The need to look professional is an excuse I hear often for not bike commuting. Please. Don’t try that one with me! As a lawyer, I often wear business suits to work and – yes – I ride my bike dressed up. Riding a bike in a suit is quite easy, especially if the weather is mild and the distance is not very great. I have only a few tips:
- If the weather is hot, leave your tie, hosiery, jacket at work.
- If the weather is freezing, layer sensibly as I discuss here.
- If you wear pants, secure your cuff from hungry chains and crank arms, unless you want your fine Brooks Brothers suit ripped (sob).
- If you get hot while riding and want to remove your jacket, roll it before placing it in your pannier or basket to prevent wrinkling.
- Take it slow and steady. No need to race the yoga-pant and lycra crowd.
If you follow these simple tips, riding in a suit will be a practical and simple course of action. As a bonus, you’ll find yourself sitting up straighter and feeling super dapper.
Sure, you will definitely stand out, but is that a bad thing? Drivers will pay more attention, while pedestrians and other cyclists smile at you more than usual. Public perception is far from acknowledging biking in business suits as normal behavior, but that’s all the more reason to do it :)
An example of public perception: I attended my company’s Wellness Committee meeting this week to propose that we participate in Chicago’s Bike to Work Week (hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance) for the first time. (Challenge accepted, and I’m the Team Leader!) I passed around a flier advertising the ride and one of the young women immediately saw the picture below and cried out: “He’s riding a bike in a suit! Ha!” General tittering followed. I piped up that I often ride in suits. “Really?” “Yup.” End of story.
Now at least all of us here know that riding a bike in a suit is not at all silly. If you want to try riding in your work clothes, have at it!
Does anyone else out there ride in a suit, at least occasionally? Any other tips? I almost never see other cyclists in suits. I’ve appreciated the dapper/ladylike eye candy on the few occasions I have seen suits out there :)