Offroad biking clothes for the large and temperate
February 23, 2013 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Looking for offroad biking clothes that don't make me look like shrink-wrapped tripe or some kind of junior-high skater dude. What does the middle-aged country gentleman wear on a bicycle hack through the shrubbery?

Look, I'm kind of a clydesdale. I did the malodorous lycra commuter thing in my twenties and thirties. I do not wish to be a MAMIL. I will not go far, nor will I go fast; I'm a pootler, not a racer. I realize that liner shorts will likely be involved for general comfort, but above that?
posted by scruss to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd suggest a wicking T like this on top. Extra fabric so it will stay tucked into your padded shorts, which you want because chafing is not great.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:20 AM on February 23, 2013

My literal-minded side suggests this, but I suspect that you (like me) don't care much for words splashed across your clothing.

MEC has some wool cycling clothing in a decent range of sizes that will keep you warm/cool, wick sweat, and (hopefully) looks reasonable. Broaden your search to wool and you'll find nice (but pricey) things like this wool hoodie.

Alternatively, do the thrift shop thing and look for anything that's 100% wool.
posted by maudlin at 10:24 AM on February 23, 2013

I have a pair of liner shorts but I actually think regular bike shorts with regular shorts over them are a lot more versatile, because you can wear any shorts you want.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Outdoor equipment stores have all sorts of shirts made from wicking materials. If you were in the US I'd send you to REI.

Cycling jackets are worth the cost for the fit (longer sleeves, longer tail) and for zippers and vents where you'll want them. Any good cycling shop will have them in various styles, flashy ones for sporty types and more demure ones for commuters.

You also might find commuter pants at your local shop. They seem expensive to me. Get a pair of work pants, cut them off below the knees to make knickers and wear some wicking thermal tights underneath.

Or just wear whatever. You're not going far.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:36 AM on February 23, 2013

Rivendell has some non-garish, non-lycra clothing in their lineup. They charge USD 35 to ship to Canada, so it may not be worth your while unless you order a lot.

Otherwise, I'd suggest ordinary road bike shorts under synthetic shorts or pants (like these from MEC), to protect your legs from getting scratched by the shrubbery, and a wool or polypropylene base layer on top, with a light jacket or long-sleeved synthetic shirt over it (maybe this one or something like it). I prefer wool or synthetics to cotton because I find that cotton can get clammy when I sweat (which, being a Clyde myself, I do, often copiously). If you're not going too fast, a decent pair of cotton work pants and a cotton-synthetic blend button-down shirt might be fine. That's what I often wear hiking. Just add a couple of elastic bands at the ankles to keep the pantlegs out of your drivetrain.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2013

Shorts along the lines of these are nice to have if you don't want the lycra look (I usually wear them over regular bike shorts for longer trail rides). You want shorts that won't wear out by saddle wear immediately, that dries quickly if you get wet and that is made in a way that doesn't expose too much back when you're on the bike.

Cycle jerseys are really practical with the pockets, and you can get loose fitting ones made for mountain bikers, but really any kind of shirt that doesn't get uncomfortable when sweaty will do.

If you're riding on trails as opposed to roads you might want long sleeves to avoid scratching (depending on the environment of course) and glasses and a helmet with a visor to keep twigs out of your face.

A jacket that packs down into a pocket is good to have, and again you want the bike cut.
posted by boogieboy at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2013

As you're shopping look for "baggies" or baggy shorts, like the ones boogieboy linked to. I think it's a good idea to get bike specific shorts (instead of wearing regular shorts over a liner) because you won't have a seam right where all of your weight is on the seat. If you're out for a while or on bumpy terrain, that seam can be an issue.
posted by powpow at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2013

These wool blend jerseys are non-stinky, non-clingy, and sized up to XXL. Disclosure: I've biked a couple of fundraiser events on teams sponsored by this company. Because we liked the jerseys so much we asked the company to sponsor us. Team discount, yay!
posted by Orinda at 12:12 PM on February 23, 2013

I wear cycling-specific baggy shorts and lyca non-garish jersies. Something like this for the shorts. Proper cycling ones are cut higher at the back and aren't too baggy in the crotch so they won't grab on your saddle when you move around. I tend to end up cutting the liner out of them if they come with one and wearing proper lycra bike shorts under them, since the built in liner tends to be terrible, and I have plenty of high quality pairs of knicks.

For a jersey I'd grab something like this in a loosish fit. I prefer real jerseys over wicking t-shirts because it is hot where I ride so I like to be able to unzip the front, and the pockets in the back come in handy even if you have a camelbak.
posted by markr at 6:12 PM on February 23, 2013

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