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

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

‘Dragon’s Den’ lands Modrobes back on Queen Street West

Screen shot 2010-03-24 at 3.21.09 PM

“A big part of what we’re doing with Modrobes is making clothing for cycling and commuting on bikes.” – Modrobes founder Steven Sal Debus

Remember Modrobes? If you’re in your 20s or early 30s you probably had a pair of their pants on during Frosh Week.

After shutting down the company, founder Steven Sal Debus is back with a new clothing line made of recycled plastic bottles.

And, after a successful appearance on Dragon’s Den (is it just me or does that show love cycling products?) the brand relaunched online and has a new store at 620 Queen Street West, Toronto. I stopped in today after reading about the shop on 416CycleStyle.

The clothes are simple, straightforward and functional. I’m particularly fond of the men’s Williamsburg jacket made of a stretchy, wind and water resistant recycled material. And, in a strange twist, this jacket, which is made with cyclists in mind, isn’t covered in reflective piping. That means you can wear this while cycling and not worry about getting lumped into the “avid cyclists” club based solely on your appearance. (Just don’t forget your lights).

Inside the shop you’ll find a small selection of Abici and Batavus Old Dutch bicycles also for sale. Maybe they’ll let you take a spin to test out their clothes and the bikes.

Below is a YouTube video by the brand with clips from Dragon’s Den:

Update: Modrobes is hosting an opening party on Saturday, April 10, 2010 from 5-10pm. Enjoy a beer and get 30% off all clothing… nice! More info here: http://bikingtoronto.com/events/modrobes-opening-party/