Bicycle travelers are a strange bunch. We are cyclists, and yet we aren’t racers. We are travelers, and yet we have bicycle-specific needs. And because of all this, finding the right clothes for a long-distance bike tour can be a bit difficult. In most cases we are forced to wear clothes that were originally designed for other industries and other purposes.
Some traveling cyclists lean to the left and choose to don clothes made specifically for the cycling industry. They wear bright colors, tight Lycra shorts and fancy cycling shoes. These people see themselves as cyclists and they dress accordingly.
Others go in the opposite direction, choosing to wear clothes designed more for life off the bike. These kinds of riders tend to wear more neutral colors, baggier shorts, and tennis, walking, or mountain bike shoes.
The Right Type Of Clothing For Bicycle Travelers
I am talking about bicycle touring clothes here, but this article isn’t about the “right” type of clothing for bicycle travel. Whatever clothes you choose to wear on your travels, that is entirely up to you. However, the clothes you select for your travels are important as 1) you will be spending a lot of time in them, 2) they need to hold up to the demands of life on the road, and 3) they say something about you whether you like it or not.
I’ve been thinking a lot about clothing lately (and the clothes I’ve worn on my previous bike tours) and I noticed something interesting. But before I share my findings with you, take a look at the photos below. These are photos of me and the clothes I wore when traveling by bike in each of the corresponding years:
Can You Spot The Trends?
You probably don’t notice anything spectacular going on here. My clothing has stayed pretty much the same over the years (and I still haven’t perfected my model pose). However, you should note that in years 2001, 2002, 2008, and 2009 my clothing is notably more neutral and less athletic looking than in years 2003-2007.
What I’ve noticed over the years is that my clothing choices started out being very loose and dark in 2001 and then quickly moved to being bright and tight in 2003. As the years progressed I continued my bright and tight clothing streak until 2007, when I started to drift back to my roots with looser clothing and more muted, lifestyle driven colors.
If I had to put my clothing choices in graphic form, they might look something like this:
Why Exactly Is This Happening?
I have a lot of theories as to why this is happening, but I’d like to hear what you think first.
But before you say anything, it should be noted that I am not the only one who is changing the way they dress both on and off the bicycle. My recent trip to the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada only confirmed the fact that the bicycle industry is making a swift move away from the bright and tight styles of the past and embracing the lifestyle driven designs and colors that I myself (and countless others) have been drifting toward over the past couple years.
I know that there are a number of events that have brought this change about, but I’d like to hear what you have to say.
Why do you think myself and others in the bicycle world are beginning to drift away from the bright and tight designs of the past and move toward styles that are more neutral and lifestyle driven? Do you think the bright and tight clothes of the past are completely over? And what do you see in store for the future of bicycle touring clothes?
If you have any ideas, insights or suggestions, please leave me a comment below. I’m just thinking out loud here, so I’d love to hear what you think.