Cycling in smart work clothes - the sartorial challenge

by Shades   January 15, 2014  

Cycling to work is pretty straightforward if it's your regular place of work; either keep your work clothes there or carry them with you, perhaps if it's somewhere you're working at occasionally and know there are decent facilities. If you wear casual clothes at work, no problem; it's easy to cycle in that sort of attire. I've been recently trying to travel to meetings using a combination of my folding bike and the train, often to places I've never been to. The cycling bits are usually pretty short, 2 miles max, but the snag is I feel I should be in a suit. Suits are my least cycling friendly bit of clothing and I get pretty 'cheesed off' if I mark them (dry cleaning bill)or worse, damage them. Also your regular cycling jackets don't really work; I wore a 3/4 length raincoat the other day which worked OK. My usual routine is to keep the tie off until required and try and allow a bit of time to 'compose myself' on arrival. I've looked at travel suits, which you can wash, but thought they might look a bit scruffy; also maybe to throw convention into the wind and go for a jacket and tie approach (with trousers that aren't dry clean). I have one made to measure suit and even thought about posing the challenge to a tailor, but that could be pricey. Any advice out there, or is it easier just to take the car?

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Is taking your suit with you and getting changed at work not an option?

n8udd's picture

posted by n8udd [27 posts]
15th January 2014 - 18:21

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> taking your suit with you and getting changed at work

Change (including trousers), pack suit into bag that won't crease too badly, cycle two miles, find somewhere to change at somewhere that isn't his usual place of work ("often to places I've never been to") asking at reception when he's not in his suit, likely change again after meeting to get back to normal workplace? It might not be impossible, but it's at least a real nuisance.

Packing just the jacket and putting it on at other end is easier, so I think the options here are basically as he says:
1) complete washable suit (e.g. and matching jacket)
2) washable trousers, with jacket that isn't part of matching suit
3) dry clean only suit trousers, put up with dry cleaning bill if you ever get oil or mud on them. A chainguard won't help with road spray from passing vehicles (and a full guard can be tricky on a folding bike anyway). Pack jacket, use overtrousers?

posted by armb [51 posts]
15th January 2014 - 20:00

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The Rohan suits are smart, and don't crease when packed.

posted by Moonraker Mike [6 posts]
15th January 2014 - 21:36

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Try swapping the folding bike for something like a Revolution Belter and put mudguards on it?

They're on sale just now from Edinburgh Bicycle for approx £400. Basically a single speed hybrid with a belt drive.

Not sure if that helps if you stay somewhere where the trains are too busy for non-folding bikes though.

Here's another idea (seriously!):

posted by CGT [21 posts]
16th January 2014 - 7:24


Liking the micro-scooter - what I also find amusing is that the comments on the linked page discuss the odd reactions from others, staring at you etc. Sounds exactly like tge looks you got for riding in lycra 20-25 years ago!

How about the Rohan suit with some over trousers? I tend to think that non-matching jacket and trousers only works for casual ie with jeans.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3597 posts]
16th January 2014 - 8:03


I travel all over the country with my job and do about 2/3rds of the mileage by train. I cycle to the station from home, but only rarely take the bike with me to the destination station.

I find that a pair of specific bike chinos are usually fine, combined with a smart short, tie and merino v-neck. My favourites are Howies Crosstown - which I see are reduced at the mo (I paid nearly full whack for some navy ones - grr!);

I usually wear my bike shoes (Giro Privateer MTB), but pack smart shoes if needed. I use a Camelbak HAWG, which has the perfect amount of room for a laptop, lunch, essentials and shoes. I leave a massive bike lock at the station.

I have looked at getting a folding bike, but I usually have meetings close to the destination station - so it's mainly about the ride from home to the station for me (2 miles).

posted by BenH [7 posts]
16th January 2014 - 10:08

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