Minimize sweating on your bike commute?? It is possible and yes, you too, can do it!
The thought of arriving to work sweaty with sweat stains on clothing is a huge turnoff that prevents many people from wanting to bike to work. But no fear, The Smart Cyclist is here to give you the information to combat sweat and arrive in style.
You should note that I said minimize sweating not stop sweating. The truth is…you will sweat – you are getting a workout in after all!
Some blogs will tell you to do things like bike more slowly, but that is not a consistent strategy! Besides, some of us started biking to work in the first place to minimize tardiness due to unreliable public transportation or other reasons. Biking slowly never seemed like a real solution to me, and changing clothes was not something I wanted to do. I did not have a great place at work to keep my extra things, and I did not want to worry about forgetting anything!
So my fellow bike commuters, read on for my two, wonderfully effortless, easy tricks to minimize sweat AND its appearance on your clothes during your bike commute.
This post was not produced in partnership with any brands mentioned but does contain affiliate links. If you see something you like and decide to shop through the links I have included, I may earn commission on qualified purchases at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always my own. Thanks for supporting The Smart Cyclist!
Tip 1: Off Your Back
You will not believe how long it took me to do this during my bike commuting journey! But it makes so much sense. A backpack, cross-body or messenger bag on your back will inevitably produce perspiration as you bike to work. Simply removing your pack from your back and moving it elsewhere significantly cuts down back sweat.
But where do you put your backpack you ask?
As highlighted in 5 Essential Bike Accessories for Commuting, the bike basket or bike pannier is a gamechanger for so many reasons – including minimizing sweat!
Baskets are cheap and easy to install and can fit a variety of sizes of packs. However, if you carry a lot of things to work a pannier rack might be a better solution.
Most people think they have to use a pannier bag if they have a pannier rack:
But in actuality you can attach or mount anything to a rack – basket, backpack, books – with just a set of bungee cords or cable ties.
Tip 2: Wear A Sweat Tee
That’s right! An undershirt designed to prevent dreaded armpit sweat stains and backspiration while wicking away moisture and keeping you cool; aka the perfect accessory for biking to work.
“Two shirts? But won’t I be hot??? Sweat more??”
– Everyone, when I tell them this tip….
No my friends, you will not! This is not just about throwing on any type of undershirt. There are certain fabrics that DO NOT help keep sweat at bay, and you definitely want to avoid them – especially for an undershirt.
Read my post What to Wear When Biking to Work: 3 Simple Criteria that covers all the details. But essentially, in order to wear a sweat tee successfully, you need to wear fabrics that are breathable and moisture-wicking.
- Breathability – a fabric’s ability to evaporate sweat as you perspire and get hot.
- Moisture-wicking – a fabrics’ ability to pull sweat and moisture away from your skin.
Many fitness clothes claim moisture-wicking, breathable capabilities. These technical fabrics do their job well. Furthermore, since it’s an undershirt you don’t have to worry about its appearance.
However, many technical fabrics are made of synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers are actually water-repellent and are NOT a sweaty person’s friend; water repellent clothes do not absorb moisture and just let sweat sit on your skin.
In order for synthetic fibers to be moisture-wicking, they need to be chemically treated. This decreases their breathability and may make you feel a little warm, but not by too much.
So you may be able to get away with that Nike or Adidas workout top in your drawer, but it is not the perfect solution.
“Okay….so is there a perfect solution?”
– You, reading this blog post
Yep! A sweat tee made of natural fabrics! They exist; they are fantastic and I have not one, not even two, but THREE very solid options for you to choose from. Read on my friends!
Bonus: 3 Tees to Minimize Sweating
If you have not heard of them already, I want to introduce you to Numi – a truly fantastic, sweat tee brand that utilizes tencel (a sustainable, natural fiber derived from eucalyptus wood pulp) for its tees.
They advertise a “sweat-secret technology” which in all honesty probably means some sort of synthetically treated fiber, but somehow, they have figured out how to maintain the breathability of the shirts.
I can wear my Numi tee under my clothes in the blazing Philadelphia summer heat and given that my tee is both breathable and wicking moisture away from my skin as I ride, I don’t feel hotter than I would doing anything else outdoors in Philly. Secondly, the breeze generated by coasting down a hill or a level stretch also acts like a wonderful little fan. By the time I lock up my bike and walk into the building, that air conditioning hits and I feel dry and sweat stain free!
In addition to the There are also so many things to love about the brand itself as well
- I love that Numi acknowledges that “nude” is not one color and offers three different shades to help ensure that the shirts are undetectable under most outfits for most people
- The tees have different necklines (the shirts are reversible!) and seamless, thin design that allows for ultimate versatility under clothing, with no awkward bunching!
- Numi has a strong commitment to ethical manufacturing and sustainable practices that are not only good for the environment but also good for the people working to make these shirts.
The only downside is the brand is targeted towards women; there is no male representation on the website or in the advertising (sorry fellas), but that does not mean that men can’t wear the shirts too!
Thompson Tees are the OG sweat tee brand, and before discovering Numi, these were my go-to, favorite brand to wear.
They are made out of either 100% cotton or Bamboo (depending on style) and also boast a patented sweatproof technology that absorbs and blocks sweat while maintaining breathability.
They were initially created and targeted for people in the military (as soon as I learned that I was already SOLD), and they really work!
I have the most experience with the Thompson brand, and I can vouch for the fact that these shirts can be washed and worked hard without losing their effectiveness (3 years and mine are still going strong)!
- They are long enough that they don’t bunch up under clothing.
- There are a variety of cuts and fits for men AND women (some you can even just wear by themselves as a shirt)!
- Thompson Tee manufactures in the United States and have excellent customer service.
Reasonable pricing, free returns and tons of variety make this brand a no-brainer if you’re still a little skeptical about joining the sweat tee club. Give these a try, and honestly you’ll never go back!
Last but not least we come to merino wool. MY FAVORITE FABRIC OF ALL TIME. Merino is a naturally breathable and moisture-wicking fabric – no need for any “sweat technologies” here. It works to minimize sweating, naturally repels odors, and it insulates even when wet (unlike cotton).
I can 100% depend on my merino wool undershirts to keep me not only sweat free, but wonderfully warm for those inevitable cold weather rides. But there’s even more. Sometimes I wear my thinner merino wool undershirts for riding in the summertime as well – without feeling too warm! Merino is truly such a winner.
I have not found one brand to call my ultimate favorite to minimize sweating, but check out the links below for some options for sweat tee success. (I won’t fault you for looking beyond at the actual wool clothes too – wrinkle free ya’ll!)
All in all, the sweat tee is honestly my favorite accessory- not only for bike commuting but also for life. In addition to helping me stay looking professional after my bike ride, my sweat tees keep my clothes fresh and sweat-stain free, increasing their longevity and ensuring that I always look polished and ready to go.
Bonus: for those of you who sweat a lot on the face/head, a sweatband made of these fabrics also achieves the same purpose!!
Those are my 2 ultimate tips to minimize sweating on your bike commute! Drop a comment below and let me know your experience with these strategies (or others) for keeping you sweat-free on and off your bike!