Old Newbie Question About Cycling Clothing

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Big-Al, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    Hi, first time post here. I'm in my early 50's and am wanting to get back into cycling. Back in my college days, I was a pretty avid road rider, and even did a little racing locally. For a while I even worked as an mechanic in a bike shop. Since then it's been an office job and a family . . . and too many desserts . . . but this year I am trying to beat myself back into shape so I can finally complete a century ride. I was thinking about joining up with a riding group that meets at a local nature center . . . preparing for their fall century ride. . . but when I saw the group, I was kind of surprised and went back home without leaving my car.

    I've never owned any specialized bicyle clothing. Even when I used to ride dozens of miles a day, I always just rode in shorts and a tee shirt. These guys were all wearing really strange clothing . . . helmets that were elongated and pointy in back, wrap around sunglasses, and wildly colored Spandex outfits covered with writing. To me, they looked like space aliens wearing skin-tight clown costumes. Since these were supposedly recreational cyclists, I didn't expect this. What should I expect? Seriously, I'm not trying to make fun of anybody. I am legitimately puzzled. Was this some sort of hazing for new members or do bicyclists actually dress up like that these days just for recreational riding?

    I don't think I could do that. I was thinking about spending a grand or so on a newer road bike, but if I'd be expected to dress that way, I'll have to take up a different sport. Guidance please.
     
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  2. tafi

    tafi Member

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    Welcome to the fashion conscious world of modern cycling...

    However this is not just a case of fashion consciousness. For you the most important factor in all of this is comfort and, if you're going to ride any significant distance, a lycra jersey and some chamois equipped shorts/knicks will lead to a SIGNIFICANT increase in comfort over shorts and t-shirt. The majority cotton on to this fact pretty quickly even if they've never set a wheel on a criterium circuit.
    I can't imagine riding for more than half an hour in ordinary shorts.

    The gear doesn't have to be wildly coloured. One can find fairly affordable plain coloured stuff too, and in my opinion this is preferable to team kit (and cheaper).
     
  3. gordonharris912

    gordonharris912 New Member

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    Seriously, you don't have to dress like you're heading to the Tour de France. I'm in a cycling club, and yes everyone dresses like that. It's a cult, but I do enjoy the group. So-- to buck the trend sometimes I wear light mountain bike shorts. The padding (which I think is essential) is still there. They look enough like regular clothing that you can walk into stores and not hear snickering.

    Gordon Harris
    www.bikenewengland.com
     
  4. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    Thanks for the replies! Since my fashion role models tend to host woodworking programs on PBS, I guess my cycling will remain a solitary pursuit. Really, I don't understand the desire to wear team apparel. For example, I like baseball, but I don't have any desire to wear a full Cubs uniform to toss a ball around with friends. . .at least not since grade school.:D

    I do understand the desire for comfortable cycling clothing, like pants without big seams and with some padding in the seat. However, with my still-somewhat-ample build, nobody is going to want to see me tooling around town wearing something that looks like a wet suit, even if it's not festively emblazoned with corporate logos. Is there something like bicycle underwear that I could conceal under normal clothes?
     
  5. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    Big Al, check out this link if you have time.

    It's the Men's shorts category on Nashbar. I'm not trying to promote Nashbar, but I do shop there and I'm using it for an example of the different types of shorts available.

    They have a lot of shorts that just look like normal shorts, but also will provide good comfort while you ride.

    Nashbar - Shorts - Category

    You can also look at the jersey category and I think you'll find there are some available that don't look too flashy.
     
  6. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    Yes, I could definitely wear some of the items from Nashbar. Thanks!

    Off Topic: I was talking with a neighbor who is an avid cyclist. He invited me to join an informal riding group that meets up at his house on Saturday mornings. He said they do wear the clingy/flashy bicycling outfits, but I wouldn't have to. When he showed me his ultra-expensive road bike, I commented that I probably couldn't keep up. He said, "Don't worry, I carry an extra 15 pounds with me just to get some kind of workout, and it slows me down." I asked him why he didn't just buy a heavier bike in the first place, and maybe save a little cash. Perhaps that was the wrong thing to say. I don't think I'm invited anymore. :rolleyes:

    Hey, I've been carrying around an extra 50 pounds for the last ten years. With all that extra exercise, you'd think I'd be in better shape.:D
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how much money you need to spend to feel like your going fast!

    Seriously when it comes to jerseys I'm the odd duck here; any 100% polyester jersey is fine and that includes the ones from Walmart! They have tight and loose fitting jerseys; I prefer the loose because they are actually cooler then tight ones. I use to live in the desert areas of California (Palmdale, Lancaster, Mojave and Bakersfield) and in the summer it gets real hot there, I bought expensive $125 jerseys and cheap Walmart ones to see which were cooler...THEY WERE ALL THE SAME!! And they stunk the same after use! And why not? after all the $90 jerseys were 100% polyester as was the cheap $12 Walmart brand. The only differences in cycling specific jersey and a plain jane jersey is that the cycling specific comes with pockets in the rear which I rarely use except on long 75 plus mile rides (and then sometimes I don't because I'll use a handlebar bag) to carry extra food, and the plain jane jersey is just that...plain-no gaudy advertising! Wool is a different story, it's about the same as 100% polyester but it doesn't stink like polyester after use, but Walmart doesn't carry wool jerseys.

    Shorts though is a different story. You need shorts with chamois pad or else you'll pay with butt sores and Walmart doesn't have any chamois padded shorts...BUT they do have long pants for sports that I wear on cool days OVER my padded shorts and even rain pants, thus I don't pay for the expensive bike specific pants. Performance Bike (performancebike.com)has the best prices on shorts with their house brand and some are on sale right now for as low as $29.99. But again I'm the odd duck here because I like wearing MTB shorts rather then road shorts on my road bike because they look nicer and don't show the package if you get my drift. Plus they have pockets, a bit thicker chamois for shock, pockets just in case, and rip stop fabric that the road shorts don't bother with, thus mtb shorts last longer. MTB shorts are also great for walking around in then without changing shorts jump on a bike, which is the same reason I wear mtb/walking shoes while riding a road bike.
     
  8. rawhite1969

    rawhite1969 New Member

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    I wear bike shorts from LL Bean that are designed to go UNDER your shorts. Soccer shorts and a simple wicking shirt from one of the discount stores. The bike shorts cost more than the other shorts/shirt combined. Then a safety vest from the local farm store to be sure I'm seen. I layer up with some under-armor type pants/shirt from a company in Japan when it is cold, along with simple nylon pants/coat that help block the wind. My helmet is the most expensive item of bike-wear I have, at a whopping $40.

    You want to get in shape, and it is not about the clothes, the shoes, anything else. Get out and ride, in clothes that you are comfortable in, on a bike that fits you, and on a route you enjoy. :D
     
  9. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Well-Known Member

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    Have you been living in a cave for the last 10 years?

    Surely you/ve seen people out on road bikes, and surely you've seen what they are wearing. So why the surprise.
     
  10. baphometcycles

    baphometcycles New Member

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    I completely understand. When I was a kid, we always rode in "normal" clothes, and we never noticed any issues relating to comfort. Admittedly, we never rode all that far, but there's definetly an idea that unless you're wearing Spandex, people won't take you seriously.

    What a riot! The only people who can't be taken seriously are the people dressed in Spandex!

    Bama
     
  11. Bastiani

    Bastiani New Member

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    You could get a pair of the bib shorts

    [​IMG]

    and then wear any normal shirt and short over it... the bib has the padding you need, and it wont cut into your waist and it wont move around on you, as you ride 50 or 100 miles...

    personally i like wearing the tight shorts... holds the leg muscles, keeps the package nice and tight without dangling issues, makes the legs look good.

    How ever I am not a PowerRanger and do not go out dressed in all blue if the bike is blue. I wear whetever i find in the drawer and if its a red shirt with a black and green bib... oh well I'm riding Christmas that day.
     
  12. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    Sure, I've seen a few groups of cyclists all dressed up like racers, with blazing corporate advertising and all. A nearby city hosts a fairly big bike race event every year, so I thought these folks were actual race team members in training, and had real paying sponsors. Now I realize that they were probably just pretending.

    I'm sure that they look really cool to each other. To me they just look silly. Myself, I've decided on the mountain bike shorts. They should be comfy enough and they look like normal people clothes, My motto has always been that if people don't remember what you wore, you probably dressed appropriately. :)
     
  13. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Big Al, believe your realization that riders wearing team kit are "pretending" is incorrect. I know a few riders who like to wear team jerseys, and none of them have any fantasy about turning pro, or trying to fool anyone. Another cyclist wouldn't be fooled by anyone showing up for a club ride or race in team kit, and no one else would even notice (at least here).

    I'm sure there are a cyclists who wear team kit because they closely follow their favorite racer or team, just like fans in other sports do. I've got one team jersey (out of about a dozen). Bought it on closeout after the euro team changed sponsorship, because I liked the colors.... not because I followed their race results.

    Suppose cyclists in jersey and lycra shorts might look strange to people who've never seen them, but for me, the opposite is true: people in cycling gear look normal to me.....it's people in suits that look weird. Hey, maybe I've been retired too long. When greeting cyclists of the opposite sex at a dress event, the cliche line is "sorry, I didn't recognize you with your clothes on" :)

    Bottom line, wear whatever you're comfortable riding in. If you don't want to wear lycra or a real jersey, wear shorts and a tee shirt. Just be prepared for some chaffing issues. Try to avoid cotton shorts....cutoff jeans are the worst:)
     
  14. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    Yeah, I guess I'm just one of those people who just don't like to wear commercial advertising. I don't own any professional sports team apparel, and I do consider professional sports teams mainly as corporate entities. I generally won't buy articles of clothing with any visible trademarks or writing on them either. One pair of athletic shorts I own has a small Nike swoosh embroidered on it, and even that kind of bugs me . . . but it does have some kind of chamois liner that is super-comfortable. It's not that I would always be opposed to wearing corporate logos. I just haven't been offered the right endorsement deal yet.:D
     
  15. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    I feel the same way about logos on street and dress clothes, but with sports gear you have little choice. A lot of my bike stuff comes from Performance....and their logo certainly doesn't convey anything other than the wearer is value-oriented (aka cheapskate).

    Besides, with euro cycling team jerseys the maker of the garment (eg, Nalini) only has a small logo. The other corporate sponsors are usually unrecognizeable in the US, so people ignore them. I mean, who other than a few cycling fans here could tell you what a "Caisse d'Eparne" (sp?) is, or what "Fasso Bortollo" makes? :)

    I guess it does seem strange to people outside cycling when they find out people pay over $50 for a jersey, or over $100 for shorts, but they've likely never ridden 100 miles in a day, or 500 miles in a week. They may think a $3000 bike is bought for snob appeal too, since the wal-mart special in their garage looks about the same and gets them around the block just fine :)
     
  16. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    There are folks all over who seem to be convinced that buying the right kind of equipment or brand name is the key to excellence. For example, I've played guitar for much of my life. I've worn the frets off of few instruments along the way. I still play out regularly, but use a very modest guitar. It's not junk, but it's far from high end. I keep it set up properly and it sounds good and plays exceptionally well. I don't want to stress over playing out with expensive gear. Non-guitar people wouldn't have any idea how much I paid (or didn't pay) for it. They just hear the music. Some really good musicians would be limited by what I play, but I doubt I'll never be that good.

    Then there are those amateur players go out and get ultra-expensive hand-built guitars made from rare and exotic materials. They brag about how amazing their guitars are, but they can't even form a clean C chord. They don't understand that 90% of the music is in the hands of the player, not the instrument. To them, it's all about what they own. I sometimes get the urge to turn them upside down and shake them until all the platinum cards fall out of their pockets. I'm sure it's the same way with the cycling crowd.
     
  17. Scotty_Dog

    Scotty_Dog New Member

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    You say you're not trying to make fun of anybody, but then go on to take numerous jabs in every post you make. This entire thread feels a bit trollish to me.

    How do you feel about the logo/name on your vehicle, shoes, watch, hat? Hell, I bet your bike probably has the manufacturer's name prominently displayed on it too. The thing is, you should wear what you want. My normal cycling apparel is black shorts and brightly colored solid shirts for visibility. I could give a hoot less about what other people are wearing.
     
  18. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    OK, I am poking a little fun at you guys. I apologize. I've been poking fun at myself too . . . just trying to inject a little humor. I did get some great suggestions though.

    By the way, I did buy a brand new car a couple years ago. I still have it. It's a Daewoo-built Suzuki, so it's kind of an oddball. The week I brought it home, I actually peeled off all of the chrome lettering on it. (It's easier to wash that way.) If they weren't familiar with the model, most people would have no idea what it is. Oh yeah. I don't normally wear a watch, and the only visible brand name on my shoes (SAS) is on the bottom of the soles. My bike . . . well, I put it together about thirty years ago from a ragtag collection of parts after I wrecked the frame on the bike I had at the time. (Rather bad crash with a stationary object, and yes, I landed on my head.) It was getting pretty scabby looking and the manufacturer's logo went away when I sanded it down and painted it about ten years ago.

    I do work for a toilet seat manufacturer, and I sometimes wear a polo shirt with the brand name on it. Now THAT'S something I can be proud of. :D
     
  19. tafi

    tafi Member

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    A lot of riders actually aren't wearing pro team kit. At local races you will find that riders are wearing their club kit (as required to under UCI or local federation regulations).

    The cycling club to which I belong depends, to an extent, on sponsorship (as do most clubs) to maintain facilities (eg: hiring velodromes), vehicles (trailers to carry spares at races) and equipment (road markers, signage, the odd spare wheel set etc), as well as social events (end of season dinners, gran fondo excursions). Part of our club clothing costs are also subsidised by sponsorship, and some accomodation at big races can be subsidised when funds allow. This is a HUGE help to the smooth running and wide appeal of our club.

    I'm not a fan of corporate branding either. Big companies look at all their marketing methods very cynically, in terms of trying to put a dollar value on the amount and type of exposure they get (as they are allowed to do) and I think the effect can sometimes be negative.

    But I think we need to draw a distinction between cynical corporate merchandising/marketing and local businesses contributing to the running costs of a local sports club. I for one am gratefull that they do becasue I (and many others) wouldn't be able to afford membership otherwise.

    So I don't think I can begrudge the local businesses who contribute, (many of them are club members themselves) a bit of advertising space on the club kit. If they are prepared to support us then we are only too happy to support them in return.
     
  20. Big-Al

    Big-Al New Member

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    Well stated. Back in the 1970s, when I did race a little, I gladly wore a shirt with the name of the bike shop that sponsored my entry fee . . . and that's where I worked. Of course, it was just the shop name silk screened on a plain red cotton tee. I doubt one could even buy cycling apparel then.

    Man, I'm old . .
     
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