Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bike commuting, what to wear

Before I start, let's make one thing clear: you can bike in any clothes. I see men in suit, tie, and dress shoes. Women in skirts. There's a Streetsblog correspondent who hopes he can revitalize the wearing of top coats on bikes.

But, some clothes work better than others. Herewith, my thoughts ...

There are so many variables that go into your biking commuting costume. How far are you going? What is your access to changing facilities? How fast are you going to ride? What kind of weather are you going to ride in?

Oh, and what kind of figure do you want to cut?

If you’re going to ride regularly, some bike-specific clothing can help.

  • There’s a reason that serious bikers wear chamois-padded lycra bike shorts. Centuries of experience have identified them as the most comfortable thing to put between you and your bike seat. If you’re going to bike at any length consider wearing them, even if under shorts or a skirt.
  • Get rain gear. Even if you plan to take the T when the weather threatens, keep in mind that you live in New England. You. Will. Get. Caught. In. The. Rain. But, if you are properly outfitted, a ride in the rain can be quite pleasant. Which gets us to …
  • With proper gear, you can ride in any weather. From bottom-to-top: shoe-covering booties, various weight tights, rain paints, shirts in layers, a good quality cold-weather jacket, a rain jacket, and gloves for all seasons.

Whether or not you gear up or ride in your civvies:

  • Get fenders to save whatever you wear. You can ruin clothes with the road grime that will stripe your back when it rains.
  • Get a good pair of bike shoes and keep work shoes at the office.
  • Get a good bike jacket and consider keeping an old jacket at the office. In colder weather, you need a lighter weight jacket when you’re on the bike than you do when you’re going out for coffee.
  • Use ankle clips to keep grease off your cuffs.

Next time, what to do when you get to the office.

1 comment:

Jeff Stevenson said...

Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.

Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.

If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.

So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.

Just go to my profile at and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don't forget to ask to link to my network of more than 9,000,000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.