Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dressing for the Road

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  • andin,

    Some people because of skin conditions cant wear synthetics

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • John Fouhy,

    I cycle commute in Wellington year-round.

    Normal shorts. If I'm biking to work, I wear my work shirt, otherwise whatever.

    I have leggings from a cycling shop (stretchy things held up by elastic around mid-thigh) to keep my legs warm. I like them because I can take them off without taking my shorts off.

    I have proper cycling shoes. The feeling of being clipped to my pedals has come to feel natural, so I'd find it weird to go back. (plus modern cycling shoes have this ratchet system that is totally cool!)

    And gloves, of course. For my morning commute, I use ski gloves from about April-October. Mornings are cold and I've got a lot of down hill :-) I also have Kathmandu fingerless and full-finger gloves, or I'll go glove-less if it's warm enough.

    If it's raining, I have a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, neoprene overshoes, and ski-goggles (plus the ski gloves). If it's raining and warm, I get pretty sweaty, but otherwise it's a good setup. Only problem is, my ankles get wet. If anyone knows where I can get waterproof overshoes that leave the bottom of the shoe open (so I can clip in) and reach all the way up to mid-calf, please let me know.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to David Ww,

    Clips help when you have hill climbs on your route. Even now I have toe-clips. Since I wear stiff-soled shoes to work, it's a nice little boost.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report

  • John Fouhy, in reply to Liz Tan,

    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 like you'd be in more danger from car doors? And possibly also pedestrians/joggers using the cycle lanes as an extension of the footpath?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report

  • LucyJH,

    I wear lycra and bike shorts for the long rides, my normal clothes for the short rides. I wear a raincoat almost all the time in winter.

    I am currently wearing my tramping coat (and have been for 10 years) which comes down to mid thigh and is a bit of a pain in the ass. However, now that I have a full-time job, I might even splash out and buy a nice waist length windbreaker thing that is not so big and cumber some.

    This isn't meant as a criticism of Frocks on Bikes in any way - they do great work and I understand that they appeal to a lot of women. BUT I do get a little bit tired of people sending the message that if you're a woman and you choose not to cycle in a frock/heels/make ups or even, heaven forbid, you wear lycra then you're letting down the cause.

    Really what matters more than anything is that you get out and give it a go. lycra, shorts, jeans, a dress whatever you want to wear - it doesn't matter. there's safety in numbers, and so every time you cycle you're not just doing a good thing for the environment, congestion, your neighbour's lungs and the nation's health bill. You're also making cycling a little bit safer for everybody else out there.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report

  • Anita Easton,

    Cycling as a mode as a transport... whatever I happen to be wearing plus usually a cycle short mesh liner under the skirt/dress. The liner isn't guaranteed, particularly if it's just a supermarket dash or something similarly short. That said, it does depend on the time of the month and I have been known to switch from jeans to baggy cycle shorts and a liner when I really wanted the padding.

    When cycling for the purpose of cycling (cycle touring, stretching my legs for a few hours on a sunny day) definitely a baggy cycle short plus mesh liner. On the top, layers depending on the weather, I have a favourite ground effect sport bra for hot days, then some kind of shirt. I also have a ground effect windfoil jacket which I absolutely adore, it somehow works far better than my other windfleece for cycling, I think because it's longer at the back and tighter through the arms.

    Never, ever, lycra shorts :) I don't see any advantage in them over a mesh liner under something else, and they'd make me feel like I was being a pretentious serious cyclist wannabe :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report

  • Lilith __,

    I ride if it’s nearby or bus/ride if it’s further (here in Chch almost all bus routes have cycle-carrying capacity). I wear pretty much whatever I would normally.

    With skirts and dresses I tie up the bulk of the fabric in a heavy-duty rubber-band and make sure I’m wearing either tights or cycle-shorts* underneath so I don’t have to worry about distracting other road users.

    A big rubber-band around the ankle is also ideal for keeping your nice trousers out of the chain. It’s more effective and way more comfortable than a conventional cycle-clip.

    I always wear a high-vis vest (and a reflector on my backpack if I’m wearing it). The vest cost me $6 and is lightweight mesh which doesn’t mind being scrunched up in a bag or pannier.

    If there’s any chance of rain, or if it’s cold, I wear my raincoat and overtrou or carry them in a pannier. The overtrou are much too big for me, which means I can wear them comfortably even over long skirts or dresses. You might not think this would work, but it does.

    I don’t wear gloves unless it’s cold, when I wear lined leather ones. They keep the wind out in a way woollen ones don’t, and they also are thin enough to go easily in a bag or pocket.

    In the worst weather I wear a thin merino beanie or a pashmina wrapped over my head and tied around my neck, under my helmet.

    I also find high heels surprisingly good to cycle in, they fit nicely over the pedals.

    I’m interested so many of you consider padded shorts essential. I don’t, but I have a super-comfy saddle.

    While I’m here I may as well repeat my belief that wearing bright, eye-catching clothes on a bike makes drivers less likely to hit you. I used to wear a lot of bright satin and velvet when I was younger, now my tastes are less showy, but cycling has never stopped me wearing pretty clothes that I feel nice in.

    *my “cycle-shorts” are old cotton trackies cut down. Nothing flash! Just cool and comfy.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Jeanette King,

    I'm a commuter cyclist with an 'old-fashioned' Dutch Gazelle bike. I bought it last year and it has revolutionised my biking. I always wanted to bike to work more often than I had been able to manage (7.7km each way) and thought I was just lazy, until a trip to The Netherlands last year made me realise that what I needed was the proper bike for what I wanted to do with it - not the 'racing' bike or 'mountain' bikes that I had - their names alone are a cue to what they're designed for. I needed a commuter bike. So, in Christchurch, on the flat with my 3 speed hub gears and a basket front and back I wear whatever I want to wear to work on my bike. The only restriction is that any skirts I buy need to be able to let me move my legs (pencil skirts not so good). I don't wear gloves in summer.

    In winter I wear boots and in the wet a wonderful Water off a Duck's Back trench style coat which is totally waterproof and has nice reflective material on the cuffs, collar and belt (which can be folded away). The nice thing also about this design is the shoulder room. This all keeps me pretty nice and dry. In winter, fingerless then full gloves, scarves, etc as it gets colder. I find I need to keep some cardigans and suit type jackets at work that I can put on when I get there as I would get too warm with them on underneath my coat when biking. I'm currently ordering another similar wet weather coat (couldn't resist the idea of red). I don't generally wear anything 'hi-viz' except for a Ground Effect light shower-proof jacket which I wear in autumn/late spring.

    I now cycle to work every day with my handbag and backpack nicely tucked away (no hot, sweaty back after being hunched over on my 'racing' bike with a backpack on). I use my 'one less car' cover like a shower cap over my rear basket to cover my backpack and handbag from the wet. I'm horrified to see most other cyclists down here on bikes with *no* mudguards - fine in the lovely summer we've had, but how many will be out cycling in the wet that's now here, I wonder (many of the people I've seen do look like commuters rather than people wanting a serious workout).

    My husband and daughter have also bought similar bikes (a Gazelle and a Princess Pashley respectively). My daughter has even crocheted a lovely skirt guard and is always looking at ways to pimp her ride. We all bike to work every day and are annoyed when we have to take the car or bus for some reason!

    Ōtautahi • Since Oct 2010 • 43 posts Report

  • Moz,

    For commuting I too bought some of the floppy shorts with bike knicks inside, and decided that I love them. Bike knicks FTW, obviously, by the nylon shorts have pockets! Pockets! Plus they separate from the knicks, and outlast them, so now I have two pair even though I'm on about my 3rd and 4th set of knicks since buying them. On a recumbent the chamois is usually worse than useless, because I'm not sitting on it it sits out from my crotch and chafes. Plus the shorts mean Tess doesn't have to stare at my crotch for ten minutes before announcing that she doesn't like to look at it.

    I wear cheap yellow high-vis shirts because they're cheap and have a ridiculous SPF - us pasty white people need that.

    Also, SPDs. I have the shitmano street shoes with SPDs in them and double sided SPD pedals on all my bikes. Being actually attached to the bike is something I'm so used to that I struggle when I'm not. And single sided pedals... never buy them new, ask around, someone is bound to have a set they want to get rid of.

    For short trips I'll wear whatever I happen to have on, and for touring I go long sleeves and a full-coverage hat-helmet cover thing, because sunscreen is a very ugly thing when you don't have a hot shower waiting for you at the end of the day.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • Christina van Bohemen,

    Bought my city bike a year or so ago and it's my main mode of transport around the city. I'm fortunate that home and work are close - both to each other and the central city. Don't own any cycling gear other than a helmet and panniers which are fantastic for handbag, laptop, shopping and back up wet weather gear. I bike in work clothes - either skirt or trousers. Apart from the odd disaster of a skirt catching in the brake pads, no major clothing disasters. Providing I don't feel the need to race, I can get around without overheating/stinking - fine merino is pretty accommodating. Wet weather gear is a bright or floral trench coat (added visibility) and overtrou, although I was without both for Saturday afternoon's deluge.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 1 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    With my newly-acquired two-wheeler, I simply wear what I've always worn: normal work clothes. The only lycra presence is the gel-filled bike seat cover.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Moz,

    Also, enjoying being back in Sydney, I seem to know so many more people here. Went to a bike festival in the park today, lots of fashionable cyclewear and decent utility bikes, from dutch bikes though to lightweight mudguards for fixies. The Clover Moore “bike lanes everywhere” project is starting to pay off in getting past the 5% who will ride regardless. Which is excellent.

    Sydney is undulating, a bit like Auckland. Electric assist seems to be key for breaking a couple of barriers – the unfit and the mommy riders. But it also allows you to do 10km or so without sweating. And that’s now quite practical, albeit at the $2000 price point rather than the sub-$1000 point that most people want to start at. But $2000 seems to be pretty affordable, at least going by the number of ebikes I see and the crowds around the ebikeshop stalls. There’s a lot of longtail bikes with baby seats and motors, including one owner with two kid seats and a kiddie trailer.

    Plus my new job interview had a few rounds of “you’re going to ride your bike? In the rain? In the winter?” But they have ample parking and a shower, so it was just a mental block.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report

  • jb,

    Mountain biking (on/off-road) in Central Europe. A combination of Icebreaker t-shirt (always), LL Bean running shorts (or thermal longjohns and rainpants,) hi-vis Goretex jacket, sneakers and fingerless gloves.

    a.small.town.in.germany • Since Jan 2007 • 86 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    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.

    That pannier has improved my cycling life a lot. As you say, flat back so it carries paperwork well (and looks presentable for meetings), works pretty well as a backpack, and just swallows up whatever you put in it. I can easily come back from the supermarket with far more than I'd want to carry in a backpack. I had to get a rear carrier that cost a bit more because it had to be the wider version for disc brake hubs, but it's all been money well spent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Jake Pollock, in reply to Liz Tan,

    I'd be interested to know what the crowd and the council think of bike lanes which go between sidewalk and parked cars.

    Terrifying. When that passenger door swings open in front of you you'll have nowhere to go but into it.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    Cycle shorts, polys and long fingered gloves when its cold. Light wind breaker. Lid.

    Next summer I am going to join the Akatarawa Cycle Club and go...


    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Jake Pollock,

    A cycle lane between parked cars and the footpath potentially puts you in the path of passenger doors, but at least you can't be knocked into the path of moving traffic, which is the big danger with a cycle lane on the driver's side.

    A complete separation of parking and cycle lane would be the ideal.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Regular commuter here. It all depends.

    Around town, whatever I happen to be wearing, as my commute or ride is rarely more than 8k. Normal clothes as in normal jeans/trousers etc, and normal shirts etc as appropriate for the weather. Normal shoes. Tuck trou/jeans into socks.

    If I ride past say 6k or so, for example to my sister's or brother's (each 10k away), I wear normal clothes, but take with me a clean new shirt, plus facecloth to do a torso wash at my destination and some smelly stuff (Obsession by CK).

    If it is a very hot day regardless of distance I will take a new clean t-shirt or shirt, plus facecloth (there's always a bathroom around) and Obsession by CK.

    I have a rain jacket, bought from Macpac, which is great, but it is actually a tramping rain jacket. It keeps out the wind and rain and keeps me warm. I've since discovered Ground Effect website and I realised I should have bought a rain jacket from them. I am thinking of getting some rain trousers from Ground Effect because my thighs do get wet if I am caught in a rain shower, but given Auckland's rain showers are showery I find I can usually time things to I don't get too wet.

    When I go cycle touring I wear merino cycle shorts, and merino tops. I have two tops - a cycling top and a t-shirt. My Christmas New Year tour saw me wearing cotton t-shirts. Never again. They got heavy with sweat and you could only wear once before having to wash them. I switched to merino tops when I got back to Auckland.

    The cycling shorts are very comfortable, and the merino tends to keep me warm when its cold and cool when its warm. Plus it doesn't stink, and you can easily wash it in the sink and it'll dry off reasonably ok overnight.

    Shoes for cycle touring are Keen sandals (brilliant, from Bivoac), and closed 'urban tramping' shoes (from Macpac), which are bulky, but means I have closed shoes for cold weather.

    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.

    *wearing my elected rep hat* I have asked officers to look at doing this as to me it makes more sense, but I have received non-committal answers. I'll keep on pushing - I think the traffic engineers are wedded to the current 'footpath, parked car, cycle lane, general traffic' set up, and I'm not entirely sure why. Having said that, I understand the point about passenger doors, but I think I would prefer to be thrown onto the footpath, rather than into the path of a following car. *doffing said hat*

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

  • Jeanette King,

    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.

    This arrangement seems to work well in The Netherlands where it's very common. Passengers opening doors on to red painted bike lanes instead of the kerb of the footpath would be very aware that there's likely to be a bike coming, and look before they open, whereas drivers tend to think that they're opening a door on to a roadway where a car won't be coming that close to them, so they mightn't always look for a cycle. Overall I'd think it was much safer.

    Ōtautahi • Since Oct 2010 • 43 posts Report

  • Jake Pollock, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    You can solve that problem by not riding in the door zone. If the car behind you gets frustrated it can pass and you can wave cheerfully as the driver swears at you. You can also help yourself by looking into the cars to see if there's a driver in there who might be about to open it. Don't be intimidated into putting yourself in harm's way. If you're between the sidewalk and the car you are always in the door zone and always in harm's way and there's nothing you can do about it. Terrifying.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Patrick Morgan,

    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

    Yeah, but I shouldn't need to feel like I'm letting the side down for wearing what feels comfortable for me, and I think the utility of a cheap exercise shirt kicks in long before the two-hour mark in Auckland. I don't commute as such, but for most of the summer it would be tricky for me to wear ordinary office clothes on a ride of my than half an hour from where I am.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • LucyJH, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I agree Russell. It's ridiculous to make people feel like they're not pulling their weight for not wearing a specific type of clothing while cycling. At least they're on their bikes which is surely what we all want more people to do.

    It's also pretty hot and humid up here in summer. You can't ride in Auckland for more than half an hour in summer without being too smelly for most work/social situations. Some men I know can't ride for more than ten minutes...

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report

  • Helen Searancke,

    I bike for short neighbourhood trips in ordinary street clothes. I don't own any special cycling gear except for a helmet (which I'd prefer not to have to use, but until we have better cycling infrastructure and driver attitudes, I'm afraid to do without it. Besides, I make my kids wear theirs and don't want to be a hypocrite). I wear woollen gloves in winter for warmth and ordinary jackets etc.

    I have a slow town bike. This year I've got good lights that I'll be using during the day as well as night when the days grow duller over winter but don't bother with fluro gear. Have a basket (not that effective for groceries and heavy stuff) and panniers and mud guards are on the wish list.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report

  • LucyJH,

    Not that i'm saying Patrick was implying that :) he is awesome.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 4 posts Report

  • Brent Jackson,

    I just wear normal clothes, as I haven't bought any clothing specifically for cycling since I was regularly commuting to varsity back in the 80's. Back then I bought cheap vinyl gloves (from Rendals for $2 a pair - they needed regular replacing, but were a lot cheaper than leather ones) and a padded jacket with zip off sleeves. On the bottom edge of the back of the jacket I sewed some high-vis reflective material (pirated from an abandoned, damaged, motorcycle cop's waistband, the rest of which I added some velcro to so as to make ankle "clips" for my jeans). In warmer weather, I rode in the jacket without the sleeves, but in colder weather I'd put the sleeves on as well but not actually attach them to the jacket. As I heated up as I rode, I would slide the tops of the sleeves down or up as necessary to regulate my temperature. Probably looked a bit weird, but, hey, it worked for me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report

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