Road cycling apparel is always the last element of the sport to be accepted by the mountain bike convert or new rider alike. Week upon week, my beginner group of road cyclists would show up in jogging trousers or running t-shirts. These riders cling to their baggy shorts just as their baggy shorts cling to them in the rain or sweat. Having myself come from a BMX and MTB background, I can understand their apprehension. Gaudily colored tight Lycra reins in this world where it’s necessity has almost died out. Road cycling comes from racing but when was the last time you heard anyone call their bike a racer as was common pre-1990? It wasn’t that these people didn’t like or couldn’t afford the clothes of the gods, but they felt quite rightly that they didn’t need a Lycra race kit for the type of cycling that they partook in. Wearing non-cycle clothing when riding for more than a few minutes is just not an option as awkwardly placed seams delve into uncomfortable crevices and badly tailored sleeves leave the rider chilled to the skin, so what to do?
The cycle clothing industry is beginning to notice this trend but the Changes are slow to happen. Some large companies such as Giro have addressed the need and coined the phrase “New-road”. The shoes in Giro’s Republik range are the best new product to un-revolutionize the cycle clothing world, giving back style without breaking the bank. The crewneck t-shirts with rear pockets hint at greatness but miss the mark only by not going far enough away from their race genealogy. Small companies such as Fox Wilson have taken notice of the London commuter business and headed in a New-road direction with their denim cycling jacket, numerous t-shirts, and even a tweed cycling cut double-breasted blazer. This, however, I feel is aimed at a very specific Brompton riding London elite scene rather than being the change which we all need.
The change has probably already begun and is hiding from me on the outskirts of the internet somewhere. I would love to see a stone wash denim cycling jacket, a waxed jacket winter top layer, how about a road ride leather jacket ( that would be safer also). A cycling cut padded duck down gilet could be a best seller, a sheepskin jacket could make any lady commuter happy to stay warm if designed around a semi-sports cut. merino wool jumpers with a wind-proof front would be great. Chinos with padding and stretch in the right places. Cycling hoodies would surely take over the world of kids cycle clothing as recycling bins overflowed with the yellow remnants of waterproof jackets happily discarded.
Motorcycling has the classic Belstaff waxed jacket for the complete opposite of race function. Cycling needs its own version of this but the retro cycling-cape just isn’t going to cut it, so clothes companies (not just bike companies) it’s over to you. Make me stylish.