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Budget tip for new riders: You don't NEED cycling clothes (well, except for shorts).

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Budget tip for new riders: You don't NEED cycling clothes (well, except for shorts).

Old 02-24-11, 11:32 AM
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Budget tip for new riders: You don't NEED cycling clothes (well, except for shorts).

Over the years, I've probably read 200 posts on where to get the cheapest bike clothes: "Anybody tried these $25 jerseys? Are these 9-buck gloves any good?" and on and on.
I've been riding since college almost 40 years ago, done as many as 8,000 miles a year, and I've run the gamut from high-end to basic budget frames, components and clothing. Since I retired two years ago, I've been trying to simplify and get rid of a bunch of crap I've accumulated, to reduce my life and possessions to just what works and what I need.
One of the things I've found is that the only bike-specific clothing I really need is shorts. The rest--jerseys especially, but also tights, jackets, rain gear (I ride year-round unless there's ice on the pavement) and even shoes, turns out to be optional. I'm no faster or more comfortable wearing an $80 jersey than a six-buck cotton T-shirt, even on long rides in hot weather, and any old shell over any old sweater keeps out cold as well as my expensive bike stuff. I've kept a couple of pairs of shoes, but as an experiment I put platform pedals with toe clips back on one of my bikes and rode in running shoes. My speed and perceived effort were unchanged, and I could stop for coffee without walking like a duck.
I'm not saying not to buy that stuff if you can afford it. But don't let the lack of it bother you. You're not going to be any faster in a jersey than you are in a wifebeater.
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Old 02-24-11, 12:29 PM
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I agree with the basic point. Heck you don't even need shorts. In So. Cal. I think there are times when a real jersey is somethgin I would not want to do without. And a full zippered one at that. But rememebr this is a place where sometimes yuo put as much water on yuor head as in your mouth.

And while not needed I feel naked without gloves.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:12 PM
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True -- good luck convincing people on BF of this.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:53 PM
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Some folks like the better fit of the bike jerseys since they are cut for cycling in mind, short in the front and long in the back.

I usually wear a cheap loosefitting breathable shirt from Target, but my shorts were sorta pricey. For colder weather I have a long sleeve Zoic breathable shirt/jersey that I got for cheap at a swap meet. My jacket, I got for cheap on the bay. Too many options for used or cheap clothes if you really look.

Cotton T-shirts aren't so good if you sweat a lot. It doesn't wick moisture like breathable shirts. Just buy cheap breathable shirts from Target for like $10. They last.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:55 PM
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As a self-admitted poser (er, um, "poseur"), I defend my need to wear pro kits until I die.

I also admit I can't ride any faster than you.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 531phile
cotton t-shirts aren't so good if you sweat a lot. It doesn't wick moisture like breathable shirts.
ditto!!
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Old 02-24-11, 02:06 PM
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I generally agree, as evidenced by my $4 garage sale winter gloves.

However, some points:

1. Back pockets on jerseys sure are nice if you need to get something from a pocket when riding.

2. Jerseys are generally longer in the back, keeping your lower back warm.

3. How do you cover your lower legs in cold weather? If you put jeans over your bike shorts, you're not going to be comfortable.
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Old 02-24-11, 02:58 PM
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1. I like my cycling gear ... it's comfortable, bright, cheerful, and something different from my everyday wear. Nothing to do with speed. Not sure where anyone would have gotten the idea that wearing cycling specific gloves or jersey would make them faster!! I wish!!

2. You can get good quality cycling gear for low prices. Quite a few of my "top 10" jerseys cost approx $10 and I've been wearing them for approx. 10 years.

3. When it comes to cold weather gear, cycling-specific stuff is not necessarily the best choice. I've found ski wear, polypro base layers, and wool to be better choices.

4. When it comes to doing long rides in the rain ... I like the cycling-specific rain gear. I rode for several years using whatever I could find instead of buying the cycling-specific stuff, and none of it was very good. What a difference when I finally decided to go cycling-specific.

5. It's my money to spend how I want. I buy the cycling gear I want ... because I can.
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Old 02-24-11, 05:17 PM
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I like my cycling gear. When I was employed and was a bike commuter I tired riding in regular shorts or jeans and t-shirts, etc. Just didn't feel right. So now that I'm retired you'll never see me on the bike without a decent pair of bibs and jersey.
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Old 02-24-11, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by 531phile
Some folks like the better fit of the bike jerseys since they are cut for cycling in mind, short in the front and long in the back.

I usually wear a cheap loosefitting breathable shirt from Target, but my shorts were sorta pricey. For colder weather I have a long sleeve Zoic breathable shirt/jersey that I got for cheap at a swap meet. My jacket, I got for cheap on the bay. Too many options for used or cheap clothes if you really look.

Cotton T-shirts aren't so good if you sweat a lot. It doesn't wick moisture like breathable shirts. Just buy cheap breathable shirts from Target for like $10. They last.
Target has a line of cheap work-out clothes that work great. For cold weather, I use a t-shirt under a long sleeve shirt. This works at temps into the mid 40s.
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Old 02-24-11, 05:53 PM
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I agree to a point. I wear cycling specific clothing when the rides get over 30-35 miles. Below that, I wear whatever I want which is usually nylon gym shorts and a sports t-shirt. I use mountain bike shoes so no worries about walking funny. Over 35 miles, I tend to wear cycling shorts and a wool cycling jersey. Wicking is key then. My full bore road bike has a racing saddle on it which mean that I always ride with cycling shorts, but my jack-of-all-trades cyclocross bike has a Brooks Swift saddle which allows me to wear anything and still be comfortable.
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Old 02-24-11, 07:46 PM
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As mentioned above ... if you've got a Brooks saddle, you don't need the cycling shorts either.
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Old 02-24-11, 09:42 PM
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Al, I've ridden two or three 200k brevets or permanents in jeans, with tighty whities underneath, not cycling shorts. Just depends on what it takes to make you comfortable.

I've used lots of non-cycling clothes and am gradually transitioning to cycling clothes. Some of it is sort of indifferent, some is really good. I really like my cold-weather tights, for example.

Leg warmers do come in handy, and one drawback to gym shorts is you can't conveniently use leg-warmers with them.
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Old 02-24-11, 09:58 PM
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I wear whatever I feel like. I like wearing a dress :O
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Old 02-24-11, 10:59 PM
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I acually hate wearing a jersey. Before I stated carrying my cameras a couple years back, I wore tank tops and IN-N-Out t shirts. So yeah, in my case, only the shorts are a must.
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Old 02-24-11, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
As mentioned above ... if you've got a Brooks saddle, you don't need the cycling shorts either.
Interesting...I have a B17 on my touring bike. Last year, I did a 54 mile ride in gym shorts, and didn't feel a thing...for almost two weeks...

...I bought some Canari padded short things immediately; a few weeks ago, I got my first set of bibs. 'Course, I'm a bigger guy (I think I was ~240 back then) so that could have something to do with it. Now I'll only wear unpadded shorts on shorter (<10mi) trips.
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Old 02-25-11, 12:45 AM
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Well, not necessarily. I've tried 4 Brooks (B17, Team Professional, B67 and a Swift) and only the Swift worked for me. The others were no better than a plastic saddle. This even after break-in.

Some people never get use to a Brooks. My road bike has a Fizik Arione and with a good pair of cycling shorts I can ride that saddle for 200 miles without discomfort.
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Old 02-25-11, 01:16 AM
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I've done rides up to 80 km on my Brooks B17, wearing a bathing suit and beach shorts ... everything was just fine.
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Old 02-25-11, 01:24 AM
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I don't wear cycling shorts very often myself. Never had a Brooks. 35 miles in Levis is no problem. Of course I ride 8 miles 5 days a week in Levis, so that toughens up the rump a bit.

No gloves in the summer and $5 gloves in the winter.
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Old 02-25-11, 04:01 AM
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For all of you renouncing the modern clothing and equipment I'll be happy to take it off your hands. I ♥ my bike shorts with no seams at inconvenient places (and they show off my legs in the summer when I'm in shape!). I ♥ my clipless pedals and shoes that I've been using exclusively since I was about 13. I ♥ my craft split-mitten bike gloves even though I paid way too much for them, they work! I don't really own many jerseys but I like the ones I do have.

Are these things REQUIRED to ride a bike? Absolutely not. Do they add comfort? Generally, yes.
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Old 02-25-11, 06:51 AM
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I don't wear cycling shorts. Plain Levi shorts work fine for me. I have put 112 miles on them in one day.

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Old 02-25-11, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog
I'm no faster or more comfortable wearing an $80 jersey than a six-buck cotton T-shirt, even on long rides in hot weather...
To each his own. I don't find that to be the case at all. Then there are additional considerations. Lycra shorts don't have pockets, jerseys do. And there's the issue of longevity. I've never worn out a jersey, but cotton Tees only last a season or two. OTOH, a $25 jersey works just as well as an $80 one for me.

Gloves: I don't need padding, but I need the gloves for working the Grip-Shifters in hot weather, and for safety in case I go down. A pair of $5 weightlifting gloves suits me just fine.

In short, I wear all that stuff because it works for me. It's a package, with a reason for every part being there. I'm not going to tell you you're wrong, but it'd be wrong for me. I went the T-shirt route when I couldn't afford any better. Don't want to go back there.
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Old 02-25-11, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog
Over the years, I've probably read 200 posts on where to get the cheapest bike clothes: "Anybody tried these $25 jerseys? Are these 9-buck gloves any good?" and on and on.
I've been riding since college almost 40 years ago, done as many as 8,000 miles a year, and I've run the gamut from high-end to basic budget frames, components and clothing. Since I retired two years ago, I've been trying to simplify and get rid of a bunch of crap I've accumulated, to reduce my life and possessions to just what works and what I need.
One of the things I've found is that the only bike-specific clothing I really need is shorts. The rest--jerseys especially, but also tights, jackets, rain gear (I ride year-round unless there's ice on the pavement) and even shoes, turns out to be optional. I'm no faster or more comfortable wearing an $80 jersey than a six-buck cotton T-shirt, even on long rides in hot weather, and any old shell over any old sweater keeps out cold as well as my expensive bike stuff. I've kept a couple of pairs of shoes, but as an experiment I put platform pedals with toe clips back on one of my bikes and rode in running shoes. My speed and perceived effort were unchanged, and I could stop for coffee without walking like a duck.
I'm not saying not to buy that stuff if you can afford it. But don't let the lack of it bother you. You're not going to be any faster in a jersey than you are in a wifebeater.
I agree with you mostly, I haven't found a pair of non-cycling gloves that hold up for any amount of time yet, also I won't buy another pair of non-cycling rain pants as they just are not designed right.
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Old 02-25-11, 11:27 AM
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I ride all day with a wallet,keys and money in my pockets,I don't even feel the seams......wear what you like.
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Old 02-25-11, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog
Over the years, I've probably read 200 posts on where to get the cheapest bike clothes: "Anybody tried these $25 jerseys? Are these 9-buck gloves any good?" and on and on....

One of the things I've found is that the only bike-specific clothing I really need is shorts. The rest--jerseys especially, but also tights, jackets, rain gear (I ride year-round unless there's ice on the pavement) and even shoes, turns out to be optional. ....
Depends on a lot of things.
In high humidity conditions, synthetic clothes will be much more comfortable than anything made of cotton will.
In cooler conditions (less-than-room-temp but above freezing) synthetic clothes will be much warmer than anything made of cotton will (cotton absorbs moisture from sweat and stops insulating, and takes a long time to dry out on its own).

The jerseys and jackets for upright cycling are cut very particular,,,, they are extra-long, but they are ALSO extra-long-in-back. You will not find any regular shirt or jacket that will fit as well for bicycling as a real bicycling shirt or jacket will; if they're long enough to cover your back when hunched over forward, there's going to be at least six inches too much fabric in the front.

If you're overweight at all, the clothing problem is much worse--your shirts/jackets ride up and your pants fall down. Riding my recumbent over the years, I've had several people come up and talk to me who were overweight and wanted to ride a bicycle for exercise but never did it because they couldn't find clothing that would work right. Local bike shops tend to only stock clothing in sizes that is cut rather slim. https://www.kucharik.com/ is one company that offers bicycling clothing in larger sizes, but there's no way to even guess if an item will fit correct without the hassle.

If the lack of oversize clothes is preventing you from enjoying a regular bicycle, consider getting a recumbent bike (I would suggest something like this or this). If you're much heavier than 300 lbs, then Lightfoot Cycles is the place to start. The riding comfort is much better and regular clothes will work because you're sitting in a regular chair, so shirts don't ride up and pants don't fall down. I still would recommend finding synthetic clothes, but you can get them at any sporting goods retailer.
....
The only clothing issue you will have with using non-bicycle clothing on a recumbent bike is that you'll want ties or elastic on the bottom pf the pant legs to keep them from blowing open. Some people modify the pants but others just hook small bungee cords or tie shoestrings around them.
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