Not so very long ago, if you were looking for women's mountain bike kit your choice was usually between black, pink, or maybe black with pink highlights. It was also often badly cut, ill-fitting, and with significantly fewer technical features than the men's kit.
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So a number of women (and a few men) took matters into their own hands. They set up new brands, did their research, and designed women's kit that actually works for women who ride.
From performance fabrics to daring designs, these companies are stirring things up and showing some of the big brands a thing or two when it comes to designing decent and desirable mountain bike kit for women. Check the video below and read on for further details…
Flare Clothing Co
Founded by keen mountain biker Hannah Myers, Flare produces a range of long and short sleeved jerseys, shorts, waterproof jackets, T-shirts and base layers in some eye-catching designs. But it's not all about the looks – though Flare does excel in that department – as demonstrated by one of the most popular elements of its collection, its women's MTB shorts.
For many women, finding a pair of baggy MTB shorts that are actually baggy and long enough to cover knee pads, while still sitting comfortably on the body, is an issue. Flare's shorts are popular across the UK, and the company is beginning to spread its wings globally.
Okay, not all of these brands were set up by women. Ally Mackay, the man behind Ride It, is however a strong advocate of equality in cycling, and has put his money where his mouth is in sponsoring the recent Air Maiden women's downhill race and coaching weekend in Scotland.
Ride It produced the winners' and souvenir jerseys for the weekend, altering the designs Mackay uses for the other products in the small but well-formed range of women's and men's jerseys.
Findra could be described as mountain bike gear for grownups. It features natural, technical fabrics, earthy tones and supremely well-executed cuts – as perhaps you'd expect given Scottish founder and designer Alex Feechan's background in fashion.
Inspired by her passion for mountain biking, and answering the calls for kit by women who don't want lairy colours, crazy prints or neon shorts, Feechan developed a range of shorts, jerseys, and accessories. Within a year of launching, Findra was already being stocked by Wiggle, and Feechan has exciting plans for expanding the range in near future.
Australian brand DHaRCO takes a sun-kissed, surf-inspired aesthetic and applies it to mountain bike kit. The result? Products in bright, bold hues with technical details aplenty.
The range includes a selection of shorts in a four-way stretch fabric, long, short and 3/4-length sleeved jerseys and T-shirts in technical fabrics with eye-catching slogans and motifs.
Like your kit loud? Partial to a pattern or two? You'd best check out Shredly then. This American brand is the creation of Ashley Rankin, whose vision of Shredly is a company that produces kit that's "insanely functional but incredibly good looking".
We're not going to argue, particularly when you can get shorts with everything from sugar skulls and bird prints to stripes and paisley on them. We also like the fact that the shorts are available in different lengths, and that Shredly also produces leggings, multisport shorts, tops and even chamois-liners to get you kitted out and coordinated top to toe.
We know these aren't the only brands out there, and we're always on the lookout for new ones to shout about. If you know any others, or have brands you'd recommend, let us know in the comments below.