Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Interesting Observation About Riding In "Civvies"

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Interesting Observation About Riding In "Civvies"

Old 03-23-16, 03:51 PM
  #1  
Papa Tom
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Papa Tom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 4,386

Bikes: The same GT Outpost Mountain bike I've been riding since 1996, although I modify it throughout the year for commuting, touring, and recreational riding.

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 835 Post(s)
Liked 201 Times in 122 Posts
Interesting Observation About Riding In "Civvies"

I don't want to belabor this point or start a flame war, but an article I just read provided a long-sought answer to a question I have pondered for some time.

Why do I tour in cacky shorts and a t-shirt when a lot of evidence seems to suggest that "proper" cycling gear would make me more efficient, keep me cooler, etc.?

The simple answer is that when I stop in the middle of a town somewhere, I am approachable to people and they all want to talk to me. I don't think this is always true of cyclists who pull into town wrapped in tight, bright lycra with racing goggles on their faces and mirrors and cameras protruding from their helmets. I know I never feel comfortable trying to start a conversation with one of THOSE people. You just don't know what's behind all that window dressing.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with people who gear up that way. I'm just saying that I think I have finally validated my penchant for keeping it simple on the bike.

Comments?
Papa Tom is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 03:57 PM
  #2  
TheLibrarian
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Hudson Valley, New York
Posts: 480

Bikes: 2014 Giant Roam

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 84 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Civvies isnt that underwear... no thats skivvies, but I do think you meant khakis. Me I just dont have the body for lycra, it's like imagine Shaggy from Scooby Do in spandex.
TheLibrarian is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 03:59 PM
  #3  
Jim Kukula
Senior Member
 
Jim Kukula's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Utah
Posts: 589

Bikes: Thorn Nomad Mk2, 1996 Trek 520, Workcycles Transport, Brompton

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This brings up the broader question of "why tour"? You can ride your bike to go places, or you can go places to ride your bike. Of course it can be a bit of both, too.

One reason I use platform pedals is that cleat-less shoes are just a lot nicer for hopping off the bike and walking around.
Jim Kukula is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 04:01 PM
  #4  
dh024
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 314
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 97 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 4 Posts
For some of us, wearing "proper bike clothes" isn't entirely flattering for our physique. I look better and feel more comfortable in regular clothes, although I do wear padded bike shorts when doing any long-distance rides.

I think a lot of the pressure to wear bike-specific clothing originates with manufacturers/retailers. I don't buy into the argument that those clothes necessarily make you more comfortable or efficient for recreational rides, commuting or touring.
dh024 is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 04:54 PM
  #5  
bikenh
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 1,229
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 132 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 12 Posts
I wear cycling shorts for faster drying when wet, they fit tight(err keep wind resistance down) and help keep away the leg chaffing. I wear a jersey for the simple benefit of the pockets on the back of the jersey. I have no trouble with people coming up and talking to me when I stop in a town. Back in the day when I wore a t-shirt people rarely ever talked to me, now I can't avoid them...they pop up out of everywhere.
bikenh is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 05:03 PM
  #6  
mdilthey
Senior Member
 
mdilthey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,923

Bikes: Nature Boy 853 Disc, Pugsley SS

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 251 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I wear bike shorts and a regular old T-shirt when I tour. I don't give a damn what people think of the tights, and this combo has been the most comfortable for me.

Regular old Hiking pants when the temps are below 50... but my favorites are the Rivendell MUSA ones I snagged on Ebay for cheap. Definitely made for life on a bike.

<-- that smile makes me approachable enough that nobody ever seems to mind my outfit.
mdilthey is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 05:25 PM
  #7  
kaos joe
Senior Member
 
kaos joe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,233

Bikes: Trek 5200, Rivendell Atlantis, Soma DoubleCross, Bilenky Signature tandem, Cannondale RT3000 tandem, Santa Cruz TallBoy, Kona Explosif, Bridgestone MB2

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 329 Post(s)
Liked 83 Times in 49 Posts
Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
I wear cycling shorts for faster drying when wet, they fit tight(err keep wind resistance down) and help keep away the leg chaffing. I wear a jersey for the simple benefit of the pockets on the back of the jersey. I have no trouble with people coming up and talking to me when I stop in a town.
What he said.
kaos joe is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 06:07 PM
  #8  
Steve B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: South shore, L.I., NY
Posts: 5,042

Bikes: Flyxii FR322, Cannondale Topstone, Miyata City Liner, Specialized Chisel

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1943 Post(s)
Liked 639 Times in 409 Posts
When I commute, I'll put on a pair of padded cycling shorts because it's a 2 hr. ride. I'l wear whatever shirt I had on at work, which is usually a cotton polo. I will wear SPD shoes as they are more comfortable and efficient for the distance.

Around town ?, I'll wear whatever I have on.
Steve B. is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 07:14 PM
  #9  
veganbikes
Clark W. Griswold
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: ,location, location
Posts: 8,623

Bikes: Foundry Chilkoot Ti W/Ultegra Di2, Salsa Timberjack Ti, Cinelli Mash Work RandoCross Fun Time Machine, 1x9 XT Parts Hybrid, Co-Motion Cascadia, Specialized Langster, Phil Wood Apple VeloXS Frame (w/DA 7400), Cilo Road Frame, Proteus frame, Ti 26 MTB

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2378 Post(s)
Liked 1,378 Times in 925 Posts
If you aren't wearing lycra you aren't a cyclist and should be banished from this forum permanently ; )

Wear what makes you comfortable, for me that is generally cycling gear or at least non-cotton outdoor performance oriented clothing. For touring I generally wear shorts on top of my chamois or bibs of some kind but while commuting I try and go minimal and just wear cycling clothes so I can easily peel them off when I get home and shower while not getting my other clothes sweaty or dirty from the commute (as I generally try to go fast and get a good workout)

I did a tour on the C & O years ago in cotton ended up having to take my sweat soaked shirt off and my body got dusty as heck and I felt horrible that evening. I wouldn't recommend it but some people don't sweat like I do and maybe cotton chafing isn't as bad for them.

I have never had any issues with people talking to me and I don't always want to talk to everyone who I meet but sometimes I do get into some great conversations with people.
veganbikes is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 07:27 PM
  #10  
grolby
Senior Member
 
grolby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BOSTON BABY
Posts: 9,702
Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 256 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 31 Posts
It's probably possible to strike a balance between riding comfort and approachability. When my BFF and I did our tours together about a decade ago, he wore mountain bike shorts and athletic tees and tank tops. I was somewhat envious, as I had, at various times on the first two trips we took, running shorts and just plain regular khaki shorts and jockey shorts. The bunching was unpleasant. I did have synthetic athletic tees, so the upper body was fine. For our last trip together, I finally had some borrowed cotton spandex shorts which were more revealing than any of the dozen or so pairs of bib shorts in my closet today, and some crummy Nashbar shorts. I was comfortable, but a bit less presentable than my companion. When I say that, you should keep in mind that I've become very comfortable wearing cycling-specific clothing and think I look pretty great in it (if I do say so myself) - those cotton spandex shorts really did give a little more information than I am quite comfortable with. I have at least one photo of the two of us that I can't really share publicly. At least not without cropping it.

Anyway, my suggestion for those wanting to look "normal," or at least no weirder than anyone dressed for a casual summer day, would be to consider mountain bike shorts and athletic shirts. That way you get the comfort of lined shorts, at least. I think if I were to go touring this year (man, that would be great) and use the bike camping approach that we did back then, I would consider that style. Not sure I would end up doing that, but I would consider it.
grolby is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 07:32 PM
  #11  
mm718
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 626
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The approachability angle doesn't really ring true to me. I wear normal baggy clothing for comfort and because I don't look good in cycling clothes.
mm718 is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 07:41 PM
  #12  
dougmon 
Fred For Life
 
dougmon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: California
Posts: 238

Bikes: Kona Big Rove AL, Surly Straggler

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by grolby View Post
Anyway, my suggestion for those wanting to look "normal," or at least no weirder than anyone dressed for a casual summer day, would be to consider mountain bike shorts and athletic shirts. That way you get the comfort of lined shorts, at least. I think if I were to go touring this year (man, that would be great) and use the bike camping approach that we did back then, I would consider that style. Not sure I would end up doing that, but I would consider it.
+1. Baggy shorts with a liner, nice t-shirt. It's how I did it back in the day (except no liner, which I would definitely have now), and how I plan to do it in the future, when I can afford a decent liner or two. But for right now, it's jeans and t-shirt, which seem to work ok.
__________________
Training? For Racing? Not me, man -- I'm having fun.
dougmon is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 07:54 PM
  #13  
kaos joe
Senior Member
 
kaos joe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,233

Bikes: Trek 5200, Rivendell Atlantis, Soma DoubleCross, Bilenky Signature tandem, Cannondale RT3000 tandem, Santa Cruz TallBoy, Kona Explosif, Bridgestone MB2

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 329 Post(s)
Liked 83 Times in 49 Posts
"It's probably possible to strike a balance between riding comfort and approachability."

I'm not quite getting what is unapproachable about someone in "cycling gear". Anyone who doesn't live in Outer Slobovia knows what it is. It's not a blood-soaked ISIL outfit. You play softball, you walk into the deli post-game in your uniform. You're a hunter, you come back to town in your blaze orange or camo, and nobody has (most of us anyway) a cow. I don't see any reason to regard those people as "THOSE people."
kaos joe is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 08:07 PM
  #14  
boomhauer
Senior Member
 
boomhauer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 760
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 217 Post(s)
Liked 41 Times in 28 Posts
I do a lot of begging for permission on tour.

-Can I leave my bike here for awhile?
-Can I sleep behind your maintenance shed?
-Can I shower in your town's swimming pool?

I get more positive responses when I wear a collared shirt. It is strange how I get more respect so I always bring one.
boomhauer is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 08:36 PM
  #15  
bradtx
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Pearland, Texas
Posts: 7,576

Bikes: Cannondale, Trek, Raleigh, Santana

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 305 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Papa Tom, Mountain biking shorts and a moisture wicking T-Shirt are a good compromise. Most of the stores / eateries in my area are accustomed to seeing bicyclists, at least on weekends. Some places I've been on the touring bike will draw at least a couple of glances if I'm in roadie kit.

Brad
bradtx is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 08:39 PM
  #16  
GerryinHouston
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Houston
Posts: 540

Bikes: Novarra Randonee 2016, Trek Verve 2 2015

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 97 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I wear neon yellow jerseys. I am too young to die because some idiot with a truck didn't notice me. I am 250+ and don't give a damn how I look as long as you see me.
GerryinHouston is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 08:45 PM
  #17  
saddlesores
Senior Member
 
saddlesores's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bangkok...and....Hainan
Posts: 3,288

Bikes: inferior steel....and....noodly aluminium

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 867 Post(s)
Liked 165 Times in 113 Posts
what's the best way to start a flame war?

say you don't want to start a flame war, describe THOSE
people in less than flattering terms, then magnanimously
say there's nothing wrong with them, while implying there is.

dude.....wear whatever the*&$% you want.
saddlesores is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 08:55 PM
  #18  
jonc123
Ozark Hillbilly
 
jonc123's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Show Me State
Posts: 680

Bikes: Long Haul Trucker

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 136 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
what's the best way to start a flame war?

say you don't want to start a flame war, describe THOSE
people in less than flattering terms, then magnanimously
say there's nothing wrong with them, while implying there is.

dude.....wear whatever the*&$% you want.
I agree 100%.
jonc123 is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 10:19 PM
  #19  
Machka 
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 52,051

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 139 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3173 Post(s)
Liked 449 Times in 267 Posts
Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
The simple answer is that when I stop in the middle of a town somewhere, I am approachable to people and they all want to talk to me. I don't think this is always true of cyclists who pull into town wrapped in tight, bright lycra with racing goggles on their faces and mirrors and cameras protruding from their helmets. I know I never feel comfortable trying to start a conversation with one of THOSE people. You just don't know what's behind all that window dressing.
I'm not striving to be approachable when I dress in cycling gear on my rides ... and yet people do strike up conversations with me. I think it is more about being friendly rather than what you're wearing.





For convenience, however, this is the sort of thing we wear on a cycling tour.

Cycling shorts, for me, of course because if I'm going to cycle a long-ish distance they are the most practical, comfortable choice + wicking T-shirt. Rowan wears cycling shorts some of the time, and other shorts at other times. And I will pull on a pair of stretchy capris or other shorts over my cycling shorts if our trip is going to involve several methods of transportation.

Machka is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 10:48 PM
  #20  
RedandBlack
Senior Member
 
RedandBlack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 133

Bikes: '14 Surly LHT

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I tried to strike a balance with my choices of clothing. For shorts I have Zoic Black Market mountain bike shorts. Since they're made for biking they should be comfortable for longer days and best of all come with a removable, padded, spandex liner (not sure what the correct term is). That way I can remove the adult diaper for my off days or wear it with my pants when it's cold. As for tops, I have merino wool t-shirts and base layers. I can wear them for a night out yet still be cool, sweat free, and lemony fresh on the bike.

For me it was less of not wanting to look like a cyclist and more the desire to have multi-use items so I didn't double down. I go more in-depth into my choice of clothes at: https://redandblackhorizons.wordpres...hing-footwear/
RedandBlack is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 10:56 PM
  #21  
Machka 
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 52,051

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 139 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3173 Post(s)
Liked 449 Times in 267 Posts
Originally Posted by RedandBlack View Post
For me it was less of not wanting to look like a cyclist and more the desire to have multi-use items so I didn't double down.
Exactly.

A wicking T-shirt can be used on or off the bicycle. And doesn't have the extra bulk of pockets and zippers.
Machka is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 10:58 PM
  #22  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 6,105
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1017 Post(s)
Liked 418 Times in 245 Posts
I often wear much the same outfit as as Rowan and Machka. Even the same color!



However, I also carry one for hot weather riding that is high viz, and not very fashionable when off the bike.


Last edited by Doug64; 03-23-16 at 11:04 PM.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 11:03 PM
  #23  
Dave Cutter
Senior Member
 
Dave Cutter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: D'uh... I am a Cutter
Posts: 6,160

Bikes: '17 Access Old Turnpike Gravel bike, '14 Trek 1.1, '13 Cannondale CAAD 10, '98 CAD 2, R300

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1571 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 8 Posts
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I'm not striving to be approachable when I dress in cycling gear on my rides ... and yet people do strike up conversations with me. I think it is more about being friendly rather than what you're wearing.
You and your husband are both wearing friendly smiles! Big smiles both attract and disarm people.
Dave Cutter is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 11:06 PM
  #24  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 6,105
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1017 Post(s)
Liked 418 Times in 245 Posts
Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
You and your husband are both wearing friendly smiles! Big smiles both attract and disarm people.
+1 to both posts.

A smile and removing the sunglasses works wonders when talking with people.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 03-23-16, 11:13 PM
  #25  
DropBarFan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,150

Bikes: 2013 Surly Disc Trucker, 2004 Novara Randonee , old fixie , etc

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 671 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 48 Times in 42 Posts
I'm not sure that avg folks care so much if random bike tourists are wearing tight clothes or not. Nowadays folks are used to seeing others in clingy fitness clothing & few restaurants, for instance, have dress codes. I'm all for casual inexpensive clothes for touring when they're comfortable & practical but whatever clothes are worn I imagine that a smile & a friendly comment are the crucial things to make a good impression.

Once saw the Police Unity Tourers pass by the local area, nearly all of them wearing snappy bike clothes. I'd imagine they meet plenty of folks & supporters.

DropBarFan is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.