Archive for category fashion
Some of you might be of the school of thought that any jeans are riding jeans, why spend top dollar just because someone’s labelled them ‘cycling” jeans? Is it a form of hipster trap? Why do I even want to ride anywhere in jeans? These are valid questions. Here’s why…
I rarely wear anything besides jeans unless I’m going for a ‘proper’ road ride. I live and work in a town which is a perfect size to get around by bike, and as a result I have worn clean through the arse area of the following jeans: Seven For All Mankind, Superdry, 2x pairs of G-Star, and my Hudsons are getting dangerously close. I love my jeans and these were all rather nice ones… It’s depressing when they go, and it’s pretty much impossible to fix. (I have tried, both with a sewing machine and with iron-on patches) The G-Stars in particular were useless – a new pair wore through in less than a year!
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon Creux Cycling – an Australian urban cycle clothing brand – and fairly rapidly decided I wanted to own everything they made, especially their jeans. At a glance they just have a style I love, and on closer inspection they’ve considered everything to make these the ultimate legwear for living and riding in.
Fortunately while at Bespoked Bristol a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind (iL) Soigneur who has been hand-making really lovely musettes since 2011, and doing rather well at it. (iL) Soigneur now stocks a selection of Creux gear here in the UK and I took away a pair of the men’s and the women’s jeans to see which I’d get on with the most.
(Size info: I’m testing the Men’s Small and the Women’s Large (12), most of my jeans are a size 29-30 waist. My waist is 29 inches, and my hips are 40 inches)
The men’s version of the Soigneur Jeans are, on me at least, a slim fitting straight-leg cut which fit comfortably around my waist, higher than most of my jeans which are all low rise cut, these come to about an inch and a half below my belly button. The lower legs are just loose enough to turn up a couple of times to avoid your bike chain, but I couldn’t roll them up any higher than in the pictures. When riding, I prefer the men’s because of the higher waist. It feels just right in the bike position, no pants on show.
The women’s cut has a lower rise, and a much skinnier leg. I LOVE how these look when I’m walking around, but when I’m riding I found that once they’d loosened up a bit, they were coming down a bit too low at the back. It’s no biggie if your shirt is tucked in, but if not; PANTS CITY.
The fit is really quite different from the men’s, and I’m surprised by how well the men’s cut fits me – I do not have boyish hips. So it really comes down to your preference – do you want slim straight leg or skinny leg? Higher waist or low rise? Both are super comfy on and off the bike.
Two things I love about turning these jeans up: The cyan coloured tape sewn over the seams on the inside looks ace, and on the men’s version, the large reflective Creux logo inside the right leg, which massively increases your visibility in the dark. Never mind products with a tiny bit of reflective piping here and there, there’s nothing better than a huge block of the stuff to catch driver’s eyes. Plus it looks freaking cool. It’s not there on the women’s, no doubt because they’re a lot skinnier so you can’t really roll them up.
Both versions are very slightly stretchy, but to be honest I think they could be stretchier, because it’s such a heavy weight denim. When these jeans first go on they feel heavier and stiffer than most jeans. Unsurprisingly though, after wearing these for a few days they loosened up a fair bit, became less tight around the waist, and altogether more and more comfortable as the days wore on.
The denim itself is such a big feature of these jeans, it feels so tough that I can’t imagine ever wearing through the arse section. Even if the bum was one layer thick I don’t think I would – but as it happens Creux have built in a double layered seat, complete with lightly padded chamois! I was a little concerned this would feel bulky and even too warm, but when I’m not riding I just don’t notice it.
Then there’s the Schoeller NanoSphere treatment, which is unbelievably valuable. Living in the UK, if I waited for it to stop raining, I’d barely ever get to ride so I don’t tend to shy away from wet weather. After all, skin’s waterproof, right? Turns out these jeans are too. Close enough anyway. I live a short distance from work, but even a short distance will soak regular jeans through if it’s pissing it down as it often does. I’ve sat at my desk for several hours with wet jeans, patiently waiting for them to dry out after the 5 minute ride in. It takes about 3 hours, I’ve timed it. So since testing these jeans out, I’ve had it rain on me a couple of times, once while riding, not overly heavy rain, and once when it just absolutely shat it down for 5 minutes, so I went outside and sat in it. Just to see what would happen.
I’d say that in extremely heavy rain, 95% beads and splashes right off you, and 5% begins to dampen the jeans. Dampen, mind, not soak. I came back inside, brushed them off and sat at my desk, and within 10 minutes the jeans felt completely dry again. My hood stayed wet for the rest of the day.
The men’s jeans have a few little features which the women’s jeans don’t have, although I’m not entirely sure why. There’s an extra pocket on the right hip which is much easier to dig into then the front pockets when you’re sat down, there’s a little loop for keys on the left side waist band, and there’s a D-lock holding loop on the back, which is pretty handy if like me you often pop into town without a bag.
The only thing to be aware of is that these jeans are very heavily dyed, and it will transfer to your pale coloured couch. I’m hoping that it will wash off the cushion covers. I’m told the denim is designed to fade with use, so I fully expect a lot of loose dye to come out in the first wash which will probably stop the couch getting any worse.
There’s not much else to add, so I’ll summarise by saying that, like me, you can test these jeans out without buying them because (iL) Soigneur is offering a no quibble try before you buy scheme. So if you’re still not sure, try them out for yourself! I for one will be putting my money where my mouth is and buying them. I’m just not sure which ones…
Screw it. I want both.
A friend sent me a message yesterday suggesting we meet up for a ride and that I teach him the secret of cycling pants. I’m not exactly sure what he was looking for (a explanation of why we wear Lycra? Or some secret to finding the right pants?) so I’m going to make a few assumptions, including that he meant “shorts.”
Like finding the right tire pressure or lubing chain or quality bearings, cycling shorts are all about FRICTION. Specifically the attempt to minimize FRICTION. When it comes to tire pressure or chain wear or crappy bearings friction is that annoying little beast that makes everything just a bit more difficult (of course a certain amount of friction, specifically between the tire and the tarmac, is required, but too much is…well…too much). Things are a bit more…urgent.
Just ask Tom Boonen.
Of course, a good pair of shorts offers other benefits, but none of them matter quite as much as the reduction of friction. So, buy a pair of shorts that fit and, for the love of everything good, get rid of the plush saddle.
Apparently it was by searching:
Growing up a good friend’s dad had a hairy back and chest. I don’t mean normal hairy. I mean, every summer when we all went to the lake he’d get ready to go for a swim and you’d want to shout, “don’t forget to take off your sweater!” My legs aren’t quite that hairy.
[photo omitted for your sake]
For a brief stint of my cycling career I started to shave my legs. It’s what you do. I was told. It’s better, they said, to be hairless in the event of a crash. It looks cool.
And it’s true, cyclists and swimmers are among the only male athletes that can claim leg shaving looks cool.
So, that was pretty much it. If you’re the kind of cyclist that wears lycra shorts, then you should shave your legs. It’s a rule, in fact.
But here’s the thing. I didn’t like shaving my legs. It took too long and any razor I used would be dull before I finished my first calve. Also, it turns out, when you have stick thin climbers legs, it doesn’t look as cool. On top of that, I didn’t race and the idea of planning my life around the rare crash – I’ve had one where shaved legs might have helped – just seemed silly.So I stopped with leg shaving.
Every now and again I get a little grief. Our friend Kurt has called me out for breaking rule #33 (last time I rode with him, I was able to put the hurt on Kurt, so he couldn’t talk too much, I’m not sure if that’s true anymore). And more than once a pedestrian has commented on my built-in leg warmers. Yes, even pedestrians know to make fun of my legs.
But I’m not worried because you’re doing something wrong too.
That’s right, you probably have the wrong shoes. Or wear a helmet. Don’t wear a helmet. Drops on your commuter. Flat bars. Platform pedals. Clipless. Freewheel. Foldie. Saddlebag. Camelbak. Bar tape is wrapped the wrong way. Wrong glasses. And so on.
The list of things you’re probably doing wrong is never ending. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Or, maybe you shouldn’t. At least you got the most important thing right:
You’re riding a bike.
I seem to be on a visibility kick, I know, but really I just happened to see this over at Swissmiss. It’s a good idea, I guess. Not nearly as ugly as some of the hi-vis yellow clothing I see out on the road. But it seems you could just make one yourself and save $80.
It’s dark at 6:00 am (and cold, but that’s a different story). The darkness (and the cold) has thinned out the already svelte bike commuting crowd. Of the bike commuters left, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who refuses to wear a neon yellow top. I have my reasons.
And, I’m not even sure hi-vis jackets and vests work all that much better than other visibility solutions. There doesn’t seem to be much out on the interwebs linking blindingly yellow clothing to cycling safety, “there seems to be even less research on the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for the bicyclist than for the motorcyclist.”
Much of the clothing I wear is black or gray but also has built in sections of reflecting fabric making me, at least somewhat, visible in the dark. But, more than that, the flashing white headlamp and the red taillight I ride with in low light should do more to make me visible than even the brightest yellow (and unlike reflective clothing, my lights don’t rely on others having their lights on).
Many cyclists out there probably look at my refusal to wear hi-vis clothing and think it’s foolish (much the same way I look at people who eschew helmets). In fact, one thing “research” turned up was a high number of websites suggesting, with no data to support the claim, that wearing hi-vis clothing is a must. Some may even feel that Hi-Vis clothing is the most stylish and fashionable trend in cycling since spider helmet covers. Which helps explain the guy I saw this morning in a bright yellow jacket without any lights on his bike.
I’m not convinced on either count.
High-end British cycling clothier Rapha has expanded its collection for 2011 with several cold-weather items, including the Pro Team Jacket, which will be available at the end of October and the Hooded Top, new for November. Also launching this month is a new zip-through cardigan-style Track Top, which adds to the line of city cycling jerseys, jeans and tops which the company has been rolling out over the last 18 months.
The new Pro Team Jacket is a high-performance softshell made from the proprietary Polartec membrane, which is windproof and water-repellent while remaining breathable and lightweight. The rear panels are constructed of Super-Roubaix fabric, providing essential wicking performance and insulation for cold-weather riding. Of the striking new color, which is new to the Rapha range of classic, muted hues, the company claims:
Scientific research shows the Chartreuse colourway offers exceptional visibility in low light. Though not technically fluorescent, studies have found that the rods in the retina – the part of the eye that work best in low light – are particularly receptive to the yellow/green color. As a result, chartreuse is increasingly used around the world for emergency vehicles.
The jacket – which is also available in black – features reflective side and rear trim, and the iconic Rapha armband is also reflective. It will be available late-October from the company website and will cost $275.
The Hooded Top is a clever mix of Merino for warmth, plus windproof panels to improve insulation. A close-fitting hood adds a contemporary edge to the top, and front and rear pockets add versatility. The Hooded Top will be available mid-November, and will sell for $195.
The Track Top is a characteristically low-key, elegant cardigan with a full-length zipper and subtle styling. Intended for wearing as a removable outer-layer in cool weather, the Track Top is constructed of 100% Merino wool, and is knitted – not stitched – together. It comes in charcoal gray or burgundy, and will sell for $165.
Already available, but new to the Rapha range, the Merino Roll Neck is a lightweight but high-performance woolen cycling jersey in the style of the classic jerseys worn by pro-riders in the early years of the 20th Century. Close-fitting, with a tall roll-neck and chest-level striping, the stylish jersey is available in one color – the popular Rapha black.
Rapha was recently named one of the fastest-growing UK companies by the Sunday Times in Britain. The company was founded in 2004, and has steadily built up a devoted following among cyclists in Europe and the US by offering low-key, classically-styled clothing of high-quality. A office in Portland, Oregon oversees the US market, which is increasingly receptive to the Rapha brand of old-school English tailoring. The company also sells high-performance waterproofs, shorts, accessories and a range of cosmetics and luggage.
Riding home yesterday I pulled up to a stoplight and noticed on the opposite corner a young man with black pants, white shirt, tie, pocket protector, helmet and backpack on a standard issue mountain bike. I thought it was odd he was by himself and then guess who rolls up? None other than another young man with tie, pocket protecter, etc. but what is he riding… a slate blue fixie with bright yellow deep dish rims! No brakes, yellow grips on a tiny flat handlebar. Wish I had pulled out my phone in time for a picture…
Today is sports jersey day at the office. As it turns out I’m the only person in a cycling jersey – surprise! Here’s a list of things I want to do while I’m wearing it.
- While in a meeting, about half way through, reach into my jersey pocket, pull out GU packet, rip into it with my teeth, spit the foil, and suck down the contents.
- Have someone come into the meeting urgently and hand me a water bottle they’ve stuffed down the back of their shirt.
- With just a couple of minutes left in the meeting take a big gulp from my water bottle then throw it to the side of the room.
- Either at my cubicle or in a meeting, have the wheel on my chair fall off, I’d throw my hand in the air and someone would run up behind me with a new chair. Depending on how long it took, I may or may not throw my broken chair on the ground.
- Sit inches behind a co-worker while they work.
- Yell at someone in Italian when they won’t do what I’ve asked.
- Have someone hand me a musette as I walk down the hall.
- Look through the mussette putting things I want in my jersey pockets discarding the rest with a frown.
- Change the sign on the restroom to read “Doping Control”.
- Have someone run around next to me waving a giant Californian flag.
- Pass someone on the stairs and give them “the look.”