Friday, October 17, 2014

Taking the Lane! Deciphering the Lingo: Cycling Specific Clothing

The clothes we wear are a personal choice. Gender specific, different styles, and uses are just a sample of the factors that come into play when choosing what to wear. As a new commuter or even the seasoned veteran perfecting your commuter ready outfit can be trying. This post will touch on the lingo associated with cycling specific clothing and hopefully get you pointed in the right direction to refining your commuter get-up.

First and foremost you should run what you have. Your commuter outfit does not need to be cycling specific. Most everything I wear on my daily commute is not made for riding. I have made a valid effort to find clothing that is durable enough for daily riding. Some of my favorite pants are Carhartts and they finally made a ladies slim fit! As far as tops go I am slowly converting a majority of my clothing to wool and merino wool layers. Icebreaker and Ibex are becoming mainstays. Yes expensive, but I wash these items half as much, the wool keeps me warm if I get wet (i.e, sweat, rain), and it helps with odor.

Next up are places where I get a little more specific with my clothing choices. Rain gear is a great example. Rain pants and boots are simple and easy to invest in. I rock a cheap pair or garage sale boots and a pair of O2 original rain pants to get me to and from work in the chance of rain. Not the most flattering, but they work well and are cheap.
My rain get-up. Posted previously but just a reminder of how goofy I look.

Next up in the line of more specific clothes are jackets. This is where I also start to splurge a little more money wise. Some of the benefits of wearing a cycling specific jacket is first the cut. The jacket will have longer arms, a lower back, and possibly a hood large enough to accommodate a helmet. Some other features that are good to look for are wind-proofness and water resistance. During the winter months I can get away with using a wind proof shell, it will block the chill while allowing your body heat to keep you warm. This will also prevent you from overheating and sweating. A water resistant jacket will with-stand a quick ride home in the rain and will keep you dry. A water-proof jacket will resist water entirely. There are different level of water proof, along with added features like breath-ability these jackets become a quick go to. They are typically the most expensive though. Gore Bike Wear is a great place to start looking for these jackets. My go-to winter shell is the Element Gore-Tex Lady Jacket. Roomy enough to fit a layer underneath, but not so bulky it flaps in the wind.

Some other cycling specific lingo to look out for are things like a gusseted crotch, extra reflective bits, and places to hide bike locks, tools, or to route headphones. My personal favorite casual cycling specific clothes are Giro and Club Ride. They hide pockets and reflective material all over their clothes, while maintaining an awesome look.

In the end the most important thing is to be comfortable and stick with your own style, but you already knew that! Spluge where it counts, but use what you have! Cycling specific clothing can only go so far, personalizing, mixing, and matching really makes commuting that much more comfortable.
My biking dress and staple hoodie!

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