The best biking weather of the year has rolled in, and to give you an encouraging little push to ride to work, the grocery store or even the wine bar down the street, we've gathered some of our favorite commuter fashions.
What makes for good bike commuter clothing?
First, it needs a little stretch. It's cut higher in the back, so you don't show off more than you bargained for when you're pedaling, and it might have extra pockets for stashing lights and locks.
Other commuter-friendly features? Reinforced crotches, knees or shoulders. Gussets that allow full range of motion. Odor-controlling and moisture-wicking fabrics that your officemates will love as much as you.
As bike commuting picks up, manufacturers roll out more options, says Janet Brandt, soft goods buyer at Bicycle Sport Shop.
"They're starting to put out a lot more commuter-based clothing that doesn't necessarily look cycling specific but has some type of technical feature — it's stretchy or water repellent or has a piece of 3M Scotchlite that will catch car lights if you're riding at night."
Looks range from casual to dressy to super sporty. Think tops that don't resemble a spandex racing jersey but have functional details such as longer sleeves that fully cover your arms even when they're extended to reach the handlebars, then fold up when you arrive at your destination.
We found shirts with flaps to cover the buttons so they don't snag your messenger bag, pants that cinch in around the ankle so they don't get caught on your drivetrain and pieces with reflective accents to make you more visible at night. There are jeans with built-in shammies and riding blazers that look like you could step into the boardroom wearing one. Even dresses can work on a bike, as long as they have some length but don't drag on the tires. Finish your outfit with shoes that have stiff, steel-shanked soles.
Whatever you choose, comfort should take priority. And although many of the outfits featured here are designed to take you from the bike to the office, you'll probably still have to stop for a spit shine (and may we suggest body splash, too).
"Very few people can get off the bike and go straight to work," says Katie Woodruff, buyer for Mellow Johnny's bike shop in downtown Austin. "You've got to clean up a bit first."
Our models — Gayla Corporon, 47, and Allan Sieja, 26 — both commute to their jobs at Mellow Johnny's bike shop. They like clothing that's comfortable, breathable and weather-appropriate.
"It wakes you up in the morning," Sieja says of pedaling to work. "It makes me feel like a kid again, and it's healthy. I'd much rather be riding my bike than sitting in traffic idling."
Some commuter-specific duds command high prices, but remember — you don't have to spend $200 on a designer riding blazer to call yourself a commuter, Woodruff says.
And one piece that's always in fashion?