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What were the pre-1970's riding/racing clothes like?

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What were the pre-1970's riding/racing clothes like?

Old 05-25-12, 05:26 PM
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lungimsam
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What were the pre-1970's riding/racing clothes like?

Hi everyone,

Was wondering what people wore to ride bikes for commuting and racing back in the day. Did they just wear street clothes for any type of riding.

When did the skin suits start getting established?
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Old 05-25-12, 05:32 PM
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I raced in the mid 70's and we pretty much wore wool shorts and jerseys, for touring what ever was comfortable. I don't think the skin suits came in to use until the late 80's. If you look back at old racing footage most of what you see is wool or possibly some cotton.

I don't race anymore and still pretty much wear regular street clothes for riding in, for longer distances I may wear a set of cycling specific shorts or possibly a padded liner under a pair of cargo shorts.

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Old 05-25-12, 05:51 PM
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Wool with real chamois -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamois
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Old 05-25-12, 05:56 PM
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Pre-1970 I didn't own any genuine bike clothes. T-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, jeans, whatever.
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Old 05-25-12, 09:56 PM
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Were you guys using "Merino" wool, or just anything that said "wool" on the label?
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Old 05-26-12, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
Were you guys using "Merino" wool, or just anything that said "wool" on the label?
I don't recall any of it being merino wool at the time. However that and cashmere are about all I buy anymore. Remember in the 1970's polyester was for "leisure suits"

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Old 05-26-12, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bikepro View Post
Wool with real chamois -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamois
I few years ago in a writing workshop I had to explain to an aspiring author why an alien culture that had no contact with Earth wouldn't use chamois.

Unless the Russians were launching more than just dogs into space...
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Old 05-26-12, 02:11 PM
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Don't forget to put the rubber necklace on as well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1919pelissier.jpg
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Old 05-26-12, 09:12 PM
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I didn't start riding until college in the early '70s, but I lived near Stanford, and there was a small but active cycling community there as early as the mid-'60s. We used to laugh at them wearing their tight pants and riding "all the way over to the coast" (about 22 miles...). In my memory, they wore mostly wool shorts and jerseys, which I've assumed were merino but may not have been (I hate the feel of non-merino wool next to my skin, but it doesn't bother a lot of people). I think bike shoes were pretty rare, but those that existed had cleated soles that were locked onto the pedals by tightening the toe straps until your toes turned blue. There were debates all the time about whether that was safe, because you had to remember to loosen the straps when you stopped or you'd just topple over.
When I got serious about cycling in about 1971, bike clothing was unusual and hard to find--it was still sort of a hippy/tree-hugger activity, at least around San Francisco, until Lemond came along and made it a sport. And I'm a biggish guy, 6'4" with size 15 feet. It's only been since the mid-'90s that I could find decent clothing.
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Old 05-26-12, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
Don't forget to put the rubber necklace on as well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1919pelissier.jpg
Ha! Looks like they are hiding helmets under their bulky caps! Imagine riding the TdeF these days with a handlebar bag. Looks like they are wearing something bulky under their jerseys, too.
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Old 05-27-12, 12:14 AM
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I got my first real cycling jerseys and shorts in 1971- The jersey was white with blue stripes and embroidered "Gitane" I occasionally wore it to high school- a real bike geek- because it was very novel- nobody had or had seen anything like it at the time in the mid-west. The shorts were black wool with chamois- ABL of A rules. When I tried to ride one of my first races in the jersey, the state rep came up and informed me that I couldn't wear advertising that wasn't a club sponsor- the last second solution was a piece of masking tape over the GITANE name. the stuff all came from Europe then- before that , in the '60's it must've been even more rare- and generally available only special ordered via the mail. That's how I still got my first long-sleeved wool jersey- from England.

Cotton jerseys appeared more often through the early and mid-70's, and lycra spandex the later part of the decade- one piece skin suits came along about the turn of the 80's in general use racing here in the U.S. at least. Some of us old guys then- 26 !- never really got into one piece suits- my biggest rationale was that I already had clothing, and I didn't want to automatically wreck BOTH pieces in a fall. Sponsor Cool Gear still gave us old fashioned two piece sets- but in wool, cotton and pocketless lycra track jerseys- when that sponsorship left after Exxon/ Altima, about '81, I rode unnattached. The Exxon jerseys were WAY less cool when Cool Gear left- no more embrodery.

But by then I was heavy into Yoga and only fell once between 1978 and '84, and that was when my tire blew right in the middle of a corner and I slid down with a slight strawberry. Wool was DEFINITELY better for that- but too hot in most summer racing.

Last edited by harpon; 05-27-12 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 05-27-12, 01:02 PM
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I think I bought my first spandex shorts in the mid-80s. Wool shorts were ok when new, but they would easily develop holes and the chamois would age badly -- often causing holes in the shorts. I don't miss the baggy short look after a big ride.
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