Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cycling Clothes for Women: Part 1 (Mountain biking)

This week, I had to face the fact that my trusty old mountain biking shorts are no longer trusty - just old. I'd been trying to ignore this fact to put off facing the ultimate test of endurance... trying to find some decent women's cycling clothing.

I can't understand why this is so difficult. I appreciate that the proportion of women mountain biking is small compared to men, but there are some of us out there and the popularity is growing. Yet the range of women's clothing stocked in bike shops seems to be incredibly small and almost always consists of the same 3 options:
1) Something in tight lycra
2) One pair of freeride shorts in black, size XL, that are basically mens shorts
3) Something with flowers embroidered on them*.

I don't think I'm particularly fussy. My requirements are:
  • Not Lycra
  • Not neon
  • Made of decent, hardwearing material
  • Fit properly (for women)
  • Distinguishable from mens shorts by something other than the addition of flowers
Thats still leaves a fair bit to play with, I would have thought, so why the dearth of options? There are loads more options for men, and they are far less picky than women! A quick look at Chain Reaction (large online retailer) lists 60 baggy short options for men and just 6 for women.

Ideally, I would prefer to try and buy from an actual shop than an online retailer if possible, but I haven't found anything local with a decent selection. I went along to Six Cycles' women's evening in Taunton last week to see if I could find something there. They are nice guys and had gone to lots of effort to make the place welcoming to women (free wine and nibbles!) but unfortunately the clothing range was still rather limited.

Until I uncover my Somerset Eden of women's cycling clothing, I think I'm going to have to stick to the online options. For any other women out there looking for some decent suppliers of non-hideous mountain bike shorts, I suggest the following:
Any other suggestions would be gratefully received!

*I had to laugh at Helen Pidd's review of the Apollo Haze women's hybrid in Thr Guardian a couple of weeks ago, in which she said "When it arrived, I thought they had sent me a child's bike by accident. How many grown women would really choose a metallic lilac number with tacky flowers transferred on to the frame?". I feel the same way about cycle shorts.

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