Cycling is not only getting on your bike, pedaling, and enjoying the ride. There is much more to it, and maintaining your sports clothes is one important thing to always bear in mind. By doing this, you make sure that both your garments and your pocket will not be in trouble.
Since Lycra is a very common fabric in cycling wear, we will ride through this article to learn more about what to do to keep it in good shape and perfect condition.
What Is Lycra?
As stated above, Lycra is commonly mentioned when talking about clothes regarding cycling equipment. Also known as “spandex” or “elastane,” this high breathability fabric is composed of a polyether-polyurea copolymer.
This composition gives Lycra its condition of high stretchability, making it a very easy fit. In fact, it can stretch 5 to 8 times its actual size. It is also very resistant to heat, which means that heat is not easily retained when wearing it, making you feel cool at all times.
Lycra was first produced in the United States, but its major exporter nowadays is China. It is also found in underwear, socks, sports bras, hiking apparel, and yoga pants. Its fresh and stretching qualities make this fabric a good choice when mobility, light weight, and coolness are key factors.
Introduction to Lycra Cycling Wear
After the introduction of the “safety bicycle,” a ride with equally sized wheels, in 1885, cyclists have gone through many different preferences and tendencies when it comes to clothing.
This was adapted further in time to give place to silk. This was the first step to comfort since silk was lighter, cooler, and let cyclists move more freely.
It was not until the 1970s that Lycra was first worn in cycling. Invented in 1959 by DuPont Manufacturing, it had been previously introduced in speed skiing and swimming. Back then, it was not as we know it today since it was thinner and more stretchy. Still, it was much more comfortable and convenient than wool shorts, which thus became part of history in this activity.
How to Wash Lycra?
In addition to being convenient for cycling, Lycra is also easily washable. Nevertheless, its properties may be progressively lost if this is not done in a proper way. In order to wear your spandex clothes as much as you like without them being ragged or baggy, there are several things to take into account.
To begin with, and against common belief, Lycra should always be washed in cold water. Hot water may affect the fibers that provide its elasticity. You can use your washing machine to do so, in a delicate, cold water cycle.
And, last but not least, always try to wash your lycra clothing in a different set, apart from other types of fabrics. Take a look at this video on how to wash Lycra and other activewear (Credits to Robin Gallant):
Can You Tumble Dry Lycra?
Lycra is pretty fragile to intense conditions we may unconsciously submit it to. Tumble drying may be one of them. One of this fabric’s great qualities is that it dries quite quickly, so air drying would be the best option once the washing cycle is done.
An excellent way to accelerate the process is to roll the garment in a dry towel and apply pressure to it so as to squish any water remnants away. If this is not quick enough for you and you need to wear your spandex as soon as possible, tumble drying can be the last—emphasis on the word “last”—option.
Doing it once or twice for emergency reasons is not going to harm the fabric, but always remember to use the lowest heat cycle offered by your machine.