04 January 2012

Overcomplicating Winter Cycling - Why It's Bad

Snowstorm Coolicious
One of the main focuses of this blog has always been on how Copenhagen and other cities have succeeded in increasing cycling levels by approaching the subject using mainstream marketing techniques. Tried and tested marketing that has existed since homo sapiens first started selling or trading stuff to each other.

Modern bicycle advocacy, by and large, is flawed. It is firmly inspired by environmentalism which, in turn, is the greatest marketing flop in the history of humankind. Four decades of sub-cultural finger-wagging, guilt trips and preaching have given few results among the general population.

When sub-cultural groups start trying to indoctrinate and convert the public, it rarely ever succeeds. For the better part of a century, people all over the planet rode bicycles because they were quick, easy, convenient and enjoyable. In hilly cities. In hot cities. In snowy cities.

After the bicycle largely disappeared from the urban landscape because urban planning started revolving around the car and the automobile industry began their dreadfully effective marketing after the Second World War, many regions in the world have been left suffering in a bicycle vacuum.

The result is that an entire generation has been given the impression that cycling is something that a few people do for sport or recreation and not much else. People who take their hobby seriously and who invest in all manner of clothes and gear.

Regular citizens are hardly inspired to join such groups.

Now we are in the midst of a veritable bicycle boom all over the world. It's exciting. It's challenging. We were excited by the cycling revival in the 1970's but, as we all know, that faded to black again. It is of utmost importance that we maintain our current momentum and (re)secure the bicycle's place in our cities.

This will only be achieved if we focus on marketing urban cycling as a normal activity for regular citizens. If we concentrate on the masses who could be cycling, would like to be cycling, might take up urban cycling. When sub-cultures are the most vocal advocates we see that most of the advocacy stems from their own passion for their hobby/lifestyle. It seems that the goal is to get more people to join their ranks and become 'one of them', as opposed to selling urban cycling as it was meant to be from the beginning of Bicycle Culture 1.0 in the late 19th century - individual mobility for Citizen Cyclists.

So. It's that time of year again. All manner of 'how to cycle in the winter' guides are slapped up all over the internet. Year after year the sub-cultures put on their professor hats and look down their nose at the general population while they attempt to 'teach' people how to be just like them. You know... real cyclists.

I have stumbled upon a blogpost with an infographic like this one and a couple of months ago this article featured in a magazine that used to be focused on Citizen Cyclists but that has gone all sub-cultural. (they even name brand names in their 'guide', reflecting the fact that they are dependent on sponsors and advertising and not subscriptions)

While I blogged about this strange phenomenon way back in 2008 after blogging about yet another sub-cultural winter clothing guide on this website, I got curious.

Let's assume a regular citizen wanted to ride a bike in the winter. What if they stumbled upon one of the links with the infographic or guide I just mentioned?

What would this citizen - who, like the majority of the population, doesn't want to be a member of a club or sub-culture - think about what they read?

Dressing in layers? Sure. But you know what? People who live in winter climates know that already, for god's sake. They do it when they walk around the city, taking the bus or train or whatever. So they can probably figure it out when on a bicycle. And, after one day doing so, if they discover they got cold, they'll put extra clothes on the next day.

I own no cycling 'gear' whatsoever. I have, however, a winter wardrobe as I live in a country with a winter climate and I ski, etc.

What would it cost me - Joe Bicycle User - if I followed the 'advice' on these websites? Using the infographic on that website as a guide, I did some quick googling to find out some prices. I didn't spend an enormous amount of time on it, I must admit. So some of the items may be cheaper - or they might be more expensive because I didn't discover 'the coolest brands'.

As you can see, if I don't calculate my bike, I would be easily €870 ($1100) out of pocket in order to be 'just like them'. Sure, maybe there are many people who wish to take their hobby seriously and acquire all that gear, but let's face it. Most people don't. They're just pondering riding their bike in the winter because they've gotten hooked riding it all year.

But it's this kind of sub-cultural crap that the curious, potential winter bicycle users end up with after a google search. Google "winter cycling clothes" yourself and see what comes up. The results are dominated by 'cyclists' keen on recruiting, with little advice aimed at regular citizens. Not a good sign if we are trying to get people to rediscover the simplicity and convenience of urban cycling that people have enjoyed for over a century.

Imagine if the 'avid bowlers' controlled the advocacy for bowling - a fine hobby that provides the bowler with some important exercise and social interaction - like cycling. What would people who just fancied some bowling be led to think?

Here's what it looks like to be a 'passionate bowler' oozing Bowl Love for your hobby. Cheaper than cycling, but still, at €449 ($574), it's no picnic getting started. Funny how that bowling ball, the Storm Virtual Gravity Nano Pearl, resembles some of the names you see on cycling gear. And dude! You're not a 'real' bowler unless you have those handwipes!

Danish Winter
Winter is nothing new. Citizen Cyclists have been struggling through it since the beginning of bicycle culture. In many places, they still do.
Winter Traffic Copenhagen Quartet
Here are some bicycle users in Copenhagen last winter. It was about -10 C and around -25 with the windchill.

Copenhagen February Traffic 3
Anybody who cycles in the winter deserves respect. Anybody who tries to tell the general population that you need anything more than your regular winter clothes to do it... does not.
Copenarctic 02
To be fair, once in a while you'll see some 'specialised' clothes on bicycles in snowstorms in Copenhagen. Like this bicycle user, above. Did she buy that outfit, complete with goggles, in order to cycle in the snow? No. That ski suit was in her winter wardrobe already. The goggles, too, as she enjoys skiing in the winter. They were already in her closet and came in handy.
Winter Traffic Copenhagen Blue
Like this winter jacket.
Snowstorm Boiler Suit
And this boiler suit.

Like we wrote about how Critical Mass does little for winning hearts and minds and providing Joe/Jane Public with a societal mirror to inspire them to ride bicycles, cycling hobbyists doing the selling is not good marketing if we're to capitalise on this bicycle boom and get more citizens to take to the wheel.

Ironically, this link to an article about a woman who is cycling to the South Pole ticked into our inbox whilst writing this article. Besides her lack of cycling gear - she's just wearing winter clothes - the little infobox on the site (above) provides readers with some simple and practical information about cycling in the snow. That's all it really takes.

Spread the word.

For more inspiration, see the Cycling in Snowstorms set and the Cycling in Winter set - both on Flickr.

In addition, this film will show you how to do it.


Anonymous said...

I fit in both camps. Ride a normal bike in normal clothes BUT also have a wardrobe full of cycling specific kit for riding a road bike in all seasons at speed.
So the two aren't mutually exclusive and actually, the former led to the latter.
The issue is speed. If you pootle you can wear normal clothes, if you race or train on a bike you simply can't.

Mikael said...

The focus in the article is encouraging regular citizens to ride. To work. To school. To the supermarket. It has nothing to do with training or racing.

BG said...

You're absolutely right, of course. But here's a twist: in cities where people don't cycle, they usually don't walk either. So, they very often don't have appropriate winter clothing even for their own climate -- they simply don't go outside for more than a minute or two, ever. Sad but true.

dr2chase said...

What BG said. I bought some clothes for winter cycling, meaning merino long sleeve T-shirt, good gloves, good socks, good hats. (I bought some other stuff too, but it was mostly a mistake.) Wintertime, I wear the "cycling" stuff all the time, on the bike, or off.

If the default outdoor behavior in the US was not an uncomfortable dash between climate-controlled spaces, we'd already be set for our "winter biking gear". But in general, we're not.

In the US, in those cases where there is separate infrastructure, it is typically not plowed and salted to the same standards as roads for cars, which means that people on bikes should either have studded tires or be prepared to walk the icy patches. I hate to tell people that they need (expensive) studs to get around in the winter, but if you want a get-on-and-go bike around here, once things start icing up, they're very nice to have, in the same way that a dynamo light means you don't do anything special to ride after dark.

Taliesin said...

We had a bit of rain yesterday and today in Gloucester, UK, and I had a conversation this morning with another guy who cycles to work.

He asked, "What do you use to keep your shoes dry?"

So I, puzzled, looked down at my leather dress shoes and said "Nothing."

After a bit of thought, we realized the difference between us was that my bike came with mudguards, and his didn't.

Anonymous said...

The focus in the article is encouraging regular citizens to ride. To work. To school. To the supermarket. It has nothing to do with training or racing.

Yes but the "complication" you cite and the kit list you put up only comes into play when people are involved in racing or training. Most people don't buy into that initially.
You can't cite that as being an obstacle and then say its not what the article is about.

I love cycling in all it's forms and it's sad to see one sub group played off against another like this. The sporting side and success has probably played a greater part than any other in getting cycling moving here in the uk

Feeble attempts at infrastructure provision certainly haven't encouraged many people onto bikes. Fuel prices, now theres a reason.

Erik Griswold said...

And I have one set of clothes I wear when I go cross-country skiing because it is easier than walking in snow and another totally different one when I jump at Holmenkollen.

And yet...

...both of these types of skiing activities are not just skiing, but are members of the sub-group Nordic Skiing!

Chris said...

"Google "winter cycling clothes" yourself and see what comes up. The results are dominated by 'cyclists' keen on recruiting, with little advice aimed at regular citizens"

I would argue that this is not the case. I don't think cyclists are keen on recruiting at all. The fact is that the results of the google search are dominated by manufacturers trying to shift goods.
This sub-culture bashing isn't helpful. We're all cyclists whatever we ride whether we consider it simply a mode of transport, a way of life, a hobby or a passion.

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose it's crossed your mind that clothing sold or labelled as cycling-specific can be used when not cycling, in much the same way as you keep droning on about your normal citizen's wardrobe being able to cope with cycling?

Yokota Fritz said...

Apropos to all of this discussion about bikes as sport or subculture vs bikes as Just Another Way To Get Around is my favorite all time video on EXTREME COMMUTING.

Neil said...

The list you've posted are extreme (and seems to come from an infographic with a question "What are you wearing this winter on the bike?", not a statement. But you also, often, make the mistake of equating what works in Copenhagen with what works everywhere. With marketing, this is true, but in the case of equipment, this is not true.

What equipment is needed is a complicated question depending on a lot of factors. In CPH, where cycle tracks are kept clear, likely sanded, and there are few hills, riding without special equipment is not a problem.

Without the sanding and clearing, snow turns to ice after a warm day. Traction on snow is fine with regular tires; on ice I had quite a few falls (which are quite discouraging) before investing in winter tires. Needed? Not generally, though add a steep hill to the ice, and they might be. Even on flat ground, I would have given up years ago without them.

In your mainstream cycling culture, it seems that lights are the norm, but here they'd be considered special equipment, and are definitely required (by law in addition to common sense) for riding during the season of minimal daylight.

Other things I agree with. Clothing is nothing special, though BG makes a valid point that many people don't own winter-appropriate clothing, and might need some explanation about how to dress for more than a dash accross the parking lot.

April said...

I didn't start buying fancy winter clothes for cycling until I'd been riding in winter a few years, and it made my life *much* easier.

Much of it isn't cycling specific at all (non-cotton pants, wool socks, wool base layer, boots) but some of it is (rain jacket).

Yeah, I could ride without it, but it does sometimes make the difference between going somewhere and staying home, especially if I'm going somewhere more than a couple of miles. I have friends who live six miles away, and if it's raining (which it does most days in the winter where I live) I'm not going to wear jeans to ride in. They get wet fast, make you cold, and take forever to dry. I'm going to wear some kind of polyester or wool.

And before I rode my bicycle everywhere, I took the bus. And yeah, I wore jeans even when it was raining, because I was usually walking a short distance to a bus shelter and then riding a warm bus.

So: my wardrobe changed when I started riding my bicycle everywhere.

Some of the people in your photos look kinda miserable.

Also, people aren't going to do searches for "winter cycling clothing" if what they have is just fine and they're happy with it.

bicyclegeek said...

I went overboard this year on spending. I bought a 20 dollar pair of ski goggles. I don't ski. But on really cold days they keep the wind (and road grit) out of my eyes.

Of course I live in Toronto and I have to make do with unsegregated bike lanes and the slop that gets thrown off cars and trucks as they pass.

But dammit I ride in my work clothes. Minus goggles of course. :)

Steph said...

Mikael, you're being a bit unfair to Kaputnik on this occasion, it's not an infographic per say, just a funny pic of his winter wardrobe.

You don't mention the loads of other artwork he does, for example: http://www.magnificentoctopus.com/post/14847312492/slideways

It's cold in Edinburgh, our cycle facilities as they are are generally uncleared and mucky, and the on-road provision is generally a corrosive mess of salt and road gunge.

I dress similarly, although without as much yellow, I don't want to get my nice clothes mucky, I want to stay warm, windproof and visible.

It also allows me to cycle quickly and generally get into a sweaty mess so I can spend more time with my kids at either side of the day.

I love what copenhagenize does, and I wish that every city could be the cycling nirvana that your country is. But until then don't judge people for dressing how they want.

Even zealotry in the direction of good is a bad thing.

Erik Sandblom said...

Steph, "It's cold in Edinburgh, our cycle facilities as they are are generally uncleared and mucky, and the on-road provision is generally a corrosive mess of salt and road gunge."

I think that pretty much sums up the picture at the top of this blog post. I recommend fenders/mudguards, a mudflap and a chainguard for staying clean. I know we're not supposed to overcomplicate things but I really think a mudflap is about 10 000 times more useful for winter cycling than a Buff (I have one of each).

I doubt the time saved going fast compensates the time taken to change clothes. If it floats your boat then do it anyway. But be careful portraying your preference as being the only rational approach.

shuichi said...

Let me to write about the topic, the encouragement. Sorry, I am not a special writer, just an ordinary father who like to seat my daughters on child seats of my Mama Bicycle.

(And I am only a English learner, so forgive me for my poor English.)

I have just finished writing my entry tonight which coincidentally resembles to your entry, yes a winter ride and some winter tools.

I have also remember to read your article which were related to this topic. I wrote about it one year ago, and here is my entry's link ;http://mamabicycle.blogspot.com/2011/04/to-nearby-park.html

I agree with your opinion. I ride my bicycle as other ordinary parents naturally do (although none of them write about it like me, it doesn't matter.)

Mass marketing to an ordinary people is only way to the best goal of the encouragement, I agree with the idea.

Ah, I just wanted to say a word tonight.
Good night.

Steph said...

Hi Eric,

Ta for the comment, have said items, apart from the chain guard and yup I'm about half as mucky as I was before I had them, still not what I would call office presentable though. If I was to ride slowly to work in even my bestest clothes I'd probably still need to get changed.

The major difference between the top picture and my reality is the bank of snow between the cars and the bikes. And that that path has been scraped and is probably free of debris (for example I had to negotiate through four fallen trees today)

My commute is about 11 miles / 18 KM each way on a mixture of segregated paths, and then the main road right out to the edge of town (past the airport if you've ever been to Edinburgh)

Two days a week I have my daughter on the back to take her to nursery. I don't have a stable of carbon-fibre 2gram racing bikes in my garage, just a well maintained steel bullet proof commuter bike.

Again, I make no claims that my preference as being the only rational approach, it's just the approach that works for me. Unlike say a site which claims we should always dress in a certain way to ride a bike based on best-case facilities, and to do otherwise makes you a bad person.

The thing is, I don't really care to be honest and wouldn't burn my biblongs in defence of my right to wear stretchy pants, I'm just wary of people who say you're wrong I'm right (as opposed to people who just say I'm right :) )

And as I said, I love the work of MC, and would love him to come and sort out Edinburgh for us so we could be the model cycling city our council keeps banging on about being.

But he just comes off like the Richard Dawkins of cycling sometimes, and just felt the urge to spring to the defence of a friend.

Aleta said...

I think the idea should be that if you live in a colder climate you should have appropriate clothes for being outside when the weather is cold. These don't need to be special cycling clothes, just warm clothes.

Honestly, the only special cycling gear I'm considering buying is a cycling cap with ear flaps. I haven't found a hat that fits underneath my helmet, and I hate feeling like I have to choose between safety, especially at night, and being cold because my head isn't properly covered. Otherwise I just wear my regular outside clothes, peacoats, flats, jean and all.

Anonymous said...


It depends. Clearly written by a city dweller. How far is the commute/ride? If it's not more than a few miles in urban conditions where it's easy to bail somewhere to get warm and dry, then sure, you don't need specialized gear.

I ride 16 miles each way to work through suburban wasteland housing tracts, cow pastures, and vineyards. Ain't no place to stop and get warm or get out of the weather. If you flat in the dark, it's a looooong dark (no streetlights) walk or a chilly and sometimes wet adventure swapping/repairing your tube. Do I use specialized gear? Damn straight I do.

domotion2011 said...

The dialog here is somewhat petty. Recently, an article in Bicycle Magazine (USA)was befuddled as the author reasoned there was no "label" for people who rode bikes, ie: to school, work and to the supermarket. This is Mikael's point. The bike industry does not know how to grow a customer base unless they can call it something. How about it folks? I'm a 4 season rider with over 30 years experience on USA streets and roads but in the end I am nothing more than a guy who rides his bike. Bicycling is not why I ride its how I roll. If all bike riders in the USA were 4 season riders then the momentum will continue. It is unlikely though until the bike industry markets that message.

timooohz said...

Infographic about winter cycling with shorts on it?

Winter, weather and the needs of people are different in different places, indeed.

oboe said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but I imagine the difference in clothing between Denmark and the US has a lot to do with average length of commute than cultural issues (e.g. the hegemony of non-Citizen Cyclists).

I can tell the folks who live in DC and commute a mile or two to their jobs in DC: they wear "normal" clothes. I wear normal clothes when I use Bikeshare to get around town.

But when I'm riding 20 miles to work in 20 degree weather, I'm going to wear specialized clothing. I suppose if I slowed down and rode at 5 miles per hour I could get by in a pea coat, wool sweater, and some jeans over cotton long-johns, but then by the time I got to work, it would be time to come home.

If we could change one thing in urban US that would get more people on bikes, it's putting more houses closer to jobs. John Forester, or "That Guy Wearing That Jacket He Bought From Performance" has very little to do with it.

Having said all that, I think you're an important voice to have out there, Mikael, and hope you'll keep at it--even if we do needle you on occasion.

cornliquordrinker said...

This article, and for the most part this blog, pertains to urban cycling conditions; places of high population density where the vast majority of people in the world live. While true athletic respect is due, those of you that have commented about commuting 16 to 20 miles each way (bicycle or not), are not by a long shot the majority that could be influenced to cycle. Most of us, even those within the sprawl of American cities, live in (or near) urban centers and have shorter and easier trips to work, school, bars and shopping than we would like to let on. Unfortunately, on these simple trips, we spend alot of time idling in traffic.

It is human nature to be attracted to solutions that are more complicated. The point of this post is to point out, perhaps, that we have to rattle ourselves a bit to understand that simplicity can work--regardless of geography and culture.

Trailsurfer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trailsurfer said...

It all depends on the time spend on the bike going from one point to the other. While cycling for shopping around in town I wear regular clothes, for commuting to work into another town with no shelter on the way I'm wearing more suitable clothing.

I like this cartoon: http://bikeyface.com/2011/12/07/bracing-for-winter/

Anonymous said...

Alpine gloves, wollen underwear, boots with fur innercoating, + items from tour skiing clothes + bag with stylish work clothes + towel trips makes longer than 10 km so much more better in interesting weather.

Vocus Dwabe said...

"It all depends on the time spend on the bike going from one point to the other."

Couldn't agree more. I commute everyday about 4km each way (lucky me!), so even in the depths of winter I just wear an old Ventile parka, scarf, woollen hat and gloves over the top of my working clothes, with a waxed cotton hat and a pair of overtrousers in my bag for when it's pouring. But if I was cycling 10km each way I'd want at least a much better waterproof.

The question is, does the bother of carrying it around and putting it on outweigh the convenience of having it when the weather's vile? On Thursday morning I biked in through a gale-driven downpour which soon had the roads awash, and arrived with water squelching in my shoes. I thought in retrospect that wearing the Gore-Tex gaiters I've got somewhere up in the attic might have been a good idea: but it's the only time in four winters that it's ever happened to me; so I think that I shall leave them where they are.

Mudguards though: essential. Last winter was pretty cold and snowy by UK standards, and there was a discussion on the "Guardian" cycling blog about how to avoid frozen feet. I was amazed to find that most of those posting didn't have mudguards at all, or see why they should. It made me feel as though I was trying to explain birth control to some remote tribe who don't see any causal connection between sex and pregnancy.

CJ said...

Horses for courses is all it boils down to. Much as we'd all love to have Copenhagen's facilities and foresight it's not the case and trying to homogenise things or castigate those who need to approach things differently isn't helpful.
Maybe it's time to don some lycra, join a commuter race a few inches from some speeding HGV's and experience how the other half live.
A good if slightly misguided effort, keep it up, at least we're talking about it!

kfg said...

"Four decades of sub-cultural finger-wagging, guilt trips and preaching have given few results among the general population."

This is not exactly correct. In many places it is currently resulting in a considerable backlash among the general population.

Travis said...

We touched on this last year on our blog after riding to our local brewery/taproom and finding pure unbroken snow around the bike rack each weekend. This city is popular with cyclists, but going out in sub-15F weather isn't that common.

We came to the same conclusion you did with regards to normal clothing, but the only thing I'd add would be to keep in mind the windchill when figuring out what to wear. 15F @ 10mph is a 3F windchill, before any headwind is taken into affect.

Oh, and make sure your bike is ready to go before you head out. Spending 10min pumping tires, putting on lights, etc will cause your body temperature to drop, leaving you starting out cold (and a loooong time before you start generating heat from riding).

Elliot said...

I say let people learn for themselves. Generally people buy more than they need to. We need to encourage people to ride because it's awesome and fun and has a ton of other benefits. Plus there is something bad a about riding in the winter and if your someone who's even considering riding in the winter that puts you in another category. If your actually thinking about what clothes to wear, to me, that already means you've crossed the line over to bike commuter. The dissision doesn't rest on the clothing.

Just a. Quick note to the writer, almost all magazines are funded through advertising. Very few if any survive on subscription alone.

Great article though. Food for thought for sure.

dr2chase said...

@Aleta (if you are still reading) -- a good source of hats that fit under helmets is foxwear.net. Outdoor clothing sewn from stretch polarfleece and similar fabrics. You can order hats and balaclavas at a good price, in your choice (from what is available) of fabric thickness and color.

Another good choice is a thin wool beanie/sock-hat. Rivendell (yes, bicycle-specific) sells some. You can wear it off the bike, it works fine there, too.

What limits me in the cold is fingers (especially pinky) getting cold. I've done ten mile rides into a 20mph headwind at 20F, and if I have a wind shell, it's easy (for me) to work up a sweat in the core. If I had to do it day-after-day, or ride in much colder weather, I'd look into something to block the wind from my hands, like Pogies. But that's a bike accessory, not a piece of clothing.

kwinpete said...

I'm in my seventh winter of daily commuting and still haven't bought any cycling clothes--sweats, two layers, two pairs of gloves, earmuffs and a windbreaker. In the summer I wear regular shorts and a t-shirt. No "kit" but I ride 110 miles every week. I totally agree with this article.

Nomes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nomes said...

Unfortunately I feel like Copenhagenize (copyright) is it's own sometimes slightly insidious subculture (brand) that most often promotes riding around in heels and short skirts for the viewing pleasure of the flaneur. Life is about sub-sets & tribes it's about being human. So it seems is fighting.

More people riding, for whatever reason in whatever & on whatever.

Anonymous said...

What an amazingly humourless article, apparently on the back of a cute little cartoon from a sporting cyclist that asks the question "what do you wear?" and does not give any "advice" or tell people what they should or should not wear while on the bike.
Unlike this article.

Chris said...

Mr. Copenhagenize has a real problem with 'environmentalists' and 'cyclists' (unless they're Citizen Cyclists ® © Copenhagenize Consulting).

There are a whole load of things wrong with this article. First, the history. Cycling boom in the 1960s/1970s was driven by myriad factors, amongst the most important were.....environmentalism and sports cycling. The others were fashion (especially in the 1960s and late 1970s), and post 1973 oil crisis, fuel prices.

The reason why sports cycling is marketed by bicycle companies nowadays is because the car manufacturers were just too successful. Bicycles are now marketed as a niche product in many countries because that is exactly what they are, like it or not. In much of the West, cars are dominant and places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam etc. are very much the exception. Developing countries are abandoning bicycles for cars, look at what's happening in China and India.

Yes, marketing is important but it won't produce change alone. It is a pity that Mr. Copenhagenize attacks cyclists who don't have the good fortune to live in enlightened countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. You know, he is starting to sound just as preachy as those he accuses!

Anonymous said...

I ride for transport, but I ride in a very windy, hilly city, and when it rains, it RAINS. (Edinburgh since you ask).
Now I could wear office clothes, but I'm often much comfier wearing a jacket made for cycling, if I'm going a long distance (ie over ten miles or so) then I may well stick on trousers made for cycling. Equally if I'm nipping to the train station to go to a meeting I might just wear a suit. But so what? I'm still a "citizen cyclist", sometimes you may consider me chic, sometimes you may look down your nose at the way I dress, but so what, at least I am out on a bike proving to people that it *can* be done round this town, and not only that it's fun.
I looked at "Kaputnik"'s infographic, as another pointed out, it's merely a funny little cartoon explaining what he sometimes chooses to wear just now on his bike. Nothing more, nothing less. It certainly doesn't justify an attack as being anti any form of cyclist. Have a look at the links to the infographic and you will find that out.

Not one of your better blog pieces I'm afraid :-(

Beth A said...

I do see the motivation for this but I think that people do realise that you can cycle in 'regular' clothes. People in every city all around the world do it every single day.

Personally I've been cycling for a long time in my regular clothes but have recently bought some cycle-specific clothes - although these aren't 'sports' clothes and look ok for regular wear too. Simply because I'm riding longer and faster now and it's pleasant to change clothes when I get to work etc.

Seems, to me, to be a bit like that whole Ugg boot argument - does it really matter?

Melvin Ang said...

I think riding bike in normal clothes is fine as long as the rider is comfortable with it. However for path footer like me, I believe they should seriously invest in a good pair of boots with fur to prevent from any injury.

Dave Feucht said...

I do have one piece of winter clothing that I only wear on my bike, and that's a poncho. It is Burberry plaid though, so there's that :)

Portland's winter is largely wet, and not usually very cold, so the issues we have to deal with are slightly different, but still I find that for normal transportation cycling, my normal clothes are perfectly fine. Of course you have to think about exactly *which* of your normal clothes you're going to wear based on the weather, but that's true of basically any means of getting somewhere that isn't your own personal automobile.


Clyde S. Dale said...

It's just too bad that my local peers don't take my example; they'd ride a LOT more of they did so!

Moisture-wicking layers are not expensive if you shop judiciously. For example, for the price of ONE pair of "cycling-specific tights", I have FOUR "athletic tights" that do the job, are 'winter-weight', and fit well under my work clothes. So there isn't a real heavy investment needed (although I DID throw a small pile of money at some studded tires, for the ice!).

People at work can attest -- rarely, if EVER, do they see me come in the door without a pleasant look on my face (not much of a 'smiler'). Simply put: "RIDE YOUR BIKE -- IT'S FUN AND INVIGORATING!"

Olav Torvund said...

Use whatever you want, and I use what I prefer to use when cycling in the winter.

I have a winter bike with winter tyres with studs. The winter tyres give much better grip => better safety. When I grew up, there were no such thing as winter tyres for bicycles. I used the bike year round and know that it is possible. But I will not go back to winter cycling on standard tyres. When people ask me about winter cycling, I give my honset opinion: Winter tyres is much better.

I have a winter bike partly because I am lazy. I do not want to bother with changing tyres. And it is ready the the the winter arrives. Due to (too) much use of salt on the roads, the wear an tear is quite hard during the winter. That is why most people use cheap bikes in the winter.

In Oslo, where I live, people will use their outdoor shoes or boots when comuting to work. We put on shoes for work when we arrive. I do not think many will use specific cycling shoes, but good old winter boots.

I usually put on either a pair of rain trousers or warmer ski trousers, depending on the temperature as an extra layer. It keeps me warm and protect my clothes from the dirt. Then I can ride to work in a suit under the extra protective layer. Mikael said that one person was using a skisuit because she already had one. I already have clothes for cycling. What is the difference? (And yes, I have for skiing as well.)

When going for a longer ride in the winter, then it is a different matter. Then I put on the clothes that are best suited for winter cycling. And big surprise: The best clothes are those that are made for the purpose. For the same reason, I use skiing clothes when I am skiing.

My advice, living in a coutry where we usually have real winters, is: Use winter tyres. They are so much better and cycling is safer when you have better control. Winter tyres are not expensive. Put on an extra layer that will keep you warmer and protect you and your clothes. If you have a bike that is not very cheap, maybe you should buy a cheap on for the winter. A bike used in winter condition will not last long. Don't spend much money, and keep your good bike for better conditions. And be visible: Use lights and for instance a reflective vest.

I do not see this as very fance. My experince is that this will help people to start using their bikes in the winter, rather than scaring them away from this activity.

Adam H Young said...

Cycled through five winters here in Toronto, experiences range from hilarious to frightening. After a head over heels over the bar accident on ice last year going to grab winter tires. Avg joe cyclist doesnt need much more than basic knowhow an some bravery for the worst of days :)