Friday, 20 February 2009
British style cycling clothes
Well as you can see from the photo below I am not a fan of bright Lycra cycling clothing, I must admit I did once wear such clothing and no I will not post a photo of me wearing lycra as this is a lycra free blog. Anyhow once I discovered the joys of riding vintage/classic bicycles I thought it ridiculous to have spent all that time and money restoring a classic bike to go out riding it in modern clothes etc. Its possible to put together a traditional cycling outfit without spending too much money. Below is the type of clothing I ride in and most of it can be purchased anywhere.
First of all you need a sturdy pair of shoes and since vintage/classic bicycles do not have spd type pedals you should find a pair of comfortable leather shoes with a flat sole that will slip easily into toe clips if you have them and are comfortable for walking as well. The shoes I use are French traditional touring shoes called Carnac Carlits and are perfect cycling shoes and are very similar to what riders back in the 30s - 40s would have worn. There are a few places that stock this shoe but if you do a search for them and find some they are well worth buying as they are very good quality.
Along with the shoes you will need some woolen knee socks, I use traditional hiking knee socks that come in summer & winter weight and are available in a variety of colours including argyle.
Apart from footwear you need to decide if you are going to wear shorts or knickerbockers, plus fours etc. If wearing shorts choose some comfortable hard wearing material in Khaki or a dark colour that will not get soiled easily for that classic British look. Do not buy short shorts otherwise you will look like a young boy scout, but buy knee length shorts they offer plenty of room for cycling. If its cold wear knickerbockers or plus fours made of wool or cotton.
For a shirt a hard wearing khaki army shirt is perfect or even a plain colored polo shirt these items can be bought new or try hunting around the 2nd hand clothing stores or army surplus stores for something suitable. A long sleeved shirt is very useful as it offers you protection from the sun and if its too hot you can roll up the sleeves. Depending on the weather you may need a woolen vest or a jumper/sweater, if you get hot while cycling this item can be easily stowed away in your Brooks or Carradice saddle bag etc.
Apart from the clothing mentioned above the other item that is useful is a lightweight Northfolk jacket or similar. I was lucky enough to buy a nice light weight jacket last year new that looks similar to jackets worn in old cycling photos I have seen. Its perfect and the sleeves can be rolled up if hot and it has plenty of pockets for money,a tobacco pipe or even a hip flask of single malt and if not being worn it can be rolled up and put away in your saddle bag.
The final item to top everything off is a hat in this case a flat cap in cotton or tweed or a French beret. These caps are easily rolled up when not in use and complete the entire outfit.
Pictured above is a photo of me in the clothing I usually cycling in and an old drawing of what cyclists used to wear.