Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dressing for the Road

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  • Moz, in reply to Gareth Davidson,

    Heh. I sometime think I should get a fake beard and suspenders to go with my recumbent. Just to fit in, you know :)

    But honestly, it's not the lycra, it's the attitude I collect from some lycra louts that puts me right off. I know that bunch riding is dangerous and requires discipline and care monitoring of the riders around you. Great. But I *don't* ride in a bunch specifically because I'm not that disciplined and I'm not willing to accept the danger. So lycra louts that try to apply peer pressure to me on the basis that all cyclists are pack cyclists... fail. Slow down, spread out, accept that you're sharing a road or path with other commuters.

    Todays eBay shopping is a pile of 0.5W surface mount LEDs and a battery pack so I can light up my helmet. thermal glue them to a strip of aluminium, wrap that round the helmet. I'll use a small arduino and a couple of driver transistors to give me more control over light output than is really necessary, but that's actually simpler than making a timer circuit to flash them (and $25 for the circuitry). It will also make most video cameras unhappy, hopefully even in full sunlight :)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper,

    Hi-vis cycle jersey.
    Bib shorts
    Light arm and leg warmers (easy skin protection in summer, protection against cold in winter)
    Fingerless gloves
    Supernovas (From roadid.com) around the ankles, especially for riding at dusk.

    More than 95% of my cycling is my 1 hour each way commute and I like to be as visible and as comfortable as possible. I really don't care about what anyone else thinks of my appearance. They can always close their eyes if they don't like it (although I'd prefer if they didn't do that while driving towards me) :-)

    Since Jul 2008 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas,

    I wear whatever I'm wearing already. Shorts, jeans, t-shirt or long sleeved collar shirt. I then sweat profusely and don't care about it (I would sweat profusely whatever I was wearing). It's not overly practical but I can't be bothered changing into special clothes just to go somewhere. And the lycra outfits look silly, nerdy, try-hard, wanna-be, pretentious and other things I hope I'm not.

    But in the end, who cares? Obviously lots of people judging by your responses. Us cyclists are a funny lot.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Natalie H,

    I don't think these responses are representative of the people I see commuting in Wellington each day. Today on the way home I saw 3 riders in lycra shorts (4 if I count myself) and 2 in baggy shorts (which could well have had a chamois inside - I didn't ask those cyclists about the contents of their pants, so can't tell you!). This is probably pretty consistent with the proportions of lycra vs shorts-wearers I would see most days.

    I don't see that many people wearing work or street clothes and I can't remember the last time I saw a 'frocks on bikes' type. Why not? Because bike-specific clothing is ideal for riding in. That's what it has been designed for! It's comfortable, it doesn't flap around or get caught in the moving parts of your bike (no need for trouser clips), there are zips so you can respond to temperature changes while riding, and pockets to carry your pump/work swipy card/whatever in.

    I didn't realise there was so much anti-lycra sentiment out there!

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I've got to admit that one big reason I could ride in work clothes in Wellington was that going to work was either flat or downhill, thus getting sweating on the hill climb home was a non-issue.

    Here in Chch the lycra commuters are definitely a minority. Terrain makes the difference.

    "Copenhagen chic" is predicated on riding modest distances at a modest pace with modest effort (whatever "modest" means to you).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    And, er, predicated on working a job where you can wear what you like. It’s a fundamentally bourgeois/professional conception of clothing. If you work a job where you have to wear steel caps, or overalls, or a uniform, this kind of discussion is quite different.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    If you work a job where you have to wear steel caps, or overalls, or a uniform, this kind of discussion is quite different.

    My Dad rode did a daily mountain bike from Mangere to the Newmarket bridge project in his construction workwear. It's possible.

    We're a bit mad in my family, but still.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    Question for you urban cycley types – how realistic are the three-speed hubs in Auckland? Linus Roadsters etc look lovely but the price differences to go from single-speed (not me)/3-speed up to 8-speed shifters seems kinda not insignificant…

    Julian at Nextbikes has three speed bikes for hire, so if you really wanted to know, hire one for the afternoon. And remember, there is no law that requires you to stay on your bike going uphill. You are allowed to walk hills if you want to.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to George Darroch,

    Oh yeah, I cycled to work over in summer in steel caps and fluoro vest, because that was what I had to wear. I mean that things like "Copenhagen chic" often brush over issues of clothing as class signifier in a rather frustrating way.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock, in reply to Lilith __,

    Anecdata only, but I know a couple of people who have been hospitalised after being doored. That's why I never ride in the door zone.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I mean that things like “Copenhagen chic” often brush over issues of clothing as class signifier in a rather frustrating way.

    Could you elaborate on this? I though the point of the “Copenhagen chic” concept is that cycling is an integral part of day to day life that does not require special clothes. I suppose the photos used to illustrate this tend to focus on young and pretty men and women, so there is that. But it shows cycling not as a separate activity that you would "do" any more than you "do" riding on the bus or "do" driving or "do" walking.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I cycled to work over in summer in steel caps and fluoro vest, because that was what I had to wear

    Way back when I was a student that seemed common in the working classes (I was, of course, in the non-working class :)) A surprising number of truckies rode to work, and ~10% of the bakery staff.

    From working in a bike shop in a gentrifying area the poorer people generally bought bikes that could be ridden in street/work clothes, it was the richer people who were excited about our lack of lyrca (it's expensive to stock). But with gloves and especially lights we made a point of stocking cheap ones as well as good ones. Because cheap-but-usable beats not having them at all, no matter how much we didn't like them.

    Also, self-adhesive reflective take by the metre in red and white. Buy 50mx25mm rolls for ~$100, sell it at $5 per "metre" (always be generous). It looks a bit hideous unless the bike is white or red, but it's amazingly effective. My current commuter bike is white for that reason - it's about 30% covered in reflective tape.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    The images are predominantly young, pretty, white, middle-to-upper class etc. This is problematic for obvious reasons.

    It's also a predominantly bourgeois imagining of clothing: as something you have control over, that you are able to vary as you like. (Even the idea of "special clothing" is quite revealing: special clothing is clothing that is not the bourgeois standard, which (like whiteness) is treated as a default.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    It’s also a predominantly bourgeois imagining of clothing: as something you have control over, that you are able to vary as you like.

    Like any street fashion photos then?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Jake Pollock,

    Anecdata only, but I know a couple of people who have been hospitalised after being doored. That’s why I never ride in the door zone

    I wasn't disputing that people get hurt by doors, but I've never heard of anyone being killed or significantly disabled as a result, whereas some horrific crashes have resulted from cyclists being doored into traffic.

    I avoid the door zone where It's possible to do so, but on many urban streets there's really no choice. The cycle lane between traffic and parked cars puts you directly in the door zone.

    I love cycling on the few streets here that have a divided footpath for pedestrians and cyclists. That's the best.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Prosser,

    DON’T WEAR THE RED ONES!

    This was one of the occasions I wish the blogging software had a "like" button. Or perhaps a "roflnui"

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    It’s a fundamentally bourgeois/professional conception of clothing.

    This is true, and I thank for you bringing the radical class analysis to the discussion. In fact I should go on to note that many of the non-lycra'd commuters I see are guys in boots on their way to work in the red zone or surrounding building sites, and I doubt whether getting sweaty on the way to work makes much different when you're going to get sweaty anyway.

    Nonetheless, if there's no secondhand tweed at the revolution then I'm not coming.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Clive Candy,

    On a slightly pedantic note (and unrelated to the discussion about what to wear) as a left-voting Londoner, it's rather unfortunate that Boris got the acclaim for the bike scheme. The idea, the initial impetus and the political battle to get it started was all done by Ken Livingstone. In February 2008, then-mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, announced that he would be introducing a cycle-hire scheme for London, similar to the popular scheme already running in Paris. In May 2008, Boris Johnson (Conservative) replaced Livingstone (Labour) as mayor of London. In July 2010, London's cycle hire scheme was launched, and everybody started calling the new blue bicycles 'Boris Bikes', it's an easy alliteration. In other words, two years and five months was too long a delay for Ken Livingstone to get any credit for the scheme that he had initiated. Under these conditions, it's hard to blame politicians for favouring short-term wins over long-term strategy.

    London England • Since Oct 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise,

    Throwing my 2p in, 'cos I'm still in London, and it's above 10deg here now! Tried it on the iPad, but the POST button doesn't work :(

    I go with mostly what RussB has - a "plastic" tshirt, a pair of lycra, padded pants with shorts over the top (and I wear those same shorts at work - yay for being a developer), and if it's a bit colder, a light rain jacket thing which breaks the wind nicely.

    I have pedals which are both normal and clipped (one on each side). I wear clips if I don't need a specific pair of shoes at work, which is most of the time.

    Cycle to work is a nice, flat, fast 6k's (London, Fulham to Chiswick), so I usually dont need a shower at the end, just a cool off and re-apply the deodorant, tho I keep a towel here just incase. I work with people who would tell me (nicely) if I did stink, which is good. Hasn't happened yet.

    Thinking of adding some pannier bags, tho - I sweat less if I dont have a bag on, and I have to take something, as you almost need an armed guard around your bike to stop it being nicked...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise, in reply to Clive Candy,

    Clive, to Boris' credit (tho I really don't like giving the pompous arse any at all), he's extended the scheme well.

    Well, he's managed to put it in all the places I've lived, AFTER I moved out. So expect it in Fulham/Putney etc by the end of this year, when we move back to NZ...

    they are good, tho I still will not ride in London with a helmet, which kind of kills the spontaneity of it. But I value whats in my head more than almost anything else....


    Back when it first came out, I even wrote an app for it :)

    https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/london-bike/id384046992?mt=8

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    <chuckle> Sad I missed this earlier:

    I suspect I come from this at a rather different perspective. Despite marching quite gently towards my 50’s I still cover close to 7k a year and I don’t commute*. Indeed many of my miles are done out of urban areas. I will often drive out to Albany to start my Sunday ride. Peak week this year saw me cover just over 700km in a week (there that’s the p*ssing contest over for me). My garage contains seven bikes at the moment and will soon contain nine as I build a new commuter bike and the wee man gets started proper. Done my time as racer, tracky and courier (FWIW: my first exposure to PED’s was via rugby union…).

    These days I will tend to walk journeys less than 4km. Any distance on a bike for me is likely cause a soaking, so wicking synthetics are a no brainer (might try merino when I can afford it). I’m a bibs man through and through; the only trade shirt I own is Banesto so I guess there is some cred in them, just old, old cred. I prefer stuff like my much loved and over stretched Heinz Baked Beans shirt, cycling cut for a loooong back. For the distances I do, good fitting padded shorts are a must along with good gloves, shades and a comfy helmet. In my later years I have given in to the cult of chamois cream for longer rides.......

    When I did commute, I often wore cycle shorts under my work shorts/strides with something spare in my desk drawer. Underneath might be a helly tee topped with some form of windcheater and if it was a gilet I might wear arm warmers. I always clip in (would be real strange otherwise) look-type for “proper rides” and MTB (double sided spuds) to commute. I belong to a generation that chose to wear helmets (and all the better for it - I have pictures). Rain, cold or shine I’m seen in a set of fingerless Pearl Izumi gloves; the latest incarnation have lasted five years (quality is worth it where you can find it).

    So what have I learned?

    i) Wear what is comfortable and suited to your goals
    ii) Fashion is for fashion cycling is for life
    iii) Ride FFS ride wherever and whenever
    iv) Enjoy


    * Stopped commuting in Auckland due to anger issues - I came close to assaulting several people on my way to work……….long story.


    Footnotes:


    I will ride in cycling lanes – which is better than the pavement however I still feel like I have surrendered the road to the clowns (not terribly pragmatic but truthful). Lights and high viz are a really mixed bag. There is no substitute for the Gorilla test for understanding the difference between looking and seeing. In my professional opinion, there exists a trade-off between attention and estimation for lighting. Flash for attention and use more than one steady light if you want drivers to estimate distances effectively (not sure about two flashing lights).

    MAMIL as charged M'lord :-) and no I don't shave my legs (me too lazy - they too ugly).

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Natalie H,

    Because bike-specific clothing is ideal for riding in. That's what it has been designed for! It's comfortable, it doesn't flap around or get caught in the moving parts of your bike (no need for trouser clips), there are zips so you can respond to temperature changes while riding, and pockets to carry your pump/work swipy card/whatever in.

    Sure, but it's still a whole extra change of clothing. Other people's mileage may vary, but I'd rather deal with the minor inconveniences of biking in work clothes than have to a) buy a set of special bike clothes, b) launder a special set of bike clothes, and c) change my clothing twice a day. If I biked for exercise, sure, but as my main method of travel to work, it needs to be as low-effort as possible. Otherwise I'll just give up and catch the (free, every 15 min during term-time) bus.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • JessicaRose,

    I ride for fun and commuting - not as an athlete, and as Emma B mentioned above I also follow the frocks on bikes idea, by which I get about looking like a 'normal' person. No specific riding attire, just jeans if I'm on my road bike and dresses when I'm taking the basket bike as a general rule.
    Shoes is where this falls in for me ie. not being able to wear pretty (read heels) shoes if I choose to ride somewhere, I have worked around this by taking a change in my bag (which leaves me with the annoying task of carrying a pair of vans around all night) although I have risked leaving them tied in a bag to my bike which has still been there when I've returned. For the most part this has been where I've given in and now just wear flats (at work it's easy to leave sneakers under my desk and put on work shoes when I arrive).
    I agree that the only 'cycling' item that I use (other than the mandatory helmet which I won't ride without) is my riding gloves - my hands suffer in the wind and it almost stopped my wanting to ride at all, so the addition of a simple pair of gloves dramatically improved my riding experience.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2011 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    As I noted up-thread, biking in work clothes is pretty much impossible for me. I sweat much too freely and readily to do it, for one, and for another I work in offices where it's required to look moderately tidy. This is Auckland, so going any real distance (where I am that means going more than about 2km, and in most directions it's half that) will require negotiating hills.

    The idea that you should just ride in whatever you need to wear at the other end is fine if you aren't physiologically inclined towards needing a change of clothes regardless, or if what you will wear at the other end isn't particularly tidy. The idea of riding in a quality suit just doesn't sit right with me, even without my perspiration issues.
    Hell, when I was biking to uni I still wore exercise clothes for the ride and then showered and changed on arrival. No dress code, just my body's annoying imperatives. That said, being able to wear a single layer in the middle of winter and be toasty warm by the time I finished my 5km, 11 minute ride was quite nice.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    lanes between parking and pedestrians ... there’s the one guy who likes to literally go against the flow & ride the opposite direction in the cycle lane (so he’s facing the oncoming cars & bikes)

    I can see that as increasing the chance of being seen by someone about to get out of the passenger side. I've never ridden in such a lane though so haven't put much thought into it.

    I don’t see that many people wearing work or street clothes and I can’t remember the last time I saw a ‘frocks on bikes’ type

    I think quite a few of us have said what we wear varies depending on the length of trip. It may well be that in terms of number of trips normal clothes predominate while in terms on total riding time lycra does, with the number of observed cylists being more closely related to the latter.

    Flash for attention and use more than one steady light if you want drivers to estimate distances effectively (not sure about two flashing lights).

    The road code says that if there are two front lights only one may flash.

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

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