The horrors of cycling apparel

To celebrate me finishing my first semester of ECE studies yesterday, I signed me and the Husband up for what will be our first century ride – excluding his Ironman exploits, of course! We’re doing the Surf City Aids Ride in Santa Cruz in September! I am super-excited about this new challenge. My bottom is a little more apprehensive!

Over the weekend, I’ll be working out a training plan for this, plus my next big half in November and a little hill climb I want to do over the summer, but it means that over the next three or four months I’m going to be ramping up the amount of cycling I’ll be doing. I have plenty of workout clothes so I’m going to try to buy as little additional cycling clothing as possible but there are a few things I do actually need.

In the past, I’ve worn simple padded shorts and running tops. Because I’ve ridden a touring bike with a rack on the back, I’ve been able to carry a nice big bag with me, and it’s carried most of my worldly goods.


I like to carry a lot of stuff when I cycle
I like to carry a lot of stuff when I cycle


But Margarita has no such rack. And my teeny tiny saddle bag means I have to wear something with copious amounts of pockets so I can carry all my stuff.  In addition, I do need to woman up and learn to clip into my pedals, which means I need some cycling shoes. (These are the very epitome of ugly). I think these two items are all I’ll need.

But OH, cycling clothes are so VERY ugly.

I’ve always thought that cycling clothes are particularly dreadful. We’ve all seen overweight MAMILS (middle-aged-men-in-lycra) wearing the most horrific, lurid cycling clothes as they slog uphill on their bikes, and I’ve shuddered. NOT at the guys (I NEVER mock people getting fit) but there are some UGLY jerseys out there!  The Fat Cyclist did an awesome post about it!!

This is a Colombian men’s cycling team.




Colombian ladies don’t get off any more lightly.

Colombian bikers 3


There are some HORRIFIC cycling jerseys out there for us girls. In fact, there’s a whole Tumblr devoted to  bad women’s jerseys.

So I’ve been exploring companies that make NICE cycling clothes for women. I asked for recommendations on twitter and THESE companies were suggested, as people who make clothes that don’t make you die inside when you put them on.

Please note – some of these companies aren’t particularly cheap (nothing about cycling is particularly cheap) but they have sales. Also, none of these are affiliate links. No-one pays me to blog. If they did, I’d be spending it on a really nice cycling jersey.



It seems that all the cool California kids wear Coeur! They’re kind of like the Oiselle of the cycling/tri world but not as obnoxious. Their gear is seriously nice but slightly out of my price range so I’m hanging in there for the sales.

Twin Six

Recommended by Kristen, these guys have some cool retro-style jerseys. They also do ‘bundles’ where you buy the jersey and the shorts and get 16% off, which I find really appealing.


A Swiss company also recommended by Kristen, these guys deliver to the US and Europe. Their clothes are nice but their marketing is frankly so sexist that I’m boycotting them. This isn’t something I do often… but seriously!  Once again, the Fat Cyclist nailed this on the head with this Open Letter To Assos. (You need to read this).

Team Estrogen

Despite spelling oestrogen wrongly, they have some good stuff. They also have a Game of Thrones inspired range! I would willingly spend a fortune for a GoT themed jersey, but it’s just unfortunate that the jersey named after my favourite GoT lady, Cersei, is so ugly. And why does the Daenerys jersey have fish on it?? DRAGONS is what’s needed. I would definitely buy a dragon-themed jersey!

The Cersei jersey. Can you see the Mother of Madness wearing this monstrosity?


Lexi Miller

Danielle recommended this company to me and I kind of wish she hadn’t, because their Wrapture jersey is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and it’s about three times my price range! Ever since seeing it, nothing else has compared.

Be still my dodgily-valved heart!
Be still my dodgily-valved heart!

She also recommended Smashfest Queen and Betty Designs . They’re not my style but are definitely worth checking out.

Dude Girl

I have one of their t-shirts and I love it, so I’m inclined towards some of their stuff. I like their Bike Love jersey but am not good with white. (I’m the girl who got dog poo on her wedding dress.

dude girl



There are some great UK companies out there at the moment and these guys all deliver to the US.


These guys are my fave – I bought stuff from them before we moved out here. I really like their selection, they’re a lovely company fairly local to my parents and their sales are excellent. Also, I love the word ‘minx’.


Recommended by Rachel, I discovered these guys recently and their stuff is so stylish. They have some reasonably priced items and I want about half of what they have on the site.

Thoughts? Is this too much black for a hot Californian summer?


Rapha is a very elegant, hipster-y British company who make very elegant and beautifully constructed (if slightly dull?) cycling clothes. Vulpine is another similar company and their founder is very funny on Twitter.

No idea what I’ll end up with.

Anyway. The summary of this blog post is:

  • I’m going to be cycling 100 miles in September.
  • I need a new jersey and some cycling shoes.
  • Much of what’s out there is very ugly

Before I wrap this up…let’s take a few minutes to be grateful we’re not wearing this!


…and PS…check this out for a laugh.

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Steph says:

    It’s crazy how ugly some cycling apparel is! I remember when I first started riding a few years ago I was looking through the boyfriends Nashbar catalog commenting how I would never been caught in any of the outfits. After quite a while of riding in dri-fit t-shirts and carrying my stuff in a CamelBak I finally upgraded to Twin Six gear. I always get comments about my kits so I guess they are doing something right! Looks like you have a great list of options available – have fun shopping!

    1. Cathryn says:

      I actually spotted (and recognized) a Twin Six jersey this week when i drove past and I thought how nice it looked!! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. dlubi says:

    Great post! I am so excited for your new cycling adventures!!! For jerseys, Twin Six is my all time favorite, and if you get on their email list, they have sales on Wed once in a while when jerseys are $36! They also sell their jerseys at Rei and Sports Basement, so look for discounts or coupons there. Also look for Coeur at Sports Basement – they carry their tri apparel right now, but may carry cycling too (or inquire there & maybe they will get jerseys?). Online also check out – sales and coupons!

    1. Cathryn says:

      You are such a retail enabler 😉 But seriously, thanks for the info and also the Twin Six info – $36 jerseys would really help.

  3. Layla says:

    I really did not have time to look at my blog feed right now, but I did while waiting for something to upload at work, and then I found myself laughing at this entire post. MAMILs! Hahaha! Dog poo on your wedding dress! And that wolf jersey!!! Yikes! But at least there is progress: I read a stat in Outside magazine that women’s cycling participation rose 4.3% from 2013 to 2014, so I think companies are finally starting to make things that are actually geared to women’s bodies rather than just making men’s things that are pink. You’ve linked to a whole bunch of brands I need to check out! And I love the tip from above about an occasional Wednesday sale from Twin Six (which I need to try on at REI, since Kristen raves about them).

    it’s worth looking at for bike stuff — I got my Shimano pedals there for $35, and I recently got an insanely good deal on my drink mix (and now wish I’d bought more of it because it was so cheap that I suspect they made a mistake). I got my bike shoes on clearance for $30 at my local Performance Bike because one of the shoes was missing an insole.

    And if you want any “$10 off your purchase of $50 or more” coupons for Sports Authority, I have plenty of them that are good through October 31. That store never seems to have anything I want/need, but since there are three of you, it could be useful.

    1. Cathryn says:

      I am glad I made you laugh. ONE of the ladies on today’s run told me (in all seriousness) that she would totally wear that wolf jersey!!! Thanks for the Nashbar recommendation and also for the vouchers!!! That would be fab. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to purchase.

      1. Layla says:

        I should have brought some coupons on Saturday! (They’re on the backs of Giants tickets.) I think this means we just have to plan for a ride or that Bay Bridge adventure. 🙂

      2. Cathryn says:

        We need to plan both. The trouble is that I’m going to be riding on Fridays for a few weeks. We need to sort this with Kristen.

  4. Paulette says:

    I also hate cycling gear! So very ugly. I like the jersey and shorts I have from Coeur, but otherwise I haven’t found anything great. Sometimes I see the Moxie gear at Sports Basement and it looks cute, but I haven’t tried it.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yeah, I discovered Moxie after I posted this. Their stuff looks cute and I have a SB voucher, I may investigate!!!

  5. Jen says:

    Ugh, I don’t envy you! If you get the white jersey, I sincerely hope you don’t manage to get dog poo on your top! (Chocolate Gu – that’s another matter…)

    1. Cathryn says:

      Yeah, I think white is not a sensible move for me.

  6. Grace says:

    Dog poo on your wedding dress? How did you manage that?
    We can’t wear white clothes round here either. Me and white garments, we don’t get along so well. If it’s not chocolate it’s tomato sauce or something else…
    I guess if I was going to buy a bike jersey, I’d get something from a company whose ethos I like, so that means something like Coeur or Rapha for their support of women athletes (Rapha has these great women’s rides all over the world that friends of mine have taken part in) – and bonus if you can find them on sale online or at Sports Basement.

    1. Cathryn says:

      After our wedding, we had photos taken in the church yard…and someone had let their dog poo there earlier in the day. So I got green dog poo on my dress. The Husband and I got in the car to go to to the reception and he exclaimed ‘Get away from me, you stink’. The romance, eh??
      You’re right about supporting ethically strong companies. Yes yes yes.

  7. kimretta says:

    Here’s one with CATS!

    I love my Coeur stuff and I’ve also worn Soas (but mostly just the shorts for both). I have one Moxie tee but it runs TIIIINY — I mean, even in a universe of cycling gear where *everything* seems to run tiny — so definitely try those on if you spot one you like!

    1. Cathryn says:


      Thanks for the less feline recs as well. I’ve seen a Moxie top but I’ve heard they run small so I’ll try it on beforehand!

  8. Rachel Thompson says:

    Bit gutted to be missing the Ilkley ‘Tweed Run’ (same date as Andy’s Clumber Park Half Marathon). We saw a Tweed Run in London last year, hundreds of people cycling in tweed, complete with handlebar moustaches, bow ties and flat caps. Perhaps not quite the thing for a century ride!

    1. Cathryn says:

      That sounds so much fun! You running the half too?

      1. Rachel says:

        No half for me, I’ll be well chuffed if I get to do the Clumber 10k! It’s a bit 2 steps forward 1 back, with my back, can be frustrating but patient hubby keeps pointing out I’m progressing in the right direction. I’m spending time strengthening really. Tempted to put ‘Robin, the hooded man’ on a playlist for Clumber so I can run Michael Praed stylee!

      2. Cathryn says:

        Or Bryan Adams? Good luck, I’m SO impressed and proud of you.

  9. Michaela says:

    THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER. Also, I’m so glad you love Coeur (says the shameless brand ambassador). I’m also a huge fan of Castelli (especially their shorts — the padding is fantastic). But seriously, though, most cycling clothes are ridiculous. What’s even more ridiculous is when you wake up one day and find men in spandex really, really hot.

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