While I love the trend to wear normal, everyday clothing while cycling, I often ride longer distances on the road and go for functional bike apparel. If the cyclist in your life can also appreciate bike specific clothes, here's are the threads I've used and liked this year.
I absolutely love love love my Chrome Shins cycling pants. It's not unusual for me to toss them in the wash in the evening so I can wear them the next day. I ride to the office in them and wear them all day at work. I'm well into my second year of using these pants.
My only beef: they're a little heavy for warm weather cycling. Chrome now has lighter weight riding knickers available (which I haven't tried).
Bike Jerseys. My favorite are full zip jerseys from Hincapie Sportswear. They fit, they work, they feel good, they don't fall apart.
Bike Shorts. I have some of the expensive fancy pants, but for everyday riding I really like the basic BG Shorts from Specialized.
Bike Shoes. I own cleated cycling shoes from Shimano, Lake, Specialized, and along with a couple of "off" brands not worth mentioning. For road, mountain biking, and just plain commuting, I really like my Specialized BG shoes for clipless pedals. They're a good value for the money.
Bike Socks. I'm a sucker for Sock Guy socks. I like some of the designs from DeFeet, but they make my feet stink. YMMV.
Bike Gloves. For summer time, I really like my Pearl Izumi Pro glove. Great ventilation and just the right amount of padding.
Avoid cheap, off-brand cycling gloves -- there's often too much padding right in the center of the palm, which can cause numbness as the padding can push right on the nerves that travel through the middle of the hand.
For cooler weather cycling, I still use the CLC Tradesmen gloves I purchased at a home improvement store five year ago now. They're stretchy and comfy, comfortable to about freezing, allow sufficient finger movement for shifting, braking, zipper use, and light operation, and have the all important terry cloth thumb wipe.
Disclosure: I might have gotten "bro deals" on a few of these items, but I've paid for all of these items myself.
Tell me: What bike apparel recommendations can you make? Is there something I should take a look at for next year?
Next up: Books, bikes, and bags.
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I commute daily so my bike garb gets a lot of wear - some of my favourites:
Long sleeve Jerseys - I have a couple from MEC (in Canada) which are great - they have a full length zipper, and are very soft on the inside, which makes them warmer.
Short sleeve Jerseys - I have been impressed with the longevity of some inexpensive ones that I got from Performance, other than that, I prefer longer zippers, and bright colors.
Socks: I second Fritz on Sock Guy socks!
Shorts: Pearl Izumi attack shorts are comfortable and wear well.
Tights/pants: In the winter I wear tights or pants over bike shorts, I have one pair of Pearl Izumi tights which are soft and fuzzy on the inside - they are great.
Gloves - I have a pair of PI gel gloves for the summer which are great - not too much padding, and cool. In the winter in Maine, I used a pair of leather gloves from Cabellas marketed to snowmobilers - goretex lined and comfortable down to below 0 temps. Haven't used those in CA.
Shoes - Summer I use Pearl Izumi Vagabond shoes, and for the winter I wore Lake winter cycling boots - although like the winter gloves, I don't think that the winter cycling boots will get used here in CA.
...sidi shoes or rather SIDI cycling shoes ...very "italia" stylish for sure but wonderful quality & designed to be comfortable as slippers while being used under the harshest conditions, be it road or dirt... ...the fact that i'd capitalize the name sez it all...
...craft cycling undergarments...particularly long sleeve winter stuff...
...endura hummvee 3/4 knicker...to be honest, i like the tech-y look of these so much that i tend to wear them regularly w/o the snap-in liner, just as everyday clothing...excellent quality...good workmanship...
...any bibshort that is designed to be cut low enough in the front so that you can pull it down slightly to pee without contorting...sorry ladies - you're out a' luck on this one...ah, shall we say your "different design features" preclude my personal qualitative parameters ???...
My favorite gloves are the Northwave "Skeleton" full-finger gloves (originally spotted on the hands of Gunn-Rita Dahle -- MTB badass). They're light enough to wear all year (even in Florida), yet take the worst of the chill off on cool days. Unfortunately, my pair just died and I'm hoping for a new pair for Christmas.
Looking forward to the books post -- as a professional librarian, I'm always eager to hear what other people are reading and recommending.
Excepting gloves: Wool. At least for tshirts, tights, caps, socks. Wool. There are lots of brands out there now. In the socks section I'm now going to give Sealskinz socks, a wool combo, the tryout to see how they do over time and through washings.
I have 3 pair of Outlier pants now. Initially bought 2. Not cheap, but excellent, great fit, wonderful cut, and so far they look like they'll last a nice long time. They're not wool, they're synthetic magic. Liked them so much bought another one when they came out with khaki.
My favs (at least the ones that made the short list):
- Like Fritz, I like the Chrome knickers for the commute (although I wear a size M in pretty much everything, I shoulda got size S for the Chromes...)
- Wool jerseys -- I'm liking the Swobo woolies right now. Ibex is great too. The Swobo long-sleeve is cut fuller through the arms than I would prefer, but I have skinny arms. I have a super-heavy Pearl long-sleeve jersey, lined with some wicking material, and it's fantastic for really cold days.
- Shorts: I think the Performance Ultra bib shorts are the best bang-for-the buck that I've found. They upgraded the chamois this year, without raising the price. I have some high-end Pearl bib shorts I got at the factory, and they are superb but pricey. Ditto Bergamo bibs -- they fit like nothing else (well, except maybe Assos) and have worn well, but are too expensive to be an "everyday" short for me.