In the world of athletic equipment, cycling apparel is in a class all its own. Not only does it bear the same responsibilities as your sportswear (keep you cool, dry, and unencumbered) but it also needs to fit close enough so as not to produce any drag. It’s impressive, then, that there are so many great cycling apparel brands out there making attractive and capable cycling kits for men.
It wasn’t always this way. For a long time cyclists only had heavy, restrictive wool clothing to wear. It was scratchy, heavy when wet, and loose. Eventually, things changed when an Italian tailor by the name of Castelli introduced apparel made from silk fabrics that were lightweight and cool. Then, after WWII and the introduction of both lycra and polyester, cycling jerseys and shorts began to be made almost exclusively from synthetic materials. As a result, they also often took on bright, flamboyant colorways and frequently boasted oversized logos. As time has gone on, however, the look and feel of cycling apparel has begun to vary a bit. Some brands go for loud, fun colorways while others have reverted to more simple, old-school designs. We’ve assembled a list that runs the gamut in our roundup of the best cycling apparel brands.
Assos has a long history in the world of cycling. Back in the mid-1970s, founder Tony Maier-Moussa was the first to create a carbon fiber frame and went on to pioneer the use of more aerodynamic, synthetic riding apparel. Now, Assos continues to produce top-quality cycling gear ranging from bib shorts to jerseys, jackets, and gloves.
This young upstart from Australia has staked much of its identity on being heterodox. Rather than looking to create bibs and jerseys that fit in with the rest on the road, they get everyone from street artists to traditionally trained fashion designers to create their unique kits. And as far as quality goes, these guys have it on lock. They send all of their designs to Italy where they’re manufactured by hand.
Black Sheep Cycling
Black Sheep cycling has a pretty simple mission. They want to close the gap between what you wear off the bike and what you wear on it. Rather than creating dorky jerseys and bib shorts that look more like fast-moving billboards, they put together simple, attractive gear that functions incredibly well and looks even better.
Founded in 2003 by an ex-bicycle messenger from San Francisco, California – Cadence reliably produces simple, clean, and comfortable gear for riders of all types. Whether you’re on the hunt for a pair of bib shorts, a new vest, or an insulated riding jacket – they have it all.
Cafe Du Cycliste
At the core of Cafe du Cyliste’s design philosophy is the idea that style shouldn’t compromise performance. Even a quick look at the French cycling apparel brand’s gear and you’ll see that this founding principal shows through in every piece they produce. They’re able to accomplish this in large part because they work primarily with small and medium-sized factories where attention to detail and quality control are an essential part of the process.
God and Famous
Cycling on scenic country roads and cycling in the city technically require the same gear – but the feel is completely different. Or, put another way – looking at cows is not the same thing as dodging cars. So It would make sense that a brand like God and Famous would want to take on a more distinct look from its pastoral peers. This New York City-based brand produces stark, reflective gear for the track and cycling community in their home-city and ships to cities worldwide.
One of the most impressive things about the Australian cycling apparel brand MAAP is that they’ve been able to forge a distinct style and look that is immediately recognizable. For a company that takes pride in eschewing the old traditions of emblazoning big logos on all of their apparel, that is a real accomplishment. But more than looking cool and feeling great – MAAP has amazing customer service. Take their crash replacement program for instance. Have an unlucky day on the road? Provide a photo of your damaged kit and proof of purchase and they’ll give you 40-percent off a replacement kit.
Making anything in the U.S. is hard. Labor is expensive and logistics can be complicated, but that hasn’t stopped Ornot from making a commitment to producing all of their cycling gear in the states. But these guys are about more than just domestic production. The San Francisco-based company is driven to produce gear that is both incredibly well performing and great looking at the same time.
We’re not sure why Australia has such a high concentration of cool cycling apparel brands, but we’re certainly not going to complain. Much like their peers, Pedla pays a lot of attention to style. All of their jerseys, bibs, and kits have a unique, fun look to them. But more than just looking great, their use of Swiss and Italian fabrics ensures that their gear will perform perfectly.
While a lot of cycling apparel brands like to emphasize the fact that their gear doesn’t look like a fast-moving monstrosity, European brand Podia puts its technical fabrics and build in the foreground. That isn’t to say that their gear doesn’t look great, but more than anything else it performs incredibly well – whether jamming through traffic or climbing up a steep grade.
This isn’t to take away from any other brand on this list – but it is hard to think of anyone more successful at building out premium cycling apparel than Rapha. The UK-based brand essentially pioneered the idea that a brand could make incredibly high-end jerseys, bibs, and kits without having to plaster gross logos all over them. Now, 13 years on from their founding, Rapha’s riding apparel is some of the best in the world. And they even make great clothing for the bike commuter who wants to get to work without compromising on style.
Search and State
Search and State is one of the few cycling apparel brands designing and producing their wares right here in the states. And while every piece they make comes out of Midtown Manhattan, they are all engineered to go as far from the city as riders are willing to go.
Designed in the UK and made with fabric sourced from Italian mills, Velocio seamlessly combines style with great design. Whether you’re a fan of synthetic fabrics or more natural materials like wool – they have the gear you need.
Founded in 2013 this Swedish bike clothing brand had the singular mission to fill the void between work and play. By producing high-end, incredibly functional and attractive cycling apparel, they’ve done just that. Whether you’re looking for jackets, bibs, gloves, hats, or jerseys – you can find them all at VOID.
Aussie cycling brand Volero pulls a lot of their inspiration from the history of cycling, but in terms of fabrics and design – they’re on the cutting edge. As a result, their gear comes off as both attractive and incredibly comfortable to wear for any type of riding.
12 Best Activewear Brands for Men
There are also a lot of great companies making apparel for off-the-bike activities. Take a look at our rundown of the best activewear brands for men.