Cycling has the potential to transform the world, and you can be a salesperson for that change. However, if your pitch begins with you arriving in a state, you may find there are fewer takers for this bicycle-based revolution than you might have hoped.
Luckily we’ve rounded up a wardrobe of casual cycling clothes for the stylish commuter. Sure to have tube-dwellers lusting after your dashing and carefree existence, they prove that sustainable transport and sartorial style are in no way mutually exclusive.
Rapha Commuter Jacket
A truly waterproof jacket that you can throw over a range of outfits is a must for commuting at any time of year. Ideally made with a more generous cut to allow for riding in a more upright style and better blend in when off the bike, an oversized hood is also high up our list of priorities.
If it could also be packable and light enough to be dry before we pull it back on to commute home having been soaked on the way in, then we’d really consider all boxes ticked.
Judging by the design of its Commuter Jacket, it seems like Rapha has a similar list of criteria. Coming in a range of bright colours, finished with reflective detailing, and costing a nice round £100, we’re sold.
Isadore IAR T-Shirt
You might think few things are as simple as a T-shirt. However, when that T-shirt is made with Merino wool, its wearer will soon discover this material offers some very useful benefits.
Chief among them is that you can sweat as if you were riding at the Vuelta in a Merino T-shirt and yet return to feeling fresh within a few minutes. This is because Merino is not only incredibly breathable, but the structure of its fibres also helps to manage bacteria.
We’re not talking about some marginal benefit either; you can genuinely wear a Merino T-shirt for a week of both commuting and office bumbling before it needs washing. Excellent for cutting down on your laundry and simplifying what you wear, they’re equally fabulous for hiking, running, or travelling.
Illimité Abstract Cycling Cap
£30, Shop Illimité
People get very het up about when it is and isn’t acceptable to wear a cycling cap. However, few people would deny that commuting is included among the activities for which they’re appropriate.
When they’re as lovely as this five-panel model from Illimité, we can’t see why you wouldn’t leave it on all day too. Benefiting from an abstract pattern in finely-tuned colours plus a thick, antibacterial sweatband, it promises to both look and smell entirely fresh.
ashmei Merino Gloves
£34, Shop ashmei
Although less universally culpable these days, cycling firms generally still love slapping a big logo or go faster strip on most things they produce. In comparison, these pleasingly restrained gloves from ashmei are feature-rich while still looking as plain as you could wish for.
Keeping the wind from your knuckles while providing extra grip and protection should you come off, there’s no reason you couldn’t wear them for any number of other tasks. Fitting just as well with non-cycling outfits, this could even include simply wandering to the shops on a frosty day.
Whatever you end up using them for, being made of Merino wool means they’ll keep your hands warm yet won’t get clammy. Also working with the firm’s windproof outers when things get nasty, you could even use them for racing at the weekends too.
Chrome Brannan Pant
£147, Shop Chrome
Jeans suck for riding in because, being cotton, they suck up moisture. Staying wet for ages afterwards, they soon end up rank, and that’s if they don’t wear out first. So, as much as they might be many people's go-to for general wear, when cycling, a better solution is something synthetic.
These smart looking trousers from Colorado-based Chrome Industries are both stretchy and articulated at the knee for comfortable pedalling. Made from 94% nylon and 6% spandex, they feature a straight leg, and a work-wear inspired cut. Replete with zipped pockets and reflective detailing on the cuffs, they’re also water-resistant.
Easy to dress up or down, they’re smart enough for work even if your office doesn’t yet have a Fussball table. Alternatively, they’ll serve just as well with a Carhartt jacket for stomping around town on your day off.
Pearson Kick Back Urban Commuter Shorts
£75, Shop Pearson
If you're lucky enough to find it’s still shorts weather where you live, these chino-style options from South London bicycle shop Pearson’s will do for a range of bike and bike adjacent activities. Made predominantly from recycled polyamide, this is mixed with elastane for stretch and carbon to help neutralise bacteria.
Aiming to keep you fresh between washes, the shorts longevity is enhanced by sonic welding. Something I’m always excited to see applied to the gusset of my shorts; this should stop them coming apart at the seams in the way more conventionally constructed models are prone to.
Cut slim for a tailored look; they’re also crease-resistant, meaning anyone fastidious enough to iron their shorts will gain back another five minutes of their life to spend however they might wish.
Adidas Velosamba Cycling Shoes
£100, Shop Adidas
A few companies make casual style SPD compatible cycling shoes. Still, it’s hard to look past Adidas’ Velosamba models. Looking for all the world like a conventional and more than averagely attractive trainer, on the bottom, you’ll nevertheless find holes to mount a pair of mountain bike-style cleats.
Recessed deep enough to make them easy to walk in, a moderately flexible sole means there’s no reason not to wear them all day. Particularly lovely in white, you’ll need to ensure they stay away from mucky chains if you want to keep them gleaming.
However, an obsession with retaining your shoes’ ice-white condition won’t be your only defence against being missed by traffic. Instead, Adidas’ famous triple stipe is rendered in high-vis reflective material to help you stand out further when riding in low light situations.
Rapha Commuter Reflective T-shirt
Rapha's extensive commuting and city range means it warrants to be included twice in this guide. The British brand's Reflective Commuter T-shirt is a true wardrobe staple for spring and summer riding. Designed specifically for that groggy, inner city heat, the T-shirt is breathable and uses a 105gsm polyester fabric to wick sweat as efficiently as possible.
The cooling feel to the garment isn't achieved by a loose fit, either, with the top sitting close to the body to avoid flapping in the wind or potential snagging on obstacles. Instead, the side stretch panels allow for flexibility and comfort and ensure that the t-shirt isn't at all restrictive.
Reflective detailing on the rear and plenty of bright colour options ensure optimum visibility for lower light commutes, and antibacterial treatment keeps things fresh throughout the day. As is often the case with Rapha's garments, the branding is simple and understated, meaning the Commuter tee looks as good as it feels.
Brompton Folding Bike
From £850, Shop Brompton
Sitting atop the pantheon of commuting accessories is the Brompton folding bike. A legitimate design classic, it’s as close as you’ll ever get to owning a bike you can carry in your pocket. Still made in London, each is as essential as an Oyster card and as convenient as a black cab.
Rolling on diminutive 16-inch wheels, this miniature bike has always offered a ride that’s just on the fun side of idiosyncratic. Efficient enough there’s no reason you couldn’t spend the entire day on one; the Brompton is nevertheless best suited to tying together the ends of any journey.
Delivering on its promise of multi-modal transport, it folds in seconds to become small enough to stash almost anywhere. Meaning you need never be parted; this is great for those living in high crime areas or just plagued by limited space. Fitting easily into the busiest of lives, the new 7.45kg titanium version pushes the concept to its extreme by making the Brompton even easier on its owner when carrying or riding.