10 fashion disasters
that every true cyclist should avoid
Looking slick on the roads? Err, maybe not...
No matter what your personal views are on the subject, if you’re
going to wear Lycra when you’re out for a cycle, people are
probably going to laugh in your face.
Just because you don’t care about that fact doesn’t
mean that you should ignore the rules of road cycling fashion, though.
These are rules that you can only learn through time spent in the
two-wheeled community, or by getting on first-name terms with the
staff at the local bike shop of course.
If you’ve still not managed to master the fashion faux pas
of the bike world, though, fear not, because here’s our crash
course in what not to wear when you’re out on two wheels.
It could just save you from losing your dignity…
Mis-matched team kit and bike
The recent rise in cycling has been driven by MAMILs (middle-aged
men in Lycra), who seem to have decided that cycling is the new
golf. These guys are going out and buying the first bike that appeals
to them. That usually means something in carbon fibre with a four-figure
price tag. Then they go home and start watching the Classics and
Grand Tours on the TV and suddenly decide that they want to show
their support for the likes of Wiggins and Cavendish. To do this,
they purchase the appropriate full team issue kit. Unfortunately,
Wiggo and the rest of Team Sky ride Pinarello bikes but our hapless
wannabes will be on anything but. They won’t be aware of this,
but regular roadies will scorn them for such a crass mismatching
of bike and kit.
Pants under Lycra
This is the one that every newbie road rider does. When people
first take up road cycling there seems to be a real reluctance to
fully embrace the culture and go commando. It could be modesty,
it could be the belief that the extra layer of fabric will mean
increased comfort or it could simply and more likely be ignorance.
I mean, telling someone to get their pants off is not the sort of
thing you can easily say to a stranger. The thing is it’s
not simply a style issue, even though the visible outline of a pair
of saggy Y-fronts under Lycra shorts is offensive on so many levels.
Ditching the pants and wearing well-designed shorts with a good
padded insert will make a world of difference to on-bike comfort.
Shorts over leggings
I’m really not sure where this started. It could be memories
of Superman wearing his pants over his superhero tights, or it could
be the way footballers wear their shorts over leggings when training,
but whatever the origin it’s simply unacceptable on a bicycle.
I mean, it makes you look like you’re not even capable of
dressing yourself properly. It’s not just the look of it that
bothers me, but the fact that the same points as wearing cycle shorts
over pants are relevant here. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise
if some people wear pants, leggings and then cycling shorts. That’s
just saddle sores waiting to happen.
Baggies on a road bike
Coming to the subject of mtb riders crossing over to the road
and bringing their kit with them opens up a whole minefield of road
cycling fashion crimes. While baggy shorts are perfectly acceptable
for off-road riding - in fact, more common than Lycra these days
- the exact opposite is true of road riding. If a bike has drop
bars then you really do need to embrace the embarrassment of figure
hugging kit. Well, it’s either that or get stared at when
you stop mid-way through a ride at the local road tea stop for a
brew and a slice of cake.
Off-road shoes on a road bike
Staying with the theme of off-road/road cross-over brings up the
subject of footwear. I’ll put my hand up here and admit that
when I got my first road bike I ran it with a set of mtb clipless
pedals and used my matching mountain bike shoes. My excuse for such
crass behaviour was that having bought the bike, I didn’t
have money left for suitable pedals and shoes. However, once I could
make the change I did and there’s good reason for doing so.
With proper road pedals, there’s a much bigger surface area
that means you can get the power down more easily and there’s
also less chance of getting uncomfortable pressure hot spots. It
also means you won’t get laughed at by real roadies
This is a recent and most worrying trend. For as long as I can
remember, cyclists of all kinds have worn short socks. And why not?
If you’ve got well-defined calf muscles from lots of cycling,
then why not wear short socks so you can show them off? The other
point is it’s easier to get oil from the bike’s chain
off your leg than it is to get it out of a pair of long socks. Short
socks will also give you an opportunity to display your cycling
related tattoo on your calf in a non-ironic way, but more on that
Arm warmers and leg warmers rolled down
Now don’t get me wrong, I think both arm warmers and leg
warmers are a great idea, especially for spring and autumn riding.
The great thing about them is that they make summer riding kit much
more versatile. So why is it that when people go out riding in them
and the weather warms up do they simply just push them down, leaving
them all bunched up. While this may be acceptable if you’re
a pro rider on the road where every second counts in a race, for
a Sunday morning leisure ride how difficult is it to stop and take
them off and stuff ‘em in your jersey pocket?
It could be argued that people are using leg warmers or long socks
to hide just how hirsute they are. Well, there’s a simple
answer to that: buy a razor. If you’re going to ride on the
road and you’ve taken to figure-hugging Lycra as an acceptable
form of dress, you may as well go the whole way and emulate the
pros with the hairless look. You see the thing is, it’s got
nothing to do with aerodynamics, and while it does help with post
ride massages, the lack of hair makes it much easier to clean the
gravel out from under your skin after you’ve crashed. Nice.
Hey, it also means your toned and tanned muscles are shown off to
Chainring leg tattoos
Shaved legs can also be used to show off your ill-advised chainring
tattoo. Why the first person to have a section of chainring tattooed
onto their calf thought it was a good idea is beyond me, and even
more confounding is that others have copied the idea. How can people
possibly think it’s cool to have a tattoo that looks like
you pressed your leg against an oily chainring? Oh, by all means,
get a tattoo, get multiple tattoos, but put a bit of thought into
the design first.
Cycling kit as casual wear
This is one of those trends in fashion that keeps going away and
then coming back again for whatever reason. I first remember seeing
people wearing cycling tops as everyday clothing in the mod revival
of the late ’70s, and then it started to happen again with
rave culture. This is bad because most team trade tops appear to
have been designed by someone with access to too many crayons; understated
and tasteful they are not. Secondly, unless you’ve got a washboard
stomach, the cut of the average cycling jersey is less than flattering.
If you want to let the world know you’re a cyclist when you’re
off the bike there are plenty of T-shirts that you can wear that
proclaim your allegiance, and if you want to go upmarket there’s
a vast choice of casual cycling kit from the likes of Rapha and
Paul Smith. This really is one of those time where less (logos)
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