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Clothes you can cycle to uni in that aren’t activewear

Cycling to university has become somewhat of a phenomenon for Manchester students. After having sat on one too many Magic Buses stuck in traffic, watching cyclists happily ride past them, fitter, richer and lowering their carbon footprint, more and more students are opting to ride their bike rather than the bus. The only problem that comes with it is: what to wear?

Not only does cycling increase your chances of arriving to your lecture considerably sweatier than when you left the house, there’s also ample opportunities for flashing the traffic beside you or ripping your jeans down the crotch whilst riding your bike. Because of this, cyclists may feel that their sartorial options are limited to activewear, but it doesn’t have to be this way! 

Despite my previous allusion to ripped jeans, denim can be a feasible option for those who opt to bike to class. If you’re more of a skinny jeans type of person, you’re in luck! Skinny jeans are generally made with elastase which means they have some stretch for you to move around in, minimizing chances of rips and ensuring you can actually move the pedals without looking like a tin man who needs oiling. 

Straight leg and mom style jeans can be a little bit more difficult, as they are often made with little to no elastase, depending on their quality. Try and avoid vintage jeans for your cycling endeavours as they will generally be rigid. You should be able to find an option with some stretch on the high street though, although this might mean compromising on the fit of the jeans a little, especially if you like a rigid straight leg jean. But, hey, you’re saving £250 a year on a bus pass, so you win some and lose some! 

Whilst mini skirts are generally a no-go when riding your bike, midi skirts are the perfect option. In the warmer months, they work really well when shorts and mini skirts feel too risky for your precarious bike seat.

In winter you can put a pair of thin thermal leggings underneath, rolling them up to just above the hemline of your skirt. Try and stick to thin (but insulated) leggings in favour of tights because the latter are prone to ripping, especially with lots of movement. Instead, to avoid cold ankles, wear your midi with a pair of boots that leave little to no space between the hemline of your skirt and the top of the boot. Alternatively, get your ankles out; they really don’t feel the cold as much as you might think.

Moving on to the upper body is where it can get difficult, as you either opt for feeling ridiculously sweaty whilst riding your bike or freezing in the library that remains icy cold all year round. To reconcile this, try some clever layering.

A t-shirt (long sleeved or short sleeved depending on the time of year and your resilience to the cold) plus a jacket or coat (try and keep the hemline short for cycling so the fabric doesn’t get caught in the wheels) is all you need to wear when you leave the house.

But be sure to take an extra layer in your bag. Although sweatshirts are cozy, they will leave no room in your bag for the books you need for your seminar or more importantly, snacks for the library. So try and avoid any thick knits or hoodies and opt for something thinner. The key to keeping warm in only a thin knit is the fabric; opt for wool or cashmere (if it’s within your budget) as acrylic fabrics tend to cause sweatiness rather than insulation. 

Finally, think about investing in some smart thermals. Uniqlo have a line of thermal clothing called ‘HeatTech’ that aim to keep you warm whilst also regulating your body temperature. With these thermals, there is no overheating like there might be with traditional layers when you’re cycling at double speed to your lecture at 8:55am. 


Tags: biking, Cycling, fashion, thermals, uniqlo, what to wear, winter clothing

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