Cycle Chic

No, not Cycle Chick. Cycle Chic. Depending on how far outside France you live, you can pronounce it “Sheek” or “Shick”, the latter being the more proper (albeit pretentious) pronunciation, the former the more “anglo” version. If you pronounce it “CHICK”, the rest of this post will be of no interest to you and you should stop reading immediately and go watch Nascar.

There has been much written about looking good on a bike, and as many opinions as there are bikes in the world. But in broad strokes there are still certain basics you can and should adopt depending on what kind of bike you ride, and what you use it for. Seems like splitting hairs, I know, but I’ve seen The Guy on an expensive road bike (complete with aero bars), all tricked out in a pro-team kit, pulling a Baby Bike Trailer.

Because I consider myself a Roadie (the cycling type, not the kind that carries amplifiers and gets all the ugly girls the band doesn’t want) I will focus strictly on the gear specific to that discipline, assuming I am on my bike strictly to ride, not to transport people or stuff.
Let’s start from the head down:


You don’t need a $300 helmet to do the job (although that will give you enormous street cred). In fact you can get a $20 from Canadian Tire that will do the bare minimum of protecting your melon and let’s face it, maybe that cash is better spent on a massage or two. More important than the kind of helmet you have is how you wear it. You should have space for 2 fingers between the chin and the strap, and most importantly, you should wear the helmet down close to your eyebrows, not tilted back to your hairline. The latter position offers little protection and looks a bit silly to boot. Also, take the extra second to make sure it is sitting straight on your head. A hat may look fancy with a jaunty tilt, but nothing gives the impression of dimwittedness like a crooked helmet. And for god’s sake, do not wear one of those single piece skateboard helmets. They are for skateboarding. You may as well wear a hockey helmet when you play golf.


The jersey is the crowning glory of your outfit. Normally for a woman it is her hair, but with a helmet (placed squarely on head and level with the road of course) that’s not an option. So it’s all about the jersey. A jersey should fit snugly and not flap around in the breeze like a sail. Having said that, be aware of your build and buy appropriately. If you are middle-aged with a bit of a spare tire somewhere other than your saddlebag, opt for a regular rather than “race” fit, and try to find colours or graphics that camouflage and flatter your middle. After that, it’s all up to you. You can find great jerseys on-line, and in local shops if you get there early in the season. There are long sleeves, short sleeves and no sleeves, but all come with back pockets to store keys, snacks, I.D. and all the other stuff you can’t carry because your hands are full of handlebars. Exotic and hard to find jerseys are always admired by your fellow riders, as are jerseys from tours or events you have participated in. As much as I love it and it matches my bike I tend to avoid yellow (who am I kidding), and of course, pink. And butterflies.

Contrary to what you may think, cyclists do not wear gloves to keep their hands warm, or to look cool (although they do look cool). The skin on your hands (unless you are a diesel mechanic) is delicate and would take a very long time to heal, if you get my drift. When I crashed last year I owed the survival of the palm of my right hand completely to the fact I wore gloves that day.

This is one area where you should not economize. A good pair of shorts will protect your butt and bits, and if you wash and dry them regularly (like every time you use them) you will avoid fun stuff like saddle sores, boils, and yeast infections. As for colour and design, nothing looks sharper than a matching kit, but fellas, there are good reasons why the majority of bike shorts are black. I apologize in advance for the following visual:
There are really two main types of bike shorts: regular shorts, and bib shorts. I have heard people rave about the comfort of bib shorts, but I can’t seem to shake the idea that if I’m ever caught without my jersey on I may be mistaken for a skinny female Luchador.

Shaving is not technically a piece of clothing, but it does definitely help define the road cycling “look”, as much as the oreo cookie cycling tan. While most women from North America (and who do not smell like patchouli) do shave their legs as a regular matter of course, I have heard several justifications for male cyclists doing the same:
1) Better Aerodynamics (total bullshit)
2) Protection from infection in the event of a crash (plausible)
3) Ease of sunscreen application (hadn’t thought of this one, but it makes sense. Also plausible)
5) Peer Pressure (not likely. Real men don’t feel pressure from peers.)
4) Aesthetics (aha, the real reason emerges!)
Personally, I am all for men shaving their legs. It looks great, especially on a well muscled pair. Shaving and cycling just go together, so be a man, lather up and embrace the pink Daisy razor.


Socks are the skirts of the cycling world. Hems rise and fall with the whims of trend and fashion. Right now there is a move to longer socks, some as high as the knee, although I suspect those ones are more for mountain bikers (although after a recent case of poison ivy contracted from a pee in the bush, I am tempted). Unless you are a schoolgirl or professional soccer player, I would suggest avoiding this look. Go for socks 2 or 3″ above your shoe and that will do the trick. Any longer and I suggest you get a short plaid skirt to complete the look.

I am normally all about shoes, but there is no such thing as “cute” cycling shoes. There are black ones, white ones, and maybe the occasional pair of red ones. As a Chick I find this enormously disappointing. I love my shoes, every last pair of them, except my cycling ones, which fall squarely in the category of “meh”. The only thing I will note about cycling shoes relates to the socks you wear them with. If you have black shoes, black socks are generally best. Think of it like dress shoes. Black shoes, black socks. White shoes, white socks. Thankfully there is no such thing as a cycling Croc.

On a final note, rarely do we have a full wardrobe of cycling clothing. The Shit is expensive and your money is better spent on your bike. But whatever you do, if you do shell out for that Cervelo, don’t wear it with the Canadian Tire helmet. It just doesn’t go.