Controversial Commute Tips 6 – Decent Gear

[If you haven’t already, and are wondering why my cycle commuting tips might be controversial, please read the introduction!]

Yes, yes, yes. You can cycle in jeans, T-shirts, skirts (though, see The Guardian’s own tips on this), suits…in fact, some would argue that clothing is optional for cycling!

But as regular readers will know, I think that, like a decent bike, some decent cycle clothing makes the whole experience much nicer. And here’s why:

  1. Sweat & Changing. Yes, I’m fortunate to have showers at my workplace, so I can shower and change when I arrive. Which is actually pretty good because I sweat quite a lot. But even a warm glow isn’t particularly pleasant to be in when you arrive at work, so a change of clothes is usually welcome. And if you’re going to change anyway, why not change into/out of some cycle specific clothing.
  2. Comfort. Cycling involves things like leaning forward and flexing your knees a lot, along with a repetitive up-down motion of your legs, which is not really normal, and everyday clothes aren’t really cut for that sort of thing. You don’t wear a jumper when it’s sunny, or shorts in the snow. Actually, perhaps you do…but you get my point. We’ve been clever enough to develop different clothes for different seasons and activities. Cycle-specific clothing is just more comfortable to cycle in. As for padded pants (my term for cycling shorts)? Well, try them. They’re not for everyone, I admit, but I won’t be going back.
  3. Safety. It’s actually the combination of cyclist and driver in me that think this: cyclists should be visible! Wear something bright so that you stand out from the road. And when it’s dark, wear something reflective. Those lights are great, but they’re just the start as far as I’m concerned.
  4. Rain. You may have noticed the wet stuff that falls from the sky…it really mucks up a commute. But don’t be put off! With the right kit you can arrive at work with, well, pretty much everything dry but your face.
  5. Wind. It may seem odd, but I actually prefer cycling in a downpour to cycling in a gale. Wind can get to you in lots of ways. And my Gore Windstopper Jacket has improved my cycling comfort levels a LOT!

Now, buying all this gear can be expensive right?

Well, yes. But relative to running a car? I mean, we’ve just had the anniversary of buying our car, which means Insurance (£250), MoT (£120 with a new exhaust), Service (+ cam belt this time round – £400), and then there’s Vehicle Excise Duty (£145), depreciation, and consumables (washing, de-icer, washer fluid, etc). And that’s before petrol (I reckon I save at least £250 per year).

If you can afford to do all of that, then, not everyone, I know, but most people with a car can surely afford a decent visible, waterproof jacket?