How to Ride Your Bike in Style

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Intro: How to Ride Your Bike in Style


NO MORE OF THIS:
"I would bike to work/the party, but then I'd have to sacrifice my slammin' style and trade it for some more cycle-friendly get-ups."

LOTS MORE OF THIS:
"Have you seen me on my bike recently? I only ask because I look GOOD when I'm helping the environment and enjoying my mobility."

This Instructable will show you how to ride your bike in anything you want to wear. There's no need to sacrifice style to get around town on two wheels. Helmet hair beware: you're one lousy excuse.

To do this Instructable you will need:

-any outfit
-a bicycle (upright cruisers are easiest)
(-and hopefully a helmet too!)

Riding your bike is an item on the Neighbors Project Checklist.

P.S. BIG up to Rachel Ryan for costume mania!

Step 1: Stylish Shoes


Let's go bottom up. SHOES. As long as you don't have those muzzle-like toe clips on your pedals (which are easily removed), you can bike in any kind of shoe you want.

Most skeptics point to the high heel-- but look at these pictures. It CAN be done. Two things are important to keep in mind while pedaling in stilettos:
1. Use your toes/balls of your feet
2. Maintain that high angle while cycling

You can always turn to the stiletto's close cousin if things aren't going so well between you two: the wedge. Still a high heel, still very much stylish, but with a flat sole that's very easy to ride in.

And consider the sole: Is it made of wood and very slippery? Hold on tight to your handle bars.

And if all else fails, put on a pair of sassy flats and show off your killer heels in your bike basket. You can throw them on once you arrive at your destination.

The only other shoe warnings that come to mind are:

-Make sure those laces are tied.

-I don't care how retro cool they are, one should only be moonwalking in moon-boots.

Step 2: Sexy Legs


Moving up the body: LEGS.

If you are wearing pants, roll up the leg on the side of the chain. Unless you're a mechanic biking to work at the garage, your grease stains will be considered sloppy and inappropriate. You can also use a clip to taper your pants.

Skirts and dresses require special attention. First off, ladies bikes (with a step-thru frame) are the easiest to get on and off of while in a skirt.

Now let's start small: mini skirts. To get on a bike in this beloved item, follow our model in pink.

1. Perch on your bike like you're about to ride side saddle.
2. Lift your lower leg up and put your foot over the bike bar while keeping your knees together.
3. Step down. Voila!

As you're biking around, keep your knees closer together than you would in say, jeans, and scoot forward on your seat so your legs angle down. You can also pedal without sitting down to be sure no one sees London/France/your underpants.

Other strategies: wear some leggings for the ride. They're hip, they hid your panties, and they're super easy to peel off when you arrive.

Other skirts/dresses that have more fabric than a mini require a different strategy. Any item with body, like a prairie skirt or a tail, can be safe from spokes etc if you tie up the extra fabric in a loose knot (not ideal for wrinkle-prone silks) or tuck into a shoulder/bag strap. If you're a big fan of big skirts, consider getting a skirt-guard for you back wheel like the ones pictured here and here.

If you find yourself in a West African boubou, or say an Indian kourta, you should be just fine. You've got pants on underneath (at least you SHOULD) so you can hike it up as high as you want.

Step 3: Mid-section


Outrageous-- I mean, perfectly traditional-- get ups like tutus should pose no problem even in all their volume. Sneaking in between lanes of cars (which you shouldn't be doing anyway!) might feel like a tighter squeeze, and that kid you keep in the seat on the back probably won't be too happy either but hey-- there's no such thing as a free ride.

Other mid-section items:

-Tails on a tux: Fold them up and tuck them in your cumberbund for safe keeping.

-Ties/Bow-ties: Tie them up or tuck them into your shirt. If you're going to be cruising at a relaxed pace you can leave them untied in that I'm-casual-sexy way.

-Scarves/Turbans: Loop them around, tie them up.

-Fringe: It should NEVER be long enough to get caught in your bike anyway.

Step 4: Heads Up


Let's talk HELMET HAIR. No one likes that look. Those of you with buzz-cuts have a get out of jail free card. All the rest of you try any of these strategies:

-Ride with dry hair
Otherwise, your wet hair will dry in the shape of the helmet, making it much harder to shake out.

-Bring some product along for the ride
Slip some wax/gel/mousse into your bag and do your faux-hawk once you arrive.

-Wear a head-wrap under your helmet
This can protect braids from frizzing or long hair from getting wind-whipped.

-Wear hair/head accessories
There's nothing like a hat to cover up a bad hair situation. Headbands and head-wraps do wonders too.

Let's say you're going to a full-blown, Abe Lincoln era formal event, so your top hot is an essential part of your get-up. You have two options:

1. Wear the helmet for the ride over while stashing the top hat in your bike basket.
2. Wear the top hat for the ride over and risk winding up just like Abe. (That is to say dead, granted under very different circumstances)

Step 5: Sweat and Other Dilemas


No one wants to be that sweaty person making a presentation with enormous armpit stains, or dripping into the punch bowl at party. Remember, the motto is: TRANSPORT, NOT SPORT. So here are few easy ways to avoid it:

-Pace yourself
You are not Lance Armstrong. (Or maybe you are? Sorry Lance, I'll buy you a drink.) If you give yourself an extra few minutes you won't have to race to wherever it is you're going and therefore, won't wind up sweating so much.

-Use an alternate route
Hills are real sweat-makers. Check out your terrain to find the most pancake-like route. Try Google Maps or the maps provided by the ever-so-helpful crew at sfbike.org.

-Don't wear that extra layer
Maybe your office is over-air-conditioned. The outside world definitely isn't. So pack that blazer/sweater/vest/monkey-suit in your bag or bike basket and put it on once you get inside.

And a few last pointers to help you maintain your sweet style while rocking your carbon neutral mode of transport:

-Sunglasses are stylish and good for keeping wind and street crap out of your eyes.

-Say no to crack. I don't care how good your butt looks in those jeans, no one wants to see it creeping out the top of them as your bent over biking.

-If you like to accessorize your own self so much, look into accessorizing your bike. Rainbow streamers anyone? You can also think of your bike basket as a window display of sorts: what hot bag can you put in there that says "you"?


For more stuff by me, Casey, cruise my website: telephoneandsoup.com. I also have a book coming out called To Timbuktu which you can check out here: allthewaytotimbuktu.com

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    108 Discussions

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    nheckman

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable. Some shoe manufacturers, like Merrell are starting to make heels more specifically for cycling, with a thicker heel and super grippy bottoms. http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/26478W/61698/Womens/Evera-MJ

    There is also a new store that caters just to women who commute by bike. They don't carry shoes, but other stylish and functional products to help women look and feel their best on the bike. www.urban-spoke.com.



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    gtrachel

    8 years ago on Step 5

     I really appreciated this instructable.  Of course I support all cyclists, but those of us who actually use our bike as our main mode of transportation are a special group and I think we're often overlooked, and the "cyclist" is considered only that guy in the spandex with ads all over him and the clip pedals and all that.  Go for it, guy - but I ride more than you.  And I want to wear high heels and a poofy skirt.  So thanks for writing this instructable, not just for the tips but for supporting other non-spandex cyclists and letting us know we're not alone.

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    Concupiscencegtrachel

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 5

    A-men sista! I HATE the Lycra Squad. They are RUDE. The whip past you with NO WARNING, which is SO dangerous! I have a bike bell. And I use it. Because it's polite and lessens the chance that someone is going to swerve into you because, hey, they didn't know you were trying to make them eat your dust....! Apparently if you think spandex is cool, you think bike bells are lame. They usually also don't stop for right of way. They give me road rage.

    My issues with bike clothes are what to wear in the rain. I need cute shoes that are weather proof! As far as the long full skirts go, I grab the bottom on left and right, double knot it behind me, looks like a bustle, lol.

    I swear I'm not a goody two shoes, but when it comes to proper behavior on a bicycle, I get pretty upset when i see people doing stuff that puts everybody in danger. or is just plain rude. Like riding on the sidewalk, or on the wrong side of the road. Or both. It doesn't kill anyone to follow the basic rules. In fact it makes it easier!
    And remember folks, if there is any chance you're going to be riding in the dark, for god's sake, Reflectors and lights! I live in the land of potheads(not a judgement, just a fact), and I just don't get these fools who think no drunk or stoned person is going to run them over while they pedal about in all black with no lights! REALLY?!?!?! and on top of that they run stop signs at high speeds? Silly.

    Whew! I better stop myself before this rant takes up the whole day! Sorry all, I just had to chime in!
    (all comments I made about the Lycra squad are subject to my area, I have no idea how they behave in other cities, but here 80% are jerks)

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    MrsDJE

    7 years ago on Introduction

    While on vacation in Italy last year, I noticed that most of the female bicyclists were dressed to the nines - including their fabulous high heeled shoes!

    Since then I've learned that the women throughout Europe who dress well will do so even when riding a bike. Their daily commute on bikes doesn't impede their fashion choices!


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    husamwadi

    7 years ago on Introduction

    LOL, eeehh.... I don't know how stylish this will be if a dude trys it :P

    good idea tho.

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    alpinelife

    8 years ago on Step 5

    Now can some one address another unseemly concern?  That of crotch crush?  I'm a female.  I have bought many different  saddles.  Saddles with holes, saddles with gel, etc.  Nothing keeps me comfortable while I'm riding.  Any help would be appreciated.  Also, the comfortable saddles look so....geriatric.  I hate the feeling that I look like a loser. 

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    haptotropealpinelife

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Your weight should be evenly distributed (comfortably) between your feet, bum and arms.  Try adjusting your saddle.  tip it back a little?  up or down a little?  slide it forward or back, a little?  1/8-1/4" can make a huge difference!

    Brooks saddles can be awesome, but those rivets can rip up your cute gear pretty quickly... get a cover )or tie a square of spandex over the top of it.

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    Tip #1, always make sure the person giving you advice on saddle section has the same equipment as yourself. Special consideration should be made for labias, men would have no idea how to help you with that, believe me. Same idea for bras, don't expect to get good advice from dudes about bra fitting.
    As a fellow women I say check out a brooks saddles. Sadly their not vegan (or vegetarian) friendly, but are the most comfortable saddles out there for peeps who bike everywhere.
    Some preliminary stuff... go to a local bike shop and ask to get your sit bones measured. Avoid any conversation from dudes who try to tell you to buy a over-expensive/junk specialized women's saddle (they only want your number anyway). Just get the measurements and say adios. Alternatively, if your lucky enough to find a knowledgeable women working at the shop who knows the frustrations of saddle section, give her your full attention. She knows what she's talking about.
    Take your sit bone measurements, add 20mm and get a saddle a little wider. Like, if your site bones are 180mm wide (like mine) + 20mm, you got 200mm... so something like the B.68 (210x260mm) should work well for you.
    I don't usually go around posting my blog, but on there I talked about my method of selecting a saddle pintsizeddame.blogspot.com/search. I list where I got the saddle (they got a six month full satisfaction return policy - hell yes) and I listed all the different saddles I tried out, mistakes and all.

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    alpinelifejewellertman

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

    Measure my sit bones?  Good idea.  I wonder if a doctor could do this.  I'm sure I could never find a bicycle store to do it!  I have seen Brooks saddles in catalogs.  They are handsome!  I just have such a hard time believing hard leather could be comfortable.  Thanks for the advice and your time.

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    jewellertmanalpinelife

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

    Most bike stores sell generic specialized saddles based on sit bone width. They'd have a little plastic thing you'd sit on. It leaves sit bone imprints, and it tells you what specialized saddle to buy. Don't bother with the saddle it says would fit you, but do measure the indentation your sit bones leaves. My advice would be to measure from the widest edge of the indentations and then use the measurements for finding that perfect saddle. Getting the measurements was really easy, it's the trial and error with the brooks that time intensive.

    I believe there are so homemade methods of figuring out your sit bone width if no bike shop has that where you are. I saw them online, so you'd probably just have to do a little googling to find that.

    And surprisingly, the leather saddles are really comfortable, that is if you find the right one. I've learned to stay away from gel, what you need when you ride is support on your sit bones, the leather, after you brake it in, really does work great. I used http://www.wallbike.com/ six month return policy to my advantage and tried three different saddles - putting around 100 miles on each before figuring out if they'd work or not. Surprisingly one of their widest saddles worked for me. I'm mega petite, so if I learned anything, its that your sit bone width that's most important. I've known other women who are twice my size and use a smaller saddle than me. Use whatever what works best!

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    greezusjewellertman

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i can't believe no one mentioned shorts- biking specific shorts. while they are by no means fashionable, if i'm going for more than a 5 mile ride, i've got bike shorts on UNDERNEATH whatever else i'm wearing.

    i hate the look of spandex/lycra (at least on dudes...), but that's what they're made for- they're padded in all the right places, but like seats, every company's pads are a little different.

    my current favorite shorts are made by Pace & have a gel pad in them- most have regular padding which is also comfy. but Pace is owned/operated by a woman, so you can probably bet that the female shorts are really good too. 

    saddle wise, i have to agree- Brooks makes some of the best saddles ever, and have been doing so forever. totally comfy (i was just reading an article about saddles, and it was saying the more you ride in a week, the harder saddle you want), and lifetime wise, it'll last longer than you. but i know every person's body is a little different...
    i'm curious about these new seats i've been seeing that are pretty much look like nothing more than separate butt cheek rests, and really padded. anyone have any experience with those?

    brandon at 1lesscar dot com

    I bought one of the old CCM bike seats and LOVE it.  It is actually quite comfortable. I found it at a fellows booth at a flea market and he fixed up bikes etc and had got in an old CCM. I miss those bikes.

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    Totysheepalpinelife

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

    Try lowering the nose of your saddle, use a wide saddle make sure to scoot as far back as you can (so your but is completely on the saddle and not so much on the nose) If any of this doesn't help then it's probably because your saddle is way to far from your handlebars! That causes you to lay on the saddle instead of sitting upright. And big saddles can look cooler than silly little ones! just look at mine!

    preview.11693_Nirve_Island_flower_brown_saddle.jpg
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    alpinelifeTotysheep

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

    I do try to sit back on the saddle, but find myself eventually riding on the horn (often).  In addition to seats, I have also bought short stems.  I must have a freak body, because nothing has helped.   You are right, your saddle is cool looking.  I have one more saddle on order, then I'm giving up and buying a new bike.  Thank you for posting with your help.

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    Totysheepalpinelife

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 5

     Ooh! I had that too! you might have to raise the horn in that case! And if all else really does fail, try what essgeebee said, go to a bike store and have it fitted. I any case good luck!

    have you tried the terry butterfly? expensive, but it's nice and wide (cause we have hips) and has a big ol hole in the middle for your bits. 

    also, don't wear things with big seams in the middle.  jeans = crush^2

    Thank you!  The terry butterfly does look comfortable and not geriatric at all!  I'll save my pennies and give it a try!  And I had never thought of the seam in my jeans!  Of course!

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    essgeebeealpinelife

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Proper fitment of your bike (stem length, saddle fore/aft positioning, saddle levelness, top tube length, etc) also has a lot to do with comfort and stress points. Check with your local bike shop - if they're nice, they can do a fitting for you on your bike, and recommend things to try to alleviate the pain ;)

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    pigeonpants

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I *ADORE* this instructable!!

    I'm a sculptress, and for the longest time it made me so sad that when I went to work in the woodshop or go to an iron pour I had to I'd end up looking like a guy w/ very nice tits. Then finally one day I decided, NO MORE! Still can't wear skirts or heels while working, but my biggest break-thru came when I figured out how to make any of my cutes ballet flats into steel toed ballet flats. ^_^

    Maybe I should make an instructable for steel toed ballet flats. =D