Andy Tucker from cycle training firm BikeRight! discusses the ins and outs of commuter clothing – do you change outfits when you get to the office or go for full waterproofs?
We often get asked about the best clothing solution for commuter cyclists. There are a couple of schools of thought on this.
Changing outfits is an option preferred by commuters who ride fast and light and feel more comfortable in cycling specific gear. A number of staff here keep a clean set of clothes at the office and change when they arrive in the morning and before they leave in the evening.
Cycling is more comfortable when you wear the right gear. Fact. Roads are not too smooth these days so padded shorts are of real value! And if you ‘give it the beans’ on your commute you will appreciate wick-away tops and lightweight jackets.
More and more apparel companies are now manufacturing clothing specifically for commuters which retain the benefits of dedicated cycling clothing but look more mainstream for when you get off the bike. It is possible to stick to one outfit for the whole day as long as you don’t get sweaty or wet on the journey in.
Endura’s Urban range is superbly functional, for example, and ideal if your employers are okay with casual attire. It is more male focused though. Meanwhile, Chapeau! offer some good items for both men and women, while Ana Nichoola have a fab range of clothing for the fairer sex.
If money is no object and you want to look smart then Rapha offer some very nice cycling suits, shirts and accessories for the modern professional about town on a bike.
The other way of skinning this cat is to dress as normal and go for full waterproofs should the weather turn foul. Lightweight, breathable, waterproof over-trousers, over-shoes and jackets adorn the shelves of all good bike shops.
You'll require something in which to carry all this emergency protective gear (see our blog on panniers vs backpacks), but it will be light if you are willing to part with enough cash for quality items.
Some of the lightest jackets come from Montane, more famous for their hillwalking clothing. They produce some super-light cycling clothing with Pertex fabrics. Endura do a range of over-trousers of varying weights and styles as well as neoprene overshoes to keep your toes dry, too.
In the summer the challenge is keeping dry from the inside as you’ll feel like you’re in a sauna after a few miles of hard riding. The trick is to slow down to avoid sweating too much. Your colleagues will thank you for this!
In the end it’s all about being comfortable, both physically and mentally. You might not feel right in tight Lycra despite its obvious cycling benefits, so the urban cycling look might just be the solution you need, especially if over-layers are too bulky and hot for your style of riding.