I’ve been thinking a bit more about cycling style. Some think there are two distinct styles: “Militant Cyclists” and “Civil Cyclists” as described in this article. The Militants are the aggro dudes – fully decked in lycra emblazoned with logos, on fast, high-performance road bikes. The Civils are said to be the people wearing regular street clothes and regular shoes riding commuter bikes on flat pedals.
I think most of us are a combination of the both. If I’m going for a ride just to ride I’ll most likely wear my lycra bike shorts, sports bra, and a tech fabric top. If I’m tooling around town on errands I’m likely to be found in street clothes. I always wear my helmet and gloves anyway – I feel naked without them. But sometimes I wear a combination of cycling lycra and street clothes. Most jeans have bulky seams where I don’t want them and they sure don’t give in the knees when I pedal!
Lately I’ve been seeing more cycling-specific, fashionable clothing for women. Some are projects that are just starting out and they haven’t been funded yet for wide commercial availability. Others are readily available now. Below are some links for you to enjoy. Jeans, trim skirts, casual pants – we can now enjoy the benefits of cycling-specific clothing that looks like regular fashionable street clothing.
I’m thinking we need a third category of cyclists. Along with the Militants and the Civils, we’ll now have the Hybrids? What do you think?
Let’s start with the undergear:
- Chamois Panties – two styles to cushion your bum; they look like regular underwear.
- Club Ride Women’s Rale Jeans – these don’t have a chamois pad but they do have nice touches like a higher waistband in the back so they don’t ride down when you’re pedaling and reflective accents.
- RYB Denim jeans – these have a loop for a u-lock, higher rear waistband, reflective touches, and a nice chamois. Really nice.
- Grey Bike to Work Jeans – These also have stretchy denim for flexibility and reflective touches, including on the inside of the cuff when you roll the leg up. No chamois.
- Ladies Slim Fit Jean – These have a light chamois, stretchy denim, and are water-resistant!
And a nice skirt:
- Women’s Reveal Bike Skirt – This is a tailored straight skirt with a unique hidden zipper and additional fabric in the back to allow movement when you’re on the bike. It also has a higher back waist. Classy looking.
All of these are made with technical fabrics that stretch or give so you can feel comfortable moving in them. They all have a higher waistband in the back so you don’t have that uncomfortable gap when you’re leaning forward. Many have chamois but even if they don’t, the cycling underpants can provide you with cushioning. Most of these have extra pockets or hidden pockets for your keys, phone, wallet.
I am so heartened to see the smart and stylish cycling clothing now coming out for women. No longer do we have to make do with men’s items or wear street clothing that gaps at the waistband or doesn’t have enough give in the knees for pedaling. We can cycle in in comfort and style!
I used to be one of those women who said, “Nope, huh-uh. You’re never gonna catch me wearing lycra bike shorts. No way.” The usual neuroses that have followed me all my life were at play: My thighs are fat. I don’t want anybody looking at my butt. You’ll see all my cellulite. I’ll be so exposed.
Then I tried padded bike shorts. Hoo boy, what a joy they are! For one thing, they’re constructed so they fit best when you’re actually sitting on a bike saddle, so the waistband doesn’t pull down in back when you’re riding. For another, having your tender bits cushioned is a comfort every cycling woman should enjoy. It’s divine to be comfortable and to feel cushioned. Nothing’s more uncomfortable than cycling in regular jeans with a big fat seam chafing right there. Ugh.
But what if you’re still not comfortable with the idea of skin-tight lycra bike shorts? What if you feel too exposed?
The good news is you have more options today than ever. I started with a cycling liner, much like padded underwear. A liner can convert any pants or shorts into cycling shorts. I even wear mine under skirts.
There are cycling skorts, which have the liner built in. These are stylish and functional and you arrive looking good; not feeling like a jock.
Or maybe you want shorts to look like regular shorts, perhaps some with pockets? They’re available as well.
For me, what I wore on top has never made too much of a difference as long as I had a sports bra underneath to control discomfort when riding over bumpy terrain. I tend to buy brightly-colored tops made out of technical fabrics for running and yoga rather than cycling because I’m cheap. However, there’s a lot to be said about having a pocket in the back of a cycling jersey for your ID or a kleenex. Just make sure you can be seen, so avoid all-black or dark clothing.
Whatever you wear, you need to feel comfortable so you’re not thinking about your clothing rather than having fun and watching the road or path in front of you. But as someone who swore up and down I’d never be caught dead in “ugly” cycling clothing, I’m glad I explored lycra bike clothes. I vastly prefer wearing them now.
What about you? What do you prefer to wear when riding?