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What to wear on a commute?

mattdanielcmattdanielc Posts: 41
edited August 2018 in Commuting chat
Hi guys

I’ve started commuting to work on my bike - only started a couple of months back. I’ve been lucky in that as yet I’ve not had to cycle in the rain.

Before cycling I was a runner - and for the last few winters even if it’s been snowing I don’t wear trousers - always shorts - because I get very sweaty and I hate the feeling over my knees - I always wear shorts that aren’t long enough to reach the knees.

So with that in mind so far I’ve just been wearing normal running shorts on my bike with a normal t shirt. The shorts are now wearing away where my bum hits the saddle.

What would people recommend I wear when the weather starts to turn? I feel like I need waterproofs? I’ve read you need a base layer and jersey on top - but I’m not keen on the whole Lycra thing . Is a base layer just basically a ‘gym’ type t shirt?

Also I wear normal trainers - when it rains - do your shoes get soaked?

Would appreciate any advice :)
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Posts

  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    What are other people around you wearing ?

    If you don't like Lycra then you can wear baggy MTB shorts designed for cycling. But baggy makes you slower.

    A base layer is just a technical teeshirt. I often use the free race ones or you can get thinner versions. You will want a rain jacket and if you haven't got mudguards then you'll be spraying yourself with water even after the rain has stopped. Mudguards are essential for comfort.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 11,636
    Also I wear normal trainers - when it rains - do your shoes get soaked?
    Are you genuinely asking this question?
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • inbikeinbike Posts: 264
    Welcome to year round commuting! If you persist you'll find that you don't mind wet days that much, because you'll gradually a acquire the right gear that helps you just shrug it off.

    The most important thing is clothes which dry quickly - in time for the commute home - as it's really unpleasant otherwise.

    If you don't fancy lycra I second the suggestion about MTB gear. Decathlon does some shorts for about £20 which are a good compromise between baggy and skin tight.

    Running tops are perfectly fine for cycling to work, just ignore the fashion police. Proper cycling kit is nicer because it was designed for the job but unless you are going a long way or trying to hold high speeds the gains are pretty marginal.

    Full mudguards (with flaps) help keep shoes dry. They aren't perfect. The main benefit is they keep mud off your back (which is unpleasant) and your drivetrain (which is expensive).
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 7,791
    Firstly how far are you commuting. For your feet when it's wet or cold I suggest overshoes you can get ones to fit over trainers. MTB clothing if you don't fancy lycra and possibly waterproof trousers. I tend to use a softshell jacket do cold and wet and just a thin waterproof if it's just wet along with full lycra. Decent gloves will be required and a skull type cap to cover your ears when it's cold along with a buff do the face. Base layers are normally a wicking type long sleeve top that can also be thermal. Worth keeping a change of clothes at work as well.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • pblakeney wrote:
    Also I wear normal trainers - when it rains - do your shoes get soaked?
    Are you genuinely asking this question?
    Yes. I’ve never cycled in rain in my life - genuinely curious if overshoes are essential or not. When I run in the rain my shoes stay mostly fine - I wondered if it’s the same on my bike.

    Thanks for the responses guys. I only cycle 5 miles each way to work (and then back). Does anyone else wear shorts all year round on your bike - is it doable? Again, no experience of this.

    So far thinking of buying...
    This scarf https://galibier.cc/product/buff/ for my neck and ears
    One of these shorts: https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Endura-Superlite-Waterproof-Baggy-Cycling-Shorts-AW17_20678.htm or https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Endura-Hummvee-Cycling-Short-II-AW17_102360.htm but this one doesn't appear to be waterproof - just water resistant.

    I will consider lycra but I'd prefer MTB stuff I think. I'm not a cycling pro yet :)

    I've bought a rain jacket already
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,361
    There's an old cyclists rule about not getting your knees out below about 15 degrees.
    I know runners ignore it - but runners don't get the wind chill of cycling and aren't usually out that long.
    In the winter you could wear legwarmers or full leggings beneath your shorts if you wanted.
    If you haven't got mudguards and a flap if the road is wet you'll be constantly spraying yourself with water. Even if the rain has stopped. So it's very different from running.
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 2,118
    Yes MTB gear is absolutely fine.

    Almost every cyclist I know, including myself, when they started cycling (whether that was commuting or for fun) said "I'm not going down the lycra route", but after a few months they start to see the benefits, try it and then find it just works better. Especially if you're cycling every day, year round and doing a decent distance.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • inbikeinbike Posts: 264
    For 5 miles (20 mins) shorts are fine in almost any weather. Very occasionally it gets so bitter that any exposed skin hurts thanks to wind-chill. I usually do my 5 mile commute in jeans and only lycra up if I'm doing a long ride or if it's going to be hot, freezing or wet.

    I find that my hands hurt first - I need full gloves a lot more often than longs or leg warmers.

    Waterproof gear tends to keep the rain out but keep sweat in.

    As Fenix said, wet roads can be almost as bad as rain. Try not to follow closely behind people with inadequate mudguards! Also keep an eye out for buses near puddles.
  • mattsawmattsaw Posts: 907
    In my experience it's pointless trying to waterproof yourself. Nothing keeps you dry.

    Embrace it.

    Invest in a decent waterproof bag so the clothes you change in to are warm and dry, that's really all you need to worry about.
    Bianchi C2C - Ritte Bosberg - Cervelo R3
    Strava
  • j_mcdj_mcd Posts: 470
    elbowloh wrote:
    Yes MTB gear is absolutely fine.

    Almost every cyclist I know, including myself, when they started cycling (whether that was commuting or for fun) said "I'm not going down the lycra route", but after a few months they start to see the benefits, try it and then find it just works better. Especially if you're cycling every day, year round and doing a decent distance.

    +1

    I certainly did, started off wearing standard running clothes. Took the next big step and bought MTB baggies, took another step and bought padded shorts to go underneath them. Realised that I was wearing quite a lot of clothing (which all needs washing) and so finally took the big step and got bib shorts and stopped wearing the baggies. It was SO much more comfy and while I don't have the physique to really carry off lycra, I'm now old enough that I don't give a toss!

    At some point the running t-shirts turned into bike jerseys but I can't remember when or how!

    As for the winter. Get a marino baselayer from an out doors shop, nothing too heavyweight, and wear it under some form of top. It'll keep you warm and the brilliant thing is that it won't smell. I wore shorts all year round (and my commute is a minimum of 30 miles in and 8 miles back) until about 3 years ago when I finally bit the bullet and bought some good quality long bibs. I can conclude that I was clearly an idiot before this decision. Warmer is better than the bravado of bare legs!

    Get a scull cap to go under your helmet and some good quality gloves. Look for some that are waterproof AND windproof.

    After that, just experiment with what you need to combine given the temperatures/conditions. Guy I work with has a spreadsheet that will tell him exactly what to wear given the outside temperature. Seems a little extreme to me but whatever works for you I guess!
    Giant Defy Advanced 0 - Best
    Planet X London Road - Wet
    Montague Fit - Foldy thing that rarely gets used these days
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 22,478 Lives Here
    j_mcd wrote:
    Guy I work with has a spreadsheet that will tell him exactly what to wear given the outside temperature. Seems a little extreme to me but whatever works for you I guess!
    :shock: Don't tell Rower or he'll start one. :lol:
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 7,791
    To the OP you will wholeheartedly embrace overshoes the first time you wear them after getting really wet and cold feet. As others suggest mudguards are a must for winter or wet commuting. Have a look at previous threads on here asking the same question as well.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • Ricky hRicky h Posts: 119
    Wear whatever you like but you will need to factor in wind chill which is far more significant on a bike than on foot.
    First up nothing is waterproof in bad weather, just degrees of resistance but 5 miles won't leave you exposed for that long. Shorts alone are fine but in the bitter wind of winter and sleet you might be glad of a pair of cycling tights. Probably most important is your upper body and I find a softshell jacket is ideal for winter.
    Decathlon sell some great gear (tights for 10 quid, mtb shorts for 15 and a softshell jacket for 30 quid) and I have to say their gear measures up very well in comparison to more expensive brands.
    Some form of cap and gloves are also a good idea in the stinging rain as well.
    You can travel as light as you want but trust me, if it's pissing down and your hands are numb and you're struggling to change an inner tube after a puncture, you'll regret it
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    In winter my overshoes stay on the shoes all the time. I've elastic laces so I can get into the shoes ok. Pita wrangling them on and off.

    I guess this only works for SPD pedals though - normal pedals will chew through the overshoes underneath.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 11,636
    veronese68 wrote:
    j_mcd wrote:
    Guy I work with has a spreadsheet that will tell him exactly what to wear given the outside temperature. Seems a little extreme to me but whatever works for you I guess!
    :shock: Don't tell Rower or he'll start one. :lol:
    I did this years ago simply using trial and error. It's actually just a postit. Upside now is that with a quick glance I know exactly what to wear to be comfortable. Mostly by memory now.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • inbikeinbike Posts: 264
    I need an robot wardrobe networked to a weather station in Richmond park.
  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,959
    I use waterproofs maybe 2 or 3 times a year but it has to be torrential or snowing for them to be used, when I've used them and it's not the aforementioned, then I usually take them off half way through the ride due to overheating.

    Gloves; I'm usually OK with lightweight full finger through the winter, with thick gloves when it's well into the minus's.

    Feet; this is where I suffer and I've never gotten on with overshoes, they should be treated as disposable (as that's how long they'll last), instead I use a proper Winter boot, with 2 pairs of socks.

    Shorts or Lycra? Lycra is by far the most comfortable, MTB shorts annoy me but for 5 miles, they'll be fine; bib shorts also eliminate builders crack.

    Tops; I tend to mix and match with cycling and running tops, although short sleeve running tops tend to hang strangely when cycling with them
  • I started off using a cycling cap and my normal vented cycling helmet when it was raining. After a while I realised this wasn't working so well because if you are commuting in London you have to look up a huge amount more than when on glorious open country roads (zombie pedestrians stepping out without looking etc.). All this looking up with a cap on gave me a sore neck. So I bought a cheap non-vented helmet and this does the job for rainy and cold days.

    Waterproofs only work for me if I have a short commute otherwise I overheat. Softshell jacket is great for most of our bad weather days if you are cycling reasonably hard.

    One thing that I don't think has been mentioned is the benefits of investing in some cheap and clear cycling glasses. I never go out riding without glasses anymore because of the risks, from the minor to the major i.e. dry eyes, filthy water flying up from someone else's wheel, to some road detritus being flicked up from a passing car wheel into your eye and blinding you - yes this happens.
  • I started off using a cycling cap and my normal vented cycling helmet when it was raining. After a while I realised this wasn't working so well because if you are commuting in London you have to look up a huge amount more than when on glorious open country roads (zombie pedestrians stepping out without looking etc.). All this looking up with a cap on gave me a sore neck. So I bought a cheap non-vented helmet and this does the job for rainy and cold days.

    Waterproofs only work for me if I have a short commute otherwise I overheat. Softshell jacket is great for most of our bad weather days if you are cycling reasonably hard.

    One thing that I don't think has been mentioned is the benefits of investing in some cheap and clear cycling glasses. I never go out riding without glasses anymore because of the risks, from the minor to the major i.e. dry eyes, filthy water flying up from someone else's wheel, to some road detritus being flicked up from a passing car wheel into your eye and blinding you - yes this happens.
    Thank you for mentioning the cycling glasses :) I wear spectacles though so can’t really get them

    Thanks again all
  • .Ian.Ian Posts: 15
    My clothing tip is for a gilet. Hugely versatile, especially when paired with arm warmers. Temps can vary by 10 degrees between the morning and evening commutes, and a gilet can be taken off and put in your back jersey pocket.

    I use a cheap decathlon lightweight one, and a gabba when it’s colder - the gabba is still available but the replacement is the perfecto. From memory I used mine down to 0 deg this year with a merino baselayer.

    I also echo the recommendations for saving your money from buying twice and just splashing out for Lycra bib shorts to begin with.
  • inbikeinbike Posts: 264
    You can get prescription cycling glasses. Mine are cheap ones from Optilabs with prescription transition lenses.
  • awaveyawavey Posts: 2,368
    cougie wrote:
    In winter my overshoes stay on the shoes all the time. I've elastic laces so I can get into the shoes ok. Pita wrangling them on and off.

    I guess this only works for SPD pedals though - normal pedals will chew through the overshoes underneath.

    depends on the overshoe of course, but I dont find the pedals chew through the neoprene ones Ive got much, its actually the walking on them on concrete/paths at the end of the ride that seems to do them in that respect, that said I think my last pair still lasted 3 winters of riding, and it was the road salt attacking the zips that arguably broke them first.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,743
    Does anyone else wear shorts all year round on your bike - is it doable? Again, no experience of this.
    Yup, I wear some cheap baggy shorts (circa £10 a pair 'sports direct' type quality) year round and then I add some MTB type knee warmers if its below about -2.

    On top I wear a base layer style T-shirt down to about +2 and then add a thin softshell.

    My hands do feel the cold so fingerless mitts down to about +10, then thin full finger gloves down to about +2 and then winter gloves below that.

    7 mile commute across open (often breezy) countryside most the way.
  • wolfsbane2kwolfsbane2k Posts: 2,957
    The Rookie wrote:
    Does anyone else wear shorts all year round on your bike - is it doable? Again, no experience of this.
    Yup, I wear some cheap baggy shorts (circa £10 a pair 'sports direct' type quality) year round and then I add some MTB type knee warmers if its below about -2.

    On top I wear a base layer style T-shirt down to about +2 and then add a thin softshell.

    My hands do feel the cold so fingerless mitts down to about +10, then thin full finger gloves down to about +2 and then winter gloves below that.

    7 mile commute across open (often breezy) countryside most the way.

    Almost year round. First 2 years of commuting I did all year with Shorts , varying between 1/2 and 3/4 lengths to cover the knees as required (lycra with pad from lidl/aldi) and a cheap & thin mtb baggy 1/2 length over shorts from decathlon) and leg warmers when it got cold, but some days I got really chilly as the lycra shorts weren't thick enough around the inner thighs, and the wind at speed was particularly chilling.
    I managed to grab a reasonable quality set of unpadded tights (not bib ones) from endura in the spring last year, and was very glad for them when the temp hit -10 for beast of the easts 1 and 2, swapping the baggy shorts for the tights. Much, much better, but anything above 0 and it was too much.

    Top wise - Cheap cycling jerseys from aldi/lidl, LS/SS as required (I've got 5 SS and 2 LS tops and 2 pairs of arm-warmers ), a few baselayers ( merino baselayer is best I find, but have others as well) . and a cheap aldi ultralight waterproof and some simple overshoes (waterproof and overshoes never, ever out of my bag)

    Gloves - mix of mitted, lightweight mtb full finger, and some heavy winter gloves, again all aldi/lidl.

    I've got a really hefty winter jacket from aldi, but it's far, far to warm, and I've also got a jacket come gilet, which again is far too warm most of the time, but as a gilet by itself it's actually quite good on the cold & windy days, I've pretty much thrown the arms away...

    That's for a year round commute, 10 miles mostly along some very exposed to winds & weather country roads.

    I find that the air temperature as much less effect on what I wear when compared to the expected wind chill...
    Intent on Cycling Commuting on a budget, but keep on breaking/crashing/finding nice stuff to buy.
    Bike 1 (Broken) - Bike 2(Borked) - Bike 3(broken spokes) - Bike 4( Needs Work) - Bike 5 (in bits) - Bike 6* ...
  • CitizenLeeCitizenLee Posts: 2,227
    Warmer days:
    -Endura Hummvee 3/4 shorts inc padded insert
    -Fox s/s MTB top (I have loads of these)

    Colder days:
    -Endura Hummvee 3/4 shorts inc padded insert
    -Endura Merino wool l/s with MTB s/s on top
    -Royal Racing gloves

    Rainy/Snowy/Icy days:
    -Endura Singletrack II trousers
    -Endura Merino wool l/s top
    -Dakine Calibre waterproof jacket (soon to be replaced with Altura Ubran X jacket)
    -SealSkin gloves

    Shoes:
    Usually DCs or Vans trainers, but I recently bought some waterproof Karrimor Summit walking shoes from Sports Direct which are really good so far. We'll see how they hold up when the Aberdeen weather goes back to normal though!
    Current:
    NukeProof Mega FR 2012
    Cube NuRoad 2018
    Previous:
    2015 Genesis CdF 10, 2014 Cube Hyde Race, 2012 NS Traffic, 2007 Specialized SX Trail, 2005 Specialized Demo 8
  • greenamex2greenamex2 Posts: 272
    Hot -
    Medium mtb shorts
    SS jersey
    Fingerless gloves
    Thin socks
    Vented shoes

    Medium -
    Medium mtb shorts
    Windproof SS jersey
    Thin full length gloves
    Thin socks
    Vented shoes

    Cool -
    Medium mtb shorts
    Windproof LS jersey
    Thin full length gloves
    Merino socks
    Vented shoes

    Cold -
    Bib tights
    Windproof LS jersey or thermal jersey
    Base layers as required
    Thermal skull cap if required
    Electric gloves
    Merino socks
    Goretex shoes

    Wet -
    Depends how bad it looks and how cold it is. Usually wear the Gore tex shoes and thin waterproof gloves...I have circulation issues caused by a defective heart...Don't want to get frost bite, again.

    As you can get several of the above in one day, my windproof jerseys have removable sleeves, saves carrying duplicates.

    Trying to ween myself off the waterproofs. Despite being Gore tex you still boil and end up damp in them.
  • Thanks for the advice guys. After 6 weeks off cycling (I'd only been cycling for 5 weeks before I had stop due to new baby / paternity leave) I'm back on my bike today - was great to be back.

    I've bought these shorts - expensive but they are waterproof and the perfect length for me:
    https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Alpinestars-Ou ... 104994.htm

    I've then bought a cycling rainjacket, and 2 gilet. A thin one which I wore this morning over a normal t shirt and a thick one for when it turns colder.

    Might buy some arm warmers or alternatively long sleeved base layer to go under the warm gilet - hoping that will be enough :)

    Need to get a skull cap and some long gloves too in a couple of months.
  • greenamex2greenamex2 Posts: 272
    Been thinking about waterproof shorts myself.

    Still not sure of how much benefit the waterproof bit would be!
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 2,118
    Don't really see the point of waterproofs unless you're covering up other clothes that you're trying to keep dry?
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame ??
    Tall....
  • greenamex2greenamex2 Posts: 272
    elbowloh wrote:
    Don't really see the point of waterproofs unless you're covering up other clothes that you're trying to keep dry?

    I am trying out no waterproofs. But I suspect the first time I either have to put on soaking wet clothes or am really cold I will probably end up going back to them.

    Just need it to actually rain sometime!
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