What I wear on the bike has a huge impact on how my ride feels that day. And I’m not the only one with this opinion: The hashtags #SockDoping or #NewKitDay are not for nothing. When I put on my favorite aero jersey, I feel smooth and fast. Skipping the chamois guarantees a relaxing cruise to the café. However, one of my favorite pieces for driving is a modest t-shirt. Riding in a t-shirt is liberating: goodbye, sucking lycra, hello breeze on my back. Wearing non-bicycle clothing on the bike sets the tone for a ride that also colors outside the lines, such as dragging my racing bike up six kilometers of rocky single trail (a bad choice in hindsight) or taking the underground Take train to the outskirts to go to an alpine lake (a good choice).
That wasn’t my idea. Riders have long worn t-shirts on bikes. But until recently it was not accepted or even practical for serious cyclists. (Velominati rules and all that.) Also, where do you put your cell phone, wallet, snacks and cool stones that you find on the way?
Enter cargo shorts.
I’m not talking about the daft, khaki knee-length pants that were popular with middle school students in the early years. I’m talking about the variant of spandex you might have seen over the past few years that has hugged the chiseled quads of professional gravel racers. Essentially bib shorts with tight pockets on the hips and / or lower back, cargo shorts are a continuation of a trend that began with the all-road and gravel craze. With cyclists riding longer days and moving further off the grid, accessories for carrying more food, shifts, and tools have become popular, as evidenced by the proliferation of handlebar bags, frame bags, and cargo shorts among drop bar riders.
But you don’t have to ride epic gravel grinders to appreciate these shorts – they were Designed for everyday selfie-takers. “The original concept was designed to make your phone easier to access instead of trying to get it out of your jersey pocket,” says Brian Dunlap, president of Cadence Collection, the cycling clothing company that created one of the first hipster bib shorts In other words, by moving the pocket space from our jerseys to our stretchy pants, cargo shorts freed us from that Power Ranger look and, I would say, the performance-oriented mindset that goes with it.
We ride bicycles to feel free: physical freedom, freedom of transport. Putting my phone in a hip pocket and pulling on a T-shirt literally and metaphorically takes a load off my shoulders, and it also feels like spiritual freedom.
My favorite cargo shorts
(Photo: Courtesy Pearl Izumi)
Pearl Izumi Interval Cargo Bib Shorts ($ 165)
The pockets of the interval are minimalistic and close-fitting – just a narrower one on either hips – which is great for stowing a phone and wallet for a short trip. Bonus: The dropper function of the women’s version allows you to pee without a bib strap.
(Photo: Courtesy 7Mesh)
7Mesh Cargo Bib Shorts (women, $ 200; men, $ 230)
In addition to the hip pockets, these slim straps offer extra storage with two lower back pockets that essentially replace the ones on your jersey. It’s best if you don’t use them with jersey pockets as this will make this area a bit bulky.
(Photo: Courtesy of Rapha)
Rapha Core cargo shorts ($ 130)
These bib-free options have generous pockets large enough to store snacks for all-day adventures.
Main Photo: Courtesy of 7Mesh