Performance Cycling Apparel, a Break from Tradition
One of the most common questions we get asked is: What cycling apparel is there that performs on a comparable level to elite kit without looking like it should be on the front row of a city center crit race?
First up, we recommend looking to other materials that have a more relaxed look or feel while still offering comfort, durability and style. Now most riders have heard of Merino Wool - its soft feel, classic style and natural thermo-regulation make it perfect for the lycra averse rider - check out the Babici Milanese for example. However Merino does have its drawbacks. It can be a bit sensitive to regular washes and doesn't get on all that well with your commuter backpack straps.
So what alternative fabrics are there that offer the comfort and style of Merino and the durability of lycra? Howies offers something different - whilst the cut of their jerseys is still a little racy the Sorona fabric they use is super soft, making their jerseys work in many a layering combo. Additionally the PEdAL Ed Okabe Jersey offers a high level of performance under a classically styled exterior.
One thing that's not to be messed with though is the - yes there's the whole bike boxer and shorts look but we're talking road here, pure road! Now a good pair of bibs is the best place to put the bulk of your kit budget because if you're comfy down there, your ride will be a whole lot better.
Brands to check out include Cafe du Cycliste whose Lucienne, Fleurette, Suzanne and Josette Jersey all offer the same performance advantages and durability of technically focused brands and their top layer Rain and Wind Jackets use more original, classic or natural colors and patterns.
Also worthy of a mention is Giro, whose New Road approach looks at how layering options and fabric variation can combine the performance of traditional race wear with the functionality for cafe stops, varied riding surfaces and longer day rides or short tours.