The best stylish commuter gear for cyclists
Casual cycling clothes to keep you looking and feeling fresh in and around the city
Commuting to work by bike has enormous benefits for both you and the planet, but there’s a number of factors that can prevent people from getting in the saddle. How do I take all my stuff? Won’t I arrive at work hot and bothered? What if it rains? Do I have to wear lycra? Thankfully, brands have now come a long way in creating commuter clothing and accessories that allow you to step off the bike and straight into the office – not one tight-fitting piece of lycra to be seen.
To make sure your daily commute is both comfortable and enjoyable, wearing the right clothes can be key. While there is no set uniform to commuting, having pieces of clothing that don’t leave you dripping with sweat or soaked through from the rain is important and will keep you reaching for your bike each day. And let’s be honest, we want to look good too.
It is sometimes hard to know whether investing into some good quality commuting clothes is worth the hype – especially when some of the price tags are pretty hefty. To help, we’ve tried and tested some of the brands who specialise in stylish commuter clothing and accessories to let you know whether or not it’s made our commutes more enjoyable.
In some of our articles you will find links to buy products from various external retailers. These links contain an affiliate code, and it means that Rouleur may receive a small percentage of the money you spend if you choose to buy that product via the link. This does not affect the amount you pay. All products are independently reviewed and selected on our judgement of them, not on whether they offer us affiliate revenue.
Barbour x Brompton Reversible Fold Quilted Jacket
If you’re looking for a garment that combines on-bike functionality with style, the Barbour jacket is a great choice.
Since its inception in 1894, Barbour has become synonymous with traditional English style combined with careful and durable craftsmanship. Founded in South Shields, it’s best known for its famous waxed jackets, bags and outerwear made for exploring in the British countryside. In more recent years, Barbour has evolved to create a more diverse range of products for different usage, and it collaborated with the iconic folding bike manufacturer, Brompton, to create a range of clothing optimised for use while cycling. Both brands joined together due to their shared heritage in British design and manufacturing and their joint ethos of creating products that have a real purpose.
The Reversible Fold Quilted Jacket is one of the flagship products in the Barbour x Brompton collection, made for commuting and everyday journeys on the bike, but also designed to look good as a casual garment. While Barbour is normally famous for its rural camo colourway, it has used high-vis orange in the Quilted Jacket too, in favour of better visibility in the city. The jacket is reversible, so you can choose whether to go for orange or green while out on the bike. Neither side is fully waterproof, but I did find the fabric used on the green side to be more water resistant. It was equally as warm wearing it both ways round. The jacket provides great insulation in the colder months, completely blocking out wind with cuffed sleeves and a high neck. It does this without feeling suffocating though, offering plenty of breathability with a dual-zipper which can be opened when you begin to get sweaty.
The fit of the jacket is certainly not oversized, but this means it doesn’t flap around while riding, although I would say to go a size up if you are looking to put additional layers underneath the jacket (I didn’t find I needed to do this thanks to the great insulation). The jacket has two frontal facing pockets which are well positioned to ensure nothing falls out when riding, but a zip or button for safekeeping would be a great addition. The zipped pocket on the chest is where I kept any valuables when wearing the jacket (although it is worth bearing in mind that this breast pocket is on the women’s version of the jacket only). When wearing the jacket with the high-vis orange colour on the outside, you have access to two large rear pockets that are sealed with a button at the top.
At £229, the price of the jacket is inline with other garments from Barbour as a premium brand. However, you aren’t just paying for the logo here; the jacket is great technically, the attention to detail with reflective strips, cuffed sleeves and a patch pocket goes a way to justifying the cost, as does the incredible craftsmanship that has gone into making it. The Barbour Quilted Jacket feels extremely durable and well-made; a piece that feels as if it will be a lifetime investment.
- Breathable but also insulating
- No zips on frontal pockets
- Not waterproof
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Rapha Men’s Technical Trousers
Stylish and flexible commuter trousers that look good on and off the bike.
It was only after spending a few weeks riding my Brompton in jeans to Rouleur HQ that I was really able to appreciate the need for a versatile pair of commuter trousers. The distance isn’t far enough to warrant wearing proper cycling kit, but far enough to feel uncomfortable in inflexible trousers not made for riding.
The Rapha Men’s Technical Trousers are an ideal solution to this more-common-than-you-think problem, and thankfully look the business off the bike as well.
The material is a flexible, stretchy fabric that, combined with a fairly loose fit, made them comfortable to ride in. There were no pinch points or rubbing that you might find on a pair of standard slacks.
There’s some thoughtful additions for when you’re riding, including zip pockets (sides and rear) and a reflective logo on the inside of the right leg which you can hide away by folding the cuff down when you’re in office mode.
The fit is generally as expected, though I seemed to be somewhat stuck between two sizes. I usually wear a 32-inch waist, but needed a belt cinched up fairly tight when on the bike to stop them riding down. Due to their stretchiness, I probably would have been better off with a 31, however Rapha currently only makes the Technical Trousers in even sizes.
While the high-cut at the rear makes them much better at not leaving a gap between my top and trousers when I’m riding, I reckon a smaller waist would have completely sorted this issue.
Nevertheless, these have become my go-to work trousers now. They’re plenty breathable, so they contribute to stopping any overheating and sweating that I’d prefer not to have just before getting to work. I’ve also unfortunately ridden in the rain while wearing them, and though they aren’t fully waterproof, they dry very quickly and work well enough for lighter showers.
The trousers retail at £130, a pretty penny, but you’ll probably find yourself using these day in and day out soon enough.
- Look great
- Comfortable to ride in
- Flexible and roomy
- Limited sizes
Reviewed by Richard Windsor
Lezyne Super Drive and KTV Smart LED Lights
These Lezyne lights have a long battery life, offer great visibility and are both waterproof and durable, keeping you seen while riding in the dark.
A good set of lights is absolutely essential for a safe commute, especially during the winter months when setting off and coming home in the dark is a regular occurrence. Lezyne is a company which has long been known for its durable and high-performance lights that you can buy without breaking the bank. The Lezyne Super Drive front light and KTV rear light come in a handy set of two, nicely packaged in a reusable storage box with multiple options for mounting them to your bike included.
Out of the pair, the front Lezyne Super Drive 1600XXL light is definitely the star of the show. With 1600 lumens of output, the beam quality of the Super Drive light is excellent, completely illuminating unlit roads. Thanks to the wide-angle pattern, I found that the Super Drive lit up everything in my peripheral vision, not just the direct road ahead, making me feel much safer riding in the dark. The front light has seven setting options, with the Femto option able to run for up to 148 hours, meaning I rarely found myself worrying about forgetting to charge it. When it comes to charging, the rear KTV light features a handy built-in USB which takes away the need for a charging wire which was a really handy feature – it would be great if this was carried out to the front Super Drive light too.
Both lights can be controlled via the Lezyne app which is downloadable on smartphones, and they can be linked to Lezyne headunits too. The app is really easy to use and comes in handy if you have a phone mount on the front of your handlebars, but it would be good if the lights could connect via Bluetooth to other brands of headunits. Both lights are waterproof and can be mounted to the bike using a stretch-band that is a little stiff when first attaching them, but gets easier once it has been used a few times. At an RRP of £159.99, these lights aren’t cheap but are durable and reliable, offering great value for money and an array of handy features to ensure you’re visible out in the dark.
- Great value for money
- Controllable from within the Lezyne app and headunit
- Front light gives incredible visibility
- Smart feature is not compatible with headunits from other brands
- Can be tricky to attach to the bike on the first time
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Brompton Borough Waterproof Backpack
A roomy, practical backpack that adds an extra dimension to Brompton’s baggage line-up.
One of my favourite features of Brompton’s bikes is the front carrier block, allowing you to easily clip in your bag and making it easier to get around.
If you’re a backpack fan though, for the most part you’d need to keep wearing your bag given that Brompton’s range is largely made up of messenger style bags and roll top holdalls.
Brompton’s latest release, the Borough Waterproof Backpack, offers the best of both worlds; a convenient backpack for off the bike that can clip into the carrier block.
First off, the bag seems a lot bigger in person than it does in pictures. At 17 litres, there’s plenty of room for everything you need, and a laptop sleeve at the rear which fits my 15-inch Macbook. Anything bigger may fit, but could be a squeeze.
The inside of the main section is completely waterproof, Brompton claims, and in the one time it’s faced a downpour since I’ve had it, my bits and pieces stayed nice and dry. The same can’t be said for the stuff in the external zip pocket, which I only found out was not waterproof (despite Brompton's description) when I went to retrieve a couple of things in there. The main pocket is sealed with a velcro strap, which, while it hasn’t had any mishaps, doesn’t fill me completely with confidence that it won’t open while I ride with it on the bike.
The bag clips in horizontally to the block and a strap has been included on the side to let you hold it as you load it on the bike. A nifty magnet feature allows the shoulder straps to stick to the metal back frame on the rear so they don’t flap around while you ride. This works well, though there is usually a bit of excess from the non-magnetic part of the strap, you just need to make sure this is tucked in.
It’s fairly comfortable to wear around, the only negative is that the metal frame that maintains its structure doesn’t allow for any flexibility, so bending down while wearing it doesn’t work quite as well as a regular backpack.
At £180 it’s a significant investment, but it’s a stylish and practical addition for anyone who regularly commutes or travels with a Brompton.
- Very spacious
- Fits securely on front of Brompton
- Waterproof (in main pocket)
- Slightly inflexible while wearing off-bike
Reviewed by Richard Windsor
Pas Normal Studios Off-Road Down Jacket
A stylish puffer jacket which has plenty of clever design features to make it great for using on the bike.
If you’re looking to strike a balance between finding clothing that has been optimised for riding but also can double up as a fashionable jacket for off-bike use, the Pas Normal Studios Down Jacket is a great option. The Danish brand is known for its premium, stylish kit for road cycling and it’s fair to say that this extends into its urban range too. The Down Jacket comes in three tasteful colour options with signature Pas Normal Studios branding, created to be as equally suited to cycling as it is for everyday activities in the city.
The Down Jacket strikes the ideal balance between tight and baggy when it comes to fit; it had just the right amount of room so that it wasn’t restrictive, but it didn’t flap about in the wind when I was riding along. The anatomically fitted hood was great for when I stopped riding, took my helmet off and didn’t want to get cold, but its tight profile meant that it didn’t impede my vision when I was trying to look over my shoulder while riding on the bike. A two-way zipper meant that I could have extra ventilation when needed, while the strategically placed zipped pockets on the front and back of the jacket were great for storing valuables that I needed access to while on the move.
The Off-Road Down Jacket is filled with what Pas Normal Studios describe as “ethically sourced 900 fill-power goose down” which I found to be warm enough to use in temperatures down to five degrees celsius with just a thin base layer underneath. On colder days, I had either a long sleeve jacket or jumper underneath and the Down Jacket was a great outer layer. It maintains this level of warmth while being incredibly easy to pack into a small enough bundle that fits in the back pocket of a cycling jersey. The jacket also comes with a bag attached to store it in and expands to its original size quickly when it’s taken out of the bag.
My only frustration with the garment was its lack of waterproofing qualities, I felt like it could have protected me better in heavy downfalls. At an RRP of £350, the Pas Normal Down Jacket is undoubtedly a big investment, but it is a well-designed, stylish piece of kit that does have a variety of usage options.
- Can be packed into a small bundle
- Looks great
- Well designed pocket/storage solutions
- Not waterproof
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Rapha Women’s Commuter Jacket
A staple jacket for commuting any time of the day, all year round.
From one day to the next, a commute is never the same thanks to unpredictable weather. That's why having a jacket that can be used in all eventualities is important, and the Rapha Women’s Commuter Lightweight Jacket is perfect for just that. Coming in a high-vis pink colour with thoughtfully-placed reflective detailing, this jacket will allow you to be seen in both dark and light conditions.
Loose fitting, the jacket is comfortable to wear on the bike and the storm binding at the cuffs prevents the sleeves from riding up, as well as stopping the wind from going up the sleeves. Rapha does state that this jacket is made to be worn on top of a couple of layers, so keep this in mind when choosing your size. I opted for a size small, as this is my usual size, and could still comfortably wear it with two other layers. However, I found that even in minus temperatures with only a long-sleeve top underneath, my body was warm thanks to the jacket's excellent windproof attributes.
While the jacket performed exceptionally well in changing conditions, I did find that this then comprised the breathability factor, especially when my commute was uphill. The Aquaguard waterproof zip was quite stiff, which works well for keeping any wind or water out, but when you need some extra ventilation, it was hard to manage on the bike.
Retailing at £120, this jacket is very reasonably priced for an item of clothing that you’d wear for many commutes throughout the year. Great quality, stylish to wear and wearable in changeable weather – I think this is a must-have for any commuter.
- Very lightweight
- Good price point
- Stiff zip
- Needs more ventilation
Reviewed by India Paine
Vaela 001 Jeans
Stylish and comfortable women’s commuter jeans designed for on and off the bike.
Having launched in 2020, Vaela are still relatively new to the cycling market. Founder Jo Bole started the company after years of bad clothing for women who commuted, and found the only answer to this problem was to make her own. Despite its young age, the brand has made big strides towards making commuter clothing for women that work both on and off the bike – needing no change of clothes when you arrive at your destination. Focusing on aesthetics and sustainability, the brand's pieces are made to be investments that’ll commute with you for a long time.
It is notoriously hard to find a good pair of jeans, and it is even harder to find a pair of jeans which are suitable for cycling, but Vaela has produced a straight leg women’s commuter jean. I must admit that when I put them on, I then lived and died in them, wearing them on my various commutes around town and choosing to wear them for general day to day. What made the jeans so comfortable was the seamless detail – meaning no sitting on a seam which then lead to discomfort.
The stretch fabric made the jeans feel very comfortable for riding and I never felt they were limiting my movement. Being a high-waisted jean also made sure no skin was exposed on my back, with the waistband overlapping with my jacket.
The only thing I would change about the jeans is the length. Being slightly shorter at 5’3, I would have preferred to have a shorter length option. And while I could turn-up the jeans, I was having to turn them up three times, which then altered their straight leg shape. If you are taller in height, I doubt you’d be able to fault these jeans.
While you’d think these jeans are designed for everyday wear, small details make them excellent for cycling, including reflective detailing in the up-turn of the hem, a snug pocket suitable for your phone and sturdy zip fly.
They RPR at £160 which is a lot of money for a pair of jeans, but if you are commuting regularly and want to simply hop off the bike with no need to change, they are worth every penny.
- Can wear on and off the bike
- Phone pocket
- Too long
Reviewed by India Paine