How to Carry a Suit on a Bike

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If your job requires you to wear a suit, cycling to work may seem like a challenge. How do bike commuters get to work without showing up in a sweaty or dirty suit?

Man cycling while wearing a nice suit
© Mikael Colville-Andersen | Creative Commons

One option is to leave your suits at work. Another is to attach a bike rack to your car, so you can drive to work and bike home.

Just kidding. Then you’d be stuck without a car in the morning and you’d have to ride your bike to work in a suit.

So let’s go over a few tips for carrying a suit on a bike.

What is the best way to carry a suit on a bike?

Carrying a suit to work requires you to avoid wrinkles and stains, which typically involves placing your suit in some type of bag. The following bags are your main choices:

  • Garment bag
  • Standard backpack
  • Suit backpack
  • Garment pannier

Each option has its pros and cons. Here’s a closer look at these bags and backpack types for bike commuting.

Garment bag

When you take your suit to a dry cleaner, you typically pick it up in a garment bag. The garment bag shields your clothes from dirt and makes them easier to transport. The bag helps you roll the suit without adding creases. After you roll it up, store it in a backpack, basket or pannier.

Grey suit peeking out from a garment bag laid down on a bed
A typical garment bag. (© Pedal Street)

Standard backpack

A standard backpack measures about 22 x 14 x 9 inches. The standard dimensions are often too deep. Your clothes are likely to shift around in the bag and become wrinkled. While you could fill the empty space with other items, cramming your suit into a regular backpack increases the risk of creases.

Suit backpack

A suit backpack like the Henty Wingman provides a better solution than a standard backpack, as these are designed specifically for transporting suits. Some of the “travel” and “commuter” backpacks work equally well. A reliable multi-use backpack can provide room for your suit and your laptop or other essential gear.

Henty Wingman Backpack Suit Bag- Compact Grey, Medium (HNT-WCBP-Gry) Check availability

Suit backpacks and travel backpacks are often taller than standard backpacks. With a cylindrical-shaped suit backpack, your suit goes in a garment bag that wraps around a separate inner bag so you don’t have to fold or roll up your suit.

Garment pannier

A pannier is a bag or basket, usually a pair of them, slung over each side of a bicycle’s wheel. You’ve likely seen delivery bikes with panniers for transporting cargo. You can also find garment panniers that fit all bike types.

Two Wheel Gear created a garment pannier designed specifically for carrying garments on your bike. The Two Wheel Gear garment pannier is essentially a zippered garment bag with several interior pockets and a large interior for laying your suit flat. The bag rests over the back of the bike without creasing your suit.

Two Wheel Gear - Garment Pannier - Classic 3.0 (35 L) - Waterproof Bike Suit Bag Check availability

How do you pack a suit for cycling?

Unless you choose a bag designed specifically for suits, you may need to fold or roll your suit before packing it. Rolling is preferred over folding, as folding a suit almost always creates a crease. If you need to roll a suit, consider keeping it in a light garment bag. The slick plastic material helps prevent creases as you roll. It also offers extra protection against rain and snow if you bike commute during winter.

Always start from the bottom when rolling. You should also roll it around a cylindrical object to prevent creases at the starting point. Use a long rolling pin or a portion of a swimming pool noodle.

Can you ride a bike in a suit?

Wearing your suit provides an alternative to packing it, but it comes with a few challenges. When riding on a hot day, you may arrive at work sweaty and smelly. Your shirt may be stuck to your body while sweat stains form around the pits of your jacket.

If you get into a minor accident on your morning bike ride, you may rip or stain your suit. While you can ride in a suit, the risks outweigh the convenience.

The best way to carry a suit on a bike is with a purpose-made bag, such as a garment pannier or a suit backpack. If you can’t afford a new bag, place your suit in a disposable garment bag and roll it up around a rolling pin before storing it in your standard backpack.

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