First this: you don’t need any special attire to take part in the bicycle boom. Whether you’re pedalling to the vegetable market to stock up on supplies or just getting some fresh air between Zoom meetings, you don’t need a lick of fancy gear or reinforced pants.
But as you work up your endurance and start to get more ambitious about your cycling—a 15-kilometre ride to safely distanced back-yard drinks within your social bubble, say—you want to stay comfortable and safe.
Here are some two-wheel-friendly pieces to send you on your way.
The bright stuff
Your foremost concern may not be which colour is fashion-forward right now but what is going to help you be seen by cars whipping by the bike lane amid the misty May weather. In this case, think of screaming neon as the new black. We like the Women's Granfondo 2 Cycling Jacket, in bright yellow, about as lightweight and breathable as waterproofing gets, (on sale for $95.99). Added bonus: a longer back to guard against splash.
Crank the electric glow below the waist with MEC’s Aquadash packable waterproof cycling rain pants in unsubtle acid yellow; we found them at $119 for women and men. Pack these lightweight babies into their own rear zip pocket for those typical Wet Coast days when the weather forecast promises sunshine but you know better. Ankle zips pull over your cycling shoes when it really pours. Other features: an elastic waist with an adjustable internal drawcord, and ankle reflective strips.
And you can save pannier space and cut an extra-visible swath with the MEC World Tour Seat Bag in bright orange ($21), a small tote with big reflective panels that stows anything from gloves to helmet liners. Two hook-and-loop straps secure it to your seat rails, and check out the bottom loop that holds a blinky light.
Seat to street
If you’re headed somewhere socially-distanced-social, you won’t necessarily want to look like you’ve just cycled in from the Tour de France. Luckily, a range of brands disguise bikewear as streetwear—in other words, Spandex-free. Guys will like the laid-back Sombrio Vagabond Riding Shirt at MEC ($109.95), in either blue or red plaid. Despite its Seattle-circa-1992 flannel look, it’s made of mobility-friendly, moisture-wicking stretch fabric with stow pockets, with underarm vents and reinforced elbows. The black Diadora Men’s Mountain Bike/Commuter Bike Shorts with Chamois ($74.99 at SportChek) look like normal shorts, thanks to a snap and zipper fly, but they’re moisture-wicking and hide a detachable inner mesh short. There’s an adjustable waistband and perforated panels for ventilation. Elasticated grippers on the hems keep them from riding up.
And, should you need to risk heading into the office any time soon, look to Kit & Ace’s sleek and surprisingly tailored-looking Commute Pants ($188, men’s). The slim style belies a lot of technical function—including cuffs whose hidden reflectors become visible when you flip them up. The quick-dry Navigator fabric is water-repellent and moisture-wicking. We like them in colours like black, cove grey, and dark denim. And for women, there’s only one word you need to know to go from your Brodie to the patio bar: skort. Columbia’s Anytime Casual mid-rise version ($60 at the Bay) stretches, has built-in UPF 50, and drawstrings at the side to adjust the length.
Finally, let’s acknowledge that we may be overcomplicating things. You might just need a hard-working pair of bike shorts, either to wear on their own for your race up the Adanac hill or to slip on under your favourite sundress for a trip to whatever local beach seems least populated. Vancouver’s lululemon offers the cycling market the practical City to Summit Bike Short in basic black ($128). As you’d expect from the yoga masters, the design is quick-dry, light-weight, and low-friction. The surprise is in the amount of hidden storage that comes with such a second-skin style—both via side pockets and a secure back-pocket zip. Pair them with the black City to Summit Cycling Jacket ($178)—it’s water resistant and windproof,. Together they’re sleek, practical, and probably all you’ll need to pedal through the pandemic—and hopefully far beyond.
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