The Cycle Life

The 6 Best Bike Companies You’ve Never Heard Of

Boutique brands are making some of the best kits we’ve ever tried

The 6 Best Bike Companies You’ve Never Heard Of

Flylow's Maclean Windbreaker packs down to the size of an orange but blocks wind and rain as well as bulkier options. Photo: Jakob Schiller

I’m a big fan of bike kit from established companies (think Castelli, Assos, Rapha, and Giro). Nearly everything they make is top-notch. But I’ve also come to love the apparel from the scrappy, lesser-known brands. Small up-and-comers with limited lines are now making jerseys, bibs, jackets, and commuter gear that’s just as good—if not better—than some of the big brands we’ve come to trust. Here are six of my favorite pieces.

Velocio Light Long-Sleeve Jersey ($179)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

Arm warmers fill an important niche, but they can also be a pain in the ass if they start to slide. That’s why I sometimes prefer the Long-Sleeve Jersey from Velocio, which is perfect for shoulder-season riding when temps are too cold for a normal jersey but too hot for a full-on winter piece. Made from high-quality Italian polyamide elastane fabric with side mesh panels, the jersey has an ultrasoft hand, fits well, and wicks sweat just as fast as your favorite summer top. 


Tenspeed Hero Socks ($14)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

Tenspeed Hero makes great jerseys—and even better socks. All of its designs are flashy but thoughtful, and each adds just the right amount of pop to my commuter, road, or mountain bike kit. They have some cool tech specs, too: Reinforced heels and toes have held up to hundreds of miles of pedaling, and the wicking fabric keeps my feet dry and happy.


Flylow Maclean Windbreaker ($90, Available in March)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

Flylow, a small company we’ve come to love for its ski gear, is now in the bike game. It’s producing a limited number of multiuse pieces, including the Maclean Windbreaker, which is what you want in your bag when everything goes to hell. The jacket features a classic old-school design and packs down to the size of an orange. DWR-treated nylon blocks wind and rain. 


Twin Six The United Crushers Jersey ($56)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

This is my favorite commuter jersey because it’s so damn loud and thus safer than a top with more muted colors. I’m hard to miss when I have it on. Most bike kit is either understated or covered in logos, so it’s nice to have a piece that celebrates visual design.


Donkey Label Superelli Merino Wool Shirt ($75)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

I’m not sure what the Superelli is best suited for, but therein lies this piece’s strength. It’s versatile and can be used as a commuter shirt or as a base layer under a long-sleeve jersey. Made from merino wool with mesh sides, it has kept me sweat- and stink-free on many warm rides into the office and adds a touch of warmth now that cooler temperatures have arrived.


Cadence Skyline Shorts ($110)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

I wore these shorts nearly every day this summer. They work well over a pair of bibs, have lots of built-in stretch, and look great, thanks to the tapered fit around the legs. They also held up well to the grime I’ve sprayed them with from the street and show no signs of wear after months of continual abuse.


Search and State S1-J Riding Jacket ($255)

Small brand
  Photo: Jakob Schiller

Search and State nailed the cut with this jacket. The svelte design fits perfectly over a road jersey, but somehow it also goes well with a pair of slacks if you need to wear it to a rainy-day lunch meeting. Made from Schoeller C-Change Fabric, the S1-J dumps heat as well as any jacket I’ve ever worn and is feathery light—good for long, wet days in the saddle.

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