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Performance versus Style

Performance and Style: Finding the Balance

A joint editorial by: Larisa Chinces & Robert Thorpe

Larisa

There is an ongoing debate in cycling, especially on the visual  social media portals, about performance and style in cycling clothing. It's all too easy to dismiss one or the other, or to over focus on style, without addressing the key issue -  the kit has to work well for us first and foremost. Yes, we all want to look good, but it has to be a secondary aspect, because we cannot afford our bib shorts to be uncomfortable on a long and hilly ride - however good they make us look!

Riding the bicycle is all about passion and freedom. In order to feel free you need to feel comfortable, that means a great cycling kit that fits you like a glove and gives you the comfort and the style you need. Style is all about the looks, more like eye catching designs and beautiful bright colors combinations which make us more visible in traffic. It helps to to feel good and to perform well at the same time; and if it keeps us safe in traffic, so much the better.

For me it’s simple, if I look good, I feel good. It gives me confidence and positive energy. It is very important to feel comfortable riding, especially on long rides. When I’m preparing for a ride, I look close even at the smallest details. For example I like to match the colors from the kit with the colors from hair-scrunchies. It is fun and it’s all about the details. Yes, I likekit that perfoms well, but I also like to look good too!


Robert

As cyclists we all want to look good as well as to perform to our best. Good kit is crucial to both aspects of our cycling life. On many occasions,  I’ve been out in rain or snow, head down and pedalling simply to stay warm and to get home and safe again. The Yorkshire Dales can be a very tough cycling challenge. Having kit that keeps me warm and dry is absolutely critical. It means that I can focus on one thing - the bike. Kit that fits close to my body, doesn’t move and rub, adds useful compression to the muscles, allows my body to breath and keeps the elements and wind at bay. With all of this taken care of, I can smile though through the miles and enjoy the challenge that the weather and the road or trail throws at me.  

Riding both road and trail, I’m one the few Dales based mountain bikers that mainly wears bib shorts on the trail. I want the kit to feel tight, to keep the pad firm, to allow me to breath and sweat as I work hard. Bibs do this exceptionally well, and they fit my imperfect form perfectly. They make me feel good as I ride, and ultimately that’s what we are all after in performance clothing.  

The second element, style, cannot be forgotten. My wife is still not wholly convinced that I need a variety of coloured helmets and shoes. That I need socks to match each outfit, and sunglasses that finish things off and I and to create the look. We work hard on the bike, and in general we all stay aesthetically fit and try to look the part. So yes, we want to show that hard earned fitness off to a degree. However, style in action is the real goal, or it ought to be; for without the cycling itself, it’s just fashion, and says nothing about our sport or about the performance of the garment we are wearing. 

The image of a cyclist, cranking out a climb, their body in unison with the bike, and the stylish gear fitting to their form is a great advertisement for our sport, for the lifestyle we all lead or aspire to. This I suppose is the aim of the best designs: to produce clothing, shoes and helmets that keep us working well and looking good. To create the clothing equivalent of the Porsche 911 or the Audi RS. Style that performs at the highest level and in the harshest of conditions - style in action.