Clothing for the short hop commuter

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If you’re just starting out and your commute is short, there’s nothing stopping you riding to work, school or wherever in the clothes that you’ve got. Provided you don’t have to be super formal and your bike is equipped with flat pedals and mudguards, you can easily ride to work, do your thing and then ride home all in the same standard, everyday gear.

There are a few top tips to getting this right though:

  • Take it easy – you might be tempted to ride like you would in a spinning class or when you’re out on a fitness ride, however the key to riding to work in normal gear is to give yourself a few more minutes each morning, relax and take it easy. Riding at a moderate pace won’t generate too much heat and will avoid you arriving in at work in a sweaty mess
  • Bring some wipes for a freshen up afterwards – if you do work up a bit of a sweat, you can soon freshen up with antibacterial wipes and a quick squirt of deodorant or body spray – keep them stashed at your locker in work or in your pannier
  • Get a breathable jacket and overtrousers - Keep these in your panniers and deploy when the heavens open. You’ll arrive at work through a downpour and do that magic trick of being completely dry underneath your waterproofs, to the amazement of your co-workers.

There’s normal clothes and there’s ‘smart’ normal clothes

While the short-hop commuter can ride to work in his or her existing clothes, if you get hooked on riding to work it’s worth looking at some smart bike friendly choices that won’t look out of place in at work or on the street

  • Base layer – a lightweight merino t-shirt under your work shirt is perhaps THE top tip. Whatever you wear next to your skin is the most important consideration with any kind of cycling or outdoor activity. A simple merino 'Tee' will keep your body temperature regulated, wick sweat away from your skin and keep you smell free throughout the day. Merino is much better than synthetic base layers for keeping odour at bay and has a much more natural, low sheen, non sporty look.
  • Shirts – look for shirts with that resist wrinkling and dry quickly – lightweight travel shirts are great for this. Many have Teflon coatings which will shrug off moisture and road grime with ease.
  • Jumpers/Mid layers – again merino is top of the pile here, for its soft feel, odour resistance, thermal properties and great looks. Many fashion brands and high street stores sell merino in crew necks, v necks and zip necks, the latter being great for chilly autumn/winter commutes. Microfleeces or softshells are also great, the latter dealing with practically every kind of weather save for a full-on deluge.
  • Trousers – dark colours work best, they won’t show the inevitable road grime like light coloured garments. Again, ‘travel’ outfitters score highly here, using moisture and stain repellent finishes and quickdrying fabrics in cuts that will look just like normal pants. There’s a growing number of urban cycling outfitters who are producing trousers that will make the transition from bike to workplace with seamless elegance. Many feature zipped valuable pockets, waterproof phone pockets, U-lock holders and subtle reflective detailing.