There are several factors to consider when deciding what to wear on your bike in the Middle East.
Iran aside, it’s no problem to wear lycra bicycle shorts anywhere in the region. Local cyclists often wear these too but women may prefer to go with something more modest. Man or woman, it’s good to have a pair of loose pants that you can quickly pull over your cycling shorts when you stop in a town.
Remember too that it can be hot in the Middle East and you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun. For this reason alone perhaps shorts are not the best choice and a light shirt with long sleeves will be better than a typical racing jersey. If you’re not wearing a helmet, pick up a broad-brimmed hat.
Iran is a special case on its own. There are dress codes here, enforced by the government. Men still do wear bicycle shorts here but a few of them told us they sometimes are bothered by the police for wearing “unIslamic dress”. Male tourists to Iran will almost certainly get an extra band of tolerance and shouldn’t have a problem while on the bike but the principle of having something loose to pull over your shorts as you arrive in a town applies doubly so in Iran.
Female cyclists have it the toughest of all in Iran as they must wear a headscarf and cover up their legs, arms and neck entirely. See more on cycling as a woman in Iran.