Cycling is weird.
Perhaps that's too broad. Let me try again.
Cycling is weird because it's a hobby and a professional sport. Made weirder by the disconnect between the two. Plenty of people who I ride with don't watch Professional Cycling. There's also a huge stigma attached to dressing up like a pro-team while out for a ride.
Compare this to say football, where the majority of fans lack even comparative skills to their professional counterparts. Where you simply must dress in your team colours to attend the sport. Most of all it's unlikely you're really into kicking the football but don't watch a team play on the weekend.
The other disconnect is in design. Almost all of the professional teams have garish or just plain boring designed kits. (There is a limitation to what you can design while keeping the sponsors happy, I get it.) In contrast the choice of kits amongst enthusiasts is massive, with a huge choice of designs either subtle, shocking or stylish.
I keep a keen eye on kit designs — despite not being able to afford the most of them — so I thought I'd post a round-up of some of the best out there. Most of these brands carry eye watering price tags, but then amateur cycling isn't really a hobby for the thrifty.
This list also discounts the huge popularity of custom kits. At this year's Tour Down Under I would say that half the cyclists I saw were wearing custom kits — either for their local club or business. It's so straight forward to do these days, I've even ordered two runs before.
The home of bold colours and simple shapes. With most of the pro peloton and your local shop ride wearing black these designs are a breath of fresh air. All their designs are offered for men and women.
Not so serious but plenty of style. Perhaps some of my favourite designs right now.
Bibs ~$130-240 USD // Jerseys ~$140 USD
Well known for their straight-up-crazy full kits, Attaquer have begun creating some very sharp plain and performance jerseys as well. Another designer brand that values character over cool.
Bibs ~$240 AUD // Jerseys ~$180-150 AUD
A designer brand I can't really get my head around. Their designs are nice. Understated if anything, but without a really unique voice. A lot of dots, a lot of stripes and a lot of blue.
Bibs ~$220-160 USD // Jerseys ~$180-160 USD
A brand that was all character and is quickly becoming all cool – but free of any pretension. Fyxo's odd-ball pro-team remixes have given way for minimal but very classy designs.
Jerseys $119 AUD // Bibs $149 AUD
It was a 50/50 decision to put Rapha in this list at all, given they're not some small indie design start-up, but big enough to sponsor a Pro Team. They're also the first point of call for anyone looking to disparage high prices in cycling apparel, but the quality speaks for itself.
All these designer brands are about the same price (or more!) as Rapha anyway.
The reason for including them in this list is that they're doing sharp design on a huge scale, and have been the source of inspiration for many small cycling design brands. Some who have unfortunately slavishly copied their voice.
I think that's why so many designer cycling brands have character, because Rapha is a brand that takes itself seriously. That's fine. There's just limited room in the market for that voice.
Jerseys $195 USD // Bibs $210-150
The brand that made designer cycling wear now rolls its own. Endo Customs is a supplier for many designer brands and recently released (and quickly sold out) it own collection of kits.
Floral designs are so hot right now.
Full Kits $310 USD
Photography team Manual for Speed might just be insane. Their coverage of the sport is not just unique, it's downright crazy. So it's no real surprise that their designer kits are too. I'm not sure I'd ever wear any of them, but I'm glad they exist.
There truly is something for everyone.
Jerseys $99 USD // Bibs $149 USD
A brand I can't get any info on, other than this – their designs are hot. Seriously, their website has zero information about them…
Jerseys $145 USD // Bibs $165 USD
Pushing minimalism to new limits, Melbourne's Pedla are selling plain coloured jerseys with two rows of dots on them … and they look awesome.
Jerseys $176 AUD // Bibs $245-260 AUD
Another 'maybe too big to go on this list' entry. Milltag have sponsored professional teams, offer custom kit production and also make their own range of rad designs. Included in this list for their certifiable level of radness.
Jerseys £60-90 // Bibs £70-85
That's just the start!
There are plenty of designer kits I've left off this list. Perhaps I'll put together another instalment in the future. Cyclists are spoilt for choice when it comes to kit, be it minimal, classy or crazy.