Commuting Tips: Normal Clothes for Biking (2024)


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Commuting Tips: Normal clothes that work on a bike

7th June 2010 | Words: Eddie Allen | More Commuting Tips

Commuting Tips: Normal Clothes for Biking (6)I've mentioned the whole ‘wear normal clothes when riding' idea before and, let's face it, it's not a wholly revelatory idea (except amongst ‘serious cyclists' who wouldn't pop out for a loaf of bread without donning full team kit). However, it'd be easy to interpret this potentially liberating maxim as ‘you can wear anything you like when riding a bike.' Like many things in this beautiful life, it ain't that simple.

For instance, long, flowy garments don't work too well on bikes, especially in the rain. Jeans work up to a point, but in temperate to hot weather, can quickly become uncomfortable. Tight non-stretch items don't work either, restricting your movement. So those skinny jeans are definitely a no-no.

If you value your cycling time in the morning and evening but also want to wear normal clothes, here are some things that work really well on the bike and look normal off.


For warmer months, polo shirts - beloved of sporty types everywhere, polo shirts are light and airy, dry quickly (even with a high cotton content) and are as universally accepted and ubiquitous as a Ford Mondeo in an office carpark. Plus they're available everywhere, from dirty cheap to chic.

For really hot days, seersucker cotton shirts are superb - their tight weave keeps the UVs at bay, plus the puckered texture of the fabric doesn't lay flat on the skin, keeping you cool and aerated.

For cooler months, thin sweaters are ace, especially with a wicking base layer/T-shirt underneath. Acrylic, cotton, merino, cashmere, wherever you are on the sweater hierarchy, they work well on the bike and look normal off it.


Now for the bottom half. Cargo pants work really well, especially lightweight ones. They're cut for movement, have loads of pockets for carrying your junk and lightweight ones won't overheat you or hinder your movements. A top tip is to get them in black - they don't show chain/brake block sludge and pass muster in many offices. If you want to splash out, Endura's Humvee full-length trousers are tough, smart, quick drying and well cut for cycling.

Three-quarter pants are the king of cycling attire for summer cycling and workplaces with a relaxed dress code. Short enough to dodge the chain oil, long enough to keep the knees warm and avoid that boy-scout look. For ladies, Capri pants or pedal pushers (who knew?) do the same job.


OK, so how's about footwear. The key thing is a good grip on your pedals, so pretty much anything flat with a rubber sole works a treat. Flat rubber soled trainers (e.g. Adidas Sambas, Gazelles, etc) are the kings of grip, and allow you to position your feet easily, unlike heavily cleated soles.

From Habits to High Heels

Go to any cycle-centric city and you'll see people riding bikes in anything and everything. I've photographed a cycling nun in full habit in York, and Muslim women biking in Burqas in Manchester, while Michael Colville Anderson's Copenhagen Cycle Chic is famed for its almost fetishistic study of the high-heeled, pencil skirted cyclist. I assume that all made it to their destination unscathed. However, if you want to enjoy your ride too, my point is that there's everyday clothing, and then there's smart everyday cycling gear.

Commuting Tips: Normal Clothes for Biking (2024)


Commuting Tips: Normal Clothes for Biking? ›

If your commute is relatively short, you could be just fine in your normal work clothes. In temperate dry weather, you shouldn't get too hot or too cold. You may not have time to work up a sweat and the best bikes for commuting now include plenty of electric bikes, which help to keep you that bit cooler.

Can I wear normal clothes when cycling? ›

Choose comfy clothes that don't restrict the movement of your arms and legs. Cycling in clothing like jeans, or tight-fitting dresses or trousers, can restrict how you use your muscles. Some clothes have thick and bulky seams which can rub and make you sore. Also don't wear something with too tight a waistband.

How to cycle to work with work clothes? ›

Some people choose to carry in their day's clothing. For this you'll need panniers or a rucksack. The former has the added advantages of keeping the extra weight on the bike rather than you and avoiding a sweaty back. But if you want that fancy road bike to double as a commuter cycle you'll need a rucksack.

Should I cycle in my work clothes? ›

If you practice sweat-free cycling techniques, you can wear what you wish. However, if you're going to cycle in your suit; it's best to invest in accessories like trouser straps and pannier bags. Most of us are going to get at least a little sweaty when cycling to work, however.

What should I wear for biking? ›

You can save on bike clothing by wearing almost any comfortable outdoor or athletic clothing (think breathable, moisture-wicking) when you ride, though you'll want to add some reflective wear or reflective elements if you do. This is less of an issue where vehicles aren't around, like on a mountain-bike-only trail.

Can I wear jeans riding a bike? ›

You can cycle in normal jeans, of course, but there are a few reasons you might not want to. Comfort tops the list: a thick seam in the crotch combined with a narrow bicycle saddle can make you sore. Then there's durability: denim wears through at the sit bones after a while.

How to not get sweaty riding bike to work? ›

The thicker your clothes, the more you sweat because your body sustains heat. Wear light, breathable clothing when you're biking to work. Avoid woolen clothes, and if it's particularly cold, wear a windbreaker. Another thing that can help you is wearing a tank top underneath.

How to stop sweating when cycling? ›

Get the weight off your back - If you are carrying stuff on your bike, you'll be a lot less clammy if you use a rack and panniers rather than a backpack. Dress Down - Remember that if you're cycling, you should dress for around 10 degrees colder than you normally would. This alone will minimise sweating.

Is it OK to wear the same clothes for 2 days at work? ›

If you wash the shirt and wear different pants or skirt and accessories, you could wear it two days in a row or a couple of days later. It somewhat depends on where you work, though. A white business shirt for a man could be worn every day or a month if it's in good shape and worn with different ties and pants.

What is the rule for work clothes? ›

All clothing should be clean, ironed and in good shape. Refrain from wearing clothes that have tears, rips or holes, even if it is the current fashion. All employees should maintain an acceptable level of bodily hygiene to ensure that interactions with other staff and clients remain positive and pleasant.

What are the layers for bike commuting? ›

The first layer is the base layer and is worn directly on the skin. It should keep your skin dry by wicking away your sweat and as a result helps regulate the temperature of the body; 2. Layer two is the midlayer and aims to provide insulation while still breathing well, i.e. wicking away sweat, as well.

Should cycling clothes be tight? ›

But if you are concerned with performance, then it should be tight, but not so snug that it restricts movement. A loose jersey will catch the wind and slow you down. Loose jerseys also bunch and chafe and are less comfortable on long, challenging rides.

Can I wear normal clothes to cycling? ›

For instance, long, flowy garments don't work too well on bikes, especially in the rain. Jeans work up to a point, but in temperate to hot weather, can quickly become uncomfortable. Tight non-stretch items don't work either, restricting your movement. So those skinny jeans are definitely a no-no.

How do I look cute while cycling? ›

Athleisure clothes and sneakers are the easiest way to look cool without trying too hard. For casual outings, I usually throw on some iteration of a T-shirt, leggings, sneakers, and sunglasses. You can also layer on a sweatshirt or tuck it into a bike basket for when it gets chilly.

What should I wear on a 20 mile bike ride? ›

What to wear on long bike rides
  • Bib shorts. Padded Lycra shorts come into their own for a long ride. ...
  • Jersey. Cycling jerseys are close fitting and stretchy so don't flap about, and they don't get clammy like cotton T-shirts. ...
  • Eyewear. ...
  • Mitts. ...
  • Cycling shoes. ...
  • Windproof top. ...
  • Neckwarmer. ...
  • Tyre levers.

Is it okay to ride a bike in a dress? ›

Wear skirts or dresses that are knee-length and above. The shorter the hemlines are, the less there is risk of getting tangled in chains. Choose breathable and stretchy fabrics like cotton blends or jerseys for comfort.

Do I have to wear spandex for cycling? ›

Dressing in your normal clothes to ride a bike is absolutely fine for short journeys and when you won't sweat too much, but if you have a long or hard commute, wearing cycle specific clothing will help you feel more comfortable.

Can you wear normal socks for cycling? ›

Can't I just wear basic workout socks and be done with it? Yes, you absolutely can. But, just as there are welcome details like subtly padded zones in hiking socks, certain characteristics in cycling socks make them more comfortable when you ride.

Is it okay to wear jacket while cycling? ›

In cool or cold conditions, layering and ventilation are your friends. A moisture-wicking layer and a waterproof cycling jacket with good ventilation usually provides enough protection. Hardshell waterproof jackets will block wind and water, keeping you warm and dry.

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