Reality Check: Gear for a two mile bike commute

Jenni in Ohio has a low-end hybrid–style bike with a milk crate on the back, full coverage fenders, and lights for her two mile commute. In other words, she already has the perfect bike for her commute. She asks for gear advice for the coming winter on an email discussion list that I monitor.

Responses include:

  • Technical fabric tights, jerseys, vests and jackets.
  • Merino base layers.
  • Vented cycling jackets.
  • Replace plastic mechanical parts on the low-end bike with metal components.
  • The Aeroshield.
  • Layers layers layers!
  • Insulated water bottles.

Insulated water bottles? Are you kidding?

It’s a 15 MINUTE RIDE TO WORK, not a Himalayan expedition! That’s easily a thousand dollars worth of gear listed above to use with a $400 bike. For two miles, just dress for the weather, wear gloves and a hat and maybe a scarf, take it easy and you don’t even need to worry about venting and hundred-dollar athletic wear.


  1. LOL! You don’t even get warmed up in two miles. Just wear whatever you’d wear if you were walking 1/2 mile and make sure your bike has fenders.

    I think I stay warmer and dryer than people in technical wear for my 4 or so mile commute. When it rains I wear tall leather boots and a trench coat that covers my dress and a cap with a brim. When it’s cold I wear the same boots and a wool coat. It’s not rocket science.

    Before people drove everywhere they knew how to dress for the weather. Just dress like your great-grandparents did. In real clothes.

  2. I heat up after 1-1.5 miles, but if that’s more or less as far as I’m going it’s not worth wearing anything special. (except maybe in summer when I don’t want to sweat all over my work clothes, but that’s what the store of free college t-shirts is for)

    I suppose I could ride more slowly and stay cool for longer, but I’ve spent so many days sprinting for the train it’s hard to do.

  3. I had a two-mile commute for many years and the only piece of special gear beyond what she’s already got that I used was a cheap coated nylon poncho off eBay. Easy to put on and take off and served as an umbrella for my lower extremities. Maybe some wind/water-blocking gloves, but otherwise, just whatever I was going to wear at work and a coat.

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