Bike Commute Style: an Ode to the Road Warrior

Around this time of year, a rash of articles with the same thesis starts to pop up: “You don’t have to wear that silly Lycra in order to bike to work.”

That’s totally true! Bike commuting shouldn’t require expensive gear, special shoes or padded shorts.

But Lycra exists for a reason – and we’re going to break it down here.


The thing about biking to work is that there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. Everyone’s commute is different, so it’s hard to apply blanket advice. The important aspect to remember is that you have options, and what works best for you is the best option.

My own commute is through an industrial suburban area, and almost every other cyclist I see is wearing bike gear to varying degrees. Although I wear my regular clothes when I’m out riding in the city, I always gear up for my bike commute. I like the idea of taking a leisurely bike-to-work ride in my skirt and heels, but for the sake of time and practicality I turn my 12-mile commute into an exercise routine.

After all, what better way to get the blood pumping in the morning than using your bike commute as training?

You might sweat into your clothes, but with Lycra people can’t as easily see your sweat and it will wick away. A little Lycra under your work clothes also goes a long way – especially under skirts short enough to let your skin touch the saddle.


No matter how long or short your commute (and how much fun you’re having), at some point you have to put on your work-related clothes and join your co-workers. Arrive a few minutes early to change and clean yourself up. Nothing beats walking into a space relaxed and ready instead of rushed and frazzled, so especially on the mornings you have to face people right off the bat, give yourself just a few extra minutes to compose yourself.


  • Roll, don’t fold. Rolled clothes take up less space in your bag and are less likely to wrinkle.
  • Keep a pair of dress shoes at work.
  • Keep an emergency bag with a pair of underwear and socks, etc., in your desk.
  • A comb and a travel-sized bottle of your favorite hair product will help keep helmet-head at bay. Dry shampoo (you can make your own) is a great way to absorb any extra oil or sweat in your hair from the ride.
  • Ladies who do the makeup thing, bring it with you. You may also want to wait until you get to work to put face lotion on, or switch to a moisturizing oil like jojoba which will be less clammy when you work up a sweat.


Some lucky bike commuters can take advantage of showers at the office, but the rest of us need to figure out other ways to not offend our co-workers after our ride.

One option is to take it easy on the way in, and save your real workout for the way home. That’s my preferred style, though not entirely by choice. I commute by myself in the mornings, but in the evenings I meet up to commute with my husband. He’s a faster rider than I am, so I definitely get some training miles on the way home.

An absorbent pack towel, Action Wipes (or something similar) and a spot of deodorant can really do wonders.


Do you kit up for your work commute? Why or why not? Leave your favorite bike commuting wardrobe tips in the comments below.

Jessie Kwak is a writer who loves to type about the good life: travel, outdoor adventures, food and drink, and (of course) cycling. You can find her at Bictoro: Bikes and Crafts.

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