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Is men’s cycle clothing still cooler than women’s cycle clothing?

Recently we were asked if men’s cycle clothing is still cooler than women’s. Knowing that gender parity has been a key issue within cycling, not least in relation to the choice of bikes and kit, we decided that this was a topic worth a good bit of thought and consideration. Read on for our reckoning on this key issue.

Morvelo women's cycle clothing

Morvelo women's cycle gilet


First thing first, what do we mean by cooler?

Use of tech and innovation? Appearance? All-round excellence?

To me, cool bike clothing is something that does the job well and goes beyond what I would initially expect from a piece of kit. This can express itself in a number of ways, whether through a clever technical design solution to address a specific problem, an eye-catching visual design which makes an item of clothing stand out from the crowd, or a highly effective comfort-enhancing feature. A really cool piece of bike clothing will likely do all three of these things simultaneously.

Morvelo men's cycle clothing

Morvelo men's cycle gilet


The comparison of ‘coolness’

Firstly there are brands like Ornot, whose product lines are virtually identical for men and women, except where they need to differ (for example in chamois design, sizing etc). If you aren’t yet familiar with these guys, Ornot are a San Francisco-based brand providing high-quality kit which is hand-made in the US with the same fabrics which are used for professional gear. They offer items such as jerseys, bib shorts and windproof jackets in the same designs for men and women...if you wanted ‘his and hers’ cycle outfits these would be your go-to guys!

Ornot women's cycle clothing

Ornot women's blue line jersey


Ornot ticks all the ‘cool’ boxes, offering kit which is technical, eye-catching and comfortable. I would say that having equivalent clothing models for men and women makes the clothing offered by Ornot equally cool for men and women. There are a couple of things in the Ornot range which are only available in men’s sizes (for example, the ‘higher vis’ vest and thermal knickers), but the brand does also make some brilliant unisex items (such as their fabulous eye-catching socks). I feel that they can be forgiven for not making a women’s cut of every single item they produce given that they do generally offer equivalents for men and women.

Ornot men's cycle jersey

Ornot men's blue line jersey


Overall, Ornot’s high quality attractive pieces which have been designed to prevent you being a “rolling billboard of logos” are certainly cool and that coolness is available (almost) equally for men and women.

Like Ornot, Cafe du Cycliste (a French brand offering technical and elegant cycle clothing for road and urban use) make equivalent clothing models for men and women. However, as well as varying size, fit and gender-specific features (such as chamois) for their men’s and women’s options, Cafe du Cycliste also offer different colour and print options for some of their clothing range. Whether you would consider the men’s or women’s options to be ‘cooler’ depends very much on personal taste. Personally, I think that the stripey Francine jersey is a touch cooler in the multi-coloured women’s option than the classic navy Breton stripe men’s option (but, if pushed, might also concede that I slightly prefer the men’s colour options for the Fleurette jersey - it’s swings and roundabouts really). In general, Cafe du Cycliste’s products tick the cool boxes, being technical, eye-catching and comfortable.

Cafe du Cycliste women's cycle jerseys

Cafe du Cycliste women's jerseys


In terms of the comparative range of Cafe du Cycliste products available to men and women, all ‘key’ products are available in men’s and women’s options. The company also does some really high quality unisex cycle caps, socks and leg warmers. The one area where Cafe du Cycliste could increase its ‘cool’ offer for women would be by making some urban/casual cycle trousers/shorts for women. The Bernadette City trousers and Odette and Paulette shorts are part of the brand’s clothing range for men and are really nice non-sporty options ideal for combining cycling with other activities. The brand has not yet released a similar option for women. Any plans in the making Cafe?

Cafe du Cycliste men's Fleurette jersey


[By the way, if you are a woman and are after some versatile casual cycling trousers, the Giro New Road Women’s Mobility Pant - Tailored Fit are a firm customer favourite around these parts.]

In addition to brands that have equivalent product ranges for men and women, there are also brands which have pushed the boat out a little further for their female customers and developed really cool women-specific products that use innovative designs to solve problems experienced exclusively by female cyclists. For example, Giro have nailed the solution to the age-old problem for women of needing to go to the loo whilst wearing bib shorts with their halter bib shorts. This innovative design allows you to go for a comfort break without needing to completely strip off (or even remove any upper layers). Genius! A piece of kit which in my opinion is uber-cool in its use of tech and innovation to achieve a high level of comfort and convenience specifically for female cyclists.

Bern women's cycle helmet

Bern women's cycle helmet


In addition to equivalent products for men and women, and innovative women-specific designs, there are also many ‘cool’ unisex products which are equally available to men and women. There are some magnificently technical, comfortable and stylish cycling socks out there which are available to men and women equally. There are also lots of fantastic unisex caps out there, not to mention arm warmers and leg warmers.

Bern unisex cycle helmet

Bern unisex cycle helmet


Where are we now?

I would say that the cycle clothing industry has come on significantly in its provision of cool cycle clothing for women compared to a few years ago and there are far more options available to women than in the past. Some brands are better at providing a clothing offer for women which is equally as cool as their men’s offer, whilst others could do better. In this blog I’ve focused on a few of the key brands that are offering a good range of [what I think are] cool women’s cycle clothing options but there are many others including Morvelo, Castelli, POC, Craft and Showers Pass (Bern also make some nice women-specific helmet designs and DZR do some nice women’s urban cycle shoes). Have a look at our women’s cycle clothing pages and see what you think.

Have your say

We are always looking to expand our offerings for female cyclists and if you have any thoughts about women’s cycle clothing which you would like to share with us, we would love for you to get in touch.

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About the Rider: Anne
Domestique-in-training, Anne’s unique selling points are her super-strong thumbs (a hangover from her days as a beefy bike mechanic) and her enthusiasm for cake (both baking and eating). When she isn’t sorting out returns or writing for the website she can be found working to make the transport system better for cycling (in her non-Always Riding role as a transport planner), fixing up friends’ bikes or enjoying the ride.
@alwaysriding
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