revisit: how to ride a roadbike in skirt and heels

While I’m still recovering from giving birth and not yet back on my bike, I thought I’d revisit some noteworthy posts from last year this time around. This year, I’m a new mom trying to figure out this whole baby thing. Last year, I was a new bike commuter trying to figure out the whole ‘ride to work’ thing. I was also new to riding a roadbike and increasingly loving it, wanting to use my Raleigh Grand Prix not just for weekend rides but also for my work commutes. So here is a post I wrote on riding a roadbike in a skirt and heels (my usual teaching uniform), in case you missed it the first time around…

Roadbikin' in heels

I’ve recently begun riding my 1978 Raleigh Grand Prix to work and around town. The reason for this has to do with the new wheels that make this roadbike a dream to ride. Especially on rainy days – more on this later.

But while I happily made the switch from my upright commuter bike to the Grand Prix for my daily rides, I did not concede to any changes of wardrobe or footwear for this foray into roadbiking. Instead, I decided to test whether I could still dress as I would for teaching while commuting to work on my roadbike.

So here is how that’s working out…

As you can see, mounting a roadbike in a skirt and heels is really not a problem. I have seen other women riding roadbikes with dresses and skirts on so I knew this could be done. The trick: I tip the roadbike toward me when swinging my leg over the top tube to help me clear it a little easier while wearing a skirt. I have only been able to do this with my fuller skirts and would likely not be able to wear certain items of my professional wardrobe (narrower skirts, for example) on this kind of bike, but other than that, it’s all systems go.

I am enamored with my new (old) Raleigh roadbike and have loved riding it on a daily basis, so I was determined to reconcile my desire to ride the Grand Prix with my need to dress a certain way for my professional life. And I was surprised to see how much easier it was to make this work than I had anticipated; eschew the pencil skirts and be ready to ride.

The conclusion I’m drawing from this is as follows: the more I’m cycling on a regular basis, the more I’m finding myself able to ride on any type of bike in a comfortable and relaxed manner. A year ago I would have scoffed at the idea of riding a roadbike in heels and a skirt but now I’m seeing that it’s really not about the bike. Or not in the sense that a bike should make or break your commute. If you’re determined to ride and have a bike – any bike- that is a reasonable fit, you should be able to hop on and go. And sometimes the bike you least expected to fall in love with might just end up stealing your heart.

Happy riding!

Fall commute to work

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About simplybike

{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
This entry was posted in Bike 101, Biking in a Dress, Helmet Head, How-To Posts, Road Bikin' It, Stylish Cycling, Vintage Raleighs. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to revisit: how to ride a roadbike in skirt and heels

  1. Shalini says:

    I poked around the site a little bit (I’m a new reader), but I didn’t find the answer to this question: WHY a road bike instead of a commuter bike? I have a commuter right now which I hate, mostly because it’s too tall for me and it’s not the best quality (like, I have no idea which gear I’m in if I don’t look at the chains because the gear shifter labels fell off!), so I want to buy a new bike, but besides size, I don’t know what to look for. Is there an old post you could repost that would answer this? Ah, sorry for the novel of a question/comment.

    • simplybike says:

      Welcome to the site! I don’t know that I’ve written anything explicitly on this topic that I could link to, so here’s my response: I have several bikes. My more upright ones are outfitted with fenders and baskets which makes them ideal for riding around town (rain protection, carrying capacity, etc), so I refer to those as my commuter bikes. I have a road bike mostly for riding the paved trails on weekends and doing long distance rides (my longest was a 70 mile day ride). But once I started riding the road bike more on weekends, I came to really love how fast and efficient it is, so I began to ride it to work as well (thus making it my commuter bike for a while). As you can see from the pictures, it’s not the most practical choice for carrying stuff, as I had to loop both my bags around my shoulders and that can get heavy and uncomfortable if your commute is long.

      If you are looking for a daily bike, I would consider the following criteria besides the size (I’d argue that a good fit is actually the most important!):

      - how important is speed to you? if it’s important, then opt for a lighter bike or one with thinner tires, something like a road bike would be good
      - how much carrying space do you want? If your’e regularly carrying something, invest in rear rack, some baskets or pannier to add to your bike
      - will you be riding in all kinds of weather? then make sure you have fenders!
      - do you prefer a more upright seating position? then look for a city bike with a more upright geometry, not a roadbike

      In the end, I believe that ANY bike can be a perfect commuter bike as long as it meets your needs and fits you well. It’s all about finding a good match for what you want out of a bike. Hope that answers your question a bit! Good luck with your search!


  2. Julie says:

    It’s so weird seeing you not-pregnant. :)

  3. Andrea says:

    I was searching but couldn’t find anything about helmets… I worry about having crazy lines on my head, hair out of shape… any tips or ideas on how to bike to work and not look like it once you walk in the building?

    • simplybike says:

      My work commute was always fairly short and so I didn’t do much to accomodate the bike ride. I would ride slower in the summer to keep from working up much of a sweat and then wipe off with a paper towel in the bathroom upon mu arrival. In the winter, I’d simply shed all the extra layers of clothing until I was down to my work clothes. As for hair, I’d usually just smoothe it over with my hands. Low braids and buns work well (if you have longer hair) because they end up below the helmet and not messed with. I also love my black Giro helmet because it adjusts in size. You can tighten or loosen it and I did that a lot to allow for either different hairdos underneath or a hat or scarf, etc. I don’t usually get helmet imprints on my forhead but even if I did, I’m sure they’d go away within minutes.

      Also, rather than try to hide the fact that I just arrived by bike, I usually would banter about it with my students and would talk about my commute and often get stories from them about their bike rides to campus. When I’d arrive more weather beaten the usual, we would joke about it. I believe that it provided a good example for my students of how one can still be active and have fun on the way to work even once out of school.


  4. Nina says:

    First off – Congratulations!! You have a beautiful daughter!!

    I am new to this site having followed you over from Academichic – perfect timing for me as I recently began commuting to work on my bike. Riding in a skirt has been a bit of a challenge. I haven’t had too much trouble riding in a skirt of the length you are wearing in the photos here, but anything longer ends up flying behind me and getting caught under the fender of my commuter bike. Have you discovered any tricks for dealing with this. I’ve been riding to work in shorts or sweatpants and changing when I arrive which is fine unless I’m running late!

  5. LosFelizRider says:

    That first photo is super!

  6. Pingback: Simply Bike » bike to work: anatomy of an outfit

  7. Zweiradler says:

    The first photo must be one of the best pandas ever made.


    • simplybike says:

      Thanks! I really miss my roadbike, I can’t wait to be back on it soon.

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