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What To Wear For Cycling Commutes?

Deciding on the type of clothes to wear during cycling commutes is a challenge. If you wear the wrong clothes for commuting, the consequences are painful.

Imagine you are going for a board meeting at work, then you walk in with a shirt soaked in sweat. And even if you manage to cool off, there is that stench coming from you.

In this article, I will help you decide on what clothes to wear for your bicycle commutes.

When it comes to picking clothes for your commutes, there are factors you have to consider. Each of these factors will affect what kind of clothes you put on.

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Weather is a huge factor that you can’t overlook when choosing what to wear while cycling to work. Unfortunately, it is tough to get it right. I have struggled getting the right clothing for the weather when cycling.

The big challenge here is you be feeling cold before you start your commute. Then you decide to wear heavy clothing considering there is wind blowing when you start riding. But shortly after you start your commute, your body generates so much heat and the heavy clothing insulates it causing your body temperature to rise so quickly.

Other times, it may seem to be warm outside and you decide to wear light clothes. But as you ride, there is so much wind blowing that makes you feel cold. The dynamics here are hard to get right. But that doesn’t mean you cannot wear the right clothes for the weather.

Here are some important tips when dressing to cycle to work considering the weather.

1. Cover your Body

From my own experience, covering your body is essential regardless of the weather. Any time I have put on a T shirt while cycling, even if it was sunny, I felt a little cold on my exposed hands. As much as your body generates heat, exposed body parts will feel cold almost every time.

Therefore, invest in long sleeved shirts and trousers while cycling to work. The only exposed area should be your face. But if it is very cold, consider covering your face in a face mask.

Also, buy cycling gloves for your hands. Apart from gloves protecting your hands from harm, they will keep you warm and minimize temperature fluctuation.

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2. No Cotton in Rain

If it is likely to rain, avoid cotton and wool clothing by all means. These type of clothing become heavy when soaked in water. The last time I was rained on while wearing a cotton T-shirt, I remember how heavy and sticky the T-shirt became. It feels very uncomfortable.

Invest in clothes with materials that don’t soak in water. Another alternative is to have a cycling jacket. If you put on a cycling jacket, even if you have a cotton T-shirt inside, it won’t soak in rain water.

Distance of Your Commute

The second factor that will affect how you dress for a bicycle commute is the distance you have to cover during your commute. For a short distance commute, there is no need to worry about how you dress. Almost any outfit will work well.

However, for long commutes, there is a lot to think about before dressing. Chances are during the long commute, you will sweat a lot and probably experience diverse weather conditions. Therefore, any minor error in dressing becomes a huge problem over the long haul.

1. Padded Clothing

Have you ever come to an end of your commute only to realize there is a lot of pain in your butt area? That is a huge problem when it comes to long distance commuting. If your saddle is not padded properly, you will have blisters in your butt area at the end of your commute. The solution to avoid sores is to either use a padded saddle or buy padded cycling underwear.

The same goes for your hands. If your handles have plastic or any hard material, you may get blisters on your hands. Therefore, to be safe, have soft material on your handlebars or wear cycling gloves.

2. Use Light Clothing

Long commutes require speed and to get speed, you have to pedal fast. Heavy clothing like jeans will wear out your leg muscles over time. When I say light clothing, I especially mean your trouser. A tight trouser or heavy trouser is a disaster for long commuting. Make sure you can stretch your arms and legs freely.

3. Breathable Clothing

Sweating is almost a guarantee for any long commute. Fighting against sweating on a long commute is a waste of time. Instead, just dress expecting to sweat. Wear clothes that allow your skin to breathe. Avoid wearing layers of clothes as that will hinder your breathability. If you like wearing a vest, don’t wear it while cycling.

Provision to Cool Off after Cycling

The third factor that affects your dressing for a bike commute is the availability of a chance to cool off at your destination. I’m assuming you are commuting to an official place such as workplace or college.

If there is a shower at your destination, you can wear full cycling clothes and carry your official clothes and then change them in the shower. If possible, you can leave your official clothes at work so that you don’t have to carry them every time.

However, if there is no shower or time to cool off at your destination, your case is challenging. You have to figure out how to ride with clothes and arrive with minimal dirt and chaos. Here are some tips.

1. Wear Dark Clothes

It is hard to avoid dirt while riding a bicycle to work. The easy way to minimize the effect is to wear clothes that don’t show much of the dirt. Normally I wear black, dark blue or brown clothes. The trouser is the crucial one. For a shirt, you can wear almost any color.

Another advantage of dark clothes is they don’t show much sweat. I once wore a cream trouser and when I arrived at school, someone asked me where I had sat in water. He didn’t know that it was sweat. It was terrible to say the least.

Apart from just having dark clothes, invest in buying mudguards. Go for the mudguards that cover the entire top half of the tire. And when you ride, avoid water at all costs.

2. Use Wash and Wear Clothes

Wash and wear clothes are a good option when you go for a long bike commute. The advantage of these clothes is they don’t require ironing to look sharp. No matter how much wrinkling they go through, they often find their way back to looking sharp. Cycling will obviously subject your clothes to wrinkling.

You can get a wash and wear trouser and use a shirt that needs ironing. Shirts don’t get much attack like the trousers.

3. Fast Drying Clothes

Since you will sweat during your commutes, having clothes that dry fast is an advantage for you. Very light clothes are amazing. A little exposure to the wind and they are dry.

General Tips

One general problem you are likely to experience during commutes is the frequent exposure of your lower back. When you lean forward while pedaling, the shirt will often move up and expose your lower back. Therefore, wear a slightly long shirt or use clippers to hold your shirt to your socks.

In the same line, your shirt will pull back from your wrists when you are cycling. The solution here is to wear a shirt that is slightly oversize. Fitting shirts may even tear when you ride.

Don’t forget to use other safety kit while cycling especially cycling glasses. I almost got into a serious accident just because I didn’t have cycling glasses.

For the shoes, I recommend you wear shoes that have a soft sole. A hard sole is slippery on the pedals and can easily cause you to crash. You can use normal socks but make sure they are light.

Another important tip is wear a reflector jacket or at least have some reflective material on your bicycle. Visibility to other motorists is vital.


When it comes to dressing for a bike commute, you have to sacrifice some percentage of style in favor of practicality. You may not look exactly as you want but at least you will be comfortable. Remember to carry body spray and roll on.

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