Top Questions You’re Too Afraid to Ask About Bike Tours

DuVine guides are experienced cyclists, and they’ve heard it all! We promise you’re not the first person to wonder these things, even if it feels funny to ask—and you’re right to assume that cycling comes with a few unusual practices. The most important thing is that you feel completely informed about your DuVine experience. Our longtime guide Arien Coppock has compiled some of the most common questions on the minds of guests preparing for their first bike tour.

What is a “cycling kit” and why do cyclists wear them?

Our guests choose to wear what makes them comfortable for being active. Some are dressed as if they are ready to ride in a pro race with a sleek kit and clip-in cycling shoes, while others may wear an athletic shirt, running shorts or leggings, and sneakers. I’ve seen it all, and am happy to report that they all made it up the Tuscan hills with a smile.

The most important thing is that you are having a great time. Your dress code is secondary.

That said, the right gear can elevate your experience. The purpose of cycling clothing—or a “kit”—is to improve your comfort while riding. A cycling jersey is the item you’ll see most often: it’s made of athletic material and fits a tighter around your waist, so your shirt doesn’t flap in the air when going downhill. Jerseys have pockets in the back for your phone, snacks, and any other necessities you might need along the way. And since you are mostly leaning forward on a bike, the jersey is shorter in the front and longer in the back to accommodate your position.

If you don’t want to overhaul your activewear, you don’t have to. Cycling clothing is optional when you join a DuVine tour—but you can see how it feels to wear a jersey because we send you one when you book your bike trip! A jersey is a great place to start, since you can wear it with whatever athletic bottoms you may already own.

What’s up with cycling shoes?

If you don’t ride at home “clipped in”—that is, with special cycling shoes that attach directly to your pedals—don’t try it for the first time on tour. It takes practice to get used to quickly clipping in and unclipping so you can step off the bike. Lots of DuVine guests who are new to bike travel wear sneakers!

If you wear sneakers, we provide the choice between flat pedals and pedals with toe cages. On flat pedals, your foot is completely free to come on and off the pedal. A toe cage is an attachment to the flat pedal; you slide just your toe box into it, which helps your foot stay secure and saves you some effort when you pull the pedal on your upstroke.

What about cycling shorts? Do I need them, and what’s the thing in the middle?

Believe us when we tell you: cycling shorts are worth having. The first time you try on cycling shorts might feel awkward—like wearing a diaper—but after spending several hours on a bike saddle day after day, you will grow to love your diaper! The pad in a pair of cycling shorts is called a chamois, or “shammy.” It is specifically designed to protect and cushion your bits (men and ladies alike).

We sometimes get requests for gel seats, which some riders are accustomed to using at home. However, a gel seat can create friction between your shorts, the seat, and the saddle, which will only increase the pain in your bum. We don’t recommend using cycling shorts and a gel seat together.

Should I wear underwear underneath my cycling shorts?

Cycling shorts are meant to be worn without underwear. Underwear of any kind can lead to chafing, given the amount of movement between your saddle and shorts. You’ll get accustomed to going commando under the shorts very quickly.

Most of our guests pack one pair of shorts or bibs (shorts with suspender-like straps to keep them in place) per day of riding. If your goal is to pack lighter, here’s a pro tip: bring single-use packets of laundry detergent and give shorts a rinse in the hotel sink or tub. Just make sure you bring a couple pairs to rotate while one is drying out.

Is there a magical seat that won’t make my butt sore?

That magical saddle is called training (don’t worry, we can help with that too)! The more time you spend on a bike, the more accustomed to the saddle you will be become, and the better your bum will feel on the final day of your bike tour. The women’s and men’s seats on our bike fleet are very comfortable; if you feel strongly about having your own, bring it with you and our guides can easily mount it on your bike.

When choosing a saddle, the priority is ensuring that it’s a good fit for your body. Your sit bones should fit on the saddle and be the major point of contact to alleviate pressure and decrease soreness. Your sit bones are the place you will feel some tenderness when your body is on a new or uncomfortable saddle. Women tend to have wider saddles since their sit bones are further apart.

What is the difference between a road bike and a hybrid bike? What about e-bikes?

Glad you asked! Read more about which bike might be right for you. The short answer is that road bikes are lighter, have smooth and skinny tires, and are meant to be ridden with a forward and downturned posture. Hybrid bikes tend to have a heavier frame along with thicker tires; the handlebars are flat because they are designed for an upright riding position.

E-bikes are more popular with DuVine travelers every year—which is great news! Gone are the days when e-bikes were seen as “not the real thing.” E-bikes mean that more people can enjoy bicycling, and we think that’s the best possible outcome.

We offer e-bikes on almost all of our tours. They’re very intuitive to use, and you don’t have to worry about feeling like you’re on a scooter or motorcycle. You’re fully in control of how much electric assist you want, and you have to be pedaling for the motor to kick in at all. We’ve even added road e-bikes to our fleet!

The cyclist on the left is riding a hybrid bike; the cyclist in the front center is on a road bike.

What if I don’t drink?

Because DuVine tours tend to emphasize local wine experiences, we understand why non-drinkers might feel concerned—but we welcome everyone to travel with us, and a little communication with your Travel Specialist or Tour Coordinator can ensure we provide the right experience. We’ll work together to find a bike tour that is less wine-centric, or simply plan to provide plenty of non-alcoholic drink options on tour.

During the tour itself, you may find yourself in good company when even people who normally drink turn down a glass. Tasting the wine can be a part of the travel experience, but it’s by no means essential.

Another option is to go private. If you and/or your group aren’t interested in wine tastings or wine-paired meals, we can avoid them altogether and arrange other activities that are better-suited to your interests.

What if I’m the last in the group?

On every tour someone is last, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of! I give the same advice to everyone worried about bringing up the rear: by being last, you see more than any of the others did. Take your time, go at your own pace, and do what feels right. It’s the reason we have two or more guides and a support van, so you never have to feel hurried or ride harder than you’re able to.

DuVine’s small group sizes mean we’re flexible to support several cyclists with varying abilities. But if you’re worried about keeping up, you may want to plan on reserving an e-bike for your trip. Otherwise, we encourage you to finish your last sip of coffee at a café break or stop pedaling to take that unforgettable photo without worry of holding up the group. We always like to remind travelers that it’s a vacation—not a race!

There is never a question that you should feel too embarrassed to ask. We’ve heard it all, and we’d rather you ask than feel out of the loop. Wondering about something that’s not on this list? Contact us—we’re here to put your mind at ease!

Up Next: 2023 DuVine Holiday Gift Guide