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

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