Hot Bike Commuters

As the post title would suggest, no we’re not working on a calendar of the world’s-sexiest bike commuters (hey maybe!), but instead answering questions about riding to work in the summer and trying to stay cool.

Working hard on our Hugga Comfort line of gear, we’ve been thinking a lot about bike clothing. Last year, during an unusually hot day in the Pacific Northwest Pam and I were caught up in a Commuter Challenge on Seattle’s Alaskan Way when we heard the rattling sound of an old Schwinn Varsity approaching. As the rider’s breathing increased followed by the rush of the pass and his final push ahead of us, I noticed the commuter was dressed in jeans and a cotton tee. A few minutes later we passed the commuter and he was tearing his shirt off, obviously overheating.

We’ve told this story many times to our contacts in the bike industry and hope someday we’ll end up with a greater variety of smart yet attractive technical apparel for commuters. We want gear we can wear on the bike and then wear right into the office–until then commuters are going to have to choose between “dorky” bike gear or sweating through their cotton street clothes.


We understand fully that many don’t want anything to do with looking like Lance at Le Tour or looking like any other bike racers. At the same time cotton and denim just don’t wick very well. When I rode to Web Design World last week, I brought an extra shirt to change into. With a messenger bag on my back, the shirt was soaking wet in a 30 minute ride. Above 80 degrees and merino wool is hot as well (still wicks and breathes but it’s not so airy). Besides finding a fountain to ride through, what’s a commuter to do?

Full-to-Partial Roadie

Here at Bike Hugger, we wear kits (matching jersey and shorts) when we’re out riding long in the heat and if we’ve got a meeting or going into town it’s jerseys with regular shorts like these from Novara or manpris.

Travel Wear Will Do

My new look Until the bike industry offers us more choices in summer commuter wear, we’re also using travel clothes from companies like Prana and looking a bit like Sean Connery.

Their pants and shirts are breathable, light, and easy-to-care with “shake the wrinkles out” material. We haven’t traveled to anyplace hotter than Taipei and wore Travel clothes right from a ride into a meeting and conference.

What are you wearing?

What do you wear in the heat, riding to work? What do you wish for in commuting gear for the Summer? Short shorts?

Twitter Tips

We asked our Twitter followers what they’re doing to keep cool:

  • @maryvu – 1: xtra ice&h20 bottle for squirting into helmet vents. 2: cool tie #rei
  • @bob_baldwin – Cool jersey and 2 water bottles!
  • @SereniTee – Need more hydration than will fit in your bottle cage? use a bungee cord to attach a bottle to the bike frame (if no backpack).
  • @teatraveler – Make sure you’re fully hydrated before riding, wearing long sleeved cotton shirt, try to schedule commutes early am and evenings

Photos: Pom Poms by richardmasoner; We Wear Bike Shorts by mbouttier; Hot easters in Alsace by sigfus.sigmundsson


I usually wear my black & yellow cheerleading outfit.  I look great on my pink bicycle.

I rode in this morning in full kit. It was actually a cool morning, but I went 30 miles (about 26 miles more than usual) and wanted to get to the office in a reasonable amount of time.

baton twirling at the same time?

“mapris” “full kit”???

You realize all this “velo-couture” non-sense is fueling the anti-cycling sentiments we read.  While commuting, you’re neither racing nor participating in an ironic mustache growing contest in Portland.

Wear black cycling shorts and your choice of jersey.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Assos or from the clearance rack at Performance - it’ll breathe and you won’t look like a TdF wannabe.

Warm Weather Commuting?
Merino Polo
Merino Undies (Ibex Balance Running Shorts, to be exact)
Travel pants, rolled up to knicker length (Rail Riders Backcountry Khakis are my current faves)
Dress shoes…

I really don’t heat up that much in the morning (6 miles) and am not too horrible by the time I get home.

Wazzat? Read what I wrote back over and notice I separate commuting from long riding. We’re not saying you need a kit no, but that’s what we ride in, we’re old school that way and we also race bikes (every bike racer I know commutes to get the miles in, BTW). Do agree with you that any breathable, wicking material will help and work way better than cotton and denim.

As for manpris, that’s a fashion you just can’t stop bro—even the [noncyclists are wearing it]( (climbers would argue we borrowed the style from them). I don’t see where blogging about bike fashion makes car drivers hate us more and also would argue that cultural delineation between roadies/commuters is ridiculous. Why suffer for your fashion choice? If you want to wear a full world champion kit or a pair of overalls, who cares? We’re not judging choices, just observing “hey there are technical materials available that can make you way more comfortable. Messengers wear cutoff army pants . . .
Obviously no you don’t not need a matching racing kit. However, you’ll certainly see them on the roads; especially during the Tour de France.

That’s what I’m doing with the Pranas—they’ve got snaps for rolling up—in their lightest and heaviest weights. We wear Merino wool year round here, just for us above 80 degrees we want more air moving.

I ride with some Ex-Officio clothing. They make some nice stuff that I can ride in with in the morning when it is cool and wear the same thing to work. On the way home when it is hot out, the clothes work well and most of their clothing has sun protection built in, so that helps. Also…some of their clothes have some sort of built in stink prevention so the fabrics do not take on funk after a while…

Good tip on Ex-Officio—they make great travel wear. It doesn’t fit me right, so I opt for Prana, Ibex, and others, but it’s good. Very lightweight and breathable. Many jerseys also offer SPF as well. We don’t think it’d take much to offer cyclists a version of their clothing; crotch vents, gussets at the knees, and so on. Or even just manpri versions with some built-in reflective material. Bike-to-Work pants are great as well, but they’re cotton.

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