Few sports mesh style and function as much as cycling. Just as a quality sweat-wicking t-shirt takes running from exercise to activity, close-fitting jerseys and chamois-cushioned bibs make riding 40-plus miles on a bicycle not an act of self-flogging but a joy-invoking pursuit. Clothing matters in cycling perhaps more than it does in other sports, and riders today are privileged to exist in an era in which a high level of performance isn’t aspirational but baseline.
That leaves apparel makers to freely address the look of their clothing as much as anything else, which in turn has allowed for an ecosystem of brands large and small to pop up, all proffering unique takes on bike style. Admit it or don’t: what you wear on a bike matters, not just for comfort but also for style. No, you don’t have to shave your legs, but you do have to embrace the look of a cyclist. Here are some lesser-known brands to help you do so.
Black Sheep Cycling
Cycling can take itself too seriously. Not Black Sheep though, a young cycling brand from Brisbane, Australia with a mounting global following. The company prizes individuality over conformity through a collection that pairs high-quality materials and manufacturing with eclectic patterns (polka dots are commonly featured). “Fuck the stereotypes, just do your own thing,” Black Sheep says (with a grin and a wink).
Essentials Navy Dot Jersey $140
Ornot’s founding principle was to offer cyclists a choice — “you could be a rolling billboard, Ornot,” it proposes. Its branding is kept to a strict minimum — a small logo on the thigh or arm, if one exists at all — but its apparel is identifiable through its geometric blocks and distinct color palette. As with every brand on this list, that style is anchored firmly by quality which, in Ornot’s case, is built into the product in the USA.
Work Jersey $96
As a New England-born cycling brand, Velocio has no choice but to focus on performance. Perfect-weather cycling days are few in the region, so it creates clothing to handle anything. The brand is endorsed by pro cyclist Ted King, who wears it to train through Vermont’s sub-zero winters. The brand’s products are subtle, colorful, modest in design and first-rate in both construction fit.
Signature Bib Short $229
The overall aesthetic of UK-based Ashmei is refined, minimalist and tonal. Embrace it or not, style is rooted deeply in the sport, but Ashmei’s understated approach will appeal to those desiring to avoid too much flair. Beneath their good looks, Ashmei’s products are fantastically high-performance, built from the ground up with the finest materials and construction methods. All of these characteristics extend to Ashmei’s running and triathlon gear too.
Velobici was founded in 2010 by Chris Puttnam, who gave himself one strict parameter for the brand to adhere to: everything had to be produced in his home country, England. After geography, Velobici emphasizes a balance between style and performance both on-bike and off. In addition to every piece cyclists need — jerseys, bibs, jackets, gilets, baselayers, socks, caps — the company produces a collection of casual knitwear, t-shirts and more. All are made with premium materials so they can handle riding yearlong.
Alfie Gilet ~$249
Running’s recent creative reawakening has produced a crowd of performance apparel brands as well as a handful of companies that are thinking originally about accessories. Primary among those is District Vision, which engrains mindfulness into items like sunglasses and socks. Cycling finds its analog to that in Alba Optics, an Italian company that offers a simplified and stylish yet performance-anchored collection of cycling sunglasses that serves as an alternative to big brands like Oakley or Smith.
Stratos Glasses ~$180
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