Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dressing for the Road

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  • Mahal,

    It's been quite some time since I cycled; but I wore bike shorts with a decent chamois, and cycling shirts from Ground Effect. They didn't look spectacularly stupid. Mostly I wore them because I like having pockets available for my phone, cash etc - and women's clothing, including sporting clothing, has a chronic lack-of-pockets issue. My winter top (long sleeved) was a horrendous shade of hi-vis green, which made 6/7am rides to work less fraught, summer tops were a entirely boring dark red. I also had cycling shoes/pedals, mostly because a kind friend bought them for me.
    Cycling gloves were a given for me, too; I've since sold the rest of my gear, but I've kept the gloves because I like them so much.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Do those team replica cycle shirts have a little pocket thing in the sleeve so you can put a line in a shunt and receive your regular dose of drugs without taking the shirt off?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Anne M,

    My normal work trousers and an old long-sleeved T-shirt. I get a bit sweaty, but not too much (I change into a less-old shirt at work).
    I really can't justify special clothes for it when the old stuff works fine. It's only 20-30 minutes depending on the wind ferocity.
    And a high-vis vest that we go for free from my daughter's intermediate school

    Since Nov 2006 • 104 posts Report Reply

  • Tony P,

    In Napier where the terrain is flat, the roads are wide and there are cycle lanes marked on most main roads it depends what I'm doing but I generally stick to everyday clothes. Into town or to the supermarket it's a 5 minute ride so it's whatever I'm wearing at the time with a sweatshirt if it's cold. For my commute to school it's shorts and t shirt in the summer. Sandals or sneakers. Winter is long sleeve t's, maybe a polyprop and whatever long trousers I'm wearing that day plus a thin Kathmandu beanie under the helmet. (It gets quite frosty here in the winter, especially at 7 in the morning). My concession to specialist bike gear is a hi viz lightweight jacket and some bike gloves. It helps that there's a shower at school so I can be clean and put on some more suitable clothes for the day ahead.

    Napier • Since Mar 2013 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • danielpresling,

    I usually wear a mixture of short or long sleeve mtb shirts from NZone, Troy Lee, Ground Effect etc. I too hate the road shirts and they don't fit or look nice on me. Shorts are usually a branded mtb clothing manufacturer as well but I'm happy going for city based rides in jeans on occasion. I switch between Crank Brothers style pedals/cleats and flat pedals depending on the bike and where I'm riding.

    2 things I never ride without - full finger gloves and good lycra shorts with a nice thick chamois. I find I can wear the shorts under anything and hardly notice they're there until I sit on a seat and then I'm thankful for the padding. I wear full finger gloves because I feel I get more grip on wet brake leavers. Oh, and I always wear a helmet which I guess makes it 3 things I never ride without (I alternate between a full face for downhill/freeride mountainbiking with jumps and stuff and a really nice normal style helmet with vents and stuff for around town or trail riding).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • ashleighlou,

    I love posts like this.
    I'm with you on the fingerless gloves. They're my one necessary thing. I think there's something about a pair of fingerless gloves that says "I am serious about being on this bike" even if the rest of your clothing says, "I don't really care I am on a bike."
    Whenever I have to go anywhere in town, I ride my bike 95% of the time. If it's not raining I wear the ordinary clothes I'd wear while walking down the street – so all my favourite skirts are the ones I can wear on a bike and not look overly indecent, though there has been a degree of trial and error in this. If it's raining: a merino top, cycle tights, and a waterproof jacket, and one of those fluoro bag covers. And a headband under my helmet to keep my ears warm. If I'm riding a really long distance, I pretend to a be a sporty person and gear up with those padded pants, and I take a change of clothes. There's something really good about knowing you can go as fast as you want and sweat as much as you want because you've got a nice fresh bundle of clothes to change into at the end.

    New Zealand • Since Apr 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    I basically have two cycle modes, and dress codes to match:

    1) If I'm just cycling up the road to the dairy or whatever, possibly with one of the kids in the seat out back... then I pretty much wear whatever I was standing up in.

    2) If I'm trekking off to work (Te Atatu to Symonds Street in 45-50 mins) then it's shorts and a t-shirt (maybe my one piece of lycra clothing if the washing lucky dip comes up trumps), sneakers and a backpack containing laptop and a change of clothes. For the sake of others, the first item of the working day is a shower.

    I also have one of those backpack covers that says 'One less car'. I like it for being hi-vis, but I do wish it said 'One car fewer'...

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • David Ww,

    I cycle as my main form of transport and wear normal clothes pretty much exclusively. For rain, I have mudguards and carry a light northface goretex jacket. I wear a roadie helmet as it has the best airflow. I've got flat pedals with old style toe clips and straps. If sweat is potentially a problem, I just slow down, bikes have plenty of gears.

    If I will be out in poor visibility on a busy road, I might grab a reflective or fluro overvest but generally rely on bright flashing leds.

    Gloves seem like a good idea but they are just one more thing to remember and faff about with. I'll fish them out for long rides.

    For long exercise rides, I'll drag on some lycra bike shorts. Same for touring. Just a t-shirt and icebreaker stuff on the top half.

    Akl • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Most of my rides recently are short commutes, Kingsland to University. I wear elastine jeans and t-shirt. If I decide to go to the gym that day, I wear shorts and a singlet, go much harder and treat it as the warmup, then change into clothes I carry with me, typically t-shirt and jeans or fresh shorts. I'd probably save time by having my shave/shower then as well. On the way home I usually go harder, regardless of what I'm wearing, because I'll be getting changed soon anyway.

    Any day I want to go for a "long" ride, I would usually wear shorts of the loose fitting swimming type, although if it's for a night out, I'd probably still just wear jeans and take it easy, The main change to my wardrobe is externally imperceptible. I wear briefs rather than boxer shorts, which are very uncomfortable to ride in.

    Most of the time I wear a helmet. I almost never wear hi-viz.

    I'm considering cycling pants of some sort, but it's way further down the list than upgrading my bag was. Russell put me on to a winner, the backpack that converts to a pannier, from Rode. What sold it was that it's actually a very good backpack for a student since the rackside backing is hard and flat, which is perfect for notes and books.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • martyspida, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    thank you thank you "one less car" has been bugging me for years.

    wairarapa • Since Apr 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    For the next 6 months, I'll be looking like this. Otherwise shortsleeved shirt.

    The point is that I ride for strictly utilitarian purposes, and I find I can do 20 kph or so for an extended period without breaking a sweat. If I'm going to work, I dress for work.

    I do have mudguards, and in winter months I pack a Ground Effect rain jacket, cheap overtrousers and some neoprene overshoes. The worst the rain does is wet my scalp through my helmet.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Morgan,

    What to wear, what to wear?
    A great topic sure to get the comments flowing.
    In places where everyday cycling is popular, it's rare to see people riding in cycling gear. As they say in Copenhagen, there are no cyclists, just Copenhageners.
    Wearing normal clothes may even make you safer. Ian Walker's study in Bath showed that drivers gave more space to non-helmeted riders. This is known as the Mary Poppins effect. No one wants to run over Mary Poppins. Perhaps drivers make subconscious assumptions about lycra'd riders and leave less space.
    Here's a complete list of what you need to go biking: a bike.
    If we want to get more people on bikes, more often, let's not require them to join a bike tribe, with special clothes, language, and customs.
    Suggest you check out Bike Snob USA for his take on cycling clothes. http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.co.nz/
    While it's true that some bike clothing is more comfortable if you are heading out for a couple of hours, most trips can be made in whatever you are wearing now.
    Pedal on,
    Patrick Morgan, Cycling Advocates Network can.org.nz

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I should note that I now live in Christchurch. There is no reason to work up a sweat on you bike in Christchurch ever, unless you actually want to.

    Woolly gloves or well-dubbined driving gloves are nice in winter too. And I have been known to wear a polyprop balaclava under the helmet -- stops my ears getting chilblains when I arrive at work.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Patrick Morgan,

    Here's a complete list of what you need to go biking: a bike.

    Heh, I was wondering when a no-lycra evangelist would show :-). I presume even in Copenhagen that professional cyclists wear lycra. It is good gear if your purpose is cycling for serious exercise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    Padded shorts of some form, usually Lycra, worn under some regular shorts. Helmet, gloves, and MTB shoes because I've gone and put spd pedals on the bike.

    Everything else is just regular clothes, usually shorts and a tshirt. Maybe a fluro top if (like others) I hit the laundry lottery.

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Emma B,

    I try to follow the frocks on bikes philosophy and look like a "normal" human being on my bike - I'm a commuter, not an athlete. I cycle most places I go, including to and from work everyday (about 20 minutes each way) in central Auckland and generally don't change what I wear because I'm going by bike. My denim mini skirt is ruled out, of course, and I avoid wearing jandals for safety reasons, but just about anything else goes. I find I'm actually more comfortable riding in heels than walking in them, and I'm grateful tight jeans are in fashion, because they're good for cycling in - better than the flares I used to wear a few years back, which risk getting caught in the chain!
    A good, waterproof windbreaker is an absolute must for cyclists in Auckland - nowadays I hardly leave the house without one. I also keep a spare pair of jeans by my desk at work in case I get completely drenched on my way in.
    I much preferred cycling in Europe without a helmet - even when sharing the road with crazy Parisian drivers - but I wear one here, mostly because of peer pressure (there's plenty of conflicting research about whether helmets increase safety, and I would rather have the wind in my hair, but most NZers seem to think you're insane if you don't wear one). I never wear lycra, high viz stuff or anything with reflective stripes - I reckon it's much more important to have a good front and back light for riding in the dark.

    Since Apr 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Emma B, in reply to Patrick Morgan,

    Great response, Patrick!

    Since Apr 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • David Ww, in reply to Ben Gracewood,

    I've gone and put spd pedals on the bike.

    Unless you are racing, you should get rid of those pedals. What is the point of them?

    Akl • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • David Ww, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Cool looking bike Stephen. Go the hub gears!

    Akl • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    I ride for fun/fitness only.
    Only in the dry. So long shorts and brightish cotton tee. In winter long sleeved cotton tee.
    Puma skate shoes socks . Never cycle shorts nor longs . Bike - 3 speed light as roadbike.
    Usually short fast rides of 45 mins or so in the inner city.

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Robertson,

    Short rides, I just wear whatever I'm wearing, usually jeans and a T-shirt.

    I get pretty hot on my commute into town in Auckland weather, so I wear clothes I don't mind sweating on, usually 3/4-length yoga/gym pants, a cotton singlet and a nylon shell jacket, and change into work clothes when I get there. I'll probably add a polyprop for winter. I used to wear jeans (I've never mastered the trick of riding in skirts) and just take a change of tops, until I realised how much easier it was to cycle in something stretchy. I've also got a fluoro bag cover and a hi-vis vest that I wear sometimes, plus I never go out without my cycling gloves. I like the kind with fingers.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Chamois undies! Cycle shorts are bad enough -- I never imagined such underpinnings. I shall never look at a lycra'd cyclist again without sniggering.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • David Ww, in reply to Hebe,

    Hebe, chamois is the whole point of cycle shorts --- something soft, seamless and non-chaffing to separate rider from a sometimes unforgiving saddle. Without the chamois, lycra shorts are just ugly gym shorts.

    Akl • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    In 2006, while rummaging in the surplus items bin in the bike shop in Ellerslie, I found a pair of standard black lycra bike shorts. Up until that point I had never contemplated wearing special clothes for cycling. I'd been in Auckland less than a year, and hadn't needed anything so fussy back home in Christchurch. But I had a daily 10km commute to Auckland University, and... I suddenly found myself bike-short-curious. There must be some reason why people wore the things, and I could afford $10 to find out what that was.

    The next day I discovered just how glorious it is to cycle in lycra. So light, and padded in all the right places. I can't guarantee they're for everyone, but if you have any distance to travel, I can highly recommend you give them a try.

    Now back in Christchurch, I have three cycling modes:

    1. Travelling to work, I wear cycle shorts and a jersey with out company logo on it. Ankle socks and sneakers. In the winter, I add gloves and a hi-vis windbreaker, and sometimes a skullcap under my helmet. I don't have far to go, but since I shower at work I need to change clothes anyway, so I might as well wear cycling gear.

    2. Travelling home, I usually don't bother changing, and just ride in whatever I'm wearing. Likewise for any other short trip.

    3. If travelling more than 10km, I wear similar gear to mode 1, but replace my slightly-embarrassing cycling shorts with super-embarrassing mankini bib shorts. Bib shorts are also great, but I do not bother to recommend them to anybody else. Bib shorts are something you have to choose for yourself. Mine are extra styley, because they're a size too big for me, and hence awkwardly baggy in places. But they feel so good after the second hour.

    I don't cycle competitively, and I hate having to look through all the cycling jerseys in shops to find the ones that don't have advertising on them, and have reasonable numbers of pockets.

    If I've got into the habit of wearing cycling clothes, I'm still basically of the view that they're unnecessary extras for people who happen to feel like wearing them. I dislike the trend to treat cycling as a sport, because it isn't for me, nor for most cyclists.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Liz Tan,

    I have two bikes and, sort of, two modes of biking.

    My Auckland bike is a cruiser, a heavy 3-speed bike from California. It's big and heavy and painted with flowers and people always smile when they see it. It doesn't go anywhere fast, except downhill. I ride it wearing everything from shorts and jandals, to short skirts and high heels. Definitely no helmet. I'm with Patrick Morgan on the 'Mary Poppins' effect. I pretend I'm in New York or Paris, where helmets are not compulsory. I ride on the road if I feel safe and the sidewalk/pavement if I don't. If on the sidewalk, I give way to pedestrians. Rude not to really.

    My mountain bike goes between Auckland and Wellington. If I am going for a serious ride, I'll dress appropriately in layers. Much of it is my working outdoors gear, but there might be some lycra in there too. No specifically 'bike' clothing. I'll wear a helmet if I'm doing a lot of downhill or think its necessary. Ditto with riding gloves.

    And I love my detachable bike lights, can't remember what they are called, but they come in red and white lights with an elastic so you can strap them to bars etc.

    As a sort of aside, I'd be interested to know what the crowd and the council think of bike lanes which go between sidewalk and parked cars. Seems a lot safer to put more visible parked cars between cyclists and motorists.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

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