Covet: Four Women’s Cycling Jackets

Fall Cycling

With fall weather comes wetter days, chillier winds and the need to add an extra layer when cycling around town.

I recently viewed a few men’s cycling jackets that look just as good on or off of your bicycle. Today, it’s time to see what’s available for women:

The Portland jacket by Showers Pass has a reflective rear flap that adds extra visibility at night yet folds away when you no longer need it. With pit-zips and adjustable cuffs, the Portland is ready for unpredictable fall weather. Available at MEC.

Alberta-based Riyoko (meaning “to travel” in Japanese) offers their Riding Blazer, a windproof, water-resistant jacket with vents for warmer days and enough pockets for whatever you need on hand. More information about the 100% Canadian made jackets here.

Toronto-based Modrobes offers the longer trench-style Ryding Jacket made from recycled water bottles. A generous hood and vented back help you keep your cool when the winds start blowing and the rain starts falling. Available at Modrobes.

From the slim fit to the high neck, Nau’s Shroud of Purrin Jacket brings styling rarely seen in the world of “soft shells.” Learn more about this jacket made from recycled plastics at Nau.

Have you tried any of these jackets? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

Fall photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Covet: Wax Jacket and Bike to Work Pants from San Fran’s Betabrand

betabrand wax jacket

Bike to Work Pant Betabrand

San Francisco-based Betabrand are just a small part of the growing clothing companies who are creating “casual-functional” cycling clothing.

Their Wax Jacket has a slim motorcycle jacket fit. Waxed cotton is an “old-timey” outdoor fabric that appears to be having a little renaissance in the cycling community. The Wax Jacket also features reflective piping along the zippers for added nighttime visibility.

The Bike to Work pants are simple khakis with hidden reflective striping inside of each leg and within the two back pockets. Say what you will about letting your back pockets flap in the wind, but the reflective leg stitching is quite useful.

For more info about Betabrand head over to their web site. Be sure to check out their Cordarounds, a corduroy pant with a twist, horizontal wales.

And hey, why not watch this short video featuring the Bike to Work pants:

Jerseys That Announce “I Love Cycling, But I Also Love Hockey”

NHL, NBA, MLB… VOmax has got you covered for licensed logos on cycling apparel.

Be a fanatic, be shiny!

More info at VOmaxgear.com

Via Bikerumor

Covet: Men’s Cycling Jackets

Maybe it’s because I’m too big a fan of Mad Men, or maybe it’s because working from home means I get too much wear out of my t-shirts and jeans, but seeing big labels make jackets with cycling style really has me longing for more reasons to “suit up.”

J. Lindeberg recently introduced the “Dreyden” blazer with technical mesh to wick away sweat and reflective striping hidden under the collar (see above).

Rapha’s Tailored Jacket features a back pocket and fabric that repels dirt and water:

Another option is the Shroud of Purrin blazer from Nau featuring a wind and water resistant fabric and new soft lining:

J. Lindeberg photo via Style Salvage
Rapha photo via Rapha
Nau photo via Nau

Covet: SHIFTY Cycling Clothes That Don’t Look Like Cycling Clothes

I really like these cycling clothes from Los Angeles. Anyone know of someone doing something like this in Canada?

See Jen Diamond for SHIFTY designs here.

How to Keep Riding Your Bicycle on Rainy Toronto Days

Red Rubber Boots and Training Wheels

Perhaps one of the greatest hurdles to really becoming an everyday bicycle rider is rain.

No one wants to show up to work soaked to the bone, but on a humid, rainy day, taking the TTC can feel like giving up, and if you have to wait for a bus or streetcar you’re still going to get wet.

I started rain riding by accident. Riding home I knew I was racing a storm. About half way through my ride the sky opened and within seconds I was soaked.

But I was also smiling, ear to ear. After a long day in an office a rain ride is refreshing, invigorating. It’s like going for a jog in your shower (if that was even possible). Rain riding feels great and you’ll be the envy of your workplace, soaked and smiling and buzzing all day. Sure, you can take to rain riding cold turkey, but a little preparation can help you really enjoy the ride. Here’s what to do:

1) Accept that you will get wet: Fact, you will get wet riding when the rain starts to fall and there’s nothing you can do about it. Some people will ride faster, as if trying to outrun the falling rain, and rushing can lead to poor decision making. Pedestrians will be dashing across streets heading for the nearest shelter and drivers will be distracted and nervous. If you’re rushing, trying to outrun the falling rain, you’re more likely to put yourself in dangerous situations. Slow down and accept getting a little wet, you’ll be safer for it.

2) Dress for a mess: You can go out and purchase rain shells to wear over your work clothes, but in my experience these keep the rain water out and also keep your sweat in, still leaving you soaked. Shelling out for rain gear can help you stay a little drier and more comfortable, but during warm summer rains simply wearing clothing you don’t mind getting wet and dirty works great. Quick drying fabrics will make storing your riding clothes at work less problematic, so a thick cotton t-shirt that takes a day to air dry may not be the best option.

3) Get the right equipment: Fenders! Get fenders for your bicycle. If you don’t have them they are probably keeping you from rain riding because no one wants that “skunk stain” running up their back. You can buy a set at your local bike shop for around $25 or $30 and pay a little extra to have them installed (or learn how to do it yourself). A decent set of panniers or backpack will keep your change of clothes dry. I have a set from Mountain Equipment Co-op that are water-resistant, so on wetter days I would place my clothes in a plastic bag first to keep out the little moisture that would seep in. Reusable lunch bags can be used for valuables like your phone and wallet. A plastic grocery bag can be used to cover your seat and keep it dry during the day. Also, bring your lights and use them, anything to make you stand out on the road is going to benefit your safety.

4) Slow your roll: Wet rims and brakes take longer to slow you down and wet roads increase your chance of skidding. And when there’s a lot of rain, you can even start to hydroplane slide on water-covered streets, which reduces your control. So simply slow down and enjoy the water streaming down your face, it’s wonderful.

5) Take the lane: Beware the gutter. Puddles can conceal potholes and uneven sewer coverings. Moving into the lane, ideally where the right side wheels of cars would typically roll, can save you from the unexpected and will force drivers to pass you with less speed and greater caution.

6) Use extra caution near streetcar tracks and crosswalks: Streetcar tracks can be a nightmare for some even during the best conditions. In the rain, not only are the tracks more slippery, but the smooth concrete surrounding them becomes a sliding hazard as well. Same goes for crosswalks that use paving stones as smooth surfaces mean less traction for narrow bicycle tires. When turning left on roads with streetcar tracks you can perform an “indirect left turn” to allow you to cross the tracks at a 90 degree angle. Or simply dismount from your bicycle and use the crosswalks.

7) Think “muti-modal” transportation: The TTC is currently installing better bicycle parking at subway stations around town. If you’re not comfortable riding in the rain for your entire commute you can still skip waiting for buses and streetcars and simply head to the nearest subway station. You may be a little wet on the subway, but you certainly won’t be the only one.

8) Have fun: Always remember, enjoy yourself. Getting wet may seem like a pain, but if you pack dry clothes and a small towel and once you get comfortable changing at work, you can simply start to enjoy the rain and beauty of a soaking wet city. You may also feel a little super-human for braving the rains, so don’t let that go to your head!

Photo via the BikingToronto Flickr Pool

Functional Fashion Inspired By Cycling and Perspiration

The above video was part of the !ola team‘s submissions for promoting urban, everyday cycling in the Yoxi Pilot Competition.

When I reviewed my Modrobes Euca Tee I took a few post-ride photos of my sweat-stained t-shirt. I opted not to use them in my review, but I’m kicking myself now for not seeing the fashion-forward concept in those soaked sections of my shirt.

Learn more about the Yoxi Pilot Competition and view the winning entries here.

Via 1 girl + 2 wheels

Covet: Bixi The Extraterrestrial

et-bixi-maleet-female

Great shirt from Chic Moustache in Montreal.

bixi_nologo

In Review: Modrobes Euca Tee for Men and Women

Women's Scoop Neck Euca Tee from Modrobes.comMens Crew Neck Euca Tee from Modrobes.com

Cycling fashion designers have a knack for over-complicating seemingly simple things.

Take, for example, any clothing item created by Outlier. Each garment, while beautiful and functional, is also accompanied by a short novel, or novella, describing the epic journey each article of clothing takes from being just a spark in the brain of a designer to becoming a $144 shirt.

As someone who rides a bike, but doesn’t want to be easily identified as the guy who showed up on a bike, I prefer simple clothes that I can wear for a ride around town or to work in or to simply sit down on a patio in.

Certainly, I could just throw on any of the cotton t-shirts I’ve accumulated simply from being a guy (it’s a well-known fact that not only do guys purchase a lot of t-shirts, or get them free with beer, but we also develop strong bonds to these shirts as they fade and decay). Yet, if you’ve stepped outside recently, like I did this morning in 26 C heat with 100% humidity, then you’ve probably experienced the way cotton absorbs sweat, holds on to it for dear life and weighs you down more than a bullet-proof vest. Heck, even the hardest of hard-core rappers opt for lighter upper torso vestments in this weather.

Strangely unhappy with using natural fibres for the creation of clothing, we’ve also turned our attention to the limited resources of our planet in order to create supposedly “high-tech” fabrics that we adorn with countless pockets, zippers and reflective embellishments. In order to be certain these fabrics are suitably “high-tech” we also douse them in scary-sounding chemicals in order to repel the natural processes our bodies undertake to cool us down when Mother Nature decides to turn up the thermostat. Yet still, all of the science in the world has a hard time keeping plastic clothing from smelling worse than a TTC streetcar on the first really hot day of summer.

After systematically eliminating both cotton and polyester from my list of ideal fabrics for summer cycling and living I was left with nothing to wear except for the piece of paper I had made this short list on.

That’s when I discovered Modrobes and their recently released Euca Tee.

You see, this is no ordinary t-shirt. The Euca Tee is made from 100% eucalyptus trees, a plant indigenous to Australia and the preferred snack of cute and cuddly koala bears, an animal introduced to “the West” in Jackie Chan’s Criterion contribution First Strike.

Other clothing manufacturers, like Patagonia, have been using Tencel, a branded eucalyptus lyocell fibre in outdoor athletic gear for some time now. The claims made by the manufacturers are quite bold and should instantly perk the ears of anyone who hates wrinkly clothes, detests carrying their sweat with them and abhors bacteria responsible for the terrible stink some people associate with “avid cyclists.”

Since the above describes me almost to a “t,” I decided to purchase a Modrobes Euca Tee and put their claims to the test. In fact, let’s take a look at those claims firsthand:

“Like wool for summer weather the Euca tee is great for keeping you comfortable in hot or humid weather.”-SSD

The Euca tee does everything a performance garment should but naturally and without actually being a performance garment…it’s just better than cotton and polyester at working with your body’s natural comfort.

The Euca tee is made from 100% eucalyptus trees and is certified as an environmentally clean fabric by numerous auditors.

The fabric absorbs moisture away from the body into the fibres and releases it depending on the climate conditions which keeps your skin dry and stops bacteria from forming. Unlike all polyester technical fabric eucalyptus does this naturally and without any added chemicals.

Highlights:

*no smell
*quick dry
*wrinkle free
*super soft
*biodegradable

My girlfriend, also described to a “t” above the above, received a Euca Tee, too, because I am just that great of a boyfriend. Over the past week we put these t-shirts through the paces, with those “paces” being the wearing of a t-shirt as you would normally and doing so while occasionally on our bicycles.

Referring to the above list of claims, or “highlights,” our first impression of the t-shirts was that they were, in fact, super soft. On a softness scale I’d rank these t-shirts between a box full of kittens and an even larger box full of koosh balls. The fabric is also thinner than I’m used to. In fact, these t-shirts nearly give you the feeling of being topless yet will allow you to still order fast food indoors. Basically a win-win situation in the summer heat.

After riding our bicycles around town my girlfriend and I both managed to work up a good sweat. Living up to the next “highlight,” these t-shirts did in fact dry quickly, although they did not dry faster than we were able to create more sweat, but once off our backs, the shirts dried within minutes.

Since the preferred method of t-shirt storage in our apartment is “balled up” we were also able to test whether these shirts could be wrinkle free. Now, unballing the t-shirt did reveal wrinkles, but after doning the shirt and heating them up a little in the great outdoors we did find the wrinkles quickly released. Once again, the t-shirt lives up to the claims.

By now you must be curious about stink. Two able-bodied individuals braving the summer heat in a bi-pedal manner must be sweating and within that sweat there must be feeding bacteria whose feces contribute to what is commonly referred to as “body odour.” Yes, we did sweat. Yes, we even thoroughly drenched our t-shirts. And no, they did not stink. In fact, I remained smelling like the man your man can smell like and my girlfriend retained her gentle fragrance of lilacs and other flowers I fail to bring home and decorate our apartment with.

Understandably, I cannot test whether or not these t-shirts are actually biodegradable, however, if they do begin to biodegrade while in use, I will be sure to inform you once I find a replacement shirt because I never blog shirtless.

Ok, so the shirts live up to the claims I am capable of unprofessionally testing (no labs nor lab coats were used and therefore any and all tests completed by me are as amateur as it gets). But how do they fit?

The mens crew neck Euca Tee fits long in the body thus keeping my lower back/upper butt from exposure to the elements. The thin fabric hangs nicely and I found no strange bunching or tight spots when in “cycling position.” My girlfriend also likes the longer length and the scoop neck is comfortable and appropriate for her work.

For the more daring, there are v-neck styles for both men and women. This neck style may be great for allowing even more moisture to be released from your upper torso, although I prefer to keep my chest out of view of spectators as some parts of my body should remain in sacred seclusion.

In conclusion, the Modrobes Euca Tee is a versatile t-shirt made of a fabric that wears well and has a few added performance features that can benefit cyclists in the summer months.

The Euca Tee for men and women is available at Modrobes, 620 Queen Street West in Toronto for $35.
Photos via Modrobes.com

Cycle Chic as Advocacy?

First Cycle Chic Photo

Is the simple act of riding a bicycle in your everyday clothes a form of advocacy? Capturing these moments and sharing them online may be more than just bicycle voyeurism. See why in the video below: