City & Commuting

Commuting: What to wear?

5 Comments 22 September 2010

cc licensed flickr photo by richardmasoner: http://flickr.com/photos/bike/3292920881/

Menlo Park Lycra Commuters union rep | Photo by Richard Masoner

I’m a bit torn at the moment as there are two riders with two different needs in me. If I just would commute directly from home to work and back, there wouldn’t be an issue. I could wear whatever spandex loving dream I would want to and be done with it very quickly. However, I do have a personal life and friends I want to meet once in a while. Since I live an hour away from the office and downtown, there’s no point to ride home, change gear, take a train back and head for a drink.

I think myself a moderate man and to me, moderate men do not wear spandex in a pub. At least the type of pub I frequent. So the other option is to wear more urban gear, aka. mountain bike clothing which are made for a different sort of riding. If the distance was shorter, I could dress almost normally and just wear spandex during longer rides.

cc licensed flickr photo by richardmasoner: http://flickr.com/photos/bike/3292919085/

Riders in Menlo Park - with a very casual style | Photo by Richard Masoner

Now this wouldn’t be a problem if we would live in a country where the climate would be temperate, or even only have two seasons. But riding all year-round in a country that has proper four seasons gets expensive if you still want to keep the riding comfortable and have dry clothes available when you head back home from work. I still do enjoy wearing spandex / lycra / stockings – whatever you want to call it on those long rides as they are more form fitting and less chafing compared to mountain bike gear.

The same goes for materials – is there a hard shell breathable enough made for guys who warm up while exercising? Toby Archer, our experienced reader suggested going with just windproof shells in his blog post and his comment in my Montane hard shell review. The thing is, I would love to order every single piece of clothing there is just to try them out, but even I don’t have unlimited resources. Imagine that :)

Another great example question is – overshoes or proper winter shoes?

So help me out, should I just pay up and have double sets of everything for every season – because then again, they will last quite long and since I use them less than a usual person, I shouldn’t have to buy them so often. How do you do it? What’s your threshold of modesty / comfort / something else when dressing up for the commute?

Ps. Yes, I do have a shopping cart full of more clothes in another tab in my browser.

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Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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  • I live pretty close so I generally wear whatever I’m wearing to work and fold up my pants in the summer or wear rain pants over in the winter.

    For a longer ride I would suggest packing a pair of light pants, and just pulling them over your spandex upon arrival. It is a bit awkward to pull on a second pair of pants but it wolud probably be the simplest option, for only a moment of awkwardness. If there is a coffee shop nearby your put you could pop in there and change.

    For boots I just wear regular winter boots but for a longer ride I would suggest using neoprene and just wearing your bike shoes to the pub (minus the neoprene covers)

  • Madtown Mark

    (Madtown Mark here) I forgot to add… I have had NO luck with fancy made by bike gear companies winter gloves. My faves? $2.99 camouflage things from Farm and Fleet. Or any nylon covered black glove from Target

  • I wish I would live that close, that I could wear whatever I wanted to use for the rest of the day. Mostly, I do wear my cycling shoes to the pub (without the neoprene covers), but still, it’s a bit lame to sit there like you just ran in from your marathon to have a pint :)

    I guess I just have to keep searching for the proper attire and keep spending money to figure out the optimal solution – but then again, the beer is so good! Indian Pale Ale for the win! :)

  • As a former Alpine skier, I’m a bit skeptical about all winter clothes for when you’re going faster than walking speed, but a man’s gotta have faith together with winter gloves and inner lining in them :)

    Thanks for reading our blog, we really appreciate it!

  • For overshoes, get them from Biltema – cheap, warm and work well. I’ve also bought both full finger and fingerless cycling gloves from Biltema and have been perfectly happy with them as long as you don’t care about having the right label. I’ll do a post about my winter shoe/pedal solution sometime soon on my blog. Most of my cycling clothing I’ve bought on sale or from Decathlon whenever I’m a part of Europe that has them. So much cheaper but still works well. Stuff on sale in Decathlon is best of all! A couple of years ago I crowd sourced some cycle commuting style tips and put them together here: http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-look-your-best-whilst-cycling-to.html This might help you. ;-)

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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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