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How cycling became Britain’s most fashionable sport

James Greig | June 20, 2014

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From Tyres, the fluorescent messenger in late-nineties sitcom Spaced, to the rise of the Mammil in the noughties, Britain has seen its cycling culture bubbling ever closer to mainstream visibility over the past few decades.

But the headline of Esquire’s latest article on British cycle style (which I’ve borrowed for this article) is something of a red herring, because the booted and suited gentlemen gracing their photoshoot are clearly in no fit state to pursue the sport of cycling as practiced by the likes of Wiggins and Cavendish.

Which is no bad thing actually, because it’s precisely the possibility of riding to work in ‘normal’ clothes, albeit subtly adapted for cycling, which is the real talking point here.

Cycling is starting to shake off its image problem:

The real upsurge has been in crossover clothing fusing the capabilities of all-out cycling gear to urban style aesthetics. Giants like Levis, with its bike-orientated Commuter range, and H&M have flexed their muscles, selling stretchy denim jeans with reflective detailing and reinforced seats for more comfort 

It’s been British brands like Rapha and Vulpine that are leading the way with the reshaping of cycling apparel, crafting clothing to suit the frenetic pace of UK commuting which sees riders battling with motorised traffic for space on the road.

And the less people are wearing hi-vis clothing and lycra, the closer we’ll be to cycling being seen as a normal activity. As Copenhagen Cycle Chic‘s Michael puts its:

“People see our impeccably dressed citizens moving about the urban landscape on bicycles and get all excited. But it’s just the most convenient way around the city. We don’t dress for our journey, we dress for our destination. Just like motorists, pedestrians and public transport users.

So here’s to rolling up your trouser leg and jumping on a bicycle. Which, as Michael Smiley (aka Tyres) reminds Esquire, is always going to be the most important bit:

“You can look as good as you want on a pushbike, you’ve still got to ride the fucking thing,” he grins. “That’s the best bit.”

Esquire Stylish Cycling 2Esquire Stylish Cycling 3

Posted to Cycle Style
by James Greig

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