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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-06-05, 04:34 PM   #1
jplee3
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bike clothing? what do you wear?

hey folks,
just wondering what you guys usually wear when commuting by bike --- should i at least get a pair of bike shorts? i come into work pretty casually (polo shirt and pants [cords, jeans, cargo, khaki, etc]; sometimes shorts). i've never commuted by bike anywhere since middle school. i'm thinking i'll get pretty sweaty, so it's probably good if i at least wear *exercise* clothes and then change before starting at work yeah?

also, any advice on a good helmet to pick up?
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Old 09-06-05, 04:55 PM   #2
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I have a similar office attire situation so I just ride in my work clothes. Of course my commute is only about 2.75 miles one way and pretty flat so I don't get terribly sweaty. I just turn on the fan in my office and am cool and dry in short order. When my commute was closer to 20 miles one way over killer hills I was glad my workplace had a shower and locker room.

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Old 09-06-05, 05:06 PM   #3
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Get bike shorts and a jersey and a well ventilated helmet. That's about it.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:08 PM   #4
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My commute is about 4 miles and very flat. In nice weather, I'll ride one of my roadies and I'll just wear my office uniform: shirt, tie, dress pants. Just go easy and avoid the temptation to sprint to the lights or risk arriving in a sweat. I can easily throw a jersey and shorts in my bag in order to take a longer detour home. Or you can do it the other way: if you have the facilities, you can leave early and combine your commute to work with a training ride.

As for helmets, I've had good luck with the Bell Ghisallo and the Giro Eclipse. Both have good venting and aren't terribly expensive. But helmets are like saddles: they really are a matter of personal fit and preference.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:42 PM   #5
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Later fall through early spring I mostly wear my regular clothes - my ride is 4 miles each way. When it is hot I wear regular shorts and tshirt - and bring clothes to change into. I hate wearing biking shorts and only wear them for rides over 10 miles. I did just get a pair of tights with illuminite reflecting stuff on them - so I might start wearing those home.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jplee3
hey folks,
just wondering what you guys usually wear when commuting by bike --- should i at least get a pair of bike shorts? i come into work pretty casually (polo shirt and pants [cords, jeans, cargo, khaki, etc]; sometimes shorts). i've never commuted by bike anywhere since middle school. i'm thinking i'll get pretty sweaty, so it's probably good if i at least wear *exercise* clothes and then change before starting at work yeah?

also, any advice on a good helmet to pick up?
I don't understand the mentality that says you have to dress a certian way to ride. I wear shorts and a t-shirt in the summer and sweats and a jacket in the winter. If it rains I put on rain gear, but I sweat inside them, so I get just as wet as if I din't wear them (gross,huh?). The key to riding in any weather is...be comfortable. Those new fabrics that wick sweat away from the body are great and if I can find them in a discount store I will buy them, but I'm OK with t-shirts. My favorite "riding gear" is my Chuck Taylors, very comfortable and when I get to work they go right into my saddle bags nicely. I change clothes at work if I need to depending on the time of year. (winter I can't wear whan I ride in)

As for a good helmet, I would say one that fits and is comfortable. (notice a theme here?)

But that's just me.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:50 PM   #7
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Oh yeah...one more thing...BRIGHT COLORS!!! You want to be seen by those evil motorists.
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Old 09-06-05, 06:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gew0419
I don't understand the mentality that says you have to dress a certian way to ride. I wear shorts and a t-shirt in the summer and sweats and a jacket in the winter. If it rains I put on rain gear, but I sweat inside them, so I get just as wet as if I din't wear them (gross,huh?). The key to riding in any weather is...be comfortable. Those new fabrics that wick sweat away from the body are great and if I can find them in a discount store I will buy them, but I'm OK with t-shirts. My favorite "riding gear" is my Chuck Taylors, very comfortable and when I get to work they go right into my saddle bags nicely. I change clothes at work if I need to depending on the time of year. (winter I can't wear whan I ride in)

As for a good helmet, I would say one that fits and is comfortable. (notice a theme here?)

But that's just me.
i wasn't planning on going all out and getting a racing uniform... haha. at the least i was looking into getting a decent pair of biking shorts (if i can find them for pretty cheap as you said) and definitely a helmet. i don't think i'll need to buy a jersey.
i'll probably just end up doing as you said: wearing shorts and a t-shirt [well, while it's warmer] and changing into something a little more work-casual when i get to work.
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Old 09-06-05, 06:30 PM   #9
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It really just depends on how far you ride. A 5-10 mile ride can easily be made in just about anything, but if you want to go 20, 40, 60 miles or more, proper bike apparel can make a huge difference.

I've found that a good set of bike shorts can make the difference between a pleasurable ride and a miserable one. A good set of bike shorts and a good saddle are the perfect marriage for your butt. I've bought some cheap bike shorts and found you pretty much get what you pay for. The good ones are well constructed, have thicker spandex, better stitching for longer life, and better padding. The ones that have thicker spandex grip your leg muscles and help with muscle fatigue on long rides. Cheaper ones made out of thinner matterial are worthless in this regard.

A good jersey fits your body well. It not only wicks away moisture, but suspends it and allows for more efficient cooling. It also should be made of bright colors for higher visibility.
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Old 09-06-05, 07:28 PM   #10
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I've been wondering this too, and so far just wear jeans & T-shirt. NO ONE wants to see me in spandex.
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Old 09-06-05, 07:33 PM   #11
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Mesh athletic shorts over lycra compression shorts, and a wicking t-shirt. Wash 'em in the shower at work. My commuting hat is a $25 Bell Influx, which works fine.
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Old 09-06-05, 07:40 PM   #12
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[QUOTE=caloso]My commute is about 4 miles and very flat. In nice weather, I'll ride one of my roadies and I'll just wear my office uniform: shirt, tie, dress pants. Just go easy and avoid the temptation to sprint to the lights or risk arriving in a sweat. I can easily throw a jersey and shorts in my bag in order to take a longer detour home.
Caloso...I used the train to take my bike up to Oregon this past month..I briefly got off the train at the Sacramento train station both ways...Each time early AM or towards sunset..It was hotter than hell...I would be sweaty...Maybe not typical.
But from the train tracks could see your bike paths loaded with cyclists adjacent the rivers..Nice trials...
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Old 09-06-05, 07:43 PM   #13
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An addendum to the thread..Bike clothes for sure. anything over 10 miles one way. I would be uncomfortable. and as replied to Calosso..We all have our own propensity to sweat..Gotta have coolmax..I showered at work..Washed out my bike clothes in the shower and changed into work clothes..No problems..If your employer respects your right to bike.
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Old 09-06-05, 07:54 PM   #14
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Cyclezealot makes a good point that we all have our own propensity to sweat. And I'm sorry that he visited on one of those sizzling frying-pan hot days we have here a couple of times a year. But the mornings here in Sactown are super weather for riding, 350 days a year or so, in my opinion.

jplee3, you didn't mention how humid or hilly it is where you live. I think that would have a lot to bear on the issue.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:01 PM   #15
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I used to wear regular clothes on my commute. But now, I can't go much of anywhere unless I am wearing my cycling shorts. I wear baggy black shorts over them to go to work, stores, appointments, etc. In the winter I wear long johns and foul weather pants over my cycling shorts.

Those who have never worn cycling clothes -- especially shorts -- Try them! You will be so much more comfortable.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:09 PM   #16
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While commuting up in Oregon, I wondered which piece of cycling gear I would miss most for rides over 20 minutes..
Jerseys for coolmax or shorts for the chamois...I had some local commuting about Medford for under 5 miles , so I rode in street clothes..( Hurrah, I was carless for almost three weeks.!)
But, no cycling shorts. I could feel the saddle touching hemmorhoids that are in the developmental stage. W/o the chamois, I suspect one would need a Maxi Pad for serious riding. I could tell the difference in only 30 minutes of acculmative riding..
Serious rides, I need both jerseys and bike shorts to be comfortable.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:18 PM   #17
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I ride full kit. It is an 8 mile ride in to work but can be as much as 30 miles coming home. I am lucky as there are showers and lockers at work for me, also if I forget cloths there is always a set of scrubs to wear for the day.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:19 PM   #18
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I recommend Alertshirts for cheap ($8-9) wicking t-shirts in various colors including hi-vis orange and yellow. Those and some cheap athletic shorts (that I think I ordered through Campmor) are my summer riding gear. I bought some Coll-Max poly socks on clearance from LongCycles since they are more comfortable and cooler than cotton. I ride about 12 mi. each way and in the heat of a DC summer wicking clothing is key. Also poly wicking clothing dries completely during the work day so I can put on dry albeit sometimes smelly clothes to go home.

For cooler weather I have some long sleeve wicking poly shirts from Alertshirts and nylon warm-up pants to cut the wind. I can layer a fleece jacket or a windbreaker over that for more warmth. I agree with the other posters -- unless your commute is over 15-20 miles stick with the cheap and comfortable clothes. After you've ridden for a while you can add or adjust your wardrobe to match your needs.
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Old 09-06-05, 08:19 PM   #19
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Whatever you're comfortable in. I commuted > 2000 miles last year in khaki shorts and t shirt. This year I got some bike shorts to see what the fuss was. I like them; they don't get soaking wet, and there's no seam right under my crotch, so they're more comfortable that way. Plus I can just rinse them in the shower and dry them on the rack.

People always talk about how they don't chafe like regular clothes, but I don't think I've ever had any clothes chafe me in my life, so that wasn't a consideration for me.

For up top, I bought a cycling jersey from Nashbar, which is fine, but then I found alertsherts.com and bought a handful of bright wicking shirts from them, and I'll stick with that from now on; they're fine for me. I am very sceptical that the biking-specific clothing is worth anywhere near what they charge for it.

When it gets colder (in steps):
-Long-sleeve compression top bought from Wal*Mart instead of shirt
then
-wicking short sleeve underwear under above top
then
-Light microfiber windbreaker top

On the bottom:
-compression tights over bike shorts (bought at Target I think)
then
-nylon+fleece lined windbreaker shell pants

Gloves; I **never** ride without gloves. I might sooner go without a helmet. Every time I've fallen without gloves, I've had nasty, deep gouges that took weeks to heal.
I wear half-fingered Nashbar cheapies mostly.
At about 35*F I switch to full-length gloves - I found that Dickies makes "mechanic's gloves" which have gel-filled palm padding, for < $20.

Head:
helmet
When it starts getting cold, I duct tape up the holes
then I put on a Nashbar open-top balaclava, first as a neck gaiter, then up full. When it's really cold, I'll loop a fleece scarf around my neck, putting the ends over my chest for extra insulation up front.
I've ridden with that down to -10*F and was comfortable.
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Old 09-06-05, 09:29 PM   #20
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I only commute 1.5 miles each way, so I just wear my work clothing, which for me is a skirt or a dress every day.
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Old 09-07-05, 12:11 AM   #21
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Since I commute over 22mi to work on my road bike, I sweat quite a bite. So, I need to wear a full cycling kit. Luckily, I have a shower and locker next to my office, so it works out great.
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Old 09-07-05, 04:15 AM   #22
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I cycle 25 miles each way. In the summer I wore a jersey and cycling shorts. Now that it is cooler, I wear cycling shorts and long lightweight cycling pants with a cotton t-shirt. I take a jersey to work for the ride home. It is cool at night (on the way in) and warmer in the morning on the way home. The wind is usually a 5 mile tailwind on the way to work and a headwind and about a 1-3 % grade uphill on the way home. I know the grade is not much but when you just want to get home and go to bed, sometimes I have broken down and called for a pickup. The last 5 miles I have a series of slight hills I call the 7 Turds. I always tell myself, I will walk the last one, and by the time I use up all my gears, I'm almost at the top, or else I would fall over trying to unclip so I just finish the ride (most of the time).
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Old 09-07-05, 05:07 AM   #23
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I find that any ride over 5 miles each way is uncomfortable without bike shorts. Luckily, my commute is only 3 miles each way. Currently, I wear a bike jersey and just regular shorts, but I'm thinking of going to just get wicking t-shirts (my shorts are stretching out the bottom of my jerseys).

As for the helmet, I bought the first inexpensive, yellow helmet with a visor that I could find (It happened to be a Giro Torrent that I payed $25 for on eBay). I wanted yellow so that I could be seen and a visor for the rain (some say it also keeps the sun out of your eyes, but I guess it depends on how big the visor is).
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Old 09-07-05, 06:30 AM   #24
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Team kit ususally. It was chilly this morning so i had arm & knee warmers and a wind vest.
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Old 09-07-05, 06:53 AM   #25
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My original clothing goal was to ride in work clothes all the time, just to prove that one did not have to dress for biking. Now I have backed down on that and when the temperature is over about 60 degrees I wear shorts and a Tshirt and take pants and a regular shirt with me to change. Why make an effort to be uncomfortable just to prove a point.

My helmet is a Bell (Stratus/Stratos) from some decades ago. It is nice because it has a solid top (thus good for rain) and a visor over the eyes (thus good for wind and rain). I have not seen this helmet for sale anywhere lately, so I am thinking it has been discontinued, and I am worried that if I ever have to replace it I won't find anything as nice.
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