Urban cycling clothing. Top picks when riding in town
Riding a bike shouldn't be a faff. Clip-in shoes, bib shorts, arm and leg warmers all have their place, but we'd argue they're not exactly the kind of garment you can ride, work and live in, especially in and around town. Since our inception, we've championed casual urban wear. Levi cycling jeans, our own No. 75 collection, urban helmets, like Bern and Thousand and stylish Maium rainwear - these items all feature neat additions that make riding more comfortable. And, perhaps, more importantly, they don't leave you looking like you've finished a stage of the Tour de France.
Urban cycling clothing, what to look for?
When nipping out for some bread or milk or spinning down to the pub, your usual clothes will be just fine, but cycle more than half an hour and that cotton polo and chinos might not necessarily keep you the most comfortable. This is where urban, or casual commuter clothing enters the fray - apparel that serves two purposes. One, to perform well on the bike and two, not to look too 'sporty' off the bike. Keep your eyes peeled for different fabrics, a relaxed, yet cycling-specific fit as well as cross-over looks and styling.
Fabric and materials
Recent developments in fabric technology has seen a plethora of new materials hit the market. These new blends are great for all garments but especially for shirts and T-shirts. More breathable than traditional cotton they are comfortable to wear and soft on the skin. Merino wool is also a frequent choice for clothing manufacturers. This traditional material is again soft to the touch but it also takes longer to get smelly, especially when compared to synethic blends. Stretch and movement is particularly important for cycling trousers, jeans and shorts, where jumping in and out of the saddle puts extra strain on the garment. Some fabrics also have a water proof treatment applied to help them cope with the odd shower. Sensible really when riding in cities can be a necessity, rather than a leisure pursuit, especially post-pandemic.
Usually slim or fitted, casual cycling clothing definitely isn't skin tight. Garments tend to be adjusted slightly to meet the demands of riding a bike. A longer back, maybe even a longer tail and arms is common in tops. Trousers tend to have a higher waist, and a slim or tapered fit to keep hems out of chains!
Looks and styling
Here we have the nub of the subject. Urban cycling clothing should look like your everyday clobber. No unnecessarily bright colours, silicone grippers, BOA dials or full-length zips here thank you. Attributes of traditional cycling clothing still prevail however and for good reason. A rear pocket in a jacket is great for carrying a phone. Similarly, a reflective tab on a trouser, glove or helmet is a welcome addition for night time visibility.
Best casual cycling wear
Designed for urban city riding, the minimalist Heritage bike helmets from Thousand are inspired by the simplicity of vintage moto lids and the heritage colorways of the 50s and 60s. Stylistically, Thousand have nailed it.
The Heritage is comfortable, easy to wear and peppered with practical touches. A dial to the rear make it easy to find the perfect fit and hidden vents help cope with urban heat islands. Vegan leather straps are comfortable against the chin and are easy to connect with the magnetic clasp. Our favourite feature is the secret poplock through which you can place a shackle of a D-lock or cable, thus making it easy to lock your helmet to your bike.
Chrome's Storm Salute is made from a 2.5 layer 100% polyester, which all-told has a 10k waterproof rating. The jacket's fully sealed seams will see off an hour's worth of rain and there's a large adjustable hood and a high collar to ward things off there too.
It's pleasing to see a large cargo pocket out back, an essential in an urban cycling jacket we'd wager. Reflective details and a statement Chrome logo on the left arm round the garment off. The dusty olive green colour looks smart in most situations.
The Duer No Sweat Slim Cycling Trousers (there's also an accompanying cycling jean) are designed to be practical for commuting around town and be subtle enough so that you don’t stand out in a bar after work. The fabric uses a blend of Cotton and Tencel and it looks like a pair of cotton trousers. There is a hint of Lycra in there too which gives the trousers plenty of stretch so that you’re comfortable getting on and off your bike.
One of the key cycling friendly feature of the Duer No Sweat Slim Cycling Trousers is the diamond gusset. Trousers used for cycling often fail on the fabric on the inner thighs and the diamond gusset does away with this issue.
The Bike Long Sr glove from Hestra is the ideal glove for brisk summer mornings and hazy evening commutes home from work. In restrained black, the glove lists a durable, impact-absorbing palm, mesh upper and velcro closure as its features. There's grippy silicon on the fingers too for grabbing the brakes or shifting gear.
Chrome have made the 415 Workboot to provide the stability and durability of a work boot with the mobility and feel of a sneaker. Chrome wanted a boot that didn't require a long break-in period, one you could bike, walk and work in.
The 415 Workboot has a low profile toe area, just the ticket if you're riding with toe-clips and reflective heel loops for riding in low light. Looks-wise they're just right too, nicely blending in at the breakout zone and the beer garden.
That's a wrap on our guide to urban cycling clothing. Our entire clothing collection can be found on this handy link.