I roll out of bed and on to my bike in the mornings – eyes not fully open, which isn’t the best way to take on Essex Road. It also means I shove on cycling clothes without care: a repurposed pyjama top, old leggings and a high-vis that’s so dirty it’s the same colour as the road. From a style point of view, I should just stay in bed. That’s where No Such Thing clicks into gear. A women’s brand that makes fashionable, technical wear designed to make you look good pelting about on two wheels.
Sandwiched between a lorry and the number 38, I’ve never felt so stylish. I’m testing out a lycra and merino wool dress and a beautifully cut trenchcoat, which is also waterproof, windproof and reflective. The dress is really comfy and breathable, and looks like something I’d wear on a night out. The coat has a mesh back and open underarms to keep things breezy, which I like and my colleagues definitely appreciate. I feel autumn-proof, yet glamorous and tailored.
Wearing a dress on a bike was never going to work for me. I end up readjusting at red lights so as to not flash innocent passers-by. While the coat is waterproof, it doesn’t feel completely sturdy and I probably wouldn’t wear it in the depths of winter. But these are lovely, thoughtful clothes that prove cycle-wear can be stylish AND practical. It’s a long way from my pyjama-sports combo.
Dress £79; jacket £210 www.nosuchthing.clothing
I am disgusting. I cycle eight miles to Time Out with no change of clothes and then fester there in my own filth. I just want to be able to cycle to work and get on with my day. So I need clothes that I can ride in that are vaguely acceptable in the office. Vaguely. My usual repertoire is some pretty gross shorts, old Reeboks, my least stained T-shirt and maybe a plaid shirt to ‘tie it all together’. That’s where French company Huez comes in: it makes clothes smart enough for a meeting with the CEO, and comfortable enough to cycle in.
Everything I’m trying is meant to be cycling-specific. That means the shorts come with built-in (but removable) padded inners and the shirt has little flexy bits. Ignoring the inners, these are the nicest chino shorts I’ve ever had. Really beautiful material, sturdily made. They make great everyday shorts. The shirt has an antibacterial finish, which is exactly what an animal like me needs. The wind jacket – super-lightweight – does a great job of keeping me just the right side of warm.
I’m not convinced the stretchy bits on the shirt make any difference to my cycling, and other than the padded inners, these shorts are really just shorts. I’d like some reinforcement in the crotch region (wouldn’t we all?) or some flexibility in the fabric. Both feel like great everyday items, but unspectacular cycling clothes. The jacket is too cycley to wear off the bike, too. Still, really nice clothes, neatly aimed at cyclists, and I actually look smart for once. Thanks France!
Jacket £125; shirt £65; shorts £120. www.huez.co.uk
Head-to-toe Boris-on-a-bike yellow-high-vis is not a cool look. However, head-to-toe plastercast isn’t either. As much as we might like to think we’re Eddy Merckx and would bounce out of a collision even stronger, the reality is that things would probably end up a bit more Eddie Cochran. Ahem.
Prevention is better than protection – I’m dismayed by cyclists who illuminate themselves with lamps feebler than pound-shop fairy lights. Which is why Lumo’s Regent’s Parka is such a brilliant idea. It’s precisely tailored in warm and waterproof wool, with bike-friendly details. Effective, but subtle (and stylish) enough to wear somewhere smart without anyone knowing your transport is locked up outside. But the real excitement comes from the integrated ultra-bright USB-charged LEDs, which unless switched on you won’t notice. When they are, every driver from Wimbledon to Walthamstow will see you. The Bermondsey bag is a similar mix of handsome craftsmanship and high-tech practicality: Italian leather, Scottish waxed canvas (because no one waxes canvas
like a Scot) and LEDs on the back and shoulder straps.
It’s only for city riding, but that’s about it. There’s painfully hip and there’s just plain painful; Lumo should help you stay the first and avoid the second.
Jacket £400, bag £200. www.lumo.cc
Functional cycling garms are just that: functional. East Cycle Studios aims to make clothes that you would happily wear to the pub, but that also happen to be practical. With sleeveless denim jackets and classic parkas emblazoned with reflective patches which will enhance visibility by hundreds of feet, this is seriously stylish cycling gear.
This look is a hundred times cooler than my super-functional daily ride attire. The upcycled vintage parka jacket with its all-seeing-eye logos make me feel like a ‘90s scally with a penchant for David Ike – in a good way. The bespoke pattern on the snood is an exciting addition to my daily cycling outfit, and the T-shirt is breathable and cool.
The emblazoned jacket left me feeling like one sweaty mother. The coat lacks room to breathe, which is A-okay if you’re popping to meet pals for a brewski, but for a seven-miler from south to north at rush hour with the MAMIL collective this is a no-go. My advice would be to keep this for spesh occasions: you know, a nice slow cycle to brunch or along the canal with friends.
Bag £30; jackets from £65. www.eastcyclestudios.com
More bike-friendly buys
Whether you're looking for a brand new bike or just need to get a puncture fixed, the capital's bicycle specialists have it covered.