Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 31
A SURVEY AND DESIGN STUDY OF A PROTECTIVE CYCLING
Sukran Kara1, Sevil Yeşilpınar 1 and Mert Arslan2
1Dokuz Eylül University, Engineering Faculty, Textile Engineering Department, Tınaztepe Campus,
35397 Buca Izmir, Turkey
2Roteks Tekstil Ihracat San. ve Tic. A.Ş, Izmir Ataturk Organized Industrial Zone,
10002 ST No.26, 35620 Cigli Izmir, Turkey
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Abstract: Cycling is a popular sport which is preferred by all age groups all around the world. As it is
an active sport, it requires special types of clothing to provide comfort to the wearer. In spite being
a healthy activity, cycling can result with acute or chronic injuries. In this study, an extensive survey
was conducted to the cyclists in order to reveal their preferences of cycling clothes, their requirements,
their accidental experiences and safety needs. By considering the survey results, optional designs
of a more protective and functional cycling top wear were outlined. In order to avoid from acute injuries
which were stated to be in the shoulder and arm areas the most, a para-aramid and spacer/silicon foam
supported design was proposed. Also, the visibility was enhanced by the implementation of active
lightening on the front and back sides of the clothing.
Keywords: cycling top wear, survey study, protective clothing, functional clothing, clothing design.
Recently, there has been an increasing interest
in sports because of the desire to be healthier,
to relieve stress and to create a lifestyle. Cycling is
one of the most popular sports as it appeals to all
age groups, promotes general good health, does not
require high costs and can be made in all seasons.
In addition of being a sport, cycling is a means for
a cheap, healthy and a green transportation .
Cycling sports can serve to both recreational and
professional purposes. The cycling types namely,
road cycling, cyclo-cross and mountain biking belong
to professional cycling pursuits . They can cover
various time intervals and different levels
of performance. Therefore, cycling may need
different clothes with special properties. Some
of the selection parameters of cycling clothes are
the price, appearance, size, fit, design, availability
and quality . Appearance and fit can be the most
important selection parameters for recreational
cyclists. But, especially for professional cycling,
functional properties and comfort properties are
of higher importance [2-4]. Some of the functional
and comfort properties expected from cycling clothes
are moisture absorbency, moisture management,
fast drying, breathability, lightness, stretchability, heat
preservation, resistance to sunlight, high visibility etc.
[2, 5, 6].
By considering various requirements from the cycling
clothes, many studies were done in the literature
in particular research areas. Some studies searched
the fit of cycling clothes. For example; Vuruskan and
Ashdown  built half scale dress forms for active
body positions of cyclists by capturing 3D body
positions using body scanners. In the further study,
they produced 3D printed active forms which were
equipped with pressure sensors to measure the fit
of cycling shorts . Liu et al  determined
the digital clothing pressure for static condition and
dynamic cycling condition by using software and
optimized the design of a cycling t-shirt.
Compressional properties of compressive cycling
clothes were also studied in the literature.
Leoz-Abaurrea and Aguado-Jimenez  investigated
the effect of upper body compression garments
on the cardiovascular and thermoregulatory strain
of cyclists those cycled in hot environment. Brighenti
et al  compared the performance effect of a new
type of whole body compression garment with
ordinary summer cycling cloth in hot climate (32°C).
Hintzy et al  studied the effects of thigh
compression shorts on muscle activity and soft tissue
vibration during cycling. Another study field
on cycling clothes was the visibility as it could
provide protection against cycling accidents.
Lahrmann et al  made an extensive study
in which the effect of bright colored cycling wear
on the number of cycling accidents was searched.
Lee  designed a cycling jacket incorporating solar
powered LED (light emitting diodes) sensor lights
in order to improve visibility. Koo and Huang 
tested different configurations of flashing LEDs
on cycling clothes to the psychological perception
of drivers. Kgatuke et al  developed a cycling
jacket integrated with LEDs. As smart solutions
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 32
to cycling clothes; Paiva et al  designed and
produced a smart cycling cloth that was able to
measure the heart beats of cyclists by means
of different materials such as textile and silicon
based electrodes. Qiu and Hu  proposed and
defined the design of a smart cycling top wear that
could measure the heart rate, body temperature and
moisture of the cyclist by implementing electronic
devices to the clothing.
In addition to these researches, there are rare other
studies on cycling clothes. As an example,
Oglakcıoglu et al  investigated the thermal comfort
properties of sewn parts of cycling clothes. Teyeme
et al  searched the pains/injuries of 94 cyclists,
which occurred during or after cycling. Vuruskan 
conducted a cross-national survey study for cycling
clothes in which 25 cyclists from Turkey and
25 cyclists from United States were included.
In the survey, customers’ perspectives on fit and
customization were questioned. Teyeme et al 
organized some wear trials for 4 kinds of cycling
wear in order to determine their comfort properties.
Kwon and Kim  developed a cycling top wear with
the combination of 3 fabrics in order to response
different sweating rates and compression needs.
Also, there are other studies in the literature;
conducted to evaluate the comfort properties
of knitted fabrics/garments those could be useful
for the design of cycling clothes. For example,
Suganthi and Senthilkumar  examined
the moisture management properties of 7 bilayer
knitted fabrics composed of different raw materials.
Ozkan and Kaplangiray  investigated the thermal
comfort of 7 knitted fabrics that could be used
for athletes’ wear. Abreu et al  determined
the thermal comfort properties of 3 knitted shirts that
were suitable for sportswear. Wong and Yeung 
organized wear trials for 8 knitted sportswear in order
to evaluate their comfort properties.
The aim of this study was to create a design idea
of a more functional and protective cycling clothing,
by considering the user behaviours, experiences and
requirements. For this purpose, firstly, an extensive
survey was conducted to 500 cyclists in order
to collect required information related to their current
cycling clothes. In addition, information was collected
about their accidental experiences in order to add
protective segments on the clothing.
This study differs from the literature by collecting
detailed information on cycling clothes about seam
problems, visibility preferences, model preferences,
comfort requirements and accidental issues and, as
all this information was used to create smart
solutions for cyclists.
2 MATERIALS AND METHODS
The survey containing 38 questions/statements were
constructed according to an 8-step process .
According to this methodology, firstly, it was
determined what the new information would be
obtained from the survey. Then the most appropriate
survey type and sampling method was determined.
In the next steps, useful questions were constructed
and conducted to cyclists via a plan. Then the data
was analyzed and presented as tables, figures and
mean values. Both the questions and data were
controlled several times to avoid from errors.
The final survey form can be found in the Appendix.
In the survey, information about the usage behaviors,
model preferences, protection and visibility
requirements, seam problems and accident
experiences were collected in addition to some
The survey was firstly tested on a small cyclist group
to get feedbacks about the understandability
of the questions. After revisions, the last version
of the survey was conducted to cyclists utilizing
Google Documents, between the dates of June-
December 2019. Convenience sampling method was
used as it was the least expensive and time
consuming method . According to the literature
[26, 27], at least 384 participants should be taken
where the target population is higher than 10 million.
Therefore, in this study, data collection was
completed when the total number of respondents
reached 500 cyclists. All of the questions were
answered by the respondents. The survey was
conducted to cyclists in Turkey, including all
In the survey; Likert scale questions (in matrix form),
multiple choice questions, Yes/No type questions
and open-ended questions were used. Frequency
values, means and plots of responses were
compared to evaluate the results.
Table 1 Design methodology of cycling top wear
Materials and fabrication methods
Higher visibility function
LED application, colour selection
Silicon and spacer paddings
Protection against fall
High mechanical property raw materials
Thermal and wet comfort
Use of meshed fabrics
Use of elastane containing fabric
Use of gusset to eliminate armpit seam
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 33
For the clothing design, a user-centered approach
was adopted for this work [28, 29]. As the design
methodology, first 3 steps of the clothing design and
development framework that was employed
by Rajamanicham, Park and Jayaraman was utilized
. For this purpose, firstly, the requirements of our
target group were detected by the aforementioned
survey study. Then the design properties were
formed. At the next step, suitable materials were
selected. Details of the adapted design methodology
for cycling wear design are summarized in Table 1.
By using these principles, 2D flats were created
containing alternatives. The cycling clothes were
designed by using Designer 9 (Gerber, Artworks
Expert). Patchwork design  of 4 kinds of fabrics
was performed, including the usage of elastane
containing polyester fabric, aramid fabric, meshed
fabric and supportive spacer fabric, in order
to enhance protection and comfort properties
of the final design.
3 RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
3.1 Demographics and cycling behaviours
Age and gender information of respondents were
taken as demographics. The age range
of the respondents was 16-65 years old (mean: 34.5,
st. dev.: 11.3) (Figure 1a).
The study covered a broad range of ages from 16 to
65. Therefore, the standard deviation was high. 87%
of the respondents were male where 13%
of respondents were female (Figure 1b). Also, 53%
of respondents were licensed cyclists.
Cycling behaviours of respondents are given
in Figure 2. According to Figure 2a, respondents
used at least one of the 5 bicycle types. At least
30 respondents were taken from each bicycle types.
40% of respondents had been cycling for 7 years
or more (Figure 2b). They trained cycling for different
time intervals, weekly (Figure 2c).
71% of respondents cycled 2-4 h, non-stopping
(Figure 2d). From all these behavioural information,
it can be concluded that, respondents were well
experienced on cycling.
3.2 Accidents related to cycling
Cycling injuries can be classified into 3 types,
namely; traumatic, bicycle contact and overuse
(chronic) injuries . Traumatic injuries can be
sourced from crashes with other vehicles or bicycles,
from potholes, rocks, dogs, operator errors or by
mechanical reasons . In this study, traumatic
injuries had been explored to reveal if any protection
could be provided by altering cycling clothes’ design
Figure 1 Demographics of respondents
Figure 2 Cycling behaviours of respondents
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 34
Figure 3 Injury areas of cyclists
According to the results, 59% of respondents stated
that they experienced accidents during cycling.
The injured areas of the body were marked
in Figure 3a.
The areas such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 15, 16 and 17 also
covered “y” axis symmetry of the body. In Figure 3b,
frequencies of the injured areas are given. According
to results, most injured area was the hands area
(26% of respondents) and it was followed by knees
area (23.6%). Also almost 20% of the respondents
were injured in the shoulders and lower arms area.
The total number of upper arm (3), lower arm (4) and
elbow (16) injuries was 240. The least injured areas
were abdominals, chests and necks.
3.3 Protection, visuality and comfort related
requirements from cycling clothes
Respondents mostly cycled in the summer season
and under intense sunlight (Figure 4a). Nevertheless,
458 of them at least rarely cycled in the dark weather
(Likert mean: 3.2). Also, 93% of respondents stated
that they needed high visibility in the dark
(Figure 4b). 464 cyclists increased their visibility
by using bicycle lights and also 457 of them
enhanced the visibility by using clothing (Figure 4c).
Among the clothing visibility enhancements, using
reflective fabrics was the most employed method
(Figure 4d). Higher visibility can protect the cyclists
from accidents; therefore, the safety of the cyclists
can be enhanced [11, 34-36].
Figure 4 Visuality of cycling clothes
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 35
Figure 5 Functional options in cycling
Figure 6 Comfort needs of cyclists
59% of respondents used heart rate sensors during
cycling (Figure 5a). Mostly, chest type sensors were
used by respondents (Figure 5b). Also, 56%
of respondents thought that compressing products
could impact their performance (Figure 5c).
Comfort related requirements from cycling clothes
were also questioned in the survey and the results
are shown in Figure 6. Likert mean values for being
thin, lightweight, air permeable, moisture permeable,
fast drying and thermal insulator were higher than
4.4. The mostly desired comfort property of cycling
clothing was drying fast (Likert mean: 4.8). It was
followed by being lightweight, air permeable and
moisture permeable at high levels (Likert mean: 4.7).
In addition, comfort approaches of female and male
cyclists were similar. The literature also supports
the needs of moisture/heat transfer properties and
lightweight of cycling clothes . In addition, it was
determined in a survey based study that the most
common discomfort problems of cyclists were related
to moisture and thermal discomfort sensation in their
current clothes .
3.4 Seam problems of cycling clothes
Most of the respondents (75%) stated that they did
not have seam problems (Figure 7a). The rest
of the respondents experienced marks on their
bodies along the seam lines, the most (Likert
mean: 2.5). The seam related problems were
detected in the armpit area on top wear and in crotch
area on bottom wear (Figures 7c, 7d).
3.5 Cycling clothes preferences and
Cycling clothes preferences of respondents are given
in Figure 8. According to Figure 8a,
59% of respondents wore M or L size clothes.
69% of respondents preferred fitted models instead
of regular models (Figure 8b). 87% of respondents
preferred cycling clothes with 3 or more pockets
(Figure 8c). 73% of respondents preferred raglan
armhole and 74% of respondents preferred full length
zipper on the top wear (Figures 8d, 8f). Raglan
armhole increases the movement range of shoulder
and zipper provides easy take off of the clothes .
Collar preferences changed according to model
(Figure 8e). Collar preferences may be up to
the fashion. As the bottom clothes, almost half
of the respondents preferred tights with straps while
the rest half preferred tights without straps
(Figure 8g). In Figure 8h, sleeve length preferences
of respondents in both summer and winter time are
presented. According to the figure, most
of the respondents preferred short sleeve in summer
time and long sleeve in winter time, rather than
the other sleeve types such as sleeveless, elbow and
¾ sleeve lengths.
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 36
Figure 7 Seam related problems
Figure 8 Cycling clothes preferences and maintenance
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 37
4 DISCUSSION AND CYCLING GARMENT
Images of some commercial cycling top wears
are given in Figure 9. By considering both
the commercial products and survey results, a basic
cycling top wear was designed as given in Figure 10.
It is planned to be made of elastane containing
knitted fabric. It is designed to be fit cut; it has
3 pockets, raglan armhole and full length zipper,
according to clothing preferences of survey
Figure 9 Images of commercial cycling wears.
Products of a) Decathlon , b) Rapha , c) POC ,
d) Pedla 
Figure 10 A classical one color cycling top wear (jersey)
Only in Turkey in the year of 2018, 8514 traffic
accidents included bicycles and 125 cyclists died
according to official statistics . Therefore, in this
study, information about both injuries in accidents
and visibility preferences were collected to develop
a clothing design that would provide extra protection
to the wearer.
According to survey results, shoulders, elbows and
arm area were the most injured areas that could be
protected by the top wear. In order to provide
protection to these areas, the outer side of the sleeve
was designed to be supported with a spacer fabric
and aramid fabric combination. As aramid fabric has
high strength , it will be durable against cutting
when the arm of the cyclist contact with the road
in case of fall. So the exposure of the skin to the road
will be inhibited and it is expected to prevent wounds.
Short sleeve was not preferred because
of the aramid support along the arm.
Also, the elbow and shoulder parts of the clothing
was planned to be supported with additional knitted
spacer pads in order to absorb the impact in case
For the ideal protection, weft knitted spacer fabrics
with different thicknesses can be tested to determine
their damping capability of impact . Spacer
fabrics can provide protection while maintaining
Also, impact absorbing pads may be produced from
silicon containing cushions, which have currently use
in cycling shorts as given in Figure 11.
Figure 11 Silicone foam containing cycling short pad
vs spacer fabric for soft padding: a) silicon sponge ,
b) spacer fabrics 
For the sleeve construction, different designs were
developed and 5 of them are given in Figure 12.
In these designs, the coverage and patterns
of aramid and spacer pads are altered. The designs
of a, b and d were eliminated because
of the voluminous structure of spacer pads.
Those designs could result with reduced mobility and
sewing problems in the curvy armhole places.
Figure 12e was preferred as the final sleeve design
as the spacer pads were placed in the target sides
as shoulder and elbow. In addition, it was more
advantageous by having less amount of expensive
aramid fabric, when compared to design
in Figure 12c.
To have an idea about the compatibility of knitted
polyester fabric and aramid fabric, a sewing trial was
performed. For this purpose, a knitted aramid fabric
was sewn with a single-jersey polyester fabric by
using 5 yarn overlock stitch as shown in Figure 13.
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 38
Two fabrics (aramid and polyester knitted fabrics)
were found to be compatible in terms of sewability
and stretching, also there were no visual problems
along the seamline. Here, polyester was trialed
because it is used in commercial cycling clothes,
extensively. And the reason to support the polyester
fabric with aramid was that the aramid fabrics had
high mechanical properties. In the further studies,
fabrics with different raw materials can be tested
as alternatives. By considering these results and
sketches, the final cycling top wear was designed
as in Figure 14.
In the design, to eliminate the seam problems
in the armpit area, a diamond gusset may be added
as shown in top left side of Figure 14. Also, this
gusset may be manufactured from meshed fabric
in order to enhance the heat and moisture transfer
from the armpit. The design can be used for cycling
in dry weathers of spring or autumn seasons.
Also, it can be used as an inner layer for winter
season, too. For the summer season, the sleeve
can be made of an elastane containing meshed
fabric in order to improve the moisture and air
permeability, to maintain both the protection and
comfort at the same time (Figure 15).
The visibility of top wear was enhanced by using
contrast and vivid neon colors and active LED
supports. Most of the respondents stated that they
did not use LEDs on their cycling clothes. Literature
showed that the usage of flashing LEDS can improve
the recognition of cyclist in the dark. Koo and
Huang’s study  suggested to put the flashing
LEDs on the lower garment at hip, knee and ankle.
But also, the LED configuration on the top wear took
good scores. Therefore, for this study, LEDs’
configurations were designed as given in Figure 14.
An alternative LED configuration can be formed
as in Figure 16. A LED array was planned to be
placed in the front and back torso as given in figures.
Also, a small pocket was added to carry the battery.
Kgatuke et al  made a design by inserting LEDs
in the weaving process. According to our survey
results, most of the cyclists wash their clothes
in washing machine, so, in this study, detachable
LED arrays were proposed in the design to plug off
easily before washing. The attachment of LED arrays
may be enabled with Velcro or snap fasteners.
A variant of this cloth might be designed with
Figure 12 Different design alternatives for sleeve
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 39
Figure 13 Sewing trial of aramid fabric with polyester fabric
Figure 14 Design of a LED containing cycling jersey supported via aramid fabric and spacer pads
Figure 15 Design of the proposed cycling jersey with mesh sleeves for summer season
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 40
Figure 16 Design of the proposed cycling jersey with alternative LED arrangement
Additional important implications of this study can be
summarized as below:
- More than half of the cyclists stated that they used
heart rate sensors. 42% of the respondents used
chest type heart rate sensors that should have high
contact with the body. As an alternative, ear type
heart rate sensors may be integrated to the cycling
top wear as the authors realized for sailing
garments in previous studies . It can provide
wear comfort and extra mobility to the cyclists.
- Cyclists have high expectations from their clothes
in terms of physiological comfort. Moisture
management finishing may enhance the comfort
properties of cycling jerseys.
- There were no serious problems about the seams
of cycling clothes. But some cyclists stated that,
their seams left marks on their bodies. It is related
to fit cut of cycling clothes those contact with body
tightly. This problem can be solved by replacing
sewn seams with taped seams. Taped seams
provide a flat and smooth hand to the seam .
This can be applied along the straight side seams
or lowly curved seams as it is harder to apply
welding tapes in highly curved areas such as
crotch and armpit seams.
Within the context of this study, an extensive survey
research was performed to collect essential
information to create the design idea of a more
functional and protective cycling cloth.
By considering survey results and literature search,
2D flats of protective cycling top wears were created
For the design development process, patchwork
design approach was found advantageous
in obtaining protective clothing that also exhibited
high level of comfort. In the designs, 4 types of textile
structures, namely elastane containing knitted
polyester fabric, knitted aramid fabric, meshed
polyester fabric and spacer fabrics, were combined
together by considering their general properties. In
the further studies, material alternatives are planned
to be tested for the selection of the best
In addition, detachable LED configurations were
found suitable for visibility enhancement and easy
In the further studies, the cycling cloth designs can
be realized and wear trials can be done for long term
studies. This study is expected to help the cycling
clothes producers by revealing real problems and
requirements of cyclists from their clothes. Also, it is
expected to sketch a new perspective for the design
of protective cycling clothes.
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Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 43
Survey Form DESIGN OF A CYCLING TOPWEAR
What type of bicycle do you use?
Time trial bicycle
How many years have you been cycling?
7 years and more
How many hours do you train per week?
21 h and more
What is your average nonstop cycling time?
Less than 1 h
5 h and more
Are you a licensed cyclist?
Did you experience any accidents during cycling?
Please indicate the injured areas in the accidents?
How long do you wear your cycling clothes?
4 years and more
Until it becomes unusable due to accidents, etc.
What is your size of clothing?
What is your model preference for your cycling clothes?
How many pockets do you prefer on your cycling clothes?
4 and more
Do you need high visibility when you cycle in dark?
What are the materials you use to increase visibility?
Special clothes with LEDs
Clothes with neon colors
Clothes with reflective fabrics
Do you use a heart rate monitor during sports?
Which type of heart rate monitor do you use?
Do you think that compressing products have an impact on your
Are you satisfied with the stitches on your cycling clothes?
Please indicate your agreement degree to the statements below.
Properties of cycling clothes
My cycling clothes should be thin
My cycling clothes should be lightweight
My cycling clothes should dry fast
The thermal insulation of my cycling clothes should be good
The air permeability of my cycling clothes should be high
The moisture permeability of my cycling clothes should be high
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 44
How do you wash your cycling clothes?
I wash my cycling clothes in the washing machine
I wash my cycling clothes by hand
I wash my cycling clothes by hand without detergent
Please indicate the weather conditions you cycle.
I cycle under intense sunlight.
I cycle in the dark (evenings).
I cycle in rainy weather.
I cycle in the winter season.
I cycle in the summer season.
Please indicate the problems you experience with the sewn places of your cycling clothes.
The seams leave marks on my body
The seams adversely affect my mobility
The seams cause irritation and wounds on my body
My cycling clothes unstitch easily
My cycling clothes burst from the seams easily
Holes/yarn slippages are formed along the seam lines of my cycling clothes
Indicate the areas where you have the most seam problems with
your cycling top clothes.
Indicate the areas where we have the most seam problems with
your lower cycling clothes.
Bottom hem area
Which cycling tights do you prefer?
Tights with straps
Tights without straps
Which sleeve length do you prefer in the SUMMER season?
3/4 (Three quarter) sleeve
Which sleeve length do you prefer in the WINTER season?
3/4 (Three quarter) sleeve
Indicate your choice of collar.
Indicate your choice of armhole.
Indicate your choice of zipper.
Fibres and Textiles 28(1), 2021 45