The Chainlink

Embracing your inner roadie on the commute - or, saying goodbye to baggy shorts

Okay, so ever since I started cycling seriously over 25 years ago I've always been a bike shorts and jersey kinda guy whether it was riding my road bike or bombing some singletrack on my mountain bike. Last year when I got heavier into commuting to work, I wanted quicker access to my keys and cell phone so I started wearing baggy shorts with attached liners or some with detachable liners, mainly for the benefit of the side cargo pockets. Another benefit was being able to walk into a store without showing off my junk to everyone as is pretty much the case when you're wearing bike shorts. My wife claims I have really nice legs so she was dismayed to see the baggy shorts phase of my cycling career. Now, after having biked with baggies for nearly 10 months, I'm ready to throw in the towel... err baggies. I have yet to find a pair of baggy shorts that are truly comfortable and where anything put in the pockets doesn't cause some occasional discomfort or distraction. I'm going back to my beloved 8 panel spandex/lycra shorts, and my colorful jerseys. In short, I shall embrace my inner roadie! So, anyone else wander this same convoluted path in selecting their best cycle-commute attire? For the record, I can always carry a pair of baggy shorts in a pannier if I'm going to be lounging around off the bike in polite non-cycling society for any length of time.

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Cool story, bro?

No, seriously, I've heard that these shorts by Chrome are supposed to be good. I tried them on at the store, and they seem pretty comfy, although I haven't tried wearing them on the bike just yet.

A good seat helps a lot, too, though I've got a few chafe marks from the new bike.  Never worn the tights as they're not a good fit for me.

How far is your commute to work?

I've got the Chrome Telegraph knickers, which are the same thing as the union short, just 6 inches longer. They're super comfortable, and I've worn them on every single distance ride I've done this year. With a pair of wicking compression shorts underneath them, I've had ZERO issues with chafing or saddle sores. In the summer or warmer days, I just roll up the bottoms until it hits my knee. I look like a hipster, but I'm comfortable, so I don't care very much at all. 


Adam Herstein said:

Cool story, bro?

No, seriously, I've heard that these shorts by Chrome are supposed to be good. I tried them on at the store, and they seem pretty comfy, although I haven't tried wearing them on the bike just yet.

It depends for me.  I usually go with bike shorts (or tights in the winter).  If I wear dresses I wear my spandex underneath.  Sometimes I wear jeans....but 90% of the time, no matter what I have on, bike shorts are somewhere underneath. 

I'm with Veloria on this one when it comes to padded and/or tight cycling shorts.  If you need them you will KNOW it (unless you are blessedly ignorant about how well they work -then again THAT isn't really a blessing at all in the long run.)

It all depends on the type of bike you are riding, how far you are going, and how fast you need to go to get there in a timely manner. 

Slow, short-distance jaunts on city/upright bikes are nothing with street clothes.   Longer, faster rides on road bikes are torture with them.   Even with in-between bikes an in-between trips either you are OK with street clothes or need road gear.  There really isn't anything in between and gear that tries to bridge the gap is so compromised that you might as well go either way and wear the appropriate clothing. 

Baggy cycling pants are pretty much a solution to a problem nobody has.   Either wear street clothes on appropriate occasions or graduate to road gear when it is necessary.   It's as simple as that.  It's not about fashion -it's about what works. If you are worried about what others think about you when they see  you then you are going to have to learn to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced, and sore much of the time. 

To hell what The Grant says or thinks. 

I disagree. I have a pair of Levi's Commuter jeans, and they're comfy as hell on the bike. Sometimes it's nice to have clothes that look good off the bike, but are also made to be comfy on the bike. Granted, there's no way I'm advocating for wearing Levi's on a century ride or anything, but for riding around the city, they are certainly nicer than ordinary off-the-shelf clothes.

James BlackHeron said:

Baggy cycling pants are pretty much a solution to a problem nobody has.   Either wear street clothes on appropriate occasions or graduate to road gear when it is necessary.   It's as simple as that.  It's not about fashion -it's about what works. If you are worried about what others think about you when they see  you then you are going to have to learn to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced, and sore much of the time. 

I mentioned that street clothes are perfectly fine on short/slow rides 

A cross-town leasurely ride of about 30 miles at max speeds under 18MPH are not a big deal in street clothes.  That hardly even counts as a "ride" and more like a stroll in the park.   I never wear bike clothes to CCM or social rides like that.  I just wear street clothes.  It's only a 6 mile ride to Daley Plaza or parts downtown for me -the ride is rarely ever more than 12-14 miles and even if it ends at the south side that is only another 10-12 more miles to get home.   At a leisurely sub 18MPH pace one doesn't get too sweaty and clothing folds under you bum don't have the time to really work up any issues.    A pair of jeans may be just fine.

Pick up the pace and start putting real miles on and the ass, inner thighs, and hips are going to become unhappy.  Even shorter rides of about 20-miles one-way for a work commute from further out may become too much for street clothes if commuting time requires a more spirited pace.   Either it is OK in street clothes or it soon hits a breaking point where real kit is necessary.   

In-between clothes don't really extend that point much further and up to that point regular off-the shelf non-specific bicycle clothing does just fine until then anyhow.

There is a real dividing point where street clothes stop working and road gear is needed.  And that point becomes very obvious once you hit it a few times without proper kit. 

But 
Adam Herstein said:

I disagree. I have a pair of Levi's Commuter jeans, and they're comfy as hell on the bike. Sometimes it's nice to have clothes that look good off the bike, but are also made to be comfy on the bike. Granted, there's no way I'm advocating for wearing Levi's on a century ride or anything, but for riding around the city, they are certainly nicer than ordinary off-the-shelf clothes.

James BlackHeron said:

Baggy cycling pants are pretty much a solution to a problem nobody has.   Either wear street clothes on appropriate occasions or graduate to road gear when it is necessary.   It's as simple as that.  It's not about fashion -it's about what works. If you are worried about what others think about you when they see  you then you are going to have to learn to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced, and sore much of the time. 

I have yet to try on the levi commuter jeans, but the fact that there is no mention of a seamless, gusseted crotch keeps me away. Every so often I'll commute my almost 10 mile ride home wearing jeans. Usually by mile 7 or so, I hate myself and wonder why I often make such bad decisions.

I have always used bike shorts of the non-baggy variety.  When the weather gets cold enough, out come a pair of unlined tights.  Even colder, and a pair of toesties complete the bottom half kit.  (Corresponding additions to the upper half as well.)

My phone, wallet, and keys generally ride in my jersey's back pocket.  My street clothes ride in a book bag, so if there is more to carry, it can go there.  My commute is about 12 miles one way, so the snug comfort of bike shorts is a bonus - no chance of a wrinkle getting between me and the saddle.  And, if I sweat, the miracle fabrics wick it away.  (Though, I definitely need to start investing in some Merino wool stuff.)  If someone is that interested in my junk, I say let 'em stare. :D

Bopping around town - no question, the roadie gear stays home.  Jeans or cargo shorts and running shoes or sandals make for a reasonable bottom half kit.

Pearl Izumi 8-panel bibs for me .. chafing protection far outweighs any concerns that others might have. 

My inner roadie died years ago and as my commute is only 5.5 one way, skivvies and cargo shorts. Whatever I pull out of my dresser works now.

Lately, however, the commute has been in jeans and twisting of the right wrist.

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