September 10, 2015

What to Wear for the Ride to Work

Deciding how to dress for the typical ride to work is a conundrum every new cyclist faces. Many wonder whether they will have to invest in a week’s worth of fancy cycling gear, or resort to being full lycra-clad in order to gain from the experience.

The good news is that neither of those scenarios is necessary (unless lycra is your thing, of course). For the everyday cyclist there’s everyday clothing, so long as you’re warm and dry; comfortable on the seat and can move easily.

Base Layers

The trick to staying comfortable throughout your commute is to get your base layer right. After that, anything goes.

Choose long or short-sleeved tees made from polyester or another material that isn’t cotton. (Cotton will let your skin cool too quickly and leave you feeling cold and clammy.) Many cyclists highly recommend merino wool, which is at the slightly pricier end of the scale. Whatever you choose doesn’t have to be cycle-specific – just general or outdoor wear.

Other Layers

In cooler weather it’s advisable to wear a second or third layer over your base, but remember you’ll be heating up once you get going. A simple hoodie or sweater is perfect for this, and will accommodate a rain jacket over the top in wetter weather.

Raincoat/Top Layer

Waterproofs are an area where sporty cycling jackets have the edge. They’re breathable, have a longer fit and reflective patches in all the right places, so it’s an item that wouldn’t hurt to invest in.

However, a great alternative would be a longer style mac coat or trench coat, which can be smart enough for office wear. Just make sure to get one that won’t brush the tops of your wheels as it may get dirty.

Bottoms Up

Jeans and any kind of trousers providing they’re not too baggy, are fine for cycling in. If you plan on changing once you get to work, then leggings would also work well. In the summer you may even be able to get away with shorts and your favourite ankle grazers, but in wet, mucky environments, it may be useful to cover up as much as possible.


Trainers, breathable canvas shoes and walking boots are all great for cycling in, as they’ll keep your feet comfortable and won’t restrict ankle movement. Office shoes and brogues are also worn by a large proportion of cyclists, but unless your pedals have straps to keep your feet secure, it’s preferable to have shoes that’ll give you a bit of grip.

In wetter weather, a good tip is to place plastic bags over your feet as a cheaper alternative to overshoes. You might get a few funny looks, but it’ll get you to the office with dry feet.


It’s not absolutely essential to wear a helmet when cycling, but it is advisable for your safety. Luckily, they’re not all super sporty and when fitted correctly, can actually look quite stylish. This range of helmets from CycleChic is a good place to start.

Is it possible to look stylish while cycling?

Answer: yes! If you’re cycling gear-averse, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of ways to still look your best even when on a bike. Model and writer Laura Bailey says her usual clothing staples are a pair of Chanel trainers, her Nike hoodie and a duffel coat. For Malcolm MacKenzie, editor of We Love Pop magazine: “Shirts, ties and jackets are fine, so long as they’re not too tight-fitting.”

And fashion stylist Liz Thody has a neat little trick for wearing skirts to work – she wears cycling shorts underneath, hitches the skirt out of the way for mobility, and then removes the shorts on arrival. Mission accomplished.

For those of you who prefer to have separate clothing for cycling and working, or wish to get kitted out in the latest cycling gear – go for it! Cycling to work should be fun and enjoyable, so whatever you feel will enhance your journey should be what you wear. There are no rules.

Extra Tips

If you’re looking to sweat less on your ride to work, then a simple tip (other than choosing the right base layer) is to slow down! Just going that bit slower and not trying to race with other cyclists or cars can make a huge difference to your comfort levels and how you feel when you arrive.

Also, avoid carrying your bag on your back, as this will make you sweat more. Instead, let your bike take the weight with a basket, pannier or saddlebag, and you’ll feel much more comfortable along the way.

By Aimee Whitehill
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    One of the things that attracted us to Bike 2 Work Scheme was the number of cycle shops available enabling our employees to access one near them, which appears to have encouraged take up of the scheme. Having circulated the leaflets provided, there has been a lot of interest once people could see how easy and financially advantageous it was. All our dealings with the scheme have been very professionally handled, all our queries answered, and paperwork dealt with speedily. We would recommend Bike 2 Work to any employer.

    Peter Langton - Promart Homecenter

    We have been very impressed with the speedy and professional response we have had since joining your scheme. We have found the contacts we speak to be more than helpful and very pleasant in their manner.

    Anne Jackson - Hamburg Süd

    A number of my team had been suggesting they were keen to get on their bike, get fit and try to get out of using public transport and mentioned the Bike2Work scheme. I contacted the team at Bike2Work and they made it very simple for Bright Purple to get engaged, explaining everything required of us to get going. As a company we are keen to support green issues and want to do our bit for the environment, so getting the team on 2 wheels is a good start. Thank you Bike2Work - great idea.

    Nick Price - CEO - Bright Purple Resourcing

    Bike 2 work scheme has proved to be very popular with our employees. The administration is first class and any queries are resolved promptly. We believe the scheme will be of great benefit to our employees in saving money and improving fitness, whilst being in full accordance with Legrand's environmental policy.

    Peter Bedall - Legrand Electric Ltd

    I was given the task of getting our company Abbey Logistics Group on the Bike 2 Work Scheme, I looked around and researched a number of schemes but thought that the Bike 2 Work Scheme was the best. I still feel I made the correct choice for a number of reasons. The amount of partner shops I found was fantastic and the speedy response from the scheme is second to none just to name a couple. May I take a moment to say a big thank you to the Bike 2 Work Scheme for helping our company to a greener future.

    Alan Sutton

    I only heard about Bike 2 Work Scheme when I visited my local cycle shop. It was great to hear that the government actually had a scheme in place which made cycling cost effective for the employee, whilst promoting a healthier lifestyle. Setting up the scheme was extremely easy, they made sure that we had everything that we required and was always on standby to answer any questions. I would happily recommend the Bike 2 Work Scheme to any employer.  

    Tom Watts

    We have been with the Bike 2 Work Scheme for over a year and have a good number of our staff obtaining bikes through the scheme. Bike 2 Work offer a high level of service and are efficient in getting the contracts and vouchers sent out. Emails sent regarding questions or queries are always responded to speedily and the Bike 2 Work employers are very knowledgeable on the scheme.

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