I don’t normally write about cycling kit, preferring to leave that to our in-house expert Panache, over on VeloVoices. However, while down in Australia, where cycling is a strongly growing sport, it was interesting to see what kit riders wear, aside from their club kit. The Australian market appears to be not too dissimilar to that of the US and UK. It’s a predominantly white-collar sport where its proponents ride seriously expensive bikes and demand high-end co-ordinated kit to match. It’s rare to see someone wearing a mismatched jersey and bibs. Indeed, many will be totally co-ordinated from head to toe with matching socks, caps and gloves.
By comparison with our trip last year, I noticed that local brands, such as MAAP, Lumiere, Pedla and Black Sheep Cycling, are seriously challenging Rapha’s seeming stranglehold on the Australian market. What these brands all have in common, is their determination to break with tradition and use innovative colours and patterns allied to leading edge fabrics, with all the performance bells and whistles. I particularly like their use of navy or grey as the base colour for bib-shorts with their colourful matching tops and bottoms. Now I say this as someone firmly wedded to black bottoms and silhouette slimming dark jerseys. Some of the brands have international distributors and all of them have webshops which ship internationally.
These newish brands are particularly popular with the ladies, who represent about 40% – hurrah – of all cyclists on the Australian roads. Not unnaturally, it’s often the ladies who demand more fashionable, stylish and colourful kit which, of course, also helps make you more visible on the road. So, purely in the interest of research, my beloved tried on one of these brands to check the sizing, and came away with a new outfit!
He usually takes an XL in Rapha and Assos but moves up to an XXL in many of the Italian or French brands. Here he’s wearing an L in the shorts with an XL jersey, along with the matching socks. Of course, he just had to try it out the following day and said it was really good at wicking moisture and the pad was extremely comfortable. He then started muttering about maybe he should have gotten a pair of the bib shorts in grey too. That man will be the death of me and my bank account.