Best indoor cycling clothing 2023: Lightweight indoor-specific kit for your smart trainer rides

Wahoo indoor cycling ecosystem
(Image credit: Wahoo)

The popularity of indoor cycling has exploded over the last few years. Completing a structured workout indoors is at times a lot more appealing than braving the elements when the weather isn't nice. Instead of suffering whilst freezing on the bike, you can ride in the relative comfort of your own home. 

Cycling indoors will protect you from any inclement weather outdoors but it comes with its own set of challenges. Working hard indoors can leave you and the kit you wear soaked in sweat and at times overheating. 

Cyclists all over the world are logging countless virtual miles on the best smart trainers thanks in no small part to the numerous indoor cycling apps that enable us to complete engaging and structured workouts. This usage increase has prompted the creation of a new category of indoor-specific cycling kit and equipment to help riders stay comfortable whilst completing Zwift workouts or trips through numerous virtual worlds. 

These new indoor product ranges are designed with the goal of keeping you cool and comfortable as you winch yourself up a virtual climb or drag yourself through a set of intervals or a race. Riding on an indoor trainer in sodden cycling kit can be unpleasant, so the best indoor cycling kit is super lightweight and does a solid job at wicking sweat and managing heat to keep you comfortable on the bike. Paired with the best indoor cycling shoes you'll be ready to maximise your indoor training sessions and complete them in comfort.

Keep reading to see our take on the best indoor cycling kit ranging from jerseys and bib shorts to socks and other accessories. We've ridden hundreds of hours on indoor trainers to determine what the best kit is to use inside. If you still need some help head to the bottom of the page for advice on how to choose the best indoor kit. 

Tops

no pinz

(Image credit: no pinz)
An all-in-one suit with unique features for ultimate virtual racing performance

Specifications

Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Gender: Men, women
Colours: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Unrivalled ventilation and fit
+
Removeable and freezable cooling packs
+
Lightweight fabrics with exceptional wicking capability
+
Indoor-specific chamois pad

Reasons to avoid

-
Will be considered a pricey proposition by some

For those who take virtual racing and indoor training seriously, there is always a hunt for that extra advantage over your opponents or additional gain that help you perform at your best. NoPinz addresses the omnipresent issue of overheating with its SubZero Race suit, which uses freezable gel packs to help regulate temperatures when racing is heating up.

The sleeveless race suit uses a very light perforated material for ultimate ventilation and breathability. NoPinz has used an indoor-specific chamois as well, compliments of Dolomiti Pads, for greater comfort and support, given the demanding nature of e-racing and the efforts required to put in top results. 

The stand-out feature is the addition of the FreezePockets which store the optional extra frozen gel packs. Positioned just below the neck and on the lower back, the gel packs provide around 20 to 30 minutes of cooling in these key areas. The race suit can be supplemented by two sweatbands on the wrist/lower forearm which also make use of pockets for smaller gel packs or even energy gels. 

Castelli Insider Jersey front view

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Castelli Insider Jersey

Lightweight indoor top that can double for outside use, just don't forget the sunblock

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXXL
Gender: Unisex
Colours: 2

Reasons to buy

+
Mesh construction
+
Not totally transparent
+
Pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
No SPF protection

Castelli designed the Insider Jersey specifically to meet the conditions found in the pain cave. Constructed of a 3D-mesh fabric that lets air flow freely, the materials wick better than a traditional cycling jersey.

Where the Insider jersey excels is that it's not transparent, so when you head to the fridge for a snack, house guests won't be met with the sight of a sweaty you wearing what appears to be a skin-tight fishnet top as you stuff a slice of pie in your face for energy. The jersey also has a full zip and two rear pockets, so while you may be tempted to wear this top for an outdoor ride, be warned it's not SPF-rated so you would need to apply good suncream to stay sun safe. 

Madison turbo jersey in glitch square and glitch stripe colorways

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Madison Turbo Jersey

Stripped down jersey purpose-built for indoor riding

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Gender specific cut: Unisex
Colours: 3

Reasons to buy

+
Gets rid of everything you don't need
+
Full zip
+
Lightweight mesh

Reasons to avoid

-
Not particularly versatile

Madison says they took a standard road jersey and stripped all the bulk and unneeded features out to maximise comfort while you ascend virtual mountains. Gone are the rear pockets because your snacks can sit on a trainer desk or chair right next to you, but it retains a full zipper to add cooling when you need it, with zipper guards to prevent irritation.

The open-mesh fabric was chosen for its wicking and cooling properties, but Madison also decided to avoid external prints so it can be washed on a hot cycle (60C/140F) to prevent the jersey from adopting a permanent stink. Madison has doubled up on its war against funk as the brand has applied an antibacterial coating, too. 

Rapha Indoor sleeveless Trainer Shirt pictured in dark green and dark navy versions

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Rapha Indoor Training T-Shirt

Loose fitting base layer that can double as a gym shirt

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Gender: Men's and Women's
Colours: 7

Reasons to buy

+
More casual fit
+
Articulated fit
+
Soft on the skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Casual fit may not be for everyone

For those who prefer something a bit more free-flowing, the Rapha Indoor Trainer shirt is a loose-fitting muscle-tee made from a technical fabric that's designed specifically for the rigours of your Zwift or TrainerRoad session. Before you turn up your nose at what may appear on the surface as an expensive tank top, look a little closer, and you'll see there is quite a bit more to it. 

First and foremost, the Indoor Trainer-T is sleeveless, not so that you can put on a gun show but for temperature management, and the armholes are cut to facilitate your position on the bike, so no chafed armpits. Rapha has chosen a gradient knit fabric that sucks the moisture off your skin quickly to keep you cool and dry. It's also cut slim and slightly articulated to prevent pinching or binding as you reach for bars.

dhb Aeron LAB Polartec Sleeveless Baselayer against white background

(Image credit: Courtesy)

dhb Aeron LAB Polartec Sleeveless Baselayer

Hyper-technical base layer without the price tag

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Gender: Unisex
Colours: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Doubles as an everyday summer base
+
Polartec Delta fabric is impressive
+
Offset seams

Reasons to avoid

-
No female specific option 

Polartec's Delta fabric sees hydrophilic yarns intricately knitted into what the textile experts call radiating structures to take full advantage of the body's cooling mechanisms to keep you comfortable. The idea is fabric quickly pulls the moisture off your skin to maintain airflow and prevent irritation, and holds it away from your skin and drying at a slower rate to maximize cooling. 

This is the same fabric you'll find in base layers from Castelli and Santini but the dhb version is half the price. The Aero Lab Poartech Sleeveless base layer is lightweight and body-mapped to fit perfectly on the bike without pinching or bunching. The seams have all been offset so as not to irritate, and there is a dropped hem, so there are no gaper gaps when you reach for the bars. 

Shorts

DHB Aeron Turbo shorts in black

(Image credit: Courtesy)

dhb Aeron Turbo shorts

Budget shorts that will change the way you think about waist shorts

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Gender specific chamois: Yes
Colours: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Strategic use of fabrics

Reasons to avoid

-
Waist shorts can dig in

If you're anything like this writer, quite often, I will ride the trainer with my bib straps down to expose as much skin as humanly possible to the fans pointed at my front and back. Because you're plonked down on the saddle, not really moving around much, your shorts more or less stay put and so bibs aren't really all that necessary.

So dhb's Aeron Turbo Shorts, which forgo the bib straps, actually make a bit of sense. They're made from a super-light partially transparent fabric over the quads and a marginally heavier gauge fabric in the middle and rear.

The Elastic Interface NICE HD Super Air pad is exclusive to dhb and was developed specifically with indoor sessions in mind. With a more pronounced central panel for pressure relief, the top fabric has antistatic and bacteriostatic properties, making it quick-drying and eco-friendly.

Castelli Insider Bib shorts front view

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Castelli Insider Bibs

Fully opaque indoor riding shorts that will keep you cool and comfortable

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Gender specific chamois: No
Colours: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Not see-through
+
Lightweight fabrics
+
Kiss 2 Air seat pad
+
Reinforced saddle contact area

Reasons to avoid

-
Insider logo is upside down

Designed to be used in collaboration with the brand's Insider Jersey, Castelli's Insider bibs are well suited to long sessions in the pain cave. With an articulated fit, the Inferno fabric that makes up most of the shorts is 80 per cent polyester and helps to wick sweat without becoming a sopping mess, aided by the Giro Air elastic mesh leg bands. 

Inside is the brand's Kiss 2 Air seat pad, which gets rid of the modesty flap and shrinks the overall footprint; the focus again is pitched towards breathability. Castelli has also beefed up the area of shorts that come into contact with the saddle to improve durability and longevity. 

Velocio Trail Mesh Bib Liners in black

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Velocio Trail Mesh Bib Liners

MTB bib liners that are second to none when it comes to ventilation

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XxXL
Gender specific chamois: Yes
Colours: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Full mesh construction
+
CyTech Elastic Interface chamois

Reasons to avoid

-
VERY see-though

While mountain bike bib liners are not the first thing that may come to mind when shopping for the kit to use on the turbo trainer, they are one of our go-to options. Because bib liners are designed to be worn underneath baggies, they are usually made of mesh or extremely lightweight materials to maximize breathability. While the waist liners may leave you wanting when it comes to the pad, bib liners typically have a high-quality chamois. 

The Velocio Trail Mesh Bib Liners are made entirely of a wide knit mesh and are cut identical to the brand's Lux shorts. Because they are made entirely from mesh, they are also entirely see-through, unlike the partially transparent dhb so best not to answer the door wearing just these. Inside is Velcoio's exclusive CyTech chamois that offers ample padding for extended periods of stationary pedalling. Bib straps are just a simple piece of elastic microfibre that is comfortable on your shoulders and don't cover too much skin.

Madison Turbo shorts in black

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Madison Turbo shorts

Budget lightweight bibs that don't reveal too much

Specifications

Sizes: XS-XXL
Gender specific chamois: No
Colours: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Well-placed mesh panels that offer ventilation without sacrificing modesty
+
Can be washed on a hot cycle

Reasons to avoid

-
Minimalist design means indoor only 

Madison's Turbo shorts are designed with the same ethos as its indoor jersey, getting rid of everything you don't need, to maximise wicking and breathability. While they're not made of mesh, the polyester-lycra used throughout has an antibacterial treatment and can be washed on a hot cycle (60C/140F) to kill off any microbial hangers-on. 

Madison collaborated with TMF to design a pad that will keep you sitting pretty on your second trip to Mount Ventop; the pre-curved fit bib straps fit comfortably without pulling on your shoulders as you reach for the drops.

Socks

Swiftwick Apsire indoor socks

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Swiftwick Aspire

The most comfortable socks you can buy

Specifications

Cuff height: 4-7in
Colours: More than we can count

Reasons to buy

+
Soft materials that provide good support
+
Comfortable 
+
Breathable

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for socks

There is no such thing as indoor-specific socks, so rather than seeking out the lightest, most ventilated foot tubes that money can buy, we've instead picked the most comfortable socks we can find. At the top of that list sits the Swiftwick Aspire. 

They are about as technical as socks come, using Olefin fibre and intricate knitting patterns that make the socks supportive, lightweight, and highly breathable. 

Shimano S-Phyre socks in four different colours

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Shimano S-Phyre

Completely over engineered and uber comfortable

Specifications

Cuff height: 7in
Colours: 4

Reasons to buy

+
Compression and support
+
Padding offers comfort
+
Vents line up with vents on Shimano shoes

Reasons to avoid

-
High price tag 

Like the Swiftwicks, Shimano's S-Phyre socks are completely over-engineered socks that sound like marketing fluff until you pull them on. With a tall cuff, they provide pleasant compression, mesh panels that extend around the bottom of the foot, and padding on top of the foot, which lines on with the top Boa on many shoes to provide a touch of additional comfort. 

DeFeet Aireator socks in four colorways

(Image credit: Courtesy)

DeFeet Aireator

The socks that started it all

Specifications

Cuff height: 4-7in
Colours: More than we can count

Reasons to buy

+
Super ventilated
+
Available in a wide range of colours, designs and heights

Reasons to avoid

-
Dozens of versions can be confusing 

The DeFeet Aerator are the original socks, and there are quite a few brands that sell these socks with their logo stitched into them. Cyclists have worn them for years. 

With most of the entire top section of the sock open mesh, they breathe well and come in a variety of styles, and cuff lengths, so you really can't go wrong. 

Towels

Macrofibre micro towels in blue and orange

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Microfibre camping towels

Ultra absorbent, fast drying and available for cheap

Specifications

Material: Microfibre
Size: Various

Reasons to buy

+
Will handle any long sweaty session without wetting out
+
Cheap on Amazon

Reasons to avoid

-
Can pick up smells

A towel is a necessity for any trainer ride, and while you can use any old towel from the linen closet, we like microfibre towels. Not only do they dry faster than double-struck lighting, but they are also amazingly absorbent and can contend with even the sweatiest turbo session without being overcome.

Over the years, both on the trainer and camping, we've used all manner of camping towels, ranging from the various outdoor brands to the '5 packs' you can buy on Amazon, and as far as we can tell, they are all basically the same. Some even come in multipacks with a range of sizes; you can drape one over your bars and one around your neck, tie another around your head, and still have a few spares.

Amazon Basics Bath Towel Set in various colours

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Amazon Basics Bath Towel Set

Value-for-money cotton towels

Specifications

Material: Cotton
Size: 30 x 25 x 16 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Soft, absorbant cotton towel
+
Low cost 
+
Various colour options

Reasons to avoid

-
May end up over saturated 

While microfibre towels are absorbent and fast-drying, they aren't great for the environment, and the 'squeaky' texture can be off-putting. As grabbing the nice towels from the linen closet for trainer use is generally frowned upon (speaking from experience), a set of cheap bath towels that won't disintegrate after the first wash will keep everyone in your household and your bike happy. 

As far as cheap bath towels go, we've had pretty good luck with the Amazon Basic Bath Towels. For about $25 you can get six 100-per-cent cotton towels in three different sizes. They aren't quite your plush, Turkish cotton model, but they will more than do the job.  

Sweat bands

Best Indoor Cycling Clothing: Halo headband

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Halo headband

Best for keeping the sweat out of your eyes

Specifications

Material: Dryline fabric
Size: One size fits most
Price: £15.95 / $15.95 / €TBC

Reasons to buy

+
The sweat guide works as advertised
+
Wide range of colours

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit dorky

The Halo headband is technically designed for running but has a nifty sweat guide that makes it perfect for heavy trainer sessions. Made from Dryline wicking fabric, a silicone strip on the inside not only prevents it from creeping down but creates a seal against your forehead to direct sweat away from your eyes and down the sides of your face.

It may sound like a gimmick, but it does well to create a gutter that keeps the torrent of sweat from running down off your forehead and into your eyes mid session.

Best Indoor Cycling Clothing: Castelli AC Cycling cap in white

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Castelli AC Cycling cap

Breezy cycling cap

Specifications

Material: Warp mesh
Size: One size fits most
Price: £15.00 / $20.00 / €19.00

Reasons to buy

+
Peak directs dripping sweat away from your face
+
Absorbs sweat from the top of the head for additional cooling

Reasons to avoid

-
Sweat may still drop off the peak 

Quite a few people wear cycling caps when they ride the trainer, and while a classic cotton cap may look nice, it's not overly functional. On the other hand, Castelli's AC cap is made from a lightweight mesh that is ideal for riders whose heads are of the Q-ball variety. The lightweight open mesh breaths well but also wicks sweat off your head and adds some evaporative cooling, too. 

The peak isn't doing much to protect your eyes from wind, sun, or rain on the turbo trainer when in the riding position, it guides the sweat so that it drips off the end of the peak rather than off your eyebrows and into your eyes

How to choose the best indoor cycling clothing

What should I wear for indoor cycling?

When you cycle outside, you have to contend with the elements: wind, rain, scorching heat, and whatever else the world throws at you. When you're cycling indoors, however, you don't need to worry about these things, which in theory simplifies your cycling wardrobe.

What you do need to be aware of is that you won't benefit from the natural breeze that comes with cycling outside, where you're propelling yourself forward and being cooled by air around you. Indoors, you're stationary, and so rather than evaporating and cooling you down, your sweat is more likely to build up quickly and linger for a long time as your core temperature rises.

So, when you're cycling indoors, it's important to opt for clothing that wicks away moisture from the skin and dries quickly. This will help you to feel fresh and cool for the duration of your workout. We also highly recommend using at least one fan to help mimic the airflow you'd otherwise encounter outdoors.

When choosing your indoor cycling kit, look for garments that are thin and lightweight, ideally made from mesh, with lots of ventilation points, that stretch enough to feel comfortable and move freely in, but hug your body enough to wick sweat (which baggy clothing isn't able to do).

Do I really need indoor-specific cycling clothing?

While it's true that more and more brands are jumping on the indoor cycling bandwagon to bring out indoor-specific kit, you don't necessarily have to invest in it. 

As we explained in our previous answer, it is important to manage your body temperature while training indoors, but if you already own lightweight summer kit that's designed to be used on hot days, then you can probably make do with that.

As long as your clothing can quickly wick away moisture and dry afterwards, and allow a decent amount of airflow you should be fine.

However, if you're serious about your indoor cycling training, and plan to race online, we would definitely recommend you consider investing in some dedicated kit to make your endeavours more comfortable.

Based on the Gold Coast of Australia, Colin has written tech content for cycling publication for a decade. With hundreds of buyer's guides, reviews and how-tos published in Bike Radar, Cyclingnews, Bike Perfect and Cycling Weekly, as well as in numerous publications dedicated to his other passion, skiing. 


Colin was a key contributor to Cyclingnews between 2019 and 2021, during which time he helped build the site's tech coverage from the ground up. Nowadays he works full-time as the news and content editor of Flow MTB magazine. 

With contributions from