Always on the look out for new women's cycling kit? We know we are. And we've spotted five new brands you need to know about. If you're in the market for hi-vis kit that doesn't sacrifice style, or want eye-catching road gear designed by female riders, with a feminist ethos, this list has you covered.
Tired of the same-old same-old when it comes to women's cycle kit? So were the women behind these brands, so they took matters into their own hands and got creative…
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Queen of the Mountains
The brainchild of Alicia Bamford, Queen of the Mountains (not to be confused with Australian brand Queen of the Mountain) launched via a Kickstarter campaign in February 2016. Its aims are twofold. According to Bamford, "the ethos behind the brand is to inspire and empower women to ride. I want women to feel confident when they’re on the bike, to set challenges for themselves and to encourage other women to ride as well. There are two key areas of focus for the brand. Firstly, making beautiful pieces of performance clothing, specifically designed for the female form and secondly, building a community of women riders, starting in London, which will hopefully be expanding to other cities in the UK and also overseas."
Bamford took her time getting the range together, working with a team to ensure the products looked right and performed to the standard she expected. "It has taken over a year to get each piece specifically designed, tested and produced ready for our female riders," she says.
The Queen of the Mountains range consists of a series of jerseys and shorts plus gilets and jackets featuring stylish prints and a combination of bold and pastel colours. The result is a sophisticated-looking selection of kit that can be mixed and matched throughout the range.
But as Bamford mentions, Queen of the Mountains isn't just about the kit, and the brand is working to build and support and growing community of female cyclists from its base in West London by organising regular morning rides, plus weekly bike and brunch outings.
As Bold As
Commuter cycling gear, particularly items designed for protecting you against the elements, can often have a utilitarian and, dare we say it, unappealing aesthetic. Enter As Bold As, a new brand based in Dublin with a focus on producing well-designed products for the commuter market. It's even managed to make reflective vests look pretty darn stylish.
Joyce Brereton, who describes herself as "an equal lover of design, engineering and endorphins" founded the company in 2014, and says the range of products it produces is "inspired by an obsession with geometry, quirky detailing, a marriage of performance and fashion, and a love of the everyday adventure. It offers all the technical design elements of cutting-edge cycling wear, layered with a minimal chic style."
Stylish jackets and trousers, which don't at all look like your usual commuter cycling wear, form the bulk of the range, plus reflective vests, ear-warmers and hats.
House of Astbury
From the streets of London comes a clothing brand with a punk aesthetic and a feminist ethos: the House of Astbury. The brand was founded by Monika Zamojska, Ren Aldridge and Ester van Kempen in response to the harassment they experienced on several occasions while cycling through London. Their response was to create a DIY brand producing reflective products emblazoned with feminist slogans.
"Cycling is a form of empowerment and freedom for me, so when you feel this is being taken from you by, for example, street harassment or a negative body image, you fight back," van Kempen tells BikeRadar. "This is something we try to bring across with the slogans we use, but also by collaborating with organisations such as Hollaback [an international movement to end street harassment]. Cycling is for most people a privilege, and this tends to be forgotten, so if I, with the brand, can empower someone to get on a bike then that makes me happy. Next to that House of Astbury is a DIY brand and we try to do everything ourselves or get it made locally. We try to be as ethical and sustainable as possible."
The House of Astbury produces reflective leggings, T-shirts, bandanas and pin badges, and the kit is multipurpose – we particularly like the 'eyes on the road' reflective leggings.
Calling all triathletes - there's a brand here specifically for you! Threo is a range of triathlon products, including tri suits, leggings, crop tops and jerseys, designed by two dedicated female triathletes.
"Our products are uniquely designed to fit and flatter your body, helping you achieve your best results no matter the distance," the Threo website proudly proclaims. "Whether this is your first event, or one of many, we want you to feel confident and to love the sport as much as we do whilst racing and training in stylish kit."
Victor + Leap
Rose Goldman wasn't at all satisfied with the kit available to female cyclists, so took matters into her own hands. Victor + Leap is the result: a small but well-thought out collection of performance clothing designed by women with a passion for cycling, for women with a passion for cycling.
"Cycling is at the heart of what we do. Each piece was developed with female cyclists and looked to improve on the traditional clothing offered to us," is the statement on the Victor + Leap website. "Every decision we take is about offering the best possible performance clothes. We will only make something if we think we can do it better than everyone else. Cocky? Sure, we stand by what we do"
The current range consists of two jackets, jersey, vest and shorts, and the Victor + Leap online shop also stocks a selection of Fizik shoes and bar tape. The look is understated – plain block colours with panelled product construction and contrasting zips and hems.
All these brands (and loads more besides) will be at the Spin Cycling Festival, coming to the Old Truman Brewery in London from 20 to 22 May 2016. Better yet, BikeRadar has teamed up with the festival organisers to offer you a 50% discount.