When the weather begins to turn, it’s tempting to ditch the bike and climb into the comfort of your car. But an increasing number of companies are making a great range of urban cycling gear that can keep you riding even in the harshest conditions. Here’s what we’ve been using on our morning rides to work.
Cadence Collection Raw Denim ($110)
Lots of cycling brands are making jeans, but these raw denim trousers are actually built to stand up to the rigors of daily riding. The seat is double reinforced to prevent seams from blowing out with heavy use, and the pockets are also doubled for durability. The legs are tapered and trim to play well with chains, but they’re still lose enough to fit cyclists' quads. The only thing missing is reflective piping inside the jean for cuffing: the reflective logo on the belt is too high to be useful, as it's generally covered by a jacket.
Rapha Merino Shirt ($220)
Though they’ve long been in the city cycling business, Rapha quietly launched a full urban line this fall, and this soft, merino wool shirt is one of our favorite pieces. The tailoring is tapered and trim, and the merino soft and cozy enough to wear next to skin. And the contrast shoulders and collar aren’t only for fashion’s sake: they're cut from a windproof fabric for a bit more warmth on blustery days. It’s a good everyday dress-up piece, though the price makes it a bit out of reach for daily wear.
Makers & Riders Variant Weatherproof Jacket ($270)
It’s refreshing to find a jacket that’s technical enough to keep you warm and dry in the nastiest conditions but that still looks sharp enough to layer over a button-up or even sport coat. Cut from Polartec NeoShell, the Variant is wind- and waterproof, but it still has a nice soft hand. The flared rear flap keeps spray off your backside but also looks stylish thanks to the trim waist. The pair of hidden rear pockets are large enough for an iPad. Best of all are the thumb holes, which we generally love using but hate the look of—here, they're hidden by zips in the sleeves.
DZR Camo Limited ($150)
As with all DZRs, these limited-edition shoes have a stiff shank for pedaling (thanks to fiberglass, in this case) and recessed cleat hardware in the sole for stealth and easy walking. The new stitching around the rand helps with durability, which was an issue in the past. They may not be exactly dress casual—unless you work at a design firm or in the military—but they have a nice urban edge that you can get away with almost anywhere else.
Chrome Sotnik ($220)
This heavy-duty tote is tough enough to withstand the asphalt playground but still stylish enough to dress up for the office. The roll-top closure and waterproof lining keep electronics protected even in driving rain, and it also provides some insulation in case you stop for a six-pack on the way home. The bag carries just fine as an attaché, but the oversize webbing straps let it double as a backpack. There’s even hidden Velco straps for battening on a presentation tube—or a skateboard, if that’s how you roll.
Giro Sutton ($80)
Though it’s tough to make a giant plastic mushroom that goes on your head look dapper, the low profile, closed-shell Sutton is more understated and refined than the typical race lid. It borrows the removable visor brim from the Aspect—another great urban helmet, especially for those who want something that can crossover from commute to performance. But we like the Sutton for its smart city design cues, such as the rear light clip. We're also fans of the reasonable price tag. Note: The Sutton with MIPS technology costs an additional $20.
Orp Light ($65)
Launched on Kickstarter by an industrial designer from Portland, Oregon, the Orp is a high-power light with a built-in horn. The dual LED lights throw 140 lumens total, enough for negotiating even the darkest city streets in steady mode, but can run as a strobe for better daytime visibility. The rear of the light head has a small fin for sounding the horn. When lifted, it emits a 76-decible friendly chime that takes the place of the ubiquitous bike path appeal, “On your left." When depressed, it sounds a much more shrill, 96-decible alarm for getting people’s attention fast. It’s weatherproof thanks to the soft rubber coating, chargeable via the micro-USB port, and lasts up to three hours on steady mode—unless you’re always on the horn.