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  1. #1
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    MTB Clothing History

    I'm in my 30's and my parents got me a mountain bike in 1987-88. So I have been riding and been around a lot of riders for 19 years. I have a question for you all...

    Q: Why the love for spandex pants and really tight jerseys?

    I understand that it came from the road cycling end of things. Obviously with road bikes, you want to be aerodynamic. A spandex clad friend of mind tells me "Hey, I don't want to get caught on a branch". I think that is BS.

    Needless to say, I've worn "baggy" shorts for a long time, usually with a padded spandex short under them. I am very happy to the with the influx of MX style gear. I just wonder what the attraction is to spandex in the MTB world?

  2. #2
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    Comfort
    Support
    Moisture Management

    Aerodynamics is low on the reasons list for "Lycra" style clothing.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne
    Comfort
    Support
    Moisture Management
    all can be had with modern baggies.

  4. #4
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    To Each His Own



    Lots of people love them.
    I can't stand baggy cloths of any type.

    I made no claims that traditional cycling cloths were better, I was just pointing out the reasons people wear them.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  5. #5
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    If your reasons can be duplicated by baggy gear, how about some actual advantages?

    I've never understood the spandex thing.

  6. #6
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    Start A New Thread

    Or use the search function to find comments.

    The topic of this thread is not "why is traditional cyclicling clothing better than baggy clothing"
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  7. #7
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    I use both. I like the baggies for crash protection and style. For really hot days on the trail, I haven't found a baggie yet that is as cool as lycra.

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    nm...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne
    Or use the search function to find comments.

    The topic of this thread is not "why is traditional cyclicling clothing better than baggy clothing"
    Really? just quoting the OP here...

    "Q: Why the love for spandex pants and really tight jerseys?"

    "I just wonder what the attraction is to spandex in the MTB world?"

    no one is forcing you to post in this thread. if you don't want to take part in it, just don't.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy79
    If your reasons can be duplicated by baggy gear, how about some actual advantages?

    I've never understood the spandex thing.
    Agree with the other poster: Lycra shorts, on hot days, are simply cooler than baggies, which are typically two-shorts-in-one.. Also, knickers are some of the most versatile cycling garments around, and I have yet to find a decent "baggy" knicker that doesnt flop around and catch on the saddle.

    That said, I do like baggies for coolish days, or less strenuous rides.

  11. #11
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    I lost 12lbs in water weight during a 15mi ride in 104f heat/humidity on Sunday. My baggies were like a sopping wet, beach towel that was thrown into the pool. I'd prefer to wear lycra on rides like that but for protection I wear baggies over my lycra; Fox, Oakley's, or even Columbia. Why? I'm wearing Castelli shorts (tights). Ever paid $200 for a set of shorts? If so, you'll be inclined to protect them from stickers, thorns, and wipeouts.

  12. #12
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    I guess i'm just not 'hardcore' enough because i just don't ride when its that hot.

  13. #13
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    All Of Which Were Addressed In My First Post

    A better question is why you chose to take part in this discussion.

    I'll tack on another reason people wear lycra on the trail: Money.
    There's little reason to have 2 cycling wardrobes.

    After re-reading Doc's post for the n'th time I still do not see anything comparing/contrasting spandex with baggies.

    "Why the love for spandex and really tight jerseys?" answered post #2

    "I just wonder what the attraction is to spandex in the MTB world" answered post #2,
    and also: No choice. Baggies are a pretty new invention.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    I'm in my 30's and my parents got me a mountain bike in 1987-88. So I have been riding and been around a lot of riders for 19 years. I have a question for you all...

    Q: Why the love for spandex pants and really tight jerseys?

    I understand that it came from the road cycling end of things. Obviously with road bikes, you want to be aerodynamic. A spandex clad friend of mind tells me "Hey, I don't want to get caught on a branch". I think that is BS.

    Needless to say, I've worn "baggy" shorts for a long time, usually with a padded spandex short under them. I am very happy to the with the influx of MX style gear. I just wonder what the attraction is to spandex in the MTB world?
    Spandex shorts just work better, IMO. I used spandex shorts for years, then went through a baggies phase that I am slowly getting out of. When it is hot, spandex is cooler. When it is cold, spandex is easy to layer over. When things get really technical, spandex gets in the way less, and this is what really led me to go back to spandex.

    Tight shirts? Yeah, I don't really get that, but having the fabric against you does help wick the moisture away. I just use some type of wicking t-shirt.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne
    A better question is why you chose to take part in this discussion.

    I'll tack on another reason people wear lycra on the trail: Money.
    There's little reason to have 2 cycling wardrobes.

    After re-reading Doc's post for the n'th time I still do not see anything comparing/contrasting spandex with baggies.

    "Why the love for spandex and really tight jerseys?" answered post #2

    "I just wonder what the attraction is to spandex in the MTB world" answered post #2,
    and also: No choice. Baggies are a pretty new invention.
    So discussions on this forum are limited to one answer of the exact original question? Thats awesome.

  16. #16
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    That's the biggest reason to wear lycra IMO - you stay a lot cooler when it's hot. I think there is a study that shows how much but I'm too lazy to find it. Why burn up and sweat buckets in your baggies? Do you think it makes you look more mtb-ish? They get hot, heavy, and catch on your seat more. If your regular rides include leg pads, lowered seats, etc. and you do more DH then climbing then its much less of an issue.

    I like to wear lycra and even a jersey that I can unzip in the front when it's hot. During the Fall/Winter baggies make more sense but knickers or tights keep you warmer and are better for the same reasons to me. I still have several pairs of baggies though - I wear them for casual rides or in moderately cool weather. If I am going to shuttle trails in the summer I usually would wear baggies too.

    It is kind of ironic though when someone who wears baggies and "doesn't understand" lycra tries to suggest that riders who wear lycra do it for looks. Ask youself the next time you're riding and sweating your a$$ who the real slave to fashion is! **This is meant as a light-hearted jab btw. Don't get your baggies in a bunch.**
    "You can't discern by calculating in your mind how it will work. You have to feel how it rides differently to understand."

  17. #17
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    I'm not trying to be a dick here, seriously. Coming from BMX I've always worn baggies. Didn't know asking further questions was a no-no here.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    When it is hot, spandex is cooler.

    When I take off my PI Ultrasensors, my ass is actually colder to the touch than the rest of my skin. I keep telling my wife, "Feel this! You'll be amazed!"

    I got some fine stylin RHS baggies, but they aren't fine riding; sorry.

    Someone talk about chamois butter for epics.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy79
    I'm not trying to be a dick here, seriously. Coming from BMX I've always worn baggies. Didn't know asking further questions was a no-no here.
    Jeez.. By my count, you have a handful of people responding to your admittedly redundant question/comment.

    Sorry if you didn't get the response you were seeking, but don't be so thin-skinned.

    ..and in your BMX experience, how many hours are spent exerting constant effort? From what I can tell, BMX involves about 30 seconds of sprinting from one end of the track to the other. From what I've seen, most BMX guys wear scaled-down motocross stuff, or Dickies -- not actual MTB baggy shorts.

    Hard mtb rides have more in common with road rides in that respect, hence the crossover functions in clothing.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridin'Dirty
    That's the biggest reason to wear lycra IMO - you stay a lot cooler when it's hot. I think there is a study that shows how much but I'm too lazy to find it. Why burn up and sweat buckets in your baggies? Do you think it makes you look more mtb-ish? They get hot, heavy, and catch on your seat more. If your regular rides include leg pads, lowered seats, etc. and you do more DH then climbing then its much less of an issue.

    I like to wear lycra and even a jersey that I can unzip in the front when it's hot. During the Fall/Winter baggies make more sense but knickers or tights keep you warmer and are better for the same reasons to me. I still have several pairs of baggies though - I wear them for casual rides or in moderately cool weather. If I am going to shuttle trails in the summer I usually would wear baggies too.
    I don't think it makes me look more anything. I came to MTB from riding BMX and Motocross, and baggies were just more what I'm used to.

    Me not riding in high heat has nothing to do with my wardrobe. I don't really like to do anything when its really hot. I'm a cold weather person. I try to ride when its cool, mornings or evenings, and in the winter I ski instead of ride.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy79
    Didn't know asking further questions was a no-no here.
    Not at all. Actually some science to the topic:

    "American scientists investigated the effect of compression shorts on power production during maximal effort vertical jumps(1). Varsity volleyball athletes completed 10 maximal countermovement (ie with knee bend) vertical jumps, one every three seconds as cued by an auditory signal. Although the compression shorts did not influence maximal jump power, the results demonstrated that the athletes were better able to maintain power output during the repeated efforts. The investigators suggested that using the compression shorts increased the athletes’ ability to resist fatigue."

    http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/the-...clothing-35846

    If you decide to try regular cycling shorts, go with the big-buck Pearl Izumis. Fantastico.

    Oh--jerseys--I go with loose-fitting long-/full-zip hi-tech moisture management. Moisture mangement for skiing also.

    I'm not antistyle--BadHabit = all black. No dangerous colors.

  22. #22
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    When I used to ride "easier" trails (non-technical, no rock drops, etc.) baggies seemed just fine......but when I moved my riding up a notch by riding technical stuff I found my baggies were always getting caught on the saddle everytime I moved my butt behind the seat......so depending on the trail I'm gonna be riding I'll don the lycra or the baggies......

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadHabit
    Not at all. Actually some science to the topic:

    "American scientists investigated the effect of compression shorts on power production during maximal effort vertical jumps(1). Varsity volleyball athletes completed 10 maximal countermovement (ie with knee bend) vertical jumps, one every three seconds as cued by an auditory signal. Although the compression shorts did not influence maximal jump power, the results demonstrated that the athletes were better able to maintain power output during the repeated efforts. The investigators suggested that using the compression shorts increased the athletesí ability to resist fatigue."

    http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/the-...clothing-35846

    If you decide to try regular cycling shorts, go with the big-buck Pearl Izumis. Fantastico.
    Thats quite interesting.

    I have two pair of regular cycling shorts, i just always wear baggies over them. i've got two pair of columbia hiking shorts that were cheap and i've never had an issue with them catching on the saddle. I also have a pair of baggies with built in lycra shorts. The abrasion resistance is nice too.

    regarding the statement someone made about no need for multiple sets of riding clothes...I ride an average of 5 days a week. Its nice to not wear the same thing every day.

  24. #24
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    For me... it is a mixture of not having two different sets of cycling clothes (as was mentioned) and comfort. When I've worn baggies, they always snag on something... trees, cactus, the nose of my saddle... I just don't like 'em.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadHabit

    If you decide to try regular cycling shorts, go with the big-buck Pearl Izumis. Fantastico.
    Voler's are really nice for the money too - I just can't find them in stock anywhere!
    "You can't discern by calculating in your mind how it will work. You have to feel how it rides differently to understand."

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy79
    I ride an average of 5 days a week. Its nice to not wear the same thing every day.

    There's also that underwear with cycling pad insert. Never tried it, but might be nice to have.

    Funny you say that above--I'm someone who wears the same damn thing every damn day--black, white and gray--off the bike. It's my couture philosophy, but that would be other threads.

  27. #27
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    Swim trunks are excellent on hot days!
    Maybe I'm a hard a$$, but I do not need chamois cushion, but I don't mind it either.
    Not having a hairy a$$ helps too.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridin'Dirty
    ..really nice for the money..

    I read someone here who said "points of contact" with the bike--don't scrimp on those. Made a lot of sense to me!

    Luuuunchtime!

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadHabit
    I read someone here who said "points of contact" with the bike--don't scrimp on those. Made a lot of sense to me!

    Luuuunchtime!

    OK - Voler's are as nice as similar shorts that cost twice as much.

    How's that?

    I agree with this point though. Investing in nice shorts are worth it if you can afford to do so.
    "You can't discern by calculating in your mind how it will work. You have to feel how it rides differently to understand."

  30. #30
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    Yea comming from MX I cant understand the spandex thing. Guys who wear it in the dirt to me look gay. Women look HOT in it. There are also A LOT of people on the other hand who have NO business wearing Spandex anywhere

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    When I start worrying about what other dudes think about my attire, THEN you can call me gay.

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    Lycra chafes less on long rides. It's cooler. road-style jerseys have really useful pockets at the back that are easily accessible while riding.

    I tend to wear road jerseys and baggies when riding offroad, but go full lycra for the really long rides. But my offroad rides tend to be short loops (not much long-distance stuff available around here in TO).

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyl26
    Yea comming from MX I cant understand the spandex thing. Guys who wear it in the dirt to me look gay. Women look HOT in it. There are also A LOT of people on the other hand who have NO business wearing Spandex anywhere
    I'm surprised it took so long for this typical (and stupid) comment to show up.
    "You can't discern by calculating in your mind how it will work. You have to feel how it rides differently to understand."

  34. #34
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    I have both baggies and lycra.

    When I wear my baggies I feel more friction at the knee and thigh, a constant swish swish, but I love having pockets. Jersey pockets just don't do it for me.

    When I wear the lycra, I experience no friction, and am cooler. I have a Fizik gobi saddle, which is rather long, and frequently catch the stretchy lycra on the nose of the saddle when mounting on a downhill. It causes false starts.

    So they have pluses and minuses both IMO.

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    He'd better not be talking about me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ridin'Dirty
    I'm surprised it took so long for this typical (and stupid) comment to show up.
    Don't hate me cause Im beautiful.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  36. #36
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    Just a few thoughts...

    ** The compression shorts scientists tested at that time (I was in High School at the time) were not the same thing as bike shorts. They were much thicker and tighter. If you have ever power lifted and have worn a lifting suit, it's more like that. The compression supports the muscles and joints. They DID NOT test thin, little biker shorts / tights. So... I'll have to disagree with that.

    ** Baggy riding shorts are not something new. I bought my first pair in maybe 1994. They weren't much more than glorified kayak shorts with a gusset crotch. However, they worked well enough.

    I understand the "different strokes for different folks" thing. Wear what you want. I have ZERO issues with the lycra-folks I see. Most of which are friends.

    Someone above said: Some folks have no busienss wearing lycra. I 100% agree and this was the main reason I posted. A MTB blogger posted som pics of him and his friends out riding recently. WOW... you got to know when to say when... that's all I am saying.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridin'Dirty
    OK - Voler's are as nice as similar shorts that cost twice as much.

    How's that?

    Can't argue.

    Can I have an as-nice saddle that costs half my Aliante?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by thecrazyfinn
    Lycra chafes less on long rides. It's cooler. road-style jerseys have really useful pockets at the back that are easily accessible while riding.

    I tend to wear road jerseys and baggies when riding offroad, but go full lycra for the really long rides. But my offroad rides tend to be short loops (not much long-distance stuff available around here in TO).

    That's prob the best post on my thread so far. All of that I fully understand and can agree with.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyl26
    There are also A LOT of people on the other hand who have NO business wearing Spandex anywhere
    Yep, that's me. I wear baggies because I like them, and it is also for everyone else on the trail that would like to have a nice ride without either throwing up in their mouth, or falling over from hysterical laughter if they saw me in spandex.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    They DID NOT test thin, little biker shorts / tights.

    I missed that part?

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadHabit
    Can't argue.

    Can I have an as-nice saddle that costs half my Aliante?

    Yes! If you want the one with Cromo rails I have one of these on my road bike and think they are great too.
    "You can't discern by calculating in your mind how it will work. You have to feel how it rides differently to understand."

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridin'Dirty
    Yes! If you want the one with Cromo rails I have one of these on my road bike and think they are great too.

    Got me there. Want you to know I have ti rails, not carbon.

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    I must be a hippy, I ride in cargo shorts and a t-shirt. I like baggy it hides my fat and it does not look like I have a squirrel stuffed in my front pubic region. Which the later for me would seem a bit embarrassing.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by TacoRim
    I must be a hippy, I ride in cargo shorts and a t-shirt. I like baggy it hides my fat and it does not look like I have a squirrel stuffed in my front pubic region. Which the later for me would seem a bit embarrassing.
    We all thank you!!!

  45. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    I'm in my 30's and my parents got me a mountain bike in 1987-88. So I have been riding and been around a lot of riders for 19 years. I have a question for you all...

    Q: Why the love for spandex pants and really tight jerseys?

    I understand that it came from the road cycling end of things. Obviously with road bikes, you want to be aerodynamic. A spandex clad friend of mind tells me "Hey, I don't want to get caught on a branch". I think that is BS.

    Needless to say, I've worn "baggy" shorts for a long time, usually with a padded spandex short under them. I am very happy to the with the influx of MX style gear. I just wonder what the attraction is to spandex in the MTB world?
    Aw Geez, not this crap again!! I don't give a flying fock what you wear, and the thought that you give a flying fock what I wear is mildly disturbing. Go ride your bike.

    Oh yeah, the Search function is your friend.

  46. #46
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    get off your butt

    Amongst bikers, it's all good. If a guy shows up anywhere else in public in spandex and most everyone will think you are at least weird. It is noble of you guys to pretend like you don't care what anyone thinks of how you look, but I bet you never wear spandex to a crab feast, trip to the beach, etc. even though there are probably practical reasons to do so.

    I wear regular old shorts too. If my ass is hurting, I am either not stopping often enough to enjoy the woods, or I am being lazy about standing up often enough for climbs. I like to sprint and rest. Breaks help rest my back, too.

    My favorite now are lightweight soccer shorts. I have a hard time believing lycra would be much cooler than something that is barely more than a running short.

  47. #47
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    Well, to each his own, but.....

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by heavyg
    Amongst bikers, it's all good. If a guy shows up anywhere else in public in spandex and most everyone will think you are at least weird. It is noble of you guys to pretend like you don't care what anyone thinks of how you look, but I bet you never wear spandex to a crab feast, trip to the beach, etc. even though there are probably practical reasons to do so.
    No, I don't wear spandex to a crabfest, but I also don't wear my tool belt to a cocktail party. As you said, amonst bikers it's all good and that's the only place I am wearing the stuff.

    I wear regular old shorts too. If my ass is hurting, I am either not stopping often enough to enjoy the woods, or I am being lazy about standing up often enough for climbs.
    Or because you are wearing soccer shorts instead of biking shorts (lycra or baggies)

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by heavyg
    It is noble of you guys to pretend like you don't care what anyone thinks of how you look, but I bet you never wear spandex to a crab feast, trip to the beach, etc. even though there are probably practical reasons to do so.
    Um, its about functionality for an active sport. Surfers wear wetsuits, but generally change out of them when they're done doing their thing.

    Personally, I like the fact that wearing cycling clothes when off the bike is somewhat embarrassing. Gets me into civvies (dry clothes) faster.

    Yeah, you can feel less self-conscious wearing your sweat-soaked baggies to the taqueria, but don't cry to me when your crotch ends up looking like Paris Hilton's.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridin'Dirty
    Voler's are really nice for the money too - I just can't find them in stock anywhere!
    I agree...Voler makes some of the best cycling clothes.

    Have you used Velowear.com ?
    Never be afraid to try something new.

    Remember amateurs built the Ark.
    Professionals built the Titanic.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drewdane
    Aw Geez, not this crap again!! I don't give a flying fock what you wear, and the thought that you give a flying fock what I wear is mildly disturbing. Go ride your bike.

    Oh yeah, the Search function is your friend.
    Best post so far.

    Also, wear what you like, enjoy the feel more than the looks.

  51. #51
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
    Reputation: Shayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    Just a few thoughts...

    ** The compression shorts scientists tested at that time (I was in High School at the time) were not the same thing as bike shorts. They were much thicker and tighter. If you have ever power lifted and have worn a lifting suit, it's more like that. The compression supports the muscles and joints. They DID NOT test thin, little biker shorts / tights. So... I'll have to disagree with that.

    ** Baggy riding shorts are not something new. I bought my first pair in maybe 1994. They weren't much more than glorified kayak shorts with a gusset crotch. However, they worked well enough.
    Not all cycling shorts are thin. There are several popular weights of spandex not inculding the propriatary stuff some manufacturers use. I have 2 pair of shorts that are so thick and supportive they border on constricting movement. Yes, they fit. They were designed like that. I personally hate the super thin/lightweight stuff. It offers no support and is so stretchy that it is hard to take off and put on.

    I consider 1994 new, hence my comment. Padded baggies were around for a few years before that, Mountain biking had been around for almost 20 years by that point though. Anyone who was serious about riding prior to the 90's had 2 choices, jeans/cut-offs and a T or spandex.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  52. #52
    Who are the brain police?
    Reputation: Locoman's Avatar
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    Spandex? What not to love?
    The Who - Glittering Girl
    Ween - The Grobe
    Yellowman - Strong Me Strong
    all your base are belong to us

  53. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reposado Man
    Yeah, you can feel less self-conscious wearing your sweat-soaked baggies to the taqueria, but don't cry to me when your crotch ends up looking like Paris Hilton's.
    That visual combined with some of the other visuals in this thread means I'm skipping dinner tonight

  54. #54
    trail rat
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    When I got my first MTB in 1979, I used the wool shorts with real chamois and the wool jerseys that we used on the road. That is all there was. The Repack guys were into jeans and rugby shirts, but being a mountaineer, I wanted the wool benefit over cotton.

    Now I mix it up depending on weather and terrain. Wearing the MTB shoes and knickers on the cross bike with the nordic ski pullover really freaks my younger friends. Who cares?!!

    After 42 years in outdoor riding / skiing / climbing / running, I wear what works; when was the last Mr / Ms Outdoor fashion contest you saw on TV?

    Lycra shorts / tights / knickers / knee warmers / leg warmers / arm warmers are almost always part of the costume, maybe on the surface, maybe under baggies or climbing knickers.
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

    CCCMB trail work for trail access - SLO, CA

  55. #55
    trail rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM-SC
    I agree...Voler makes some of the best cycling clothes.

    Have you used Velowear.com ?
    Yes, and then I ride the 12 miles to their office and pick them up on will call.
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

    CCCMB trail work for trail access - SLO, CA

  56. #56
    The Main Monkey Business
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    For mountain biking, I wear lycra shorts and fairly loose jerseys because they are more comfortable on longer rides (which I usually do) and in hot weather (I live in the south). I find that baggy shorts tend to chafe on hot days and are, of course, hotter on hot days. It's comfort first and then style for me.
    No plan survives contact with the enemy.

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