Biking to work.. what to wear?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 17, 2007 11:18 PM GMT
    Hi, I've recently resolved to start riding my bike to and from work and I don't really know what I should be wearing to keep from being stinky all day at work. Also, it's getting pretty chilly pretty fast in New York and have no idea how to dress for cold weather riding. I don't want to have to wait till it starts getting warmer to do this.

    It's a little over 11 and a half miles each way. I used to make a similar commute in philadelphia years ago but that was in the summer and it was far less of a nine-to-five than this job. Even still I've wanted to bike to work since.

    Any ideas about what I need to buy/do to prepare?
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    Sep 18, 2007 1:00 AM GMT
    Over that distance, I think you've gotta wear bike clothes, then shower and change when you get to work. It may be possible to ride at a relaxed enough pace to avoid sweating, but I couldn't ever make myself do it for more than a mile or so.
    The other problem I had with bike commuting was that I often had to go to meetings in the middle of the day that were a mile or two from my office. In the heat of summer, there was just no way not to get pitted out on the way.

    Also, most metro governments provide some info on this stuff, for example:
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    Sep 18, 2007 1:53 AM GMT

    How wonderful it is if we all ride a bike to work. Just imaging how less polluted the air will be, less traffic congestion and how much healthier we are. Unfortunately, it just not possible for me to do the same because I leave in a tropical country with hot and humid weather and no one else riding bicycle to work. I remember as a kid I use to cycle to school 5 miles (on way), I never have to worry about gaining weight or anything. Anyway I congratulate you on decision .
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    Sep 18, 2007 3:07 AM GMT
    I'm cool with showering when I get to work. is it possible to find decent bike clothes that will work in winter that are affordable. Also since I'd be going both ways, I need to figure out a means of getting my stuff dry enough to use on my ride home.
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    Sep 18, 2007 3:16 AM GMT
    Dress in layers that you can strip off/put back on. Full length cycle pants (tights :-)) work fine. I think you'll probably have to shower at the other end though, dude....

    Do make sure you have suitable tires for riding in snow and ice!
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    Sep 18, 2007 5:52 AM GMT
    woolies for one keeps you warm in the cold and wet. something that wicks away the moisture
    I have a -10 celcius rule with biking long distance (ie a 80 km cycle) can freeze your toes easily.
    head-tuque under the helmut
    hands-decent pair of gloves so fingers dont freeze
    chest-layered upper to cover the front and down to your butt
    wooly tights or a lined pant
    socks that keeps the toes warm.
    In snow, gators work great.

    yep cycling gives you the chance to enjoy the scenery, good way to start and end your day.
    let us know what you get.
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    Sep 18, 2007 6:00 AM GMT
    any LIFA product is good for the cold and wet-couldn't rmember the name at the time of the above post
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    Sep 18, 2007 6:50 AM GMT
    In terms of clothes that you should wear that will dry faster, a simple rule is to not wear natural fabrics. While I find that artificial fabrics tend to stink more, if you're going to shower at work anyway then it's not a big deal. Artificial fabrics don't hold onto moisture like most natural fabrics do, so you can hang them out in your office or somewhere else and they should be dry by the end of the day. Place them somewhat near a heating vent (though not close enough to get hot and catch on fire, if that's even possible from a heating vent) and you should be just fine.

    I've followed the artificial fabric rule for years for winter hiking. Winter hiking requires things that won't hold onto moisture so that water won't freeze onto your clothes at night while sleeping, and it's worked great for me. Just layer up, wear your bike shorts underneath everything, and you should be just fine during the winter. I'm going to be doing the same thing this winter in terms of riding to work, so it's good to see someone else that will be out riding in the cold.
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    Sep 19, 2007 1:00 AM GMT
    Oh, and don't forget to get a good set of fenders for your bike. You may need to modify them to fit around luggage racks, lights, etc.
    This may sound blindingly obvious, but I grew up in a dry climate where the roads were far too rugged for bicycles in the winter time anyway. (oops. self-dating... this was way before mountain bikes.) When I went off to college on the wet side of the mountains, I was clueless - and soaked!
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    Sep 22, 2007 5:58 PM GMT
    WOW! Thanks for all the great responses. I'm not used to buying bike gear so it's still kind of overwhelming. Is there a good place online where I can buy this stuff or should an average bike shop carry everything I need?
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    Nov 03, 2007 4:15 PM GMT
    So, I've been commuting to work for about four weeks now and so far it's great. Thanks to the weather, and my bike not breaking down, this is the first week, I was able to to commute all five days. I'm still getting my head around riding 90 miles this week. Thanks for the advice everyone.

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    Dec 05, 2007 5:29 AM GMT
    I wear my ski pants (usually w/ nothing underneath) to keep my legs dry & I have a water proof pull-over top & cover for my back pack.

    I made it to work on Monday here (in Portland Oregon) and stayed dry on the inside even w/ the hurricane-ish weather!!!

    One thing you will definitely need for the cold is a good pair of gloves that will keep your hands warm, dry, and allow you to grip the brakes.

    I'm always sweating by the time I get to work no matter what temp it is outside - the coldest I've ridden to work in this year is around 28.

    Another recommendation: Get puncture resistant tires if you don't already have them.

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    Dec 05, 2007 5:50 AM GMT
    Lycra arm and leg warmers (not the fuzzy 80s style abominations, the sleek sexy spandex ones) are a miracle of modern science. They roll up into nothing at all, they stretch on and permit full freedom of movement, you can just slide them down to your wrists if, while riding, you realize you're warm enough you don't need them, without having to stop biking. Even living in San Francisco where I would ride across the Golden Gate in 40-degree weather with full fog (i.e. very wet) and high winds, I never wore anything other than short-sleeve bike jerseys and bike shorts and arm and leg warmers.

    (I can't speak to -10C bike rides, that sounds just awful. For me, inhaling that icy air just burns my throat too much to ride for very long, although I suppose over time I'd adjust.)

    Oh, and accessories, like full-finger bike gloves, and a balaclava (face mask) and ear warmers and toe warmers that slip over my bike shoes.

    But none of those accessories are expensive at all, and arm and leg warmers are like $15 a pair.

    See Performance Bike's warmers inventory.

    Ooh, looks like Pearl Izumi has ThermaFleece leg warmers. I bet those are freaking luxurious. They're $45, though. But if it's a really rough NYC winter, maybe they'd help.

    Other recommendations: if your feet get very cold while riding it may be because they are sweating. Buy a stick of antiperspirant (not just deodorant) and put it on your feet before riding. Sounds gross, but works extremely well.

    Good luck!
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 21082

    Jan 06, 2008 9:19 PM GMT
    From the middle part of April to the beginning part of November, I ride my roadbike to work. What to wear for the cycling commute, during the warmer weather months I wear bike shorts and a tee shirt, when the temp is in the low60s and in the 50s I wear bike shorts with a long sleeved tee. In the early spring and in the fall, I wear tights under my cycling shorts along with a long sleeve tee and a sweatshirt and light jacket. I pack my office clothes into my backpack and change when I get to the workplace. I enjoy cycling to work because I can choose my own route and avoid road construction and traffic jams. On public bus transportation, you are stuck going the fixed route of the bus and have to put up with traffic congestion because buses do not change their routes because of road construction or other issues. This is why I love commuting on my roadbike.
  • roadbike

    Posts: 96

    Jan 11, 2008 5:45 AM GMT
    I've been cycling to work for over 2 year now. I ride for 6 1/2 miles and then take my bike on the trolley for 15 miles. I get off the trolley and ride about a mile to the office. I take a shower right before I leave for work. I don't push it too fast, so the only part of me that really sweats is my head. My hair is extremely short, so no problem with my hair. The route begins with predominately downhill and is mostly flat the rest of the way along Mission Bay. I bring my work clothes in my backpack and can touch up with soap and a washcloth in the men's room. In January, temperatures are in the mid 40s going to work and low 50s returning. This time of year, I wear sweatpants w/ boxers on the bottom part and a t-shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a sweatshirt with a hood on top. I secure the hood before I put on the helmet. I'm not out to win a fashion contest; I just want to be warm. I have a nice set of Trek gloves that I use year round. From April to November, I wear a t-shirt and a long sleeve Champion hooded t-shirt. I have to cover from the sun. I wear mesh gym short on the bottom with boxers. Briefs and bicycle seats don't mix for me. The crotch seams give me a rash and make me saddle sore. I have expensive Pearl Izumi cycling shorts, but I only wear them on long rides (20 miles plus). I don't especially care for snug stuff around my boys. In the peak heat of summer (68 -73), I omit the short sleeve t-shirt under the hoodie. I push it on the ride home and the last 3 miles is uphill. I get worked going uphill. I work in a casual office and can lock my bike right to my desk. I'm saving miles on my car, saving gas, and getting my cardio. I love taking the bike!