Commuter-specific clothing is emerging as a hot category for both established cycling brands like Rapha and boutique urban clothing brands such as Nau, who look to be worthy competitors in terms of style, functionality – and high prices.
We’ve also thrown a piece from Bontrager into the mix, as the Trek-owned brand have made a huge push into apparel in the past couple of years. The company's unconditional performance and fit guarantees have made it easy to take a chance on their much improved line, from helmets, to gloves, to footwear.
Bontrager eVent Packable Stormshell
Bontrager’s eVent Packable Stormshell strikes us as a very versatile piece. Its cut is generous enough to match baggy mountain bike attire or commuter wear, but also formed enough so it doesn’t flap excessively when riding mountain, city or road.
Bontrager's eVent Packable Stormshell seems like a solid piece and is reasonable value
Yes, the US$219.99 (£149.99) price is high, but we've been impressed by the three-layer eVent fabric in the past and Bontrager claim the jacket is 100 percent waterproof, with taped seams and waterproof zippers.
Nau Wax Off pant and Rebound jacket
Earth conscience clothing company Nau are still coming of age. The company, who pride themselves on the sustainability and recyclability of their attire, are making runs at the urban cycling market, chic city wear and snow sports. Their collection has everything from blazers, high-end wool sweaters and polos, to commuter-minded riding pants and highly technical soft and hard shell outerwear.
The $200 Wax Off is Nau’s cycling-specific cool to cold weather commuter pant. Its organic cotton outer is treated with a synthetic wax finish to ward off the elements, yet remain breathable. It’s lined with organic cotton flannel and sports reinforced knees and seat, five standard pockets and a sixth zip-close security pocket. For a final commuter inspired finish, Nau add inner reflective strips to the rear of the pant’s cuffs, which are visible when turned up.
The Wax Off pant has reinforced knees
The Rebound jacket, at $339.99, is an eco-friendly four-way stretch soft shell that sports a soft woven face that’s DWR treated, which along with its taped seams and waterproof zippers keeps the elements out. Like many of Nau’s pieces it's meant to meld a city style with backcountry-worthy features. The Rebound is sustainably manufactured and recyclable through Nau once worn through.
Nau's Rebound jacket
Rapha City Rain Jacket, City Jersey, jeans and City socks
Rapha’s city riding line continues to grow and will soon approach the breadth of the company's sports line. We’ve recently received a complete set of city riding wear from the British brand. As always the fit and finish is excellent, but one pays for it.
The City Rain Jacket ($320/£220) is one slick piece, especially considering the quick transition it can make from high-vis for on the bike to subtle, understated style off; the florescent, reflective pink highlights on the cuffs and storm tail tuck away once you’ve locked up your steed.
The highlights can be turned in when not riding
Rapha build the jacket out of their own waterproof but breathable fabric, tape the seams, and add a mechanical (flap-style) back vent to keep the rider from getting too ‘swampy’ under effort. The cut of the jacket also seamlessly transfers from bike to town.
The 100 percent merino wool City Riding Jersey ($165/£130) is more of a sweater than a true jersey and would be comfortable alone or with a nice oxford under it. Rapha do make a point of the piece’s cycling roots with the button-close offset rear pocket and high-vis, removable, logo tab.
Rapha's City Jersey fits more like a sweater but has the obligatory nod to cycling with an offset rear pocket
Yes, Rapha do jeans too; actually, they were one of the first brands to put out denim aimed at cyclists, and while not trademarked, the under-cuff logo and reflective accents are unmistakably Rapha too. The right rear pocket fits a small U-lock and Rapha ship the $205 (£150) jeans with a swatch of denim for repairs.
This fall Rapha teamed with Selectism, an online design and fashion outlet devoted to up-and-coming labels, for a special run of black denim with blue accents. While no longer available, Rapha’s staple dark-blue-with-pink version remains in the line.
The under-cuff logo built into Rapha's jeans is also reflective
Not happy to let a rider with upturned jean cuffs sport a gaudy pair of commemorative ankle-high race socks, Rapha offer a City Riding Sock too. The $25 (£15) stockings are made from a heavier but ultra soft merino yarn, which offers both warmth and wards against stinky feet. The City socks come in three flavors, all with reinforced toes and a mid-calf height.
Rapha's City Sock