According to the cycle chic movement, people don’t need special clothes to start cycling. That’s 95% true. If you are making the big shift to bicycle transport from the comfort of driving between internal garages, you might at least need a raincoat. I have one that looks traditional as though made for walking, but with pleats at the back to suit cycling. It uses one of these patented fabrics for which we can thank mountaineers, and those would-be mountaineers who pay fortunes to imagine they are mountaineers. God bless them for fabrics that are breathable, water-resistant and so cotton-like that riding in the rain has become surprisingly comfortable. Imagining cycling with plastic or wool to keep us dry, helps us appreciate how cars got the edge over bikes in the fifties. New fabrics help cycling compete, and their restrained use by brands like this one in Cambridge, helps us pull off that magic trick, where we get to work with no car in all weather, still looking relaxed. “How did you go in the rain?” our colleagues may ask. “How long did it take you to find a carpark?” we reply, smugly.
Once you switch to bike transport, your wardrobe will invariably change, especially if you have learned about this thing called internet shopping. (Important reminder: bricks and mortar retailers kill cities with parking. It’s good to kill them, by shopping online). Once you start cycling, and shopping online, you will find bicycling lifestyle brands like Rapha have all your office apparel, while brands like Paul Smith bike-wash themselves though have nothing of use, and that fast drying pants do exist, really—though at price. Someone is even making a skirt garter to save gentlemen like my readers and I the embarrassment of glimpsing some things we would rather not glimpse (I have always said two-way cycle tracks are more dangerous and that every lady should own a mixtie or step-through.)
So where was I? Talking about clothes I believe. I have a new jumper! Actually, it’s a prototype sent to me by Culturecycle for my feedback as they work to expand their mens range. The cut isn’t quite perfect. The quality is. But what makes this jumper special for cyclists? You will never know until you shine headlights, bike lights or a camera flash on it.
The subtle green knitted pattern turns into Saturn’s luminous rings in car headlights. I feel oddly patriotic when I consider that this is an Australian innovation, helping to wipe out bricks and mortar retailing all over the world— as far as I am aware, you can only buy Culturecycle products online. I don’t care if it’s a prototype, and needs some adjustments. It is warm, comfy, and does not draw curious remarks about cheesy rear pockets or fluro pink patches, like jumpers from Rapha. Thus far it has only drawn compliments. When coupled with the pink cycling cap, I was asked if I was going for a cricketing look, and told that I looked rather dapper, gee shucks.
I agree with my Cycle Chic allies. No one wants to look as though they were dressed by an OH&S officer as punishment for choosing a vulnerable mode. But neither are waves of grim reapers on bikes a sign that your city’s nightlife now matches the chic sophistication of Copenhagen’s. Passing through the night as an invisible shadow, seen neither in headlights or bikes lights, strikes me as rather third-world and dumpy. Okay, so bike lights will fix that. Add a luminous jumper though, and you have fixed it much better.
Culturecycle don’t have much for men, yet. They have some sweet stuff for ladies. If you happen to be reading this Angelina: don’t make skirt garters. How about women’s briefs?