A few years ago, the cycling apparel industry didn't offer much to anyone who wasn't interested in looking like a superhero moonlighting as a billboard. Then, gas hit $4 a gallon for awhile, and suddenly garment makers realized there was a new customer to cater to: people looking for regular-looking clothing with some of the technical aspects that bike-specific clothing provides -- wicking ability, a close fit without a lot of extra fabric to get caught in gears or catch the wind, strategic pockets, etc. -- clothes in short, that can be worn at the office or anywhere else without immediately tipping off everyone that you've just gotten off a bike.
All week long, we'll be highlighting some of favorite cycling apparel. Today, we're starting with shirts.
1. Rapha Long Sleeve Shirt. $130.
Our first choice for low-key cycling apparel is wool. It wicks moisture well, has natural odor-killing properties, and feels great. This Rapha dress shirt proves that rules are meant to be broken -- it's 68% cotton, 28% nylon, and 4% elastane, three fabrics which involve no sheep whatsover. But we love the gingham check pattern, the smart tailoring, the single pocket on the back, and the nylon and elastane provide the wicking that cotton would not be able to accomplish on its own.
2. John Smedley Merino Jerseywear Long Sleeve Shirt. $149.
Like Rapha, John Smedley is an English brand. This isn't a bike-specific garment, but it's made out of superfine Merino wool, it's got a casual but fitted cut, and John Smedley has been making shirts and sweaters for 225 years. Clearly, they know what they're doing.
3. Nau M1 Polo Stripe. $105.
For a more casual look, and on sunny days, we love this summer-weight wool polo from Nau.
4. Ibex Men's Ace Shirt. $105.
Not every wool shirt is machine-washable. This one is. Like the Nau polo above, it's also made from wool that's soft as your favorite cotton t-shirt.