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Lycra - a right or a privilege?

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    Lycra - a right or a privilege?

    My teenage son is starting to get into cycling in a reasonably serious way - ie, he now expects (me) to spend serious money on a bike and gear!

    Recently while looking for clothing bargains for him on various sites, I have come to the realisation that the skintight lycra shorts, bib-shorts and jerseys come in an extra-ordinary range of sizes - from memory, the largest I have seen was 2 or 3 XL!

    Whilst appreciating that the properties of lycra make accommodating these sizes possible, from a "style" perspective would you gentlemen impose a self-restraint limit?

    Is lycra gear a right or a privilege?

    Should a style conscious gentleman forego lycra until the discipline of an exercise routine makes an L (or an XL) possible?

    Is lycra beyond style anyway, with an urgent need to peel it off, shower and dress in something more classy as soon as absolutely possible?

    Should I get out from behind this computer and join the "weekend warriors" out on the road?


    As an avid cyclist, I can assure you that no one wears lycra because of the way it looks. If you are planning on riding any real distance, however, it is by far the most comfortable and practical attire. No matter your size or how ridiculous you think you'll look in lycra, you'll be very sorry if you wear anything else on longer rides. There's no reason to wear it when you're off the bike, but I highly recommend embracing it while you're riding.

    Some companies make bike clothes that are a little more stylish than the rest, if you're still looking to stand out (in a good way). I'm a big fan of Twin Six.

    My advice on the shorts is that you get what you pay for. I'm extremely cheap at heart and have a hard time swallowing the sticker price for quality shorts, but I've never once regretted the purchase of a high-end pair. I have, however, regretted purchasing several of the mid or lower level pairs I own.



      For sports, function trumps fashion. You can always wear athletic shorts over your bike shorts if you want to be a bit more modest



        Like Trash said, I buy the kind that goes on as if it were underwear and then wear nylon golfing shorts or pants over it. I bought a few pairs where they were integrated into a normal looking short but the outside always seem to tear eventually and then I have to throw them whole thing out. I don't do the jerseys because they mostly seem silly, plastered in sponsor logos. I usually ride with regular performance sports stuff that helps deal with sweat/water resistance (bonus, I also wear much of this when I go sailing).

        I am not enough of a cyclist to wear any of the pro looking stuff, same reason I won't lug around a DSLR lest people confuse me for actually know what an F stop is. If he is into bibs and stuff, though, I don't think there is anyway to not end up looking like Lance Armstrong.



          An F stop is a subway station that goes up and down 6th Ave and out to Queens and Brooklyn, right?



            I'm an amateur racing cyclist--12 hours a week of training, 10-15 races a year. I'm not the fastest guy in my group, but my group is made up of the fastest guys. Hopefully that makes me credible.

            I don't care if you weigh 350 pounds: ride. it'll change your life, and 90% of us will welcome you with open arms no matter how big you are. The other 10& are assholes no matter what they're doing in life, cycling or gardening.

            We all look ridiculous to civilians when we ride, but it's all about function: good fabrics wick sweat to prevent chafing, skin-tight clothing cuts down on wind resistance, compression materials help delay the onset of fatigue, and bright colors make riders more visible to cars.

            But wear proper cycling gear. The only way to transform your physique is to ride. And you'll be more likely to ride if you're wearing well-made, comfortable clothing. Plus, you'll look like even more of a doofus if you show up on a ride wearing non-bike clothing.

            There are ways to avoid look hyberbolically ridiculous, however--especially to other cyclists. Don't wear team logos unless you're on that team; no matching RadioShack or Discovery Channel kits. You'll look like a fanboy poseur, like the guy who wears his Tom Brady replica jersey to play two-hand touch in the park.

            To put a Dappered spin on all this: buy understated pieces that are well-made and will last a long time. Classic tastes will serve you well. The best value in cycling clothing comes from Pearl Izumi. Get the best pair(s) of black bib shorts you can afford, a good baselayer undershirt, and a short-sleeve jersey in a club cut. No traffic sign yellow. White's classic and understated. Rapha makes the most sartorial bike gear, but it's spendy:


            Good luck. Ride. But do so in appropriate clothing--and yes, get out of it immediately after the ride.



              Echo all the above comments. When I first started cycling I was resistant to wearing spandex, then realized how much more comfortable they are to ride in. Now I could care less how 'ridiculous' I look when I'm riding a few hundred miles a week.

              If you're a plus sized person and you really start cycling, that weight will come off (assuming you also follow some sort of diet) and you can get into smaller sizes.

              Word to a new rider, don't go out and buy tons of gear at once, try a piece here and there since not all gear is created equal. I bought a few pair of shorts because they were a great deal only to find out I hated the way they felt when I rode. Just like clothes, buy quality over quantity. Your body will thank you!!



                Road cycling (as in racing, group rides, training and not going 1 mile to the convenience store) in lycra is like going to an interview in a suit. It's just something that you do, and if you don't you'll look more ridiculous. When the 300 other roadies on the road are in lycra and you're in a billowing pair of basketball shorts and a cotton t-shirt then you're the one that looks out of place. If Dappered constantly emphasizes something, it's that you dress for the situation.

                As for the size comments, one of my friends that I constantly ride with weighs 250 lbs, down for 315. This guy is HUGE, but not really fat, more like "I'm going to throw this full keg 300 yards" big. He'll put out over 300 watts (on a powertap, not estimating) for over an hour and can hang with the fastest group rides in Miami which are often frequented by pro's and olympians. He rides 5000+ miles a year. Does multiple centuries. Should he not be in lycra because he wears 3xl?

                On the flip side, I wear small/medium. Have a traditional cyclist build, yet I'm slower than he is, should I not be wearing lycra?