How to deal with a sweaty cycle commute

No matter how much I decide I’m going to cycle slowly and take my time on a commute, I end up speeding up. Either because I’m late, because I got delayed along the way, or because traffic conditions mean I feel better cycling faster. Inevitably, I get to my designation all sweaty. That and its been really hot lately, finally!

Sweat and smell are not often talked about, probably because it is awkward. If you have no option to change clothes after arriving at your destination, or limited changing facilities, clothing that dries quickly is a bonus. If you keep your clothes on, you don’t want to be damp in your meeting and if you take them off you want to know they will be dry later in the day when it comes time to ride again. No one enjoys a soggy, smelly t-shirt at 5.30pm!

Here are some great picks for tops and bottoms that will dry quickly and/or stop you smelling if you sweat and stay in the clothes all day.

Tops

Vulpine Merino Top

Merino:

  • Kathmandu merino t-shirts are great for cycling in town. They dry quicker than cotton and do not smell once you get sweaty in them – perfect if you have no option to change or want to go out after work, etc. They are also really good value and come in men’s and women’s
  • Vulpine also make some great merino t-shirts – their men’s Polo is particularly ‘urban’ looking.
  • Odlo make a merino vest called the Revolution X-Light that benefits from being very fast drying as well as resisting smells and costs around £30. It has a nice shape to it, with a longer back perfect for wearing on the bike and is very lightweight. It does look more sporty though with a racer shaper back so blends in less in the evening. A men’s version is also available, as is a t-shirt in the same material.
  • Icebreaker make lovely merino products. My personal favourite is a Tech Lite tank I got in a sale last year (kinda expensive otherwise). It is smart enough for many work environments but looks great with jeans. It doesn’t smell even after several days of wear and it is comfortable if you have to leave it on while cooling off. The men’s t-shirt looks great too.

Odlo women's merino vest

Synthetic:

  • Odlo Evolution X-Light vest top – this is seam free so great to wear under other tops. It is simple in black, but the fabric is obviously a performance one so is less pub friendly.
  • Synthetic running t-shirts – I like Nike Dri-fit things but they are not cheap full price, therefore really anything I can get at TKMaxx wins my vote – a performance running t-shirt will dry quickly so is perfect for leaving to dry during the day, or wearing continuously for casual exploits.
  • Sports bras – If you are wanting to dry quickly then a sports bra is a good idea as well –  New Balance and Nike make some good ones that are flattering as well instead of flattening.

Bottoms

There is really no delicate way to put this: a sweaty butt is gross and it happens, especially in the summer. It can also lead to some interesting concerns later in the day regarding odours if you don’t get a chance to change. If you can’t change at work to the level of showering and a complete clothes change, then quick drying underwear is in order.

Merino picks

  • Odlo Revolution light ones as they dry quickly for merino and available in women’s and men’s. Like the tops they are light and don’t retain smells. I have found them to be comfortable on the bike and they look nice, more than some technical underwear! They come in men’s and women’s with deals on Amazon.
  • Icebreaker underwear is also lovely and comes in a range of shapes depending on preference. They are about the same price as the Odlo ones and available in men’s and women’s.
Odlo pants

Merino

Synthetic picks

  • Again, Odlo Evolution X-Light pants are as good as the tops. They are seam free so comfortable for cycling without going for full padding. The also dry incredibly quickly. I have found that they don’t smell either.
  • Not technical underwear, but Marks and Spencer make some great synthetic pants which are good for daily wear.

    Odlo revolution x-light

    Synthetic

Accessories

There are other small things that can make a sweaty ride more comfortable and allow you to cope with the aftermath:

  • A small toilet bag with things like deodorant and baby wipes goes a long way to making you feel more comfortable at your desk during the day after a hot/long/sweaty ride in if you have no shower. Dry shampoo is also useful, particularly if you wear a helmet.
  • Panniers or other bicycle mounted bags or racks make life a little more comfortable if you get hot cycling. I am not a huge pannier fan and prefer backpacks generally, but it is nice to have the weight off your back and onto the bike. A trailer can also be used for this if you want to be able to carry a lot.

What are your main tips and products for dealing with sweat and smells and generally everything that can go along with cycling but people don’t talk about?

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One Response to How to deal with a sweaty cycle commute

  1. Em 03/08/2016 at 3:23 pm #

    Very helpful. Since i switched to an electric bike for my commute, I will say I don’t sweat half as much, but I do have a fairly long commute and the humid weather does make the journey a lot different to the one I was making in the summer last year (blasting the air con in my car), so this was really cool thanks!

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