This year’s Tour de France already had us waxing nostalgic on the golden age of cycling—and the wealth of achingly cool vintage photos of cycling great Jacques Anquetil have only served to strengthen our lament for that bygone era.
The guy was larger than life: his latest biography was entitled Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape, he was the first cyclist to win the Tour de France five times, and his exploits espoused the era of jetset ’60s playboy. And, most impressively, he actually managed to make wearing one of those funny little ball caps look cool.
News flash: it’s hot out there. By “there,” we mean everywhere. The sun is oppressive, and the humidity pervasive.
Of course, there are the traditional remedies: Slip ’N Slides, ice baths, water-balloon fights and the like. But sometimes, there’s no better way to shake the thick summer heat than hopping on your bike and getting a bit of wind in your hair. And as always, we think you should look good doing it.
So we searched high and low for the sartorial upgrades your summer cycling requires.
Consider this a bookend to our bike style primer on Monday, addressing the bermuda triangle of stylish cycling: catching your pants in a bike chain. Selectism tipped us off to a leather strap from Brooks that lets you keep the endangered pant leg hiked up for as long as you keep it snapped. If you play your cards right, the strap might even match your saddle. But as always, the best defense is a tight cuff.
Around this time of year, a two-wheeled jaunt through the city starts to look pretty good—provided you can do it without looking like a bike messenger. To help you face down the considerable challenge of looking good on a bike, we sat down with Aldan Shank of Seattle’s Hub and Bespoke—a combination bike shop and boutique—for a primer on sophisticated bike style.
This weekend saw the 2010 incarnation of London's tweed run, the trad version of critical mass. Naturally there were plenty of curled mustaches and boneshakers on hand, but we were most impressed by the staggering volume of fantastic fabrics on hand. But strangely enough, the gentleman in the red cravat was the only one with the wit to sport an actual biker’s brim.
Our enthusiasm for biking has been dampened by one simple, easily overlooked fact: Bike helmets tend to be incredibly ugly. Luckily, a few newer models have started taking a pointers from the flatter skateboard helmets and—in this case—worked in some actual fabric.
This Lacoste helmet manages the difficult trick of being both eco-friendly and sartorially accomplished. The first count comes from subbing in soft cork for the usual styrafoam. The second comes courtesy of our old friend the flat cap, which they wisely adopted as a style guide. Naturally, this one’s a bit beefier. It’s got a job to do.
If you were looking for a new bike, you’ve probably already found it by now. But we’re guessing it could use a few accessories…
These saddlebags from Brooks come via the UK, where bike culture has been in bloom for a bit longer, so they’ve got a few tricks you might not expect. For one, they can fold into inconspicuous rolls when you’re not using them, only to unfurl the minute you’ve got groceries to haul.
And of course, it’s always good to have a bit more waxed cotton around.
These days trendspotting is as easy as finding the right flickr set. Of course, it helps if you’ve got some Victorian nostalgia handy…
Re-introducing the Penny Farthing bicycle, already available from various boutique manufacturers. Truth be told, we’ve already seen a couple on the bike-friendly streets of Bushwick, but we’re not sure how much farther the trend can go. It’s hard to cross over when you’re stuck with a tag like “bone shaker.”
If you don’t feel much of a yen for nostalgia bikes, there’s always the futuristic option.
Of course, there’s all manner of moped out there, but this Ultra Motor Bike is the first one we’ve seen put its lithium battery on proud display. The white metal replaces the usual old world charm with a more technological aesthetic, and you'll have to adjust your biking gear accordingly. We'd say a little less corduroy and a few more synthetics. At the very least, they'll keep you dry.
Is it too late to land Kraftwerk for a sponsorship deal?
This Opa from Dutch Workcycles sports a sprung leather saddle and powder-coated frame for an old world look, but the touch that sets it apart from the Schwinns of the world is the covering on the back half, including the encased chain, that lets you hang saddlebags over the back—or an adventurous companion, if you’ve got company.