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Author Topic: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?  (Read 3557 times)


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What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« on: January 15, 2010, 07:43:18 PM »
First I wanted to say thank you to everyone who answered to my last post. It helped a lot! I am still in the process of gathering what I need for my bicycle journey. I will be going thru very hot weather (and humid) to some pretty cold (but not much below freezing... hopefully!). I am not sure what cloth I should bring and what quantity? I am not a big fan of the "typical bicycle rider "costume" plus i will in some area where I think it would not be appropriate (middle-east). I would like o have some advice from people who rode in those conditions. thks


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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 01:28:44 PM »
thk you so much for your advise... wear a regular short over the bike short is a great idea. I know you should not wear anything underneath, but on top I don't see why it would be a problem. You are right: your feet can really stink after a day on the bike! What I do now, when it's warm enough, I wear sandals even when I bike. I use Teva, they can stink too but not as bad. I was even considering the sandals with clip but I don't know how they feel when walking around with it. I like the Teva, I even went hiking with them (I know it's really recommended but it was fine) but clips are suppose to be more efficient. If anyone have feedback on them (I believe Shimano have some), I would be happy to hear them. Anyway thks again monkey.


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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2010, 11:11:12 AM »
wool. (and a comfy helmet)

Wool will take you through all conditions comfortably without the stink of synthetics. (Bonus: you won't look like a cycling dork.)
Shirts: Ibex makes plenty of stylish merino wool shirts that WORK.  Available in cycling specific as well as more casual styles.  One or two Tees and a warm long sleeve shirt. Hot or cold weather, wool is best. Really.    I find the synthetic biking/hiking gear does not work.
Pants: MUSA biking knickers available at Rivendell- combined with medium weight wool tights, Riv or Ibex, BOOM! all conditions covered. (Get 2-3 pair of wool skivies too.)
There are fancy wool knickers $$$ that will look more handsome on or off the bike.  Bathing suit?-nice to have, something to wear at the laundry-mat. Or as shorts around camp. They usually dry quickly.
I don't use any kind of butt pad.  No problem for me. (Brooks B-17)
Socks: Smartwool socks- not debatable. 2-3 pair will get you across any continent.
Shoes/Pedals: Highly debatable.  Clips allow shoe choices that are more sensible for the time spent off the bike.  You probably will be in the saddle somewhere around six hours a day on average.  The rest of the time (outside your tent) may be in a restaurant, hotel/motel, campsites etc. where clipless shoes are not as good. Clipless helps climbing; not a real factor on level roads.  Muddy campsites are a pain in the butt with Clipless shoes.  Go with what you are comfortable with or simply "like".
Don't rule out simple platforms. [see Grant Peterson's Shoes ruse] Maybe bring along something like lightweight "Crocs" or similar sandals for campsites, especially if you choose clipless.
Insulated Jacket: 850 loft down sweaters such as Montbell UL Down Sweater weigh very little (7-9 oz.) and will pack down to nothing. It will keep you warm in any temps. I don't use any synthetic "fleece" for anything.  I find fleece to be heavy, not packable, and has a smaller overall range. And it outright sucks in rain.
Rain shell: Lots of options, Gore-tex Pac-Lite is a nice material, I use a Mountain Hardware Quark (propriety fabric not Pac-lite).  Anything under 10 ounces that packs into it's own pocket will do.  Hood or not is up to you. High-Vis if you have an option.
Rain shell pants: I dont use 'em but I find the Hilltrek Ventrile Breeks very interesting.  British single (or double) layer ventrile cotton knickers suitable for casual restaurants.  Supposedly extremely breathable, windproof and highly waterproof.  Perhaps time to replace the MUSAs? Lots of  outdoor gear companies offer ordinary rain pants if you want to lug them around.  Most of the time you won't be wearing them.  They are handy if you are cold in camp. Most of the time if it begins raining while I'm riding I won't even put on the jacket.  I don't understand why some riders feel they should not be getting wet, it's quite nice sometimes. (just be careful riding in the rain, driver's vision is worse; consider using your lights)
Other crap: Decent comfortable snug sunglasses, merino wool skull cap that will be comfy under your helmet, maybe some light wool liner gloves and neck gaiter. Biking gloves is up to you; most people use them. I often do.

Disclaimer: People have all kinds of ideas (and experiences) about these things and these are mine. 


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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2010, 09:10:30 AM »
I vouch for merino wool as well.  Nothing beats that material.

Doesn't stink. (ever), I used merino wool on sailing trip, backpacking, hiking, cycling, everyday etc etc and honestly I wash my wool clothes maybe once a month just out of principle otherwise it doesn't stretch very much compared to cotton (always feels fresh and keeps its shape).

Highly durable, been using one of the Chrome Pacer merino long sleeve shirt for about 3 years now and it still looks brand new.

It dries really quickly, and if wet it still keep most of its cold resistant features.

It breathes which helps alot if you tend to sweat alot.

Light and compact.

Brands : Chrome, Icebreaker (my favorite), Ibex, smartwool(for socks), Outlier (more casual). MEC (if you're in canada) also has a small line of merino wool clothes, mostly undergarnment.


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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2010, 01:14:43 AM »
I think every clothe has one moment. I use icebreaker out of the bike. Because if it is hot you sweat a lot and merino wool, wet, is dangerour if there is some wind coming down after climb the mountain.
For cycling I rather prefer synthetic. It is true smell bad after some days but drys quickly. And smell can be even a protection against some thieves.
Thailand    (56 countries)71,934 kms and 5 years No stop


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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2010, 06:39:02 AM »
In general I prefer to wear clothing made of natural materials. Cotton, wool, silk, etc.
But I have to disagree with what has been written above about fleece and wool.
Fleece is not heavy. Synthetic materials, like fleece, are about twice as light as wool for the same insulation properties.
The only material that beats synthetic is down, but it is useless in wet conditions.
It is true that fleece stinks easily, but it is also very easy to wash and dries really quickly.
Merino wool is indeed a fantastic material, but its properties are sometimes exaggerated.
Many mountaineering and polar expeditions have failed because of woolen clothes freezing.

In answer to the initial post. I do wear bike pants on all my trips. Only in Iran and Pakistan I put some long pants over them in the cities. Almost everywhere in the world cyclists use cycling clothes, like soccer players use shorts and soccer shoes everywhere. The first days in Iran I cycled in long pants. But some local road bikers, of course in bike clothes, told me it is silly in this heat. I agree with Monkey, the bike shorts work.

I usually wear an old long-sleeved shirt, to protect the arms from the enormous amount of sun you receive on a bike tour.

A friend of mine used the Shimano sandals with SPD. She really liked them. And she looked comfortable in them. I think she took the clips out of the shoes when she was about to walk a lot. It is easy with an Alan key. One think I noticed is that her feet got really sun burned, with the funny pattern of the sandals and her feet were always very dirty from the dirt that comes of the road. Minor problems, but something you can keep in mind.

I take the following cloth on a long bike tour:

1 cycling shorts
1 long sleeved shirt to cycle
2 pair of socks, one for cycling, one warm
1 pair of cycling gloves
1 buff
1 cap with flaps over ears and neck
1 thermal shirt
1 zip off pants
2 100g fleece jumper/vest
1 wind and water proof jacket
1 pair of good water and wind proof gloves
1 pair of water proof pants
1 warm hat
1 underpants
1 pair of cycling shoes
1 pair of very light sandals
1 pair of booties for over my cycling shoes

This equipment took me across deserts, tropical rain forests, Tibet and the Andes with temperatures ranging from -20 to +50 degrees.
If you don't expect extremely cold weather you can leave one fleece jumper and the booties at home.

Peter van Glabbeek

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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2010, 07:28:47 AM »
I take the following cloths with me on a long bike tour:

1 long sleeved shirt – to protect from the sun in hot climes
2 T shirts
5* pair of socks, 3 x thin cotton, 2 x wool
1 buff
1 cowboy (rimmed) hat – protects eyes/ears/neck from sun, keeps head dry in rain
1 sweat shirt
2 100g fleece jumper/vest
1 wind and water proof jacket
1 pair of water proof over trousers
1 warm hat - beanie
5* underpants
1 pair of lightweight combat boots canvas/leather/rubber
1 pair of very light crocks - sandals
2  pair shorts
1 pair lightweight long leg trousers

* Some say this is too much, but I like to change underwear on a daily basis.
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Re: What kind of clothing should I bring for my bicycle tour?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2010, 10:59:26 AM »
Hmm it depends what kind of tour we are taking, as short 3 day, long week or more etc. And also when as in what time of the year you are going.

You can't go wrong with merino and a thin fleece along with a water/wind proof jacket. That will keep you quite warm and dry in the worst of weathers.

It also depends what makes you comfortable, are you ok to wear the same top for a few days or ...

A good rule of thumb is to put on your bed everything you want to take with you, then remove half and you are nearly there :)

The good things with most clothing now of days you can easy wash in a sink and do not need boiling water and it all dries fairly fast. So with a bit of planning you can a little system, wear one top, while drying one top and have one one dry ready to go.