Now that summer is almost here, it’s time to cover up. When in the sun, you want to cover yourself up completely from head-to-toe to protect against the harmful ultraviolet – UV rays. For the cyclist, you will want to cover and protect;

  • Your eyes with a good pair of quality sunglasses that block out 99-100% of both UVA and UVB light
  • Top of your head, face, neck, lips, arms, legs with a good quality sunscreen
  • Everything else not covered by above. This means to cover up with UV-blocking clothing, bibs, jerseys, sun sleeves, etc. Remember that your clothing covers everything else that sunscreen doesn’t.

Certain clothing manufacturers are now making cycling clothing with UV blocking technology.


Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF, indicates what percentage or fraction of UV rays can penetrate the fabric. Here’s some examples;

UPF boils down to several things

  1. How tight the weave is of your clothing. The tighter the weave of the fabric, the smaller the holes between the threads and the more UV radiation the fabric blocks. For example, a pair of denim jeans has a UPF of 1,700 meaning only 1/1,700 of the sun’s UV reaches the skin.
  2. The type of fiber your clothing is made out of;
  3. How thick/heavy/dense the fabric is. Usually the thicker the material, the less UV is transmitted.
  4. What color is the fabric? Darker or brighter colors (red, black) absorb more UV than lighter or white materials.
  5. Increase your clothes UPF rating with laundry additives such as Sun Guard or Tinosorb.


UPF is a rating used for fabric that measures both UVA and UVB radiation blocked. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a rating for sunscreens and their ability to protect you against UVB rays only, in other words, how long you can stay out in the sun before your skin starts burning (turning red). Water and sweat will cause the sunscreen to dilute and/or completely run off so that is why the sunscreen manufacturers and dermatologists say to apply liberally and apply often.

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From the Melanoma Foundation :

New standards for sun protective fabrics in the United States were unveiled in January 2001. The United States now has the most stringent UV-protective clothing standards in the world! The new UPF fabric rating also requires that fabrics claiming to be sun protective must be prepared in the following ways before testing:

  1. Undergo 40 simulated launderings.
  2. Be exposed to 100 fading units of simulated sunlight (equivalent to 2 years’ light exposure).
  3. And, if intended for swim wear, exposure to chlorinated water.

The following is a comparison between the UPF and SPF ratings:

From UV Standard 801;


The following is a partial list of manufacturers that have UPF 28 to 50+ rated cycling and triathlon clothing. Note: Not all of these manufacturers lines of clothing are UPF rated. You will need to look carefully at each manufacturers lines of clothing since some manufacturers have extensive product lines all UPF rated, others only one line, and still others only one product. Also, some products are listed as ‘UPF’, others listed as ‘SPF’ and others as ‘UV rated’.

Since product lines change all of the time, it is recommended that you look at each product that you are interested in to see the UPF rating – if any.

Also, after quite a bit of searching the Internet, many cycle clothing manufacturers have zero options for UPF, so, it is recommended that from now on, when you shop for cycling clothing, that you look for those manufacturers that offer a UPF rating on their product lines.

Further reading:
1) Aad.org
2) Cancer.net
3) Cancer.org
4) Cancer.gov
5) Cdc.gov
6) Mayoclinic.org
7) Melanoma.org
8) Melanomafoundation.org
9) Skincancer.org
10) Uvstandard801.com
11) World Health Organization