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Clothes for long commute.

Old 03-03-22, 09:35 AM
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crredding
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Clothes for long commute.

Hey all -- advice needed,

I've always ridden around the city in jeans and/or whatever normal clothes I had on at the time. However in the next week I plan to start commuting one day a week to work by bike. It's 20 miles each way.

I justified buying a Brooks saddle because of this

I've never owned Lycra/bike shorts/jerseys/etc. But it seems like without proper clothes I might hate myself.

Any advice on what to wear -- specifically on bottom? Should I get padded shorts? Can I wear shorts under normal pants? Are liners vs shorts better? Is it all overkill and I should just find comfy pants to wear (I'm reading Full Tilt right now and I think she just has normal pants).

Additional info:
I live near SeattleI'm planning on doing much longer rides this summer (~200 miles)
I have a shower at work
Massive thx in advance.
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Old 03-03-22, 10:08 AM
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I don't wear lycra shorts. My shorts are loose sport shorts, loose swimming trunks or long sweat pants, quick dry material. It depends on the temperature.

I used to wear cycling shirts. They have full front zipper. I don't wear cotton. Now I wear a construction worker's reflector shirt.

Whatever is comfortable for you is important.

Last edited by Daniel4; 03-03-22 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 03-03-22, 10:35 AM
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timdow
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First thing to note..... everyone is different is what that they need and/or want to wear. I always wear cycling shorts with a shammy pad under my pants because without I get badly chafed. So if you need the shorts use them, and if you don't.... don't.

Most mornings I wear tights on top of my cycling shorts with regular, baggy shorts on top of that, then I change at work. I wear the shorts without the tights in the afternoon on the trip home.

I am also trying a pair of Wrangler ATG pants that I picked up at Target for less that $30 which seem to work well for me. If I had to cycle in less than 40 degrees, I would also wear tights under my pants (don't do that - live in San Diego).
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Old 03-03-22, 10:44 AM
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before you do it on a work day you might like doing it on a quiet Sunday to see how it goes. You can rest & snack as needed, but you would be doing the 40 miles without a long workday to rest

I like to stock the office with needed items, by car, so that I don't have to carry as much

personally I've grown to love bike specific items like clothing. for example I wear
  • Zoot brand XXL trishorts because it has a thin liner
  • cycling pants, snug but not tight & not tights. I use Novara Headwind Pants (REI brand) but they don't make them anymore
  • when it is summer I use Zoic brand mountain bike shorts
after cleanup at the office I put on regular underwear & pants & put some items in a plastic bag to be brought home by car the next day

for the ride home I use a fresh pair of trishorts

I hope that's helpful, enjoy the forums!
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Old 03-03-22, 11:35 AM
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Daniel4
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Here is a sample what I wear. I used to wear cycling tops but switched to the construction worker reflector shirt.
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Old 03-03-22, 02:32 PM
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Like @timdow, I wear "normal" cycling shorts to keep chafing at bay. 20 miles one way is a long ride, and what works for a 3-5 mile commute, like khakis, often doesn't do as well on a longer ride. (I'll suggest that as you push 200 miles on a ride, you'll start to understand, and you may also want to investigate chamois cream to knock down any hot spots before they get raw.) If you have an office door clothes hanger, locker, or even a cube wall to hang bike clothes on, they'll usually dry before it's time to go home. (Exception: storm with an inch of rain coming in!)

When I was commuting regularly, and when I start again, I often left one pair of shoes at work, and used my second pannier to ferry another pair in and out as needed. First pannier carried clothes, pocket contents in a zip lock baggie. Lunch and a towel can fit in the clothing pannier, or they fit better in the shoe pannier if I'm taking it in that day.
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Old 03-03-22, 03:04 PM
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I wear full cycling kit on my 20 mile commute, since I'm dripping wet at the end. I carry my work clothes in my panniers and shower and change at the gym before work.
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Old 03-03-22, 04:25 PM
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Tank top and exercise shorts. When it's below 60, I'll thrown on:
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Old 03-03-22, 06:00 PM
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You're going to be on your bike for more than an hour each leg. Ask yourself what you'd be comfortable wearing for an hour plus ride. And then wear that.
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Old 03-03-22, 07:12 PM
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CliffordK
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I've always worn jeans. Sometimes even on longer rides, although I've started picking up some cycling clothes, generally for century rides.

In the spring/fall/winter, I prefer a fleece top, and then will use a jacket over the top for rain, or cold. Just a thin slicker is plenty to keep the upper body warm. Slicker pants as needed. Summer will be lighter clothes.

Keep in mind bright colors and visibility!!!

If you are planning on a shower and changing at work, and will be commuting by car a few days a week, then that may make it easier with storing your "work clothes" at the office.
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Old 03-03-22, 07:24 PM
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I do a commute a little longer than your 20 miler and wear a variety of things. Today I rode in with Dockers under which I had a pair of Pearl Izumi liner shorts. These are like road bike shorts but are thinner, have some padding and are made to wear under other pants. For the return trip in 75F weather today I just put some shorts over the liner shorts and put the Dockers in my pannier. Last week I rode in and back home with some 3/4 length knickers that also have some padding. I also have a Brooks B17. When I was younger I could ride without the padded shorts, started needing them at about 55.
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Old 03-04-22, 04:45 AM
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At 20 miles it makes sense to wear some cycling-specific clothes. For me, that would be cycling shorts or liners underneath some cycling-friendly shorts, trousers, or knickers (capris for men). By cycling-friendly I mean offerings from Sugoi, Nashbar, Chrome, Rapha, Swrve (stuff from their urban/lifestyle/commuter product lines that have some subtle design elements geared towards cycling). On top, I would go with either a jersey or (more frequently) just a comfortable (but not too flappy) t-shirt (with some sort of cycling-friendly outer if weather warrants).

You can in theory wear other casual or athleisure wear but I find, for bottoms at least, the cycling-friendly options have meaningful design elements such as articulated knees, seamless crotches, etc., that provide better comfort and maybe better wear.
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Old 03-04-22, 04:51 AM
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At 20 miles I’d just wear bibs and a jersey it’ll be the simplest and probably the quickest to dry
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Old 03-04-22, 07:15 AM
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I do 15 or more pretty regular and wear nothing special. Jean shorts or cargo shorts in summer. winter I wear fleece lined jeans or some wrangler hiking pants. I have never wore bike shorts with a brooks even on a century.
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Old 03-04-22, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
before you do it on a work day you might like doing it on a quiet sunday to see how it goes. You can rest & snack as needed, but you would be doing the 40 miles without a long workday to rest

i like to stock the office with needed items, by car, so that i don't have to carry as much
+1
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Old 03-04-22, 08:27 AM
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crredding I wear quick-drying "performance" golf shorts ~$25, quick dry athletic shirts and other non-bike specific clothing. When I commuted (28 years) I brought office clothes in my backpack and had shoes and toiletries at the office.

As long as you shower once a day, and change into clean clothes, socks and undies a little sweat will not make you stink when you get to work. And if you are lucky enough to live in a dry climate like I do, you will dry off in under 5 minutes.

I wear the golf shorts with a belt, which lets me carry a phone "holster". I listen to spoken word podcasts in one ear (curbside) and use the earpiece/mic to make/answer calls and ask google questions as well including navigation for trips to unfamiliar places.
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Old 03-04-22, 08:41 AM
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You can use a padded cycling liner intended for shorter rides. The LG liner from Dick's have a thin liner and are comfortable to wear under regular clothes. Wear them to work, change out at work, and put them back on for the ride home.
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Old 03-04-22, 10:31 AM
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You are all awesome and this is such great info -- thank you! I'm trying to minimize cost where I can (although I just dropped a silly amount of money on locking bicycle bolts, fenders, etc.) and went to GoodWill yesterday to look for some athletic wear. I found a few running shirts, as well as some Nike running shorts with built in spandex-ish liner that I'll probably try out this weekend on a test ride. There is no chamois in them, but I think it will give a good idea as to if I need one or not.

For rain and cold, I also own a windbreaker and some long-sleeve thermal shirts that should do it I think.

As it's still pretty cold in Seattle (mid 30s to low 50s) shorts alone probably wont cut it entirely... I think jeans would be too uncomfortable. Any ideas here? Dedicated tights and/or some kind of stretchy pants?
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Old 03-04-22, 11:36 AM
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Depends on how fast you'll be riding. My commute is about 15 miles and I don't ride everyday so I go pretty hard and anything flapping in the wind drives me crazy with how much it slows me down. Has to be bike-specific, form-fitting kit for me and nothing else. Most commuters ride at a less intense pace. When it's cold and wet, I see a lot of Showers Pass-type wear that has a reputation for being good at staying warm and dry, but not the most breathable, which is fine at lower speeds.

Like what was posted above, when it's warm definitely pick athletic wear that's quick-drying. There are a lot more commuters out when the weather improves, and you can observe what others wear to get some more ideas.
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Old 03-04-22, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by crredding View Post
As it's still pretty cold in Seattle (mid 30s to low 50s) shorts alone probably wont cut it entirely... I think jeans would be too uncomfortable. Any ideas here? Dedicated tights and/or some kind of stretchy pants?
At 49F, knee warmers do well for me -- not sure how they'd work without some tight shorts to hold them up, though. In the 30s I appreciate tights. And full finger gloves, and a polypro "ear warmer" headband.
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Old 03-04-22, 04:12 PM
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I commute 20 miles each way 4 times a week. I wear cycling kit, taking it easy on the way in, change clothes at work and then ride hard as I want on the way home. I suggest that you wear dark pants on your new Brooks as it will stain them.
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Old 03-04-22, 05:48 PM
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The problem with jeans or any other non-cycling oriented bottoms is the seams at the crotch area. I've done it for years but once I tried cycling specific casual pants, I can't imagine going back to regular bottoms.
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Old 03-04-22, 06:11 PM
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If I was commuting that distance, I would definitely wear cycling clothing on my commute. Heck, I already do and my commute is a fraction of that distance. My work is at the top of a hill, and I'm a sweaty mess when I arrive, so wearing my work cloths on the way in is not an option. Cycling clothes/lycra will dry before the end of the day. I wear lycra shorts under a pair of athletic shorts, or MTB shorts with padding/liner. Typically I wear a t-shirt and a clean spare for the ride home, plus a jacket/shell on top if it's a cold morning (mild CA weather).
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Old 03-05-22, 04:56 AM
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Upper body, I wear pretty much whatever thatís outdoorsy and weather/temperature-appropriate. Sometimes Hi-Viz construction wear, sometimes bike kit. When it gets colder, I dip into skiing/skating gear.
One thing I try to avoid on the upper body are jackets made for running. By chance I have two, and they both turn into Parachutes at bicycle speeds.
I do try to use bicycle-specific pants. Not that I am particularly troubled by chafing, more due how fast you can wear out generic pants by riding in them. Waste of money when There are pants around made from fabric that will hold up better.
When weather calls for long legged pants, I often use underwear with a pad. And bicycle pants w/o pads. These can then do double duty for skating, skiing and running as well.
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Old 03-07-22, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
You're going to be on your bike for more than an hour each leg. Ask yourself what you'd be comfortable wearing for an hour plus ride. And then wear that.
this ^^^

If I am just riding for 10 to 15 minutes I might just wear my work clothes and ride slow. At 60 minutes I would wear normal bike clothes and just change close at work.
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