It starts on the trains and finishes on the bike. Today’s urban commuter will often employ varied methods to get to work, and as more people incorporate riding into their commute and demand clothing suited to multiple means of transport, brands are rushing to accommodate them.
The result is a wider than ever range of clothing for cyclists, much of which would be mistaken for simply well-made everyday clothing.
The multitude of brands coming to market presents a new dilemma of exactly what to choose. So to help with your decision making, we have identified the key names making headway in stylish cycle commuter clothing and what makes them worthy of note.
It’s a new brand with a big heart which delivers items in a big gold foil box with a smiley face on the front. The quality of manufacturing in the garments coming out of this new London-based brand are second to none – breathable space-age fabrics in terms of the lightweight jacket, or Italian tailoring in the case of the blazer, which is furnished with subtle reflective cuff and under-collar flashes to aid visibility.
Blazer aside, Huez* is content to carve out its own niche in cycle wear and has defied most present notions of style direction in both on and off-bike trends.
The debut Huez* collection consists of a capsule-sized eight pieces, most aimed at the urban commuting cyclist, but a few directed at the more serious, performance-focused rider. More garments are already in development.
Best for: The rider who wants the very best fabrics and construction with a leftfield design twist.
Standout piece: The blazer is among the best available in its class in terms of cut, practicality thanks to a Teflon coating, and fit. What’s more, it is manufactured in Italy.
Pictured: Starman storm jacket: £235; Starman seamless jersey, £95; daily chinos, £130
Available here: www.huez.co.uk
The pioneer in cycling cool and now in need of no introduction, Rapha continues to lead the way with an ever-expanding range of city riding clothing. The bike-specific details are less obvious in Rapha’s AW2014 collection, and the brand has now become so distinguishable through its single armband and signature pink that it has dispensed with logos on the outside of the garments altogether.
All of this makes for a stylish, functional collection that delivers in buckets on practicality. Product development is a big deal with Rapha and the brand is continually seeking out new fabrics and construction techniques. This is helped in performance wear by the Team Sky kit sponsorship, elements of which can be clearly seen in the city riding collection.
Best for: Its totally functional and relevant styling, with a quality of manufacture exceeding that of the highest-end luxury brands.
Standout piece: The new insulated jacket weighs almost nothing, is showerproof, reversible, and is available in a selection of colour combinations. Two jackets for the price of one – what more can you ask?
Pictured: Reversible jacket, £190; jeans’ £150; merino sweatshirt, £120
Available here: www.rapha.cc
A favourite here at On Your Bike with its proud support of British manufacturing and design. Leicester-based Velobici has been growing in size and reputation for a few years now, offering a fully-functional range of performance and urban riding clothing manufactured from some of the finest fabrics with each and every stage of the manufacturing process taking place in the UK – even fabric development. Jerseys are in a high-wicking merino and offer a classicly trimmed cut. The nod to the yesteryear of cycling is evident in the design of some items.
As well as the vintage nod to some of its urban cycling garments, Velobici’s range offers thumb-loops and long tails to accommodate a rider’s stretched-out positioning. The signature one-piece construction of garments eliminates rub points from seams.
Best for: The rider who prefers an Englishman’s sartorial sensibility. Supersoft merino fabrics are complemented by bike-friendly cuts and slim tailoring.
Standout piece: The Velobici knitwear stands apart for its aforementioned seamless construction and additional details. Choose from a cardigan, tee, or turtle neck sweater. Soft but tough and long-lasting.
Pictured: Wax cotton quilted ride cap, £48; high-button cardigan, £135; Zimon zip-through jersey, £165
Available here: http://www.velobici.cc/
We have a lot of time for Levi’s after they set up a totally free drop-in cycle repair-cum coffee shop in Shoreditch for ten days in the summer. The cynical amongst you might be thinking ‘that’s easy to do when you’re a global denim conglomerate’ and it is true that this piece of clever marketing would be beyond the reach of some brands.
It had the desired effect, although Levi’s could give all the coffee away they pleased and still have achieved nothing if their commuter cycling offering wasn’t up to scratch.
The brand has devoted a lot of time and effort to the cultivation of this particular department, and in this, the second year, the offerings have stepped up a gear. Denim is treated with a water and stain repellent, shirts have a springy stretch and all legwear has reflective fabric running up the outseam. This is a range that fits the urban commuter brief perfectly.
Best for: Those who know their clothes and don’t want to sacrifice their styling when they’re on the bike. Traditional fabrics with space-age treatments make Levi’s Commuter a winner and you just know the stuff will last forever.
Standout piece: The field parka comes in a light denim chambray bonded to a breathable, water repellent membrane with taped seams and a hood tucked away in the corduroy collar. Little reflective elements are so subtle that you won’t notice them at first. A great piece.
Pictured: Field parka, £230; shirt, £65; 508 trousers, £80
OLIVER SPENCER / VULPINE
Two brands that are as British as pork pies have come together for a one-off piece developed specifically for urban cycle commuters.
The Oliver Spencer / Vulpine blazer delivers cycle-friendly elements in a smart, unstructured blazer. The garment features reflective details to the underside of the collar, hem and cuffs, as well as offering a cut that facilitates comfort on the bike. The unlined blazer is constructed from a showerproof cotton mix and Oliver Spencer’s typical attention to detail extends to contrast piping inside to finish off stitching.
Oliver Spencer has been around since 2002 and has become synonymous with a sleek, off the peg aesthetic with a very British and modern twist. Vulpine, meanwhile, offers a casual clothing range of polo shirts, harrington jackets and the like with cycle-specific touches and has become a favourite among cyclists. It is also co-sponsor of the Matrix Fitness Vulpine women’s cycling team. You couldn’t imagine two companies that work better together.
The Oliver Spencer / Vulpine blazer was part of the SS14 collection but is still available on sale.
Best for: Functional commuter wear with British tailoring and design and a Northern awareness of the fickle British weather.
Standout piece: The cycling blazer (of course) collaboration design offers reflective details and a showerproof construction. The unstructured cut lends it to multiple outfit options.
Perhaps the most notable indication of the growing popularity of urban cycling is the attention received from fashion brands which would otherwise have ignored it.
A classic example of this is Ted Baker, which has thrown itself wholeheartedly at the blossoming cycle commuter market with a line of menswear tastefully and discreetly adorned with reflective bits.
Much of the Ted Baker cycle collection – catchline “Raising the Handlebars” – is fairly standard clothing with the aforementioned reflective bits stitched on – more style than substance. Sleeves lack additional length to accommodate stretch when holding handlebars, for instance and there is little in the way of weatherproof treatments.
There is, however, the legendary Ted Baker attention to detail. Finishing is faultless and the brand has incorporated clever additions to its items such as an integral reflective band on the underside of one trouser leg to fasten turn-ups while also adding some hi-viz elements. Some design details are, however, simply odd, such as the waterproof zip on a reversible hooded jacket manufactured from a totally permeable nylon.
Best for: The urban cyclist who is more concerned with looking his best off the bike but is after a degree of visibility when on it.
Standout piece: The chinos have an on-trend narrow cut and feature a paisley lining to hems and waist. Roll the right leg up to expose a reflective tab that will velcro your turnup in place.
Pictured: Shirt, £90; Chinos, £95; Sackmac, £120