Author Topic: New to biking...what should I wear?  (Read 6422 times)

MustacheCowboy

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New to biking...what should I wear?
« on: March 08, 2014, 07:33:09 AM »
I haven't used a bike in almost 20 years, but that is about to change! I bought a hybrid which I plan to use for some light road riding and trail riding. Here is my question...what the heck should I wear?

I want to be comfortable for a 15 mile ride but don't want to burn my stash on a ton of gear. Any suggestions on clothing or other gear?

Ziggurat

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2014, 08:08:38 AM »
Well, since we are on the MMM forums, I would suggest don't buy anything at first, since this is new to you.  Then, see what gets uncomfortable as you ride, and buy to fix that.  Likely you'll want to avoid a seam in the seat for longer rides, so bike shorts might be in order.

I ride with electric assist, so wind resistance doesn't matter to me, but on your own power that is very important at higher speed. That's why so many wear all that lycra stuff.

Personally, my North Face 'hydrenalite' jacket is my go-to three-season wear (not summer, too hot). Breathes to let sweat out, blocks wind really well, and is essentially waterproof (in theory water eventually gets in, but I have never experienced that). Not cheap, but is still like new after about 10 years.  Just add other layers under it depending on temperature.

Not clothing, but I recommend you get good lights and always have them on (at least red flashers on the back).  An LED light kit can be had for ~$15 and will last for many hours (at least 10ish) on rechargeable batteries.  You really want to make sure cars know you are there.

madgeylou

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2014, 08:59:44 AM »
wear anything you want. i did my longest ride to date (~26 miles) in a mini-dress and sandals on a hot sunny day and it was awesome.

one thing to remember is that you will get warm from the exertion, so wear fewer clothes than you would need if you were just going for a leisurely stroll. 

phred

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2014, 09:47:13 AM »
Polarized sunglasses.  At speed you will get some insects impacting your face.  Bike shorts; if they look too embarrassing, wear Bermuda shorts over them

Eric

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2014, 12:00:20 PM »
Shorts and a t-shirt.  If it's cold, add a second top layer and some gloves.  You want to be cold(er) at first because you'll heat up pretty quickly and soon overheat if you're comfortable right at the start.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 12:26:39 PM »
Build the habit before investing in anything. Then maybe get some padded shorts; my husband swears by them. He got some that are just a liner to wear under regular exercise shorts.

AlanStache

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 12:48:49 PM »
second the "nothing" to start, but if you like it I would suggest bike shorts rather quickly (also go commando under them).

Also depending on where you are riding and your riding skills a helmet might be a good idea.  Never mind cars, just falling at 10 mph and hitting your head on concrete will suck.  I broke a helmet in a crash years ago now I dont ride without one (was not hit by a car).  This is also one reason why folks wear gloves-to prevent cut up hands in a fall.  But really it is a safe hobby.

Eric

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 01:23:40 PM »
second the "nothing" to start

How voyeuristic!  Still, something between your ass crack and your seat, even a thin layer of fabric is probably a good idea.

Jwesleym

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 01:56:34 PM »
Been riding to work for several months now, maybe a year. I still wear baggy cargo shorts and t-shirts. The weather here is great year round, though. And my ride is 3-10 miles a day depending on meetings throughout the day. I'm not a real proponent of the "low drag" or light weight gear. I just get more excersize with my heavy/baggy clothes. I also don't break any speed records on my mountain bike with road tires. YMMV.

William

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2014, 02:38:39 PM »
I hadn't been on a bike in years.  I started reading MMM and now I bike everywhere in my city no matter what. 

Here's a list of clothing I have bought for the sake of riding:

Nothing.

All the clothing I use to ride I already had: gloves, coats, socks, shoes, blah, blah.  I did already own a balaclava for hunting.  If you buy your meat at a grocery store like a yuppie, then you may need to buy a new balaclava.  Don't even think about riding in winter without one.

MustacheCowboy

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2014, 05:20:31 PM »
I do like the idea of waiting to see what makes me uncomfortable and fix it from there. A number of people mentioned bike shorts. Any recommendations on brand, for when I'm ready to invest in a pair?

The cool thing is that my employer reimburses me 50% (up to $350) for safety gear and clothing as part of a wellness program.

Emg03063

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2014, 06:33:10 PM »
Wear a helmet.  Aside from that, all bike specific clothing is strictly optional.  You can ride in whatever clothes you have that are comfortable.  Dress in layers if you need more than one, so that you can regulate your body temperature to changing conditions.  What weather are you planning to ride in?  In any event, start with low mileage and build up as your body adjusts.  You will probably have a little bit of saddle soreness as you build miles, but your body should adjust to it.

PindyStache

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2014, 11:33:31 PM »
you may need to buy a new balaclava.  Don't even think about riding in winter without one.

I dug out my balaclava when it was -45 F windchill this past January. Then I got too hot partway through my ride and took it off. YMMV :) Honestly I see more cyclists/bikers just wearing scarves that are not at all bike-specific.

kaetana

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2014, 06:03:00 AM »
I second the thought that you should build the habit and find out for yourself how often you're likely to be on the bike before you buy anything. Even then, I'm in favour of maybe just buying a quality saddle first-- I've heard good things from friends about buying a saddle (Brooks saddles in their cases) and not needing to worry so much about what to wear. Of course, this is dependent on the weather where you are.

Me, I just wear regular clothes on my bike, where "regular" can be anything from work clothes if I'm biking to work (even in a skirt and heels) to a dress or jeans on the weekends if I'm just messing around. I guess it depends how much time you intend to spend on your bike and if biking will be mainly a way to get places or an end in and of itself.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2014, 06:51:00 AM »
I do like the idea of waiting to see what makes me uncomfortable and fix it from there. A number of people mentioned bike shorts. Any recommendations on brand, for when I'm ready to invest in a pair?

The cool thing is that my employer reimburses me 50% (up to $350) for safety gear and clothing as part of a wellness program.

I've been resisting buying bike shorts, and my ass has hardened up pretty fast. But my brother-in-law, who's a former triathloner recommended Pearl Izumi. Standard boxer briefs with Gold Bond powder go a long way, though....

What you need to wear comes down to temperature. If you're going to be biking in sub-freezing weather, windproof outer layers pay massive dividends, the most effective being a breathable GoreTex equivalent material. Without this, even when it's not wet, wind cuts right through your insulation. I have a Marmot PreCip rainjacket ($45 on sale at Sierra Trading Post at time) and Columbia OmniTech pants ($35ish also at STP). Been very happy with both.

If you're not a winter biker, wear shorts and a fleece jacket. Experiment as much as possible with clothes you OWN before buying new stuff.

Be very careful with any kind of pants before riding. If they're baggy or have a protruding in-seam like most jeans, you're just asking for them to get caught in the front cog and ripped to shreds.

Cinder

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2014, 07:04:07 AM »
Be very careful with any kind of pants before riding. If they're baggy or have a protruding in-seam like most jeans, you're just asking for them to get caught in the front cog and ripped to shreds.

They make reflective velcro straps you can put on your ankle.  Keeps your pants from getting caught AND adds a bit of visibility!
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bike-Bicycle-Velcro-Leg-Bind-Belt-Reflective-Safety-Trousers-Pants-Band-Strap-/190934214391

I have a non-reflective version of this I bought way back when to keep my jeep's rear seat-belts from flapping while driving around topless/doorless.  Worked great when I just wore my regular pants ontop of my insulated underlayers!  I've since picked up a nice set of windproof pants and I change at work!

mjb

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2014, 11:15:12 AM »
Another vote for "nothing".

With the caveat that I'm a Grant Peterson/Rivendell Bikes devotee (he changed my life for the better, on the scale of Merlin Mann/Inbox Zero and MMM), I'd say it's better to invest in stuff that will make your bike more comfortable to ride, such as:

1. Setting up your bike properly: http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=40
2. A good saddle, such as the Brooks B17: http://www.rivbike.com/Brooks-Saddle-B17-p/s1.htm
3. Proper handlebars. Flat, mountain bike bars are for bouncing over mountain trails. Get drop bars or nice upright bars, like the Soma Oxford or Nitto Albatross.
4. A basket or rack + panniers, to get any load off your back.

Here's some stuff on bike clothing: http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?cat=22

And on bike commuting in general: http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=86

Ziggurat

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2014, 08:17:43 PM »
Another vote for "nothing".

With the caveat that I'm a Grant Peterson/Rivendell Bikes devotee (he changed my life for the better, on the scale of Merlin Mann/Inbox Zero and MMM), I'd say it's better to invest in stuff that will make your bike more comfortable to ride, such as:

1. Setting up your bike properly: http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=40
2. A good saddle, such as the Brooks B17: http://www.rivbike.com/Brooks-Saddle-B17-p/s1.htm
3. Proper handlebars. Flat, mountain bike bars are for bouncing over mountain trails. Get drop bars or nice upright bars, like the Soma Oxford or Nitto Albatross.
4. A basket or rack + panniers, to get any load off your back.

Here's some stuff on bike clothing: http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?cat=22

And on bike commuting in general: http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=86

The safety section in the last link was really spot on.  I've been commuting for a long time and have learned every one of those things the hard way. Anyone starting, please just read that list and believe every word of it.  Most items are self-explanatory, but I wanted to mention the mirror -- you can't imagine how much better it is to have a good mirror.  I've got a mirrycle and love it - once it is properly adjusted with the right angles, you can see everything behind you, and that makes a world of difference to your safety.

greaper007

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2014, 09:09:27 PM »
A full body spiderman suit, how f-ing cool would that be. 

AlanStache

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2014, 05:42:46 AM »
Iron Man or GTFU. 

plantingourpennies

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2014, 12:05:49 PM »
Don't know where you're located, but down here it's all about protection from the sun. 

- SUNSCREEN
- long sleeve shirt (even in the summer - I wear white dry wick ones and never feel overheated)
- shorts/pants that cover your thighs and knees.  On a 15 mile ride with the sun overhead, the front of my thighs would be beet red by the end of that ride if I didn't wear yoga-type pants to keep them covered.

Good luck!

MustacheCowboy

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2014, 05:56:05 PM »
I live in Pennsylvania which in general has a relatively moderate climate (this winter excluded). It was almost 60 degrees today (way above normal). Took the bike out for a spin today with standard track pants and a sweatshirt and was fairly comfortable.

All this advice has been awesome and has really helped. Looking forward to the day I can post about a truly badass bike ride.

jnik

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Re: New to biking...what should I wear?
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2014, 10:27:43 AM »
Clothes.

Your first bike-specific purchase should be a helmet (and +1 on the mirror, too).
Gloves are probably #2; they make a huge difference. (And bike gloves moreso than, say, work gloves.)
At some point in the warmer weather it's worth getting a good technical shirt. Bike jerseys are great but $10 techwick or UnderArmor will do just fine.
Eventually proper shorts (although anything besides jeans help. If you have, say, nylon hiking pants they're not bad.)
Shoes and pedals last.

All of these have their benefits and you'll probably realize when it's time. I ride in full kit now but it was a gradual transition over eight years of daily bike commuting + training rides.