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I'm a little new to bike riding, I've only been a commuter for the past couple of years so maybe I'm only now observant of this sort of thing. So over the past few days I've noticed people commuting in what looks like stuff you would wear to the office. I literally saw a guy riding his bike in a shirt and tie today!

Granted it's still not too hot out, I live in Manitoba and lately it's been around 20-25, but has it suddenly become a thing to look like a fashion model while commuting to work or are the Humans around me just denim-wearing demigods who can't break a sweat? As for me, I'm usually wearing crappy t-shirt and a thin pair of shorts and I still sweat like a pig on my 8km commute to work.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is whether or not this is normal behavior, maybe I'm just out of shape?

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Do you sweat the same while walking? In some circumstances, cycling isn't any harder than that. –  Mladen Jablanović Jun 5 '13 at 5:42
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wait until you see one of them trying to fix a puncture, then you'll be laughing –  PeteH Jun 5 '13 at 10:39
    
Sweating quickly is meant to be a sign that you are fit, as your body is more efficient at keeping itself cool. –  James Bradbury Jun 11 '13 at 7:58
    
@JamesBradbury - Then I must be in fantastic shape. I sweat eating ice cream. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 26 '13 at 11:40
    
It should be noted that, contrary to common belief, "body odor" does not come from ordinary sweat, but comes only from glands in the armpits and groin, and these glands do not tend to produce much more when you're sweating heavily vs when only barely working up a sweat. So "BO" from cycling is not as big a concern as some make it out to be. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 26 '13 at 11:43

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think everyone rides according to their preference and purpose. If you ride to exercise and break a sweat, then you probably won't wear your work clothes. But if you're like most commuters, you want to ride in comfort, for the most part, and appear presentable when your ride is finished. And as was suggested in the comments, riders choose their clothing, in part, by the distance and time it takes to travel, then perhaps change when they get to the office.

There's a great related question here -- sometimes you can change and freshen up once you get to work. Other times, it may not be as feasible.

Anyway, my ride is similar to yours, about 9.6 km (mostly flat), and I ride to an office in shorts and a T-shirt. Since my ride to work is generally against a light wind, I shift down a notch and take it a little easier so the breeze cools me, even when it's toasty in the sun, and by the time I get to work, it's a matter of a little freshening up in the bathroom before getting started.

The question I linked to and some of the related ones to the right are pretty instructive.

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+1 for your first paragraph! I also think that you can even adapt with your distance, time, and other needs e.g. either change at work if you think you will sweat or just carry on cycling with your work clothes. –  hagubear Jun 5 '13 at 11:56

Those people you mentioned seeing in 'office clothing' most likely don't have a very long commute. Depending on where you live it may be like here in Switzerland; it has become some kind of trend. People show off their dutch style bicycles and feel awfully cool, which might explain why you perceive them as looking like fashion models. You will also notice how many young and trendy guys ride a women's bike because they idealize the authentic dutch hippie bike. I just pass by and smile at their confusion regarding bicycles.

For my part I ride ~ 10km to work on my old Batavus Champion, in every season. A little perspiration is normal, but I don't really need to change clothes when I arrive.

I think the key to successful commuting over longer distance is having an exceptionally good deodorant.

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+1 on the last sentence! –  Matt Jun 5 '13 at 17:37
    
There are other good reasons for men to use a ladies'-style frame: like a real step-through frame, it's a lot more convenient if you wear a long coat, or for older riders who have trouble mounting and dismounting. –  Dan Hulme Jun 27 '13 at 18:30

It's normal in a lot of cities to commute wearing your work attire, but I can't recommend it if you ride actively enough to sweat. This actually doesn't relate to the weather as much as you might think, I find Winter riding to be much sweatier then Summer. It's not an option for me, since I tend to go down once in while as I ride so aggressively (not in traffic). I also don't care for fenders, so I usually end up with a skunk stripe from all the lawn irrigation run-off.

As for you, I would humbly suggest get out of the shorts and T-shirt though and invest in some technical gear. You don't have to, and it can be expensive, but here's why I ride in it:

  • Your gear will be dry when you have to change back into it to go home, technical fibers excel at this. They will also smell much less than cotton.

  • Some 3/4 pants (or knickers) in Cordura or something else strong are going to keep your skin where it belongs when you go down, which is bound to happen at some point depending on the aggressiveness of your riding and conditions.

  • Gloves are really a must, not for comfort but because they save your skin if you ditch.
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One gripe I have is that the performance of video monitors has fallen terribly in the past 20 years or so. Used to be that a 20" color monitor could get a T-shirt dry in about an hour. Now you're lucky if it's dry by the end of the day. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 5 '13 at 19:21
    
Where are you commuting that you're not in traffic? Does your commute take you through a national forest or something? –  jimirings Jun 5 '13 at 21:53
    
Parks, vacant lots, shopping malls, etc. Where I meet traffic I cross it if I can rather than riding with or in it. My whole commute is about limiting my exposure to killer cyborgs, err motor vehicles. –  Michael McCune Jun 5 '13 at 22:00
    
Disagree about technical clothing smelling less. I have a friend who calls Helly Hansen base layers "smelly-hansen". –  James Bradbury Jun 11 '13 at 7:57
    
Might be a skin flora thing ... my wife has strong opinions on how I smell in most technical fabrics, and especially smelly helly. –  Useless Jun 11 '13 at 17:00
  1. Try to ride at 60% of your maximum heart-rate.
  2. Watch out your cadence and use a lower gear.
  3. Use light clothes just a shirt and a breathable windproof jacket in winter.
  4. In the summer avoid the sun, try using the parks, the wind and the trees are your friends.
  5. Avoid the backpacks they make you sweat more, use a rear rack and panniers.
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My bike commute is less than 2 miles, and I ride a bike with a chainguard, so I wear my work clothes into the office. Anything over 4-5 miles, and I wear shorts and a t-shirt and change when I get there. So put me down as +1 for it being normal. :)

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