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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 12-20-10, 01:59 PM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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Very cheap, recycled merino cycling pants ... do it yourself.

For me, this is more of a roadie tip than a commuter one, because I don't like to change once I get to work. But I think more people in this forum would benefit from it than in the 41. This is way too Fred for those people to take seriously...

I'm moving, and that means I have lots of dirty laundry, and not enough clean clothes. But I also get cabin fever, and being on the bike makes me happy. So, while I'm not doing enough laundry, I'm still getting my saddle time in. On Saturday, I was down to a pair of cotton/poly pants. I went for a ride, and it started raining about an hour later. It was windy, and the rain was coming down sideways; temps ranged from 36 to 42 degrees. It sucked. Unless I was sprinting or climbing, it felt like a sheet of ice against my legs - this is with merino long johns on underneath.

So, here's what I'm doing.

(1) Go to the thrift store ( Value Village, Goodwill, Desert Industries, etc ) and buy some merino sweaters. Get the biggest size you can find, because it has more fabric to work with. But get stuff on sale - color doesn't really matter. I got three of them; two should be enough, but now I can screw up. Total cost was about $10.
(2) Cut the arms off at the seams, then cut the front and back apart, again at the seams if possible. Use a razor blade.
(3) Wrap the cloth around your leg, mark where it meets, and cut the excess away. Sew the legs together.
(4) The legs should come all the way up to your hips; it won't work as well if you try to attach tubes to a loin cloth.
(5) Use the fabric from the sleeves to make pockets. Cargo pants are handy.

Well, I'm about half way through so far, so I can't comment on the results yet. But I'm convinced it'll work, leaving me with warm, comfortable, stretchy, perfectly fitting, sweat-wicking pants. I'm also convinced they'll be ugly as sin, like something a clown would wear, which means they'll be ready to go on laundry day.

A final tip: cashmere is probably the best fabric for cycling in. The merino pants are for practice.
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Old 12-20-10, 02:10 PM   #2
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Sometimes I feel there should be a DIY subforum. I've seen kitty litter panniers, homemade studded tires, Bicycle stands made from leftover plumbing pipes, Lights that can be seen from outer space (talking about you cyccommute), and now pants made from wool sweaters.

Would love to see pictures Seattle Forrest.

Last edited by exile; 12-20-10 at 02:25 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-20-10, 02:12 PM   #3
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... Lights that can be seen from outer space (talking about you cycocummute), ...
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Old 12-20-10, 03:34 PM   #4
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Sometimes I feel there should be a DIY subforum. I've seen kitty litter panniers, homemade studded tires, Bicycle stands made from leftover plumbing pipes, Lights that can be seen from outer space (talking about you cyccommute), and now pants made from wool sweaters.

Would love to see pictures Seattle Forrest.
No kidding. That would be awesome!
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Old 12-20-10, 05:39 PM   #5
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I don't know that I'd be into a DIY sub forum. Normally, it's not my thing ... but I got motivated to fix a problem while I was shivering my way home.

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Would love to see pictures Seattle Forrest.
Will do. But it'll probably take a couple days. I have to finish 'em, then borrow a camera...
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Old 12-20-10, 07:33 PM   #6
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Will do. But it'll probably take a couple days. I have to finish 'em, then borrow a camera...
You need to hire a model, so you don't detract from your handiwork.
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Old 12-20-10, 11:55 PM   #7
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+ 1 for a DIY subforum. It would be loads of fun showing off projects and sharing ideas.

PLEASE post pics of the merino sweater pants, SF. I have a pile of wool sweaters and the idea sounds I intriguing.
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Old 12-21-10, 01:20 AM   #8
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careful with the neck hole placement.
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Old 12-21-10, 08:46 AM   #9
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+ 1 for a DIY subforum. It would be loads of fun showing off projects and sharing ideas.

PLEASE post pics of the merino sweater pants, SF. I have a pile of wool sweaters and the idea sounds I intriguing.
Yeah, I've done a few relatively simple projects: a Camelbak Unbottle modification to hang it on the top tube for touring and a couple of trailers (bin and flatbed), not to mention several smaller hacks to attach fenders, racks, kickstands, etc. Although, I sold the flatbed to a musician who needed one to haul his keyboard and gear to gigs and I had no space to keep it so it ended up serving a useful purpose.

I was always amazed by people's imagination and resourcefulness and I followed some bike related DYI projects with a great interest.
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Old 12-21-10, 01:37 PM   #10
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Sometimes I feel there should be a DIY subforum. I've seen kitty litter panniers, homemade studded tires, Bicycle stands made from leftover plumbing pipes, Lights that can be seen from outer space (talking about you cyccommute), and now pants made from wool sweaters.

Would love to see pictures Seattle Forrest.
Well, slow day at work... i've started something: http://diybicycleprojects.com/
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Old 12-21-10, 02:31 PM   #11
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I don't know that I'd be into a DIY sub forum. Normally, it's not my thing ... but I got motivated to fix a problem while I was shivering my way home.
I've been thinking about a DIY forum after visiting so many other forums (Winter, Lighting, Commuting) and seeing what other people have done to solve an everyday problem that they encounter. I especially love the Pics and I am proud to say; "I have problem... I'm addicted to bike porn" ;-). If I was a celebrity I would go on "Celebrity Rehab".

Just get the pics up when you can because I am having a hard time imagining what it looks like. I went by the Salvation Army today to look around at the sweaters, and some of them were ugly.
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Old 12-21-10, 02:41 PM   #12
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I was always amazed by people's imagination and resourcefulness and I followed some bike related DYI projects with a great interest.
Agree totally Adam. When I look at the pictures in the Winter, Electronics, and Commuting Forums I am amazed at the ideas people come up with. Seattle Forrest's idea seems so simple I am anticipating what it would look like. It just seemed logical that there should be one spot that people can access different ideas.

I'm not a Do-It-Yourselfer quite yet, but with proper instructions I think I would tackle my own projects. Even browsing the net it is amazing that even when a project is finished, people come in and respond to ways on how to improve it.
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Old 12-21-10, 02:42 PM   #13
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Yeah, a DIY forum could be fun. Some of that goes on related to lights in that area.

I think recycling thrift store wool dress pants into nickers (the US kind, not the UK kind) for riding is very workable. Haven't tried it myself yet. A local store has army surplus wool pants that might work really well if they're not too ratty. Might give that a try some day.
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Old 12-21-10, 03:02 PM   #14
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Bought a pair of slacks at a charity shop, , and had the legs tapered ,and zip to get feet in them.
local Alteration ..home business of Neighbors.

Now they're bike trousers..
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Old 12-21-10, 05:43 PM   #15
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I've been thinking about a DIY forum after visiting so many other forums (Winter, Lighting, Commuting) and seeing what other people have done to solve an everyday problem that they encounter. I especially love the Pics and I am proud to say; "I have problem... I'm addicted to bike porn" ;-). If I was a celebrity I would go on "Celebrity Rehab".

Just get the pics up when you can because I am having a hard time imagining what it looks like. I went by the Salvation Army today to look around at the sweaters, and some of them were ugly.
I know what you mean I love posts with bike pictures, and bike related stuff too!

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Agree totally Adam. When I look at the pictures in the Winter, Electronics, and Commuting Forums I am amazed at the ideas people come up with. Seattle Forrest's idea seems so simple I am anticipating what it would look like. It just seemed logical that there should be one spot that people can access different ideas.

I'm not a Do-It-Yourselfer quite yet, but with proper instructions I think I would tackle my own projects. Even browsing the net it is amazing that even when a project is finished, people come in and respond to ways on how to improve it.
Oh yeah, most of them are beyond my skills and resources (tools, space, etc) but I still enjoy reading about them.
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Old 12-21-10, 06:11 PM   #16
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Just had to say: You guys suck.

Merino wool sweaters are like holy grails in thrift stores here in Texas. Just can't be found for the most part. I've found the occasional wool sweater, but it's almost always of the itchy variety.
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Old 12-21-10, 07:06 PM   #17
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thrift shop wool is key to winter commuting. I'll keep an eye out for wool to cut into linings for pants.
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Old 12-21-10, 07:45 PM   #18
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I guess I'm built funny. My legs never get cold, but I occasionally find myself in need of more upper body layers. If I found Merino wool sweaters at the thrift, I would be inclined to use them as sweaters. I'll often wear shorts while wearing four or five layers on the top. It's got to be in the low thirties to get me to cover my legs. Maybe that's because my legs are already covered in fur.
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Old 12-22-10, 11:50 AM   #19
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So I think you can make a 3/4 length pair of knickers out of one sweater, if you don't want pockets. Looks like two are needed for a full pair of pants. The sleeves are going to make great legs; you can get your foot through, but it's tight enough to have no chance of being caught in the chain.

Also, cutting the arms off a wool sweater gets you a good pair of leg warmers. You can get the sweater for $2.50 at the thrift store if you look around for the sale items.

One of the sweaters that became raw material for this project was a turtle neck. I cut the neck out, ie took a razor and made a circle, so now it's a neck gaiter. I prefer the neck gaiters you buy, but this one isn't bad, it's just smaller.

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PLEASE post pics of the merino sweater pants, SF. I have a pile of wool sweaters and the idea sounds I intriguing.
Ok. I did some work on them last night, and I learned that kitties love merino! I left a few sheets of wool on the couch and went out to feed the ducks in the shipping canal, and when I got back, Miss Parsley was making cat paws and purring, on the wool.
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Old 12-22-10, 11:57 AM   #20
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If I found Merino wool sweaters at the thrift, I would be inclined to use them as sweaters.
I tried that, and it didn't work so well. This was a huge surprise. Wool is a miracle fabric, and merino is some of the best wool around, so it should be an ideal sweater for cyclists. But it's not. As a midlayer, it holds too much sweat. I tried a 30 mile ride on a cold, windy day, with a merino base layer and a light to mid weight merino sweater over it, under a wind breaker, and pretty soon the sweater was saturated in sweat.

I tried the same experiment (many times) in a cashmere mid layer, and stayed dry. The sweat gets pulled outward, and then dissipates away. Unfortunately, cashmere is a lot harder to come by in thrift stores; I've found three of these so far, but my girlfriend took one of them.

Ultimately I'm going to make cashmere cycling pants, but I'm practicing on merino first.
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Old 12-22-10, 02:37 PM   #21
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Well, slow day at work... i've started something: http://diybicycleprojects.com/
Nice im gonna register tonight
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Old 12-22-10, 02:39 PM   #22
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I also noticed that merino wool sweaters get soaked and stay that way. They don't smell after drying, that's true, but they don't do much in terms of keeping you dry and warm during a cold (freezing) weather ride. The one I have is good for up to an hour, then I start feeling chilly. I'll look a for regular wool sweater.
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Old 12-22-10, 02:48 PM   #23
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I love my local Salvation Army. I picked up two hats, a neck gaiter, ear warmer band, and a pair of gloves for $3.50. Wool sweaters are hard to come by in my size, however I have seen some things I could use as an insulating layer. I've also been looking at a Giro 540 Helmet for $5.

I do think I could probably make some leg warmers from some of the sweaters I have seen. Thanks for the tip Seattle Forrest.
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Old 12-22-10, 02:55 PM   #24
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First of all, I advise against posting a potentially good idea like this until you've done it and proven it's a good idea. I doubt it will be worth the effort and that's assuming the others of us are seamstresses, which I doubt to be the case, and thus is a bad idea for the rest of us.

Second, I am amazed that you would wear two merino layers under a windbreaker. I have been experimenting with wearing merino sweaters and do it with an extra tee under or over down to the upper 40's F. Below that I wear a tee and a long sleeve poly under the windbreaker down to about 35 F. From 35 down to about 20F I wear a tee and a merino sweater under my windbreaker. It works great. Below that, I wear a ski jacket.

I wouldn't wear two merino layers with a windbreaker unless it was down near zero. I think you sweat because of the two merino layers.
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Old 12-22-10, 05:17 PM   #25
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I also noticed that merino wool sweaters get soaked and stay that way. They don't smell after drying, that's true, but they don't do much in terms of keeping you dry and warm during a cold (freezing) weather ride. The one I have is good for up to an hour, then I start feeling chilly. I'll look a for regular wool sweater.
You had exactly the same problem I did, and even the time line sounds about the same. So you should try a cashmere sweater. It solved the problem for me, and works perfectly. Cashmere is wool from goats instead of sheep, so you won't be giving anything ( no stink, warm when we ) up. And you can find it pretty cheap at the thrift store.
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