David Byrne: Plain Clothes Cycling

“We live in the city of dreams, We drive on the highway of fire.”

A MetaFilter post on David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, starts a community discussion on what to wear on the bike for work.

“When I wore a backpack with my work shoes and purse, I ended up with a huge sweaty patch on my back.”

“Do male cyclists whose jobs require suits and ties wear said outfit while biking … or do they don their business suits over a sweaty body.”

and so on. What to wear on the bike, plain-clothes cycling, is a current topic and one we’re discussing with our partners. Cycling lacks technical commuter wear. By that I mean, gear you can wear on the bike and right into a meeting in the office. Outlier has some high-end Merlino tailored gear and Slate shows us his bespoke Rapha suit in this video.


Folding into Fall For the time being, most of us are piecing together outfits. In Vegas during Interbike, I wore Arc’Teryx Palisades Croppers with a thin, padded short underneath.

Back home in the cooler Seattle weather, I’m wearing wool and manpris (aka shants and knickers)

man_no_pants.jpg In Germany, Kasmeneo is not wearing pants. Neither of those ensembles would pass in a business meeting (unless it’s a bike meeting).

Between those two looks, there has to be more stuff like these shoes from Two n Fro with suits to match.

twonfro_shoes.jpg

While few of us can pull of a Gary Fisher, there’s a balance designers can find.

Byrne is speaking tonight in Seattle at Town Hall with urban-focused speakers. I’m expecting the more lofty, big bike ideas and probably less talk about “showers at work,” but it’s a start. In that city of dreams, a nice to have is plain clothes for cycling.

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7 Comments

This is great stuff.  I think all transpo-cyclists have their little “systems” that they use for getting around the lack of commuter-specific bike clothing but it’d be so much nicer if (or, based on what I’m reading from Interbike, WILL be so much nicer when) more outfitters made commuter clothes. 

I’ve been getting by with simply changing clothes from shorts/t-shirt when I get to work all summer, and with my multiple pairs of Cordarounds Bike-to-Work pants for the fall/spring/winter months. But it’d be nice to have more options.

Thanks. I wrote about what to wear during [the heat wave](http://bikehugger.com/2009/07/hot-bike-commuters.html) and that’s always a change of shirts. The winter is less sweaty, but more rainy and that’s a change of clothes in the bags or locker. I also [have Cordarounds](http://bikehugger.com/tag/cordarounds).

1) Those shoes are sick, I presume that’s retro-reflective material peeping through? Or are those ventilation holes?

2) Yeah, most ‘technical commuter’ wear actually has to come from outdoors departments companies right now (Prana, Ex-Officio, Railriders, etc). I find Merino next-to-skin + technical (synthetic) pants / shirt works wonders.

there are some bonus features that a bike company could bring into play:
high rear waist on pants
gusseted crotch (some already have this)
closed rear pocket (hate snagging on the saddle)
built in ankle band
drop rear hem on jackets / shirts

Agreed and I don’t think it’d take too much. I also wear Merino as a base layer with a variety of outwear from Ibex, Northface, and Prana. Prana makes great travel pants with ventilated crotches. Just need cropped pants, a gusset, maybe even a thin, button-in-pad. The pad I’m using I pulled out of Bontrager free ride shorts. It’s their in-form line, which is a good, thin pad. Thin enough that it doesn’t look like I’ve got a diaper on.

On the shoes, WANT! They’re like the [Bishop’s shoes](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/3818773971/), which I said to Trek, “bring those out now.” I don’t get why SPD shoes have to have zero style or like Keens weigh so much. Hey cool, you made a sandal into a shoe, but those Keens are like strapping bricks to your feet.

Maybe shoe designers don’t bike to work? Trek decided to not market these [Ked-style](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/3831059733/) shoes or maybe they’re waiting; regardless at least from the cyclists I know, they’d sure like a nice pair of cycling “city and meeting shoes”.

I haven’t had any difficulty bicycling in a range of clothing. Except that since I use cleats on my pedals I usually take a change of shoes.

My secret? I usually ride a recumbent. So there are no special requirements for the pants (though I use straps around my ankles to keep my pants out of the chain).

During the summer, my favorite cycling pants (though maybe not business wear, depending on where you work) are the Gramicci Quick Dry pants.

I work at a design/engineering firm, and we don’t have much of a dress code, though (I think it’s something like: you have to wear shoes, and something below the waist). My boss has been coming in in shorts and sandals… However, he bikes to work.

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

What’s the hoo-hoo? Blue jeans, cotton shirt, vest, cloth cap, comfortable shoes.

Why wear clothes at work different from clothes worn to get to work?

Excellent quote—rainy weather soak through and in the Summer sweat through. Casual wear I don’t see that much of an issue, you can change a shirt, but for a meeting with more formal wear that’s what we’re talking about. Or if you’re in a more formal office without showers and lockers. Even for jeans, what would make them more comfortable or safe? A reflective strip under the cuff? Gussets or a u-lock loop?

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