I just went for a 50 mile ride on my hybrid (1/3 on an unpaved trail, 2/3 on a paved trail), and I am curious regarding the outfit I'm wearing.

Is it frowned upon to wear a skin tight (road bike style) cycling clothing while riding a hybrid? Would I benefit from a more baggy outfit? What's the "traditional" hybrid outfit?

  • 3
    This is purely a matter of personal opinion. I think 50 miles is a respectable distance and you can wear an all-lycra outfit without looking ridiculous.
    – Nik
    Apr 28, 2015 at 5:03
  • Thank you everyone for responses, picked the highest voted one! Apr 28, 2015 at 15:22

6 Answers 6


I would say that it isn't very common to see people wearing Lycra on a hybrid. However most people I see on hybrids wouldn't ride 80 km. At that distance, the right clothes can make a real difference in energy expenditure and comfort. The people who don't wear Lycra mostly don't know the benefits or feel too self-conscious to wear it. I think that you should keep wearing Lycra if it makes you comfortable.


All that matters is that you ride. Not what you ride or what you wear.

Riding 80km is respectable, especially if 1/3 is on unpaved trails.

Let your legs do the talking.


About functionality of road bike kit

For distance riding there a number of functional advantages to road bike style clothing (road kit), these include:

  1. High quality chamois reduces the chance of saddle sores;
  2. Tight fit reduces aerodynamic drag and effort at higher speeds;
  3. Sweat wicking properties keep you more comfortable;
  4. Tight fitting makes it easy to layer clothing to match environmental conditions;
  5. Tight fit keeps clothing from getting caught when moving around on the bike:
    • This is why XC racers wear tight kit as it keeps your shorts from getting caught on the saddle when you shift your weight behind a high saddle (i.e., riding drops or braking hard); and
    • In Cyclocross (CX) this makes mounting and dismounting much easier, as you literally step over the saddle and onto the pedals in one motion when mounting on the run.

Apart from (2) it is reasonably easy to find varying degrees of these features in other "baggy" style bicycle clothing. If you are riding a lot of gravel then your average speed will be lower so (2) won't matter as much but (5) could still be useful.

About Clothing Conventions

As others have commented on, if you like it, then that is all that matters. If a roadie squawks tell them, "Life's hard, get a helmet!"

But in all seriousness the only places I would consider baggy wearing clothing over bike gear (to look more "normal") is areas of the world that have strong cultural identities that may clash with this type of clothing. Sometimes this can lead to a short-circuit in the brain, causing behavioural problems.

I can think of some places in every continent of the world where this could be an issue.

  • When off the bike the clothing is more important. So if you have time off the bike, bring clothing for that if needed, but ride in what works for you.
    – Willeke
    Apr 28, 2015 at 16:59
  • Very thorough answer
    – andy256
    Apr 28, 2015 at 22:17
  • Isn't the tight fit required for sweat wicking?
    – bdsl
    Sep 15, 2015 at 22:22

I'd say that for any ride (or any other exercise) which is enough to need a shower and a change of clothes afterwards, you might as well wear appropriate gear. I look slightly daft in lycra and feel uncomfortable going into the office, and also ride a hybrid. When I had a commute of 40 minutes of fairly hard riding each way I went for bike leggings and a slightly-looser-than-skin-tight jersey (down to gym kit in warm weather) .


Be aware that there are biking clothes that don't make you look like a racer. Plain black biking shorts and a solid 1 or 2 color biking/athletic shirt isn't going to make you look out of place on your chosen steed, but you will benefit. If you don't like the looks of the tight shorts, there are baggy cargo shorts made for biking as well. My buddy does summer cross country bike tours dressed like that and he looks "normal". I commute in jeans and t-shirts myself. For longer rides, or warmer rides, I may go with some gym shorts for comfort.

  • 1
    I do like the looks. I go for plain black skin tight lycra shorts, black knee sleeves, white jersey, and white sun sleeves. No patterns, no logos, doesn't look to preppy to me. Apr 28, 2015 at 15:31

If you are inclined to think about other people, social norms and whats considered acceptable then Lycra is not the best clothing in some situations. If you don't give a hoot what people think of you, lycra it is fine in most situations. (This comes to mind.....

Non- cyclists don't really cares about Lycra or not when you are on the bike (togs). Its off the bike it counts when Lycra looks the same as underwear to most people (undies).

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