25 March 2009

Cycling Attire

Since old Ma Nature has finally seen fit to bless the city of Boston with a day that was not only sunny, but also comfortably warm, I thought today might be a good time to discuss cycling attire.

I love travelling by bicycle. In fact, before my wife became pregnant, I didn't even learn to drive a car. People would always ask me why, but that's a post for another place (maybe Channeling Bunny). Many people would find this a great restriction, but I found it quite freeing, kind of like not having credit cards. I would always tell people that they should ride a bike to work when the weather permits, and the most frequent argument against it always had to do with having to dress for the bike. Obviously, these people had never heard of the trusty English 3 speed.

I took this picture on my way home from work this afternoon. Note the manner in which I am dressed. Note also the lack of spandex, shorts, or even a heavy bag around my back. This is all thanks to the bike. The English 3 speed was mass produced forever in Britain as a means of transportation for the average adult, in a time when the average adult dressed like an adult.

These bikes are great. They still make similar ones today. However, so many of them were produced at one time that a little digging will easily find a proper old one for a fraction of the cost of a piece-of-junk new bike. And of course the coolness factor increases exponentially. Features to look for include: a basket to carry all of the junk that modern people see fit to cart back and forth to the office these days, an upright stance making it possible to ride in a sports jacket, fenders to keep splashes off of your clothes, and a chain guard to keep your right pants leg out of the chain without having to roll it up. It's a dressy bike, and a comfortable ride.

You can ride it dressed like this:

Algebra teacher chic

Don't forget to wear your helmet! ( if only someone would design one that doesn't make you look like a mope).


Percy Chatsworth said...

Fantastic is all I can say about everything in this post.

Anonymous said...

Snazzy as always!

Style questions:

1. Why do you prefer the four-in-hand knot?

2. I count four visible patterns (I imagine your socks make five), but you make it work. Impressive! Do you have conscious guidelines when you mix patterns, or do you go by feel?

Cyclo2000 said...

Very nice. Except round here isn't flat as round your place by the looks. I live 4 miles from the office and am of course a keen cyclist (and always have been)yet I rarely commute. Partialy cos of the hills, and what hills!, but also cos there's no way you could cycle it in yer street clothes. The weather in Noble Scotia is so very changeable...I imagine in Boston you can see if it's gonna rain for an hour befor it arrives.
I bash about on an old Raleigh ten speed Record Ace BTW, pics on me blog.

Giuseppe said...

Young Fogey,

1) I've never been a fannof big fat tie knots. Pluss I find that for my height the four in hand just makes the tie hang right mose of the time.

2) There are a couple of tricks to pattern mixing. First, they need to be different in scale, a big pattern played off a small pattern. It also hepls if they share a general color pallette, but aren't all the same. In this case, stripes, herringbone, paisley and dots. Using a large solid piece as anchor is always a good idea, in this case the pants, and even the tie. Once you acquire the knack for it, you can begin to think of certain patterns, like herringbone and glen checks, almost as solids, and pair them as such.

Hope that was helpful.

Enzo AGC said...

Borsalino makes some great helmets

Anonymous said...

its good to know that there are other people in this country who took their time learning to drive; I still get flack from my friends about it. great outfit, i need to look for a bicycle.

David V said...

I once looked into equestrian helmets...wouldn't a bowler look smart! Alas. They are rated differently and are unsuitable for use as a cycling helmet.

I hadn't noticed four patterns till YF pointed it out. Since I didn't "notice" the four patterns it must mean it works!

Anonymous said...

No one looks good in Spandex. Everyone looks smart(er?) in tweed.

Middle-aged Diva (Carol) said...

OK, but why would you WANT to ride a bike dressed this way? Getting all hot, sweaty and that odor of sweat....although it's a great outfit and I like the spirit.

Giuseppe said...


A scant 50 degrees, a crisp breeze blowing off the Charles River. I was hardly sweating. My point is that riding a bike doesn't need to impede your style, whatever that style is. "Bike clothes" are designed for bike racing and long distance riding, which isn't what the casual workaday commuter is up to anyway.

C said...

Fabulous. If only all algebra teachers looked this good I might hang out with the math education major guys more.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answers. Personally, I don't care for the asymmetry of the four-in-hand, but then again, as someone who is vertically challenged, the length of a four-in-hand knotted tie probably wouldn't work for me anyway.

I like your idea that some patterns are solid-like; I can take that approach to my herringbone tick jacket (navy and gray with flecks of brown, tan, & white--made in USA!). Contrasting the scale is an excellent idea. I'm going to start playing around with that.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Pitboss12 said...

I'm a road and mountain guy. I understand your comment about riding not impeding style. However, as a practical concern, don't you end up hot and sweaty once you've reached your office and settled into your desk despite the temp outside?

3button Max said...

nicely done


Anonymous said...

I presume that's a Sturmey Archer hub (sure looks like a Raleigh frame). How does that work for you? I always shied from the three-speed internal for fear it was overly complicated and wouldn't hold up like a Bendix (remember the kick-back two-speed). Any rate, there's an classic alternative to spandex/lycra: Wool. Vintage checkerboard Peugeot racing jerseys, not to mention Molteni, look extremely bad-ass.

A Place Where I Put Stuff said...

Have a look at Bern's line of helmets. They offer hardhats for skating and EPS foam helmets for cycling. I commute wearing a Bern Watts in matte black. Makes me look like a gentleman every time.


Enzo AGC said...

I saw an link to this article on Secret Forts and i thought of you.


You don't need a brand focusing on cycle style just an affordable wardrobe

Anonymous said...

I am just starting to ride a bike to the train station.

What do you wear to protect yourself from the rain?

Are you going to wear a suit in the summer while riding your bike



Thev Jacket is nice.I'd change the shirt to a pale blue one with long points and A regimental tie along the lines of the Guards in London.Good flannel trousers in a slightly darker grey with Burgandy Tassel penny loafers.I saw an Italian guy dressed like this in Venice.

Made To Measure NY said...

Well done!