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Base Layers for Road Cyclists, Mountain Bikers and Cycle Tourers

A cycling kit can only be as good as the base layer. This makes a functional base layer indispensable. It provides best moisture management, works together with the jersey or jacket as a second layer and keeps you comfortably dry. Winter-specific thermal shirts protect against the cold and cold draughts. Light summer shirts on the contrary primarily stand out for high breathability and constant ventilation during sport activities. In our buyer's guide, we will show you which base layer is right for you. Here, you’ll learn all about the different types of base cycling shirts, materials and what you should pay attention to when buying a new singlet or undershirt.

We stock a wide range of high-quality thermal base layers for winter and breathable undershirts for summer. You can choose from long sleeve base layers, short sleeve base under shirts and sleeveless singlets for women, men and kids in all common sizes, colours and price categories from renowned brands like ROSE, assos, Craft, Löffler, GORE WEAR, Odlo, UYN, X-Bionic and many more. Browse through our range!


What do I Need a Cycling Base Layer for?

Whether for women or men, for road cyclists, mountain bikers or touring cyclists – a cycling base layer is must-have cycling kit essential. In winter, it keeps you warm and dry thanks to insulating fibres. In summer, it absorbs excess moisture and heat to wick it off to the outside where it can evaporate. Thus, it keeps you cool and dry on hot days.

Cycling under shirts are the perfect base layer for a functional cycling kit. A classic fine rib vest is a popular example for how important a good base layer is on summer bike tours. The shirt’s cotton fabric absorbs moisture produced when sweating and stores it. The shirt gets soaked. Even the best jersey or jacket as a second layer is not good enough to wick away so much moisture. Therefore, a sports shirt is the better choice. It constantly and evenly wicks moisture off to the next layer. Thus, the different layers work perfectly together to guarantee best breathability.


Thermal Base Layers for Winter

Especially in winter, a thermal base layer shirt is a good way to wear an additional, warm layer. For bike tours on colder days, many manufacturers have developed shirts that keep you comfortably warm and dry thanks to their technical fabric.

In contrast to traditional cotton that is used for fine rib vests, sports under shirts are made of functional fibres like polyester, polyamide or polypropylene. The structure of these fibres makes sure the fabric wicks moisture away from the skin and off to the outside. Cotton on the contrary absorbs moisture very well, but stores it instead of wicking it off to the outside. This leaves a damp feeling on the skin, which makes cold find feel even colder. In addition, the functional fibres used in thermal base layers offer good insulation and store your body heat to keep you warm on cold days. Sports base layers are often made of a combination of functional synthetic fibres with natural fibres like merino wool. Merino wool is known for feeling pleasantly soft on the skin and impresses with better moisture management than cotton. Many manufacturers additionally work with antibacterial fibres or silver threads like Meryl Skinlife for lasting odour resistance.

Windproof underwear with a GORE WINDSTOPPER layer offers additional protection on cold days. This is a so-called membrane that is, for instance, integrated in the chest panel. A membrane is a thin plastic sheeting inside the fabric that prevents wind from penetrating. Microscopically small perforations in the plastic sheeting, however, allow water vapour produced when sweating to escape to the outside fast. In this way, undershirts with a windproof WINDSTOPPER membrane offer effective protection from cold draughts while keeping you comfortably warm and dry.

Our range includes a large selection of cycling base layer shirts made from thermal fabric. You can choose from shirts with different sleeve lengths, e.g. long sleeve base layers for particularly cold days and short sleeve undershirts for warm weather cycling. At that, we stock long sleeve underwear with a traditional crew neck or V-neck, as well as shirts with a stand-up collar and a short zip. This provides additional protection for your neck.


Breathable Base Layers for Summer

Even though it’s not that obvious, you should wear a high-quality cycling base layer in summer, too.

In contrast to thermal undershirts, summer base layers are made from a fabric that is particularly breathable – for high comfort on warm days. The fibres quickly absorb moisture as you sweat and wick it off to the outside. Thus, a light base layer keeps you pleasantly dry and cool. Additional open-mesh panels in body areas where a lot of moisture is produced ensure improved ventilation while preventing overheating. Many manufacturers additionally work with antibacterial fibres or silver threads like Meryl Skinlife for lasting odour resistance.

You can choose from shirts with different sleeve lengths like a classic short sleeve base layer or a sleeveless undershirt, also called singlet. Base layers with long sleeves are not available for summer cycling.


Seamless, Flat Seams, Circular Knit Fabric etc.

For an extremely high level of comfort you should make sure your new base layer comes with high-quality seams. Many manufacturers use flat seams (also called flatlock seams) that are flat on both sides of the material to reduce chafing on the skin.

A special highlight is seamless cycling underwear produced in a circular knitting process. This form of knitting produces a continuous tube of weft knitted fabric. This process eliminates any side seams as well as any seams and stitches that connect different functional zones with each other. Only sleeves, collar and other features are sewn on the garment. Thanks to reduced seams, circular knitted fabrics offer a high level of comfort.


How Should a Base Layer Shirt Fit?

For optimum functionality, a base layer shirt should fit close to your body – like a second skin – without constricting or limiting your mobility. Thanks to a direct contact to the skin, the shirt can absorb moisture perfectly and transport it to the next layer. This ensures full functionality.


With these practical tips, it should be easy to find the right base layer shirt for your needs. If you have any questions or require additional advice, please feel free to contact our expert consultants. They’ll be happy to help.

We stock a wide range of high-quality thermal base layers for winter and breathable undershirts for summer. You can choose from long sleeve base layers, short sleeve base under shirts and sleeveless singlets for women, men and kids in all common sizes, colours and price categories from renowned brands like ROSE, Craft, Löffler, GORE WEAR, Odlo, UYN, X-Bionic and many more. Browse through our range!