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 17:00
  • 3
    It always puzzles me when I see people say clipless pedals offer no significant improvement. Buy a set and point your bike at the nearest hill for proof that they make a huge difference. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 20:24
  • 2
    More like beer pressure there
    – gaurwraith
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 15:45

5 Answers 5


The question, mainly, would be, do you feel there is a definite peer pressure around this things?

There is undoubtably fashion in a lot of cycling, but there there is in everything. Peer pressure would depend on the group.

or a definite selling interest from shops?

Yes, but then, that's why they're there.

have you ridden with no uniform on uniformed groups, or being in a group you have someone without the standard equipment?

I've been riding with a lot of people with some fairly non-standard gear. Some of it has raised eyebrows, like the guy starting a mountain bike rase without brake blocks, but on the whole no one cares.

It's usually more embarrassing for the guy with deep pockets and small legs.

should I care less?

Yeah, no one else does.

99% of people are pretty friendly, the 1% you don't need to care about.

PS. That said, a half decent pair of shorts and a jersey will help you fit in and make you a little more comfy, a double win. Save the shoes for later if you come into some money or decide it's time.

PPS. Not the Strava jersey, they're very pricey, my current ones were about $50 and I thought that an extravagance. Spend more on shorts, a good chamois is worthwhile.

  • 3
    +1 for the padded shorts advice. That is the first piece of cycling gear I bought. Do research and get the most bang for your buck and certainly don't go cheap on it... your butt depends on it.
    – Zeus A.
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 19:09
  • "starting a mountain bike race without brake blocks", how did that one turn out?
    – Holloway
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 17:01
  • @Holloway No idea, made a point of passing him as soon as possible.
    – alex
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 3:53
  • Fitting shorts and a jersey will also make you a little faster: flappy shorts and t-shirts cause quite a lot of air resistance. It's not a huge difference but I found it was noticeable (something like half a mile an hour for equivalent-feeling effort). Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 14:20
  • I did a group ride, showed up with a cheap chinesium jersey and wearing bike pants under my normal trousers. Got a comment that I looked "old school cool" which was unintentionally awesome
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 19:52

Peer pressure is often a combination of things

  • feeling different to the "norm". This is really lack of confidence to do your own thing.

  • well-meaning advice and comments that can reinforce the first point. As Alex said in his answer, 99% of people are friendly. So such advice and comments are well-intentioned.

  • being new to a group. Many people have a natural drive to "fit in".

What you wear and what you ride is up to you, but there are reasons beyond mere fad, fashion, and peer pressure for the general choices cyclists make. The concept of the modern bicycle has been around for nearly 150 years, so there has been plenty of time for trial, error and refinement.

  • The general consensus is that cycling shoes and "clipless" pedals are more efficient than flat pedals and runners. Cycling shoes have stiff soles, providing efficient transfer of your effort to the pedals. They also support your feet, avoiding overuse injuries such as stress fractures to foot bones. Given the distances you're riding, this is the first thing I recommend, before such an injury occurs. Sometimes such an injury never comes right.

  • Cycling outfits have multiple benefits. Remember that a lot of people who make this gear are cyclists themselves.

    1. Safety. Apart from the current fad for black, brightly colored outfits are more easily seen.
    2. Comfort. Cycling nicks are designed for the purpose. They help keep your major muscles warm, help protect your bottom, and the bib style don't slip down which keeps your back muscles warm.
    3. Practicality. Jerseys have pockets suitable for carrying just about anything you'd need for an all day ride. Having a dedicated cycling outfit (or more than one) means that you aren't trashing your normal clothes when riding. You can also change out of smelly gear and wash it quickly.
    4. Cost. Constant wear on a bike quickly destroys ordinary clothes. Spandex / lycra / whatever does wear out, and it can fade after a few years. I actually use several outfits in rotation, and had to sadly say goodbye to one that's been worn every week for ten years, because it had stretched (possibly due to being washed incorrectly). I don't get that much wear from any other garment.

You mention getting a new bike. Look for and expect a bundle that includes shoes, clipless pedals, gloves and a cycling outfit, all in that 1500€. The quality of advice and service from bike shops varies, so get recommendations. But also shop around. Yes, they want to sell you stuff, but most local bike shops (LBS) want you to come back later.

In the end it's up to you. Some guys I ride with have the latest carbon frame and wheels, and chug along at the back of the bunch. Others wear the daggiest outfits. Others ride old steel frames, wear woollen jerseys and ride like the wind. The only thing that bothers anyone is if you don't ride in a straight line.

The main thing that matters is that you ride.


Forget the peer pressure and do whatever the hell you want.

Your reluctance to spend money is wise. It's a wisdom that many people lack. But if you are gonna spend money, then here are my suggestions, in order of importance.

  1. Bike shorts. If you ride more than 20 miles at a time, they'll definitely make your ass happier.

  2. Gloves.

  3. Indexed shifting system (your bike is from the early 90s, so I assume you don't have one). You'll have to replace most of the drivetrain, so plan the job before you start and figure out if it's worth the cost.

  4. Shoes and clip-in pedals. It's not just about keeping your foot in place - the stiff sole makes for more efficient power transfer from your legs to the cranks. If you also plan to ride your bike in regular shoes, I recommend something like Shimano M424 pedals.


Thanks all for the more elaborate answers, I can't vote up. I see it simpler now. It is the combination of introvertion, wanting to fit in, and the main step to fit in involving a good quantity of money I suppose. So possibly pedals and some clothes would be an intermediate step. My shifters are indexed, though in the frame, not sure the year actually, but from what I collected must be 91 93... Looks like indexed was there earlier than it is thought. My reservation on clipless comes from discussion in this site, tag clipless... Cheers, Gaur

  • I think you can vote up now that you have 15 Rep.
    – andy256
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 2:43
  • And maybe mark an answer as correct, in a day or two. You can even mark your own as correct.
    – andy256
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 2:45

First and formost: If you're out of shape, no amount of equipment will remedy that. If that is the case you can safely ignore all of the below and go work on getting into shape.

The notion that clipless pedals have no benefit is simply wrong. There is a reason pro riders use clipless pedals to race. Yes, the majority of your pedaling power is achieved in the downstroke but some power is also generated in the upstroke.

Suppose the ratios are 70% downstroke, 20% upstroke and 5% each on the clean and sweep. Now consider that in (competitive) cycling the difference between front or back of the pack is often a matter of less than 1% in total performance and you can quickly see that loosing 20% on your upstroke plus 5% on your sweep puts you at a great disadvantage.

Now to consider clothing: Setting aside your general fitness and aptitude for cycling, aerodynamics are the number one limiting factor for your cycling performance. Let me point you to the venerable Velominati for insight: Rule #18 // Know what to wear. Don’t suffer kit confusion. No baggy shorts and jerseys while riding the road bike. No lycra when riding the mountain bike (unless racing XC). Skin suits only for cyclocross.

By extension, an expensive bike will not make you faster. An aerodynamic bike will make you faster. You don't indicate what you ride now but instead of buying a new bike, have you considered upgrading the one you have now? Alternatively, have you considered buying a used road bike? Road bike components last for ever if well cared for. I ride a 1993 Klein Quantum 2. Last year I finally had to replace the rear derailleur but that is the only replacement I've had to make to date other than routine maintenance (OK, I also swapped out the fork for a carbon one but that was my choice rather than a necessity).

Finally, for the question of how many bikes you should own. To answer that question I offer more wisdom from the Velominati: Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1. While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

  • 3
    Velominati seems like self-parody to me, I'm not sure if it's a useful guideline in practice. Also, the OP seems diametrically opposed to Velominati's poseur attempts at pretending to be an incredibly serious professional cyclist.
    – Nik
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 17:59

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