Bicycling Wearing Apparel

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by jmgradon, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. jmgradon

    jmgradon New Member

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    I get the impression that contributors to this forum are divided between those who race and those who ride primarily or exclusively for fitness. I fall into the latter category. My question is this. In the suburban Washington DC area where I live I see lots of riders, the great majority of whom are fitness riders, wearing elaborate cycling gear. Shirts with logos, specialized shorts, bicycling shoes (the latter even on those who do not have clipless pedals) Why wear all this gear, which would seem to be intended primarily for racers (presumably for aerodynamic purposes)? After all, people don't put on baseball uniforms or football shoulder pads or wear specialized clothing to play sandlot games in other sports. Is this some kind of affectation peculiar to cycling or am I missing something here? I, by the way, wear regular shorts and shirts and running shoes when I go biking and other cyclists look at me like I'm weird (or at least not serious).
     
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  2. drewski

    drewski New Member

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    there are actual reasons for bike specific clothing especially shorts and shoes.

    the shirts have pockets in the back for carrying stuff like energy bars or a jacket if changing temps are a concern. also, moisture wicking vs. a cotton t-shirt. they are also cut to match your profile when hunched over on your bike so, yeah, a bit more aero, but that's secondary, in my mind, to the other functionality.

    the shorts have padding in them which will increase comfort and are to be worn sans underwear which also reduces the possibility of chaffing.

    the shoes have stiffer soles than regular to impart more of your pedaling forces to the pedals rather than just flexing the shoes. these are useful for both clipless and clipped pedals.

    you see recreational softball/soccer/football players using cleated shoes and the like. and runners using running shoes not vans. it really depends on the sport as to how speciallized and how useful various "pro-level" stuff is actually useful to the recreational athlete. in biking, the stuff does serve useful purposes other than just for show.

    oh, and the vast the majority of my bike clothing have no logos.

    try some stuff out. don't go crazy, and make a determination for yourself whether it's worth it to you. at the very least, i think bike shorts will be useful to riders of all levels.
     
  3. capwater

    capwater New Member

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    Go out and ride 50 miles in loose shorts with underwear and (when you're healed up after a week) you'll be out riding in skin tight spandex the next time. There is also some wicking properties of the cycling jerseys which keeps perspiration off the skin. As far as shoes, the clips allow you to take aqdvantage of the pulling with your hamstring on the up pedal stroke thus giving you more power and better pedaling efficiency. As far as logos go, I do web work for a pro team and gladly wear their advertising on my back in exchange for pro level gear! I have no problem with folks looking like a pro so long as they can ride, now the weenies with Trek 5900 who can't make it around the block are another story.
     
  4. RichieRay

    RichieRay New Member

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    Do the words "Crotch Rot" mean anything to you?
     
  5. brightgarden

    brightgarden New Member

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    i'm a recreational biker in the d.c. area. there are SOOOOO many people who bike here wearing pedestrian attire that i can't believe any biker would want to spend any time looking weird at any biker dressed so because it would end up being a huge time investment.

    i ended up switching to biking shorts and biking shoes in two separate accidental/coincidental events and can't believe i used to bike without them. the shirt/jersey is just up to what you find convenient for the type of biking you do.

    everyone who actually tries them (in my experience) can't believe they used to bike without them. if you're looking to be convinced, the best way is to just go do it.

    i biked with running shoes for exactly 3 days after my cross-trainers died, and that's when i finally broke down and got biking shoes (they were on clearance anyhow). i will never go back, and the few times i bike without them are a drag.

    i only bike with shorts if i'm doing a "ride"--for errands i just bike wearing whatever i'm wearing, even on my road bike...well, i do put on my biking shoes...

    i'd give it a try if you can do it cheaply (although, my most comfortable shorts to date happen to be my most expensive pair).
     
  6. lokstah

    lokstah New Member

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    I think jmgradon's observations just point out one aspect of the sport we tend to forget: there are many, many, many different kinds of cyclists. Dividing the bike crowd into racers and fitness riders, however, is a major over-simplification. In many cases, for instance, the line between racer and non-racer is extremely fine -- there are many non-competetive enthusiasts (like myself) that more or less aim to be race-ready, buying fancy bikes and parts, engaging in training routines, and trying to perform better each year. Likewise, there are many racers compete in only a handful of races a year. Most racers don't do it for a living -- it's a hobby for them too.

    There are serious enthusiasts... casual enthusiasts... hobbyists... once a week riders... and so on. There are non-racers on $5000 DeRosa/Records, and racers on $1200 Giant/105s. There are folks cruising around on $200 Schwinns. For that, maybe you're right, jmgradon -- it's a funny sport.

    The San Francisco Bay Area, as drewski would agree, is home to a huge population of riders -- the East Bay, in particular. Berkeley's a college town, of course, which means you've got lots of students rolling around; it's also a quirky counterculture town where huge swaths of the local population ride bikes because they hate cars. But the region is also home to some beautiful hills with challenging climbs; from the Berkeley/Oakland hills, to the Penninsula, to South SF and Marin County, this is also paradise for racers, enthusiasts, club riders, and so on.

    I happen to really appreciate the wide range of cyclist types, and I don't feel that my variety (the non-competetive major enthusiast quasi-racer geek) is an abomination. Anyways, I might try my hand at racing this year. Versatility -- another perk of the enthusiast set.

    Whatever class of rider you are, if you're putting more than 25 miles a week on a bike, you'd be doing yourself a favor to at least try out some basic gear -- padded shorts, a wicking top, padded gloves, a decent shoe and clipless pedal, etc.

    Whether you ride to the coffee shop in Team Saeco gear is entirely up to you.

    :)
     
  7. grifter

    grifter New Member

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    In reference to jmgradon's post, I understand where you coming from. I live in So Cal, which in itself is a great place for mountain or road biking. Unfortunately the rules that apply here are a bit different from other places I have visited or lived. It’s not how much you enjoy something or how well you do something, it’s how good you look doing whatever you are doing. I am at the beach almost every weekend throughout the year here and it is comical to see how people are treated if they aren’t dressed appropriately for his or her recreation. If you were to happen upon PCH on Saturday or Sunday morning you would find the best bikes that money can buy Derosa’s, Pinarello, Colnago 40 & 50, treks, Klein’s, Kestrel’s, Time etc. One would think that a race was starting there, the best cycle computers, saddles, shoes, helmets, would all be present as well. And every once in while some one will not be up to par and that person is literally shunned from most of the groups there, not all mind you, but most wouldn’t waste the time to be cordial to that person, which is sad and I don’t mean to pick on cyclist at all, the “runners and triathlon people” are just as rude as well. Anyway its funny to see these same people who are so busy sticking there noses up at other folks, wheezing as they peddle, walk or take a breather from the “monstrous” hills that follow along PCH. I understand the advantages of equipment and I have some of myself, but the perception that comes with not having the right shoes, shirt, bike etc. is really childish and not at all necessary. Not everyone can afford to spend as much money as they would like too on their equipment. As long as you have fun, are happy and safe. The “real racers” should be happy that someone has found enjoyment in “their” sport.
     
  8. Zer0hmz

    Zer0hmz New Member

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    I guess I would fall under the "fitness" category. I just started 3 weeks ago (with a Trek 1000 commonly referred to as a "tank" round these parts :) ) and am loving life. I'm going about 3 times a week, working towards 5-7. First on my Christmas list is clipless pedals and shoes! I bought a set of "the shorts", but they cause saddle numbess (could be the seat I guess). But the point is I got them, and I'm looking forward to getting a complete outfit (with or without logos).
    I guess my point is as Lokstah mentioned, it depends how much of an enthusiast you are.

    Jmgradon said why spend the money on these things when you don't see people buying "official gear" for other sports. But you do, cleats, shoes, shorts, jerseys. So should people who lift weights not buy lifting gloves and protein powder since they're never gonna be 300 pounds and 1% bodyfat on a stage?

    Not trying to be mean spirited, just putting my two cents in ;)
     
  9. jmgradon

    jmgradon New Member

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    Hmm. I see I may have touched something of a nerve here. The one good argument I have seen for wearing specific bicycling apparel is the one for shorts. The claim is that it prevents discomfort in the crotch area. Well, maybe. I can't claim to have done any 50 milers. But I do have a route I do fairly regularly that is 28 miles. I have done it in the heat and whatever soreness I have down there is from the seat not the heat. In fact, the only problem I seem to have is the numbness in the hands from riding too long in the drops (which I nonetheless prefer). I do realize that participants in other sports do sometimes wear some equipment, but it nonetheless strikes me that there is a "thing" among recreational cyclists that makes them wear special clothing that is not directly related to its utility. Come on guys and gals. Admit it.
     
  10. stevek

    stevek New Member

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    I can't afford a lot. I bought 5 pairs of shorts so I only have to wash them once a week. But I only have a few jerseys I got off eBay that were plain. I wear good cycling shoes but that’s about it. I dress for comfort not for show. I found if I wear a polypropylene shirt I can wear long sleeve cotton tee shirts over them and keep warm down to about 40 degree's. Bicycle clothing is so overpriced it is pathetic.
     
  11. scarab

    scarab New Member

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    Padded shorts and stiff-soled shorts are important; the rest, is merely a matter of self image.

    I ride loose Gore cycling shorts with underwear when I go touring
    and usually make at least 120km a day for weeks on end. No problems at all. And what did people do before skin-tight Spandex ?

    I always wear thin cotton shirts usually of the airtex type as I find synthetic materials irritating and the cycling shirts I've seen in shops are ridiculously overpriced.

    Shoes are another matter. I wear ordinary shoes for touring with cages on the pedals as I only want to take one pair of shoes.
    However, you need to choose your shoes with care and make sure the soles are stiff. I made the mistake of wearing shoes that were too soft for one tour and lost some feeling in my toes for a couple of months due to nerve damage. I was lucky but it can be permanent.
     
  12. stevek

    stevek New Member

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    I like cotton but I don't want it agaisnt my skin when it is not warm out and I may sweat. as soon as you stop you freeze. thats why I wear a poly shirt under them. that way I keep warmer and if I get wet I don't get cold.
    I have been working on buying cheep jerseys on ebay. less then 10.00 each including shipping. that makes them about the same as any shirt.
     
  13. lokstah

    lokstah New Member

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    What's not related to utility? Logos? Or moisture-wicking fabric?

    Looking down through one's nose at less specially-clad riders is indefensible, but the converse is a little abrasive as well. Like many riders here, I'll say that I've done rides in baggy shorts and a T-shirt, and rides in a lycra skinsuit. There is a significant comfort factor to specialized apparel. It's a matter of preference, of course, but I can say with complete confidence that cycling apparel handles sweat, heat, chill, body mobility, and general long-term comfort for me in a way that blows street clothes out of the water.

    If I'm dragging my butt through 60 miles of hill climbing on a sunday afternoon, I want that butt to be unburdened by the relative discomfort of a sweaty T-shirt and a rough seam on my board shorts. That's the simple truth.

    As far as logos and team apparel go, I'm still a little boggled, partly because I'm not sure what you're seeing. The vast majority of people on I see riding in logo-ed gear, for instance, are wearing gear which identifies the local club, team, or company they hang with. I think you'd be surprised by how many non-racing enthusiasts are members of riding clubs, which typically have their own sponsored-uniforms whether they compete much or not.

    The outift you'll see me in most often comes from my company -- we're a cycling related company, which helps, but I love the place and am more than happy to go out with the logo plastered across my butt. We're also a company with a couple of high-profile pro teams of our own, so when I wear the gear, I'm being a fan. And my crotch, thighs, and upper body are aerodynamic, cool, dry, and unconcerned with flapping, heavier folds.

    As for the guy who won't go out unless he's clad in USPS gear (complete with the Armstrong Replica Giro Pneumo and the Nike Poggios), well, I can see how he might strike you as a little goofy. That level of hero-worship/role-playing may be unique to cycling, but so what? It's cute, right? I don't go out in team replica gear, but I might own a Team ONCE jersey & bib... maybe (it went with my Giant!).

    It's a sport that often sees you out on a mountain road, solo, with just you and your imagination... why not picture yourself on stage 7 of the Tour?
     
  14. Rudy

    Rudy New Member

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    I wear cycling shorts for comfort, even with extra padding underwear.

    cycling shoes for better transfer of energy from pedaling.

    I wear Nike or Addidas T-shirts because of their sweat wicking property...to help keep me dry. I usually get these at season's clearance for cheap, about same price of a cheap regular T-shirt.

    oh, helmet too :) to save my coconut in case I crash.

    I don't wear jerseys. Most pro cycling jerseys are very tight fitted for thei wimpy upper body, to be more aero, and just won't fit my burly muscular built :) JK hehe
     
  15. drewski

    drewski New Member

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    they wore skin tight wool.
     
  16. boudreaux

    boudreaux New Member

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    Isn't it abit silly to worry about what people wear or don't wear? Some go for function,which you can certainly make a case or and others could not care less. Want to be a style critic,just go down to wally mart and take a look....Eeeewwwwwwwwww.
     
  17. Corsaire

    Corsaire New Member

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    Besides the
    -helmet,
    -bike shoes,
    -gloves,
    -and bike padded underwear (no dorky tights for me)

    I see no other need for special biking gear. I'm a non-racer, a bike mostly for fitness, commuting and mainly as part of getting myself fitter (cross training) for other endeavors like : hiking, climbing, running, etc.
    I have nothing against those who wear it, God bless them; it's mostly a self-image thing, I see myself kind of "goofy" by wearing all those tight spandex and jerseys, speciallly when I don't have a most svelt body to show off, I think looks good on muscular, built athletes, which I don't really look like.
    Corsaire
     
  18. el Ingles

    el Ingles New Member

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    There´s a difference between watching a sport and doing it : tried playing tennis in a three piece suit lately ?
    Riding to the shops or around the park sunday is one thing but 30 or 40 km ( or much , much more ) in the heat of august or the cold of january needs special clothing ; do you swim in your knickers ?
     
  19. lokstah

    lokstah New Member

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    With all due respect, jmgradon, I still think you've hacked the cycling world into two distinct groups (racer and recreationalist) that aren't accurate.

    There's a level of bike activity where, for many riders, it becomes practical to wear wicking fabrics in close cuts with padded seats. Where that level begins -- mileage per week? strenuousness of a typical route? -- is likely different for different cyclists, but that's the point. There are cyclists of more varieties than you seem to acknowlegde, which makes me wonder what sort of rider in what kind of clothes are bothering you.

    A scrappy 5 mile commuter in padded gloves? A sunday park rider who sprang for Pearl Izumi shorts? A 50 mile a week hill-climber in leg warmers and a Louis Garneau wind vest and Sidi Geniuses? A non-racing club rider in his club's own logo-laden team gear? A part-time racer wearing his college team's skinsuit? A 100 mile a week enthusiast wearing his company lycra? A hardcore amateur racer in his shop's racing gear?

    Or the precious cycling fan on a $400 Sora road bike wearing full Lance Armstrong-edition replica USPS stuff?

    God bless this catalogue of dorks. Most of us proudly carry a little bit of each of these types in our hearts.
     
  20. capwater

    capwater New Member

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    Here's a different perspective. Let all those fat wallet yuppies buy the expensive gear to do their 10 mile rides. They are certainly entitled to it and to each his own. They fuel the sport with bucks which allows bike gear firms to keep coming up with better stuff. If only the racers bought the better end stuff, there would be no market for it and the manufacturers would concentrate on what sells. Cycling woukld still be a largely unknown sport if there was no money in it. Every time I see a fitness rider walk out of LBS with a 3k ride that just tells me that capitalism is at work. It also means that once they tire of cycling someone will get a great used bike for a good price!

    You can wear all the pro gear you want, but you still need to be able to go out and hammer....that's where the separation happens. Same goes for the folks I see in the gym who aren't very serious. Their membership checks don't bounce so they in turn keep the overall cost down for me who is far more serious.

    Still can't comprehend long rides wearing baggies and BVDs, but maybe that's just me.
     
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