Not Evangelism

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Cycling Fashion Ethic

My cycling fashion ethic lies somewhere between the gleeful stereotypes of club cyclist and CTC tourist. Somewhere between Lycra team kit and an all-weather kagoul and bike cape. My commute is fairly short, just 20km each way, so I'm never very far from warm and dry. I don't require industrial strength out-all-day cycle tourist's clothing; and I ride alone so I don't need tribal kit; I don't buy into the everything-matches-my-favourite-club/team colours.

I ride a bike

I define myself as someone who rides bikes, rather than a cyclist - although, as with so many things, these definitions exist on a continuum; one person's cyclist is another person's casual biker. And even though I don't consider myself a serious cyclist (whatever that means!), I suspect that other people probably do.

I'm a commuter and day rider, first and foremost, and my primary bike reflects that; dependable and comfortable, a relaxed ride, nothing fancy. I might put aero bars on for a triathlon, but that doesn't make me a speed demon time triallist. And although I've been a fixie rider (and will be again, dammit), I'm so not cool enough for baggies and a courier bag (but I do love my Crumpler Cheesy Disco messenger bag).

Giant SCR 2 2008
I'm sold on the practicality of cycle-specific clothing; not least because it helps keep my work clothes clean and dry. And also because I don't want things getting snagged in my chain, getting torn and dirty and interrupting the smooth joy of that beautiful cadence.

I'm equally convinced of the value of technical clothing, something that will make hot sweaty rides pleasant; and cold, windy slogs bearable. But if I'm popping down the chip shop, I'm happy to use bicycle clips, or tuck my trousers into my socks in a pinch.

"Lycra is a privilege, not a right"

I do wear Lycra. And yes, I like it.

I don't wear team kit, though. I have no major objection except for the vague feeling that it's a bit naff in the same way that I regard the practice of wearing football strip from a premiership team ('though clearly it does work for many many others). I don't chase heroes, I don't wear what the Great Cyclists wear. And I would always feel odd wearing a (replica!) yellow jersey.

A yellow jersey I will wear: Altura Airstream short sleeve jersey
I have yet to find a team kit that I like the look of, that I can imagine myself wearing without feeling embarrassed. I'm not so enamoured of any team that I will buy their home and away kit. If in the future I see a strip I like, and which fits with all of my other stuff, I might consider buying it.

Colour me beautiful

Colourwise, I'm currently about blues and blacks; with maybe a bit of silver or white in there. Over a number of years, I've added to my cycling wardrobe in this colour scheme and it's suited me well. And it happens to match my current steed, which is pleasing.

Helly Hansen's excellent Trail Wizard Tee
I also set a budget on my clothing; less than £50 for jerseys; less than £100 for jackets and helmets. I was happy to find a great helmet in my choice of colours.

Bell Sweep Road Helmet in blue, black and white
So for me it's not about big brands or big names. But...there is my dear old Twin Six water bottle. Twin Six are very cool, I love their ethos. I haven’t yet found the jersey that rings my fashion bell. And they're too cool for me.

Update (January 2011): Turns out I am cool enough to wear Twin Six!

But no matter what they cycling fashion ethic, everyone needs a bit of cool. What's yours?

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