11 November 2012

Cycle Commuter Clothing

I do actually own a pair of padded lycra cycling shorts, and for long distance commuting I’d recommend some “proper” cycling clothing and getting changed at work/home. At the moment though, as I currently only cycle a mile or two at a time to and from railways stations I just wear my normal clothes. However, as I need to cycle every day, I do need to be able to cope with the British weather.

This basically means that I need to have a waterproof top, waterproof trousers, headgear, gloves, and some way of keeping my trousers away from the chain on my bike (I tend to wear waterproof walking shoes so those are already fine).

I currently have an Altura Pocket Rocket jacket in yellow as my top. This jacket packs down to a very small size and has done a good job of keeping me dry. But I’ve found that it hasn’t coped well with being taken on and off 4 times a day for a year. The inner membrane is coming away at the cuffs and under the arms. For occasional emergency use it’s probably still a good choice, but this year I’ve asked Santa for what looks to be the more hardy Night Vision jacket, which has the added benefit of being available in orange. As I plan to wear my jacket any time I cycle, the ability to pack it down to a small size is no longer such a consideration. I’ll report back if the Night Vision doesn’t stand up to daily use.

For my legs I’ve been using a proper pair of waterproof Lowe Alpine hiking trousers. These have worked fine but they are fairly bulky and I’ve actually used them surprisingly rarely. So for trousers I’m going in the opposite direction with a pair of smaller, flimsier, and cheaper Regatta over-trousers. So far I’ve used them a couple of times and they have worked nicely and they take up far less space in my bag most of the time - they pack down to about the size of a can of soft drink and come with a bag to keep them that size.

When I started commuting I would tuck my trousers into my socks. This works ok as long as:

  1. The sock elastic holds up
  2. It’s not raining hard. If it rains my sock gets wet and the water runs down into my shoe.

So I decided to get some trouser clips. I started with the traditional metal variety, but I found that they were either so tight that they were painful, or so loose that they slid down my trousers around my ankle - and in one case then fell off onto the road and got lost. There may well be some trick to the metal clips that I haven’t discovered, after all they have been in use for years, but I just couldn’t get on with them. Fortunately since then I’ve tried some fabric and velcro bands that work much better, and seem more reflective too. Looking at them I don’t think that they’ll last forever, but £7 every year or two isn’t going to break the bank.

On my head I always wear a thin headband under my helmet to keep my ears protected from the wind, and when it gets really cold I have a snood to keep my neck and face warm too. For gloves I wear a pair of normal gore windstopper gloves which do a good job of keeping my hands warm and will also provide some abrasion protection if I ever end up sliding along the road. These bits are all pretty small so I have no trouble keeping them in my bag (actually in one of the side pockets for easy access) all the time.

[The links to Amazon on this page won’t cost you anything, but will make me some money if you buy through them]