If it seems like everyone’s biking these days… it’s because they are. While the early days of Covid may have fueled a “runnaissance,” a lockdowns-long biking boom may just be here to stay. Bike shops around the world are selling out of frames. Cities are restructuring to shoulder the load. In London, bike traffic is up as much as 162% compared to this time last year.
For those stuck in the same-sweatpants doldrums of #WFH, going out for a spin has become more than a transit alternative or a way to burn off banana bread: it’s become a part of the pandemic-era lifestyle, one with its own norms, lingo, and yes, style codes.
Bike gear is functional at its core. It only takes one long ride in Baggies to convince you that padded shorts are worth it. In the old days, however, that function was the end of it, leading to oddly-cut spandex and logo-blasted “pro” jerseys that turned every second off the pedals into a style disaster. But gone are the days of pensioners in stretch shorts. In their place? Palace x Rapha, and a whole lot more.
While their reach may not go far beyond the bike lane, a cohort of cool kid cycling brands began blending the style they saw on city streets with the functionality needed to bomb down them. The cycling boom is here to stay. A change in seasons means your old tee won’t cut it. As Highsnobiety readers gear up for chilly morning commutes, we put together a guide to the coolest biking brands and what to cop from them.
God and Famous Idiocracy Jersey
Founded in 2012, New York-based God and Famous is the Boot Boyz of biking. Their most famous piece? The culture-jacking Idiocracy Jersey, aka, that bike jersey you’ve seen on every Instagram archive page. A riff on ‘90s racing kit remixed for our consumerist hellscape, it’s an iconic piece that’s too cool to keep just on two wheels. For a 2020 update, peep the Idiocracy 2.
Romance Smokescreen Jersey
Stylized RMNC, London’s own Romance is an indie cycling brand that’s almost painfully chic. The line’s “Romance X” series of artist collabs stretches biking wear into the high-end streetwear space, pulling in names like Parra and D*Face to create some of the coldest gear out there. Keep an eye on their Instagram for their fast-moving drops, like last winter’s GORE-TEX shell that was the first-ever full color print on Shakedry tech. If you miss, their Smokescreen Jersey makes for a stylish consolation.
Search and State S1-A Riding Jersey
Search and State is New York’s homegrown cycling brand. Dreamt up on a Broadway lunch break, Search’s founder quit his job as VP of Design at a 7th Ave apparel house to make bike clothes he wanted to wear. The S1-A is their bread and butter riding top. As their name (and naming system) implies, the brand takes a healthy dose of inspiration from the look of mil-surp. Stealthy, textured-up staple pieces are the result.
Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Jersey
Founded in 2014 by the team behind Wood Wood, Pas Normal Studios is how Denmark does cycling. PNS specializes in the things Danish design does best: earth tones, type design, and keeping bad weather at bay. Think of them as the and wander of cycling. Expensive and hard to find, Pas Normal kit is as close as bike gear gets to a certified flex. The Mechanism Jersey – in monochrome or limited edition prints – is as close as the brand gets to a daily driver.
Rapha Pro Team Race Gilet
The O.G. better-looking bike brand, Rapha (founded in London in 2004) is world famous for its understated performance gear. Rapha’s real strength is its color palette. Gem tones with subtle contrast details define the brand’s now-iconic look, and the Pro Team Race Gilet ($190) is perhaps its truest vessel. Polartec Alpha insulation keeps the vest highly breathable. The brand’s design language makes it cool. Rapha is far from cutty – like Polo, you’re more likely to see it on a middle-aged dad than a bike courier. But let’s give credit where credit’s due. Without Rapha, brands like Pas Normal and Romance might not exist.
CHPT3 1903 Jersey
The UK’s CHPT3 is a self-described “design lab,” an atelier pour creation with cycling at its core. Founded by former pro David Millar, the gear has legit technical creds – but that’s not why you’re Googling “art deco jersey” from a traffic stop. The brand’s saturated dazzle camo prints bring to mind all-over knitwear from Prada and Moncler. This 1903 Jersey is CHPT3 at its best.
Endura Pro Adrenaline Race Cape II
Scottish brand Endura is known for outfitting teams competing in the Tour de France. While their early-90s founding makes them older (and more #racekit) than many of the other brands in this list, Endura’s priority on performance churns out some incredibly sleek cyclewear. The Pro Adrenaline Race Cape II is a superlight translucent rain jacket that was designed to be packed. On the bike, stow it in a pack in case of emergency. Off of it, well… it’s a skin-tight see-through shell. Do with it what you please.
State Bicycle Co. Peace Jersey
State Bicycle Co. is a big name in the fixed gear bike community. If you ain’t fixie foo, you still might get a kick out of their heady, counterculture-inspired cycling gear. The Peace Jersey is part of the brand’s recent Sustainable Clothing Collection which is made – you guessed it – with recycled materials. Rock the Tie Dye for a look that says “this is actually part of my cross-country charity ride.”
Café du Cycliste Claudette Jersey
Touring du France, or wish you could be? Café du Cycliste has you covered. The Nice-based premium performance brand got started as a line of bike jerseys for a local cafe. As their designs caught on, the business grew, et voila – a proper outfitter, now in stores across 4 continents. The brand’s most iconic design is its Provencal breton, shown here in a fall-ready long sleeve (think: skin-tight striped sweater). One cycling kit with Kitsuné vibes, SVP.
Albion Cycling Long Sleeve Jersey
Bearing the ancient name of the island of Great Britain, Albion is a UK-based cycling brand designed to maximize time outdoors. The line’s minimalist all-weather gear is tweaked through the lens of Graeme Raeburn, brother of Christopher and an ex-Rapha designer. We love their clean look at an accessible price. If you’re just building out a fall bike wardrobe, grab Albion’s Long Sleeve Jersey (or maybe three).
Attaquer All Day Outliner Long-Sleeve
Attaquer is an Aussie cycling brand making some of the cooler pure-racing garments today. Their name – the French verb meaning “to attack” – might as well be their ethos. Attaquer kit has razor sharp lines, aggressive details, and color palettes that are either bleak or bonkers. While their limited-edition Zebra jersey grabs eyes like Pai Mei, the All Day Outliner gets our feature for its Space Odyssey sheen. Peep those arm details. C’est supercool.
Pas Normal Studios Control Winter Jacket
Finally: if you plan on cycling all winter long, Pas Normal’s Control Jacket is the way to do it in style. The Control is made from a thick helping of Polartec’s Power Shield Pro, a three-layer softshell made fully weatherproof thanks to taped seams and a PU-coated zip. At DKK 2,835 (~$450), it’s far from cheap. But would PNS really be a Scandi tech brand without an expensive deep winter jacket?
Ostroy Punk Bib
Ostroy is the eponymous brand of NYC’s Alex Ostroy, a bike coach and designer based in the East Village. Ostroy’s look borrows from the rich artistic culture of its backyard. So yeah. It’s punk as shit. Whether it’s a squad of kids on BMX’s or messengers dodging traffic, cycling has been a part of the urban counterculture since the invention of the bike. Ostroy’s Punk Bibs pay homage to this shared spirit of Tompkins Square rockers and Times Square couriers through one of the most unique bibs on the market today.
MAAP Team Bib Short 3.0
Another new name from Down Under, Melbourne-based MAAP is what happens when a cohort of graphic artists, apparel designers, and passionate cyclists realize there’s nothing on the market that they want to wear. Think of MAAP like the natural wine to Rapha’s craft beer: same tip, just for a different generation. The brand’s tasteful colors and adept graphic placement make their whole line worth a look, but for our money, the Team Bib Short 3.0 is where it’s at. Who else has a pants palette with this many hues?
Giro Chrono Short
Everyone needs an affordable pair in their rotation. The Chrono Shorts from cycling mainstay Giro get our pick for their blend of long-distance comfort and barebones style. Think of them like the Uniqlo tee of the bike world. Er, maybe the Uniqlo pants.
Ornot House Bib Shorts
San Francisco’s Ornot is an indie cycle brand founded in 2013. Their ethos: hide the logos, make it locally, and do it all carbon neutral. Getting too Bay Area? Peep the brand’s House Bib Shorts in Gray Block. Twisting, function-first paneling meets a Cav Empt-almost gradient pattern for one of the more subtly interesting takes out there. Forget SFMOMA. These are properly Tate.
GORE Wear C7 Partial Gore Windstopper Tights
Yes, that Gore. While materials innovator W.L. Gore & Co. is most famous for helping other brands make gear, Gore’s got a hustle of its own. The company’s in-house GORE Wear line sneakily turns out great performance apparel for cyclists and runners. Mixing between Windstopper tech and a stretch poly-nylon, these C7 tights are how the brand famous for stopping bad weather does winter biking. Text logo details on the leg and seat make sure everyone’s heard about GORE-TEX.
Tracing its roots to the ‘80s motorcross scene, optics brand 100% knows a thing or two about going fast on a bike. Their SPEEDCRAFT glasses (goggles?) are some of the most distinctive performance shades out there. While they may lack the Pan’s Labyrinth chic of Oakley or vintage Brito, these speed demons are the closest you’ll get to a Master Chief visor care of Balenciaga. Champion cyclist Peter Sagan wears these in races. You can wear them to raves.
Café du Cycliste x Article One Sunglasses
There’s understated. And then there’s not even having a name. Flint-based Article One optical linked with up France-based Café du Cycliste to produce these F’ing great sunglasses, simply known as “CDC x Article One.” These collab lunettes are some of the more understated athletic specs on the market. Silicon nose pads and flexible wire temples keep the glasses locked in while biking. Vintage-inspired colorways make them versatile for more than just that.
Roka is the triathlete’s choice for high-performance, multi-sport specs. Their CP-Series deserves a special shoutout for its ultralight weight (just 27 grams). It deserves full attention for its customizability, down to the color of the temple grips.
From heritage mountaineering goggle maker Julbo comes the Aero, an extreme sports sunnie straight out of Deus Ex. The Aero’s suspended construction allows for air to flow between the frame and your face at all times. Better yet, it can actually fit in your pocket. Photochromic lenses keep your vision clear no matter the weather.
POC Ventral Spin
Yes, even helmets have an expensive cool guy option. Sweden’s POC – not abbreviated, just a name – has been making low-profile safety gear since 2005. Their Ventral Spin helmet is an aerodynamic cycling bucket made for going fast. Although, with 9 tasteful color choices and an aggressive silhouette, perhaps just looking the part is enough. Hydrogen White gets our vote for the cleanest possible headcase, but if high impact is your goal (in style, not in gravity), hunt down the Palace collab design.
Looking for a more unique option than the standard brain case? Go for Abus’ Gamechanger. While the Ventral Spin cuts its drag with Speeder Trooper styling, the Gamechanger throws caution to the wind. Massive ridges and undulating vents give the whole package a vibe that’s just plain alien. Grab it in iridescent “Flipflop” since you’re already in for a penny.