Clothing, context and bike/train commuting

A commute that involves a bike and train element presents a unique sartorial challenge, the likes of which the garden variety commuter simply doesn’t have to contemplate.

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It goes something like this; aboard your cycle, sporting attire is entirely appropriate. As you speed towards the CBD nobody bats an eyelid as you pass, swathed in tight, moisture-wicking fabric. Indeed it’s almost expected. One’s co-workers would be almost disappointed if “that bloke who cycles to work” didn’t arrive in Lycra, funny shoes and helmet.

If however one steps off one’s bike and climbs aboard a crowded train clothed thusly, one has crossed the rubicon. One has shifted from being appropriate and in context to square peg, out of line, borderline perverse.

Sitting down clad in cycling clothes, next to a normal office clad commuter feels like one of those dreams where you suddenly find yourself naked in public, surrounded by everyone you have ever known.

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Bike train commuters exist in a sartorial netherworld, caught in the brackish waters between function and form. Thankfully bicycle outfitters are beginning to cater for inbetweeners like me, who like to ride free and unfettered yet wish to blend anonymously into the background when the bike is put aside.

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Urban cycling apparel, whether purpose made from Rapha, Swvre, Muxu and the like, or carefully picked from outdoor and regular clothes shops, means that one can live the dream of looking and feeling good on the bike and not looking like a monstrous pervert on the train.

My regular commuting outfit is generally a variation on the following theme:

Top: merino base layer for comfort and moisture wicking. Looks just like a normal t shirt.

Trousers: lightweight black cargo pants. Fast drying, cool, unrestrictive.

Jacket: Softshell jacket from an outdoor shop. Breathes well, holds off water, looks normal.

In short ‘technical’ clothing that doesn’t look technical.

I’d love to hear from other bike commuters who need to ride and look normal and hear about their solutions to the context conundrum.

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One thought on “Clothing, context and bike/train commuting

  1. I agree with you almost entirely – the only place I differ is that I prefer “normal” shoes over cycling shoes. I’ve been wearing Outlier merino t-shirts and either Rapha City trousers or Muxu jeans for the last year or 2, and been very happy with them. Also Outlier shorts.

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