How to Bike Commute With a Suit




“The momentum for going by bike is undeniable,” noted Trek’s Director of Advocacy, Rebecca Anderson. “Growing traffic congestion; skyrocketing gas prices; alarming obesity rates; concerns about global climate change as the result of greenhouse gas emissions; there is interest all over the country for transportation alternatives. The bicycle—as arguably the most efficient mode of transportation on the planet—represents a simple solution to some of the toughest problems; and tons of communities are recognizing this fact by taking steps to become bike-friendly. There has never been a better time to go by bike!”

Some employers/professions (like mine) require their employees to wear a suit to work. This was not immediately a problem for me. I dont mind dressing up from time to time. However, this became problematic when I remembered that 1) I live in the muggy deep south and 2) I would much prefer to bike to work.

In an effort to maintain my sanity by not driving to work and my decorum by not working all day in a sweat-drenched, wrinkled suit  came up with a system that works for me.

1) First, you need a Bike.

2) Next, You need to get a good set of biking tights and a sweat wicking techincal t-shirt. A biking Jersey would work as well. By the end of work, I typically dont mind if I am putting on sweaty clothes, but if you want to bring two sets to have clean clothes for the ride home, it would fit in the bag.  

*If you are uncomfortable walking into the office building in biking tights or shorts, then you could get a pair of bike-to-work pants. Levi's and Beta Brand make some good ones. 

3) Next, you need to get a good waterproof backpack. I use the Ortlieb Messenger Bag ( There are probably less expensive options, but these bags are lightweight and made for bike commuting. The bright yellow and side reflectors make cars pay attention to you. You could also do panniers, but installing a rack system and using two or three smaller bags would likely cost more and be more cumbersome.

4)Now to pack the bag....

You will need
A Travel Organizer/Shirt folder  Eagle Creek makes some good ones.
A Mudbox/Shoe Carrier
A TOWEL! If you want to get fancy, you can use an ultralite camping towel to save weight and space.

5) Fold your suit, shirt and tie into the Travel organizer and then close the velcro straps. Slide the Pack into the backpack. Do this first, that way the support of the backpack and the pack's board will keep the folded goods nice and protected.
6) Put your shoes, belt, socks and underoos in the Mud Box. Put the mud box in the back pack
7) Roll the towel and put it on top.

Close the Bag and Hit the Streets!
-Leave early and take easy streets to beat the heat.



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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Great article and tips. Leaving your office shoes under your desk is also a great option. If you don't mind a bike rack, taking garments is simple with a Two Wheel Gear Classic Garment Pannier. No folding or organizer required.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I have a similar problem. Fortunately I don't have to wear suits. Being a gal has some advantages. No iron knit shirts is one of them.

    I travel every where by public transit and on foot. So I spend a lot of time walking to and standing on hot platforms. Not to mention un-air-conditioned buses and trains. This time of year wear a tank top and carry my uniform shirt in my bag and put it on when I get to the job site. Sometimes I even stash a pair of flip-flops or sandals for the trip home.

    If you have the time and don't mind the weight, packing a cloth bag to run errands on the way home is a great way of saving your days off for other things.

    Bruce Casner

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I have the panniers, so I put the shoes in the bottom of the bag, soles down, then the towel on that and the underwear above that. The shirt and pants are rolled, which if done carefully prevents wrinkles. They go on top.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Stumbled onto this product recently Awesome for the morning commute


    6 years ago on Introduction

    To keep your shirt and suit, instead of a folder, use a Tupperware:

    Mar HK

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tip about the shirt folder! That's a way better setup than my current haphazard method. I usually fold things, stick them in the backpack, and hope.

    My solution to the shoes, though, has been to leave myself a pair at work, so I don't carry them back and forth.

    1 reply
    mstyle183Mar HK

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    i do the same thing... those shoes get heavy.. specially since i carry my running shoes, and work out clothing in my back pack