Cycling Fashion Faux Pas – 10 Things to Avoid as a Midlife Rider

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According to my ever supportive three teenage daughters there comes an age when a man really doesn’t understand fashion any more and he can get himself, unwittingly, into all sorts of terrible sartorial situations.

Midlife, particularly male cyclists are particularly prone to making cycling fashion faux pas (s!) as there’s a strange thing that runs through your head as a cyclist that goes something like this:

Cycling feels great, physically it makes you feel strong and healthy, mentally it puts you in a good mood, you feel virtuous, fresh, clean and vigorous.

Your brain thinks:

“Surely if I feel this good then I must be looking good too? I want other people to know how good I feel, I want other people to notice me on my bike and think “Wow, there’s a fit, attractive individual, full of health, happiness and vitality – I want some of that too!” – feeling good, looking great!”



Just stop it!

You simply do not have the right to inflict your feel good smugness on others, particularly as they may well not be getting quite the same impression from what you actually look like as you think they are!

Unfortunately, for some of us in the prime of life this translates into a bit of a misguided idea that the sort of tight spandex that we could have got away with 15 years ago still makes you look cool. There’s few things worse than mutton dressed as lamb – particularly when the mutton is bulging out of a pair of lycra bib shorts.

Sure, part of the reason I cycle is to stay fit, stay lean and keep my figure but I sincerely hope that I’m not of the misguided notion that my 48 year old butt looks good in spandex.

Which sort of leads me on nicely to the first cycling fashion faux pas that you really must avoid which is:

Wearing pro/team cycling kit

Unbelievably you see this so often and I might just be becoming a bit of a bike snob and really people should be able to wear whatever makes them feel happy or feel good


…..surely you are just (maybe subconsciously) trying to make out to be something you aren’t in such a shallow way by WEARING PRO KIT as an amateur cyclist!?

It’s usually the stereotypical middle aged man on a carbon bike which probably cost much more than my car who is pedalling along at a very steady pace, puffing, wheezing and sweating whilst ladled into tight lycra (all labels and advertising slogans) like fatty sausage meat being stuffed into sausage skins.

Get real, admit your only a beginner, grow some balls and let’s see some honesty and authenticity. No one really thinks that you’re being sponsored, are a pro cyclist or anything like that. Unfortunately it all just looks a bit, well erm….trying too hard really.

Wearing a yellow jersey

Just like the leader of the Tour de France!

Most of the above applies to be honest but I suppose the excuse could be that you feel that it helps with visibility and you are wearing it for safety reasons.

But, go on, that’s not the case really, is it?

Wearing Pants under lycra

It seems perfectly reasonable to wear a good sturdy pair of pants under your biking shorts. And why on earth wouldn’t you? You probably haven’t been outside in public with less than two layers around your nether regions since 1975 so why start now?

What, go out with just some skimpy elastic to keep all of my tackle reigned in! Isn’t that a bit risky? A bit dangerous even, maybe even illegal! Do you think I’m some sort of ball flashing pervert!?

No, the proper thing to do is to go “commando” and realise that cycling shorts are an all in one complete solution under which no under wear should be worn – ever!

Wearing a pair of crinkly boxers under them totally misses the point of the tight fitting comfort of lycra in that you would have to contend with all sorts of uncomfortable seams and folds chafing against your skin. Cyclists wear tight lycra for a reason and that’s mainly for comfort – it’s body hugging qualities cut out the chafing and allow free movement and as soon as you introduce an under garment this advantage is lost.

Besides which no one wants to the size of the panty line produced by a pair of Y fronts under bib shorts – not nice!

Wearing white shorts

And, of course, it goes without saying that……………..not even for a moment should you consider, not even on your most frivolous feeling days when you feel like a spring chicken, not even on days when the sun is shining and everything feels so right with the world that you could sing of your inner joy at the top of your voice……………

……should you ever entertain the ridiculous notion that wearing white white cycling shorts is a good idea, looks cool, is practical, reflects the heat, matches your bike, makes your skin look browner or whatever confounded reasoning goes through your head that makes you pull them on, look in the mirror and think

“Yes, I shall go out in public wearing this and all will be fine!”

So, who could get away with white cycling shorts?

Maybe very very attractive ladies cycling under blue skies only on the flat whilst not breaking sweat at all and then possibly relaxing under palm trees and drinking some sort of sophisticated drink like……….I don’t really know as I don’t really do sophisticated drinks – I just like beer.

Anybody else?


Lycra shorts should be black.

Full stop.

Wearing very short sleeves

And by very short I mean like wearing a tank top so that your shoulders are pretty much exposed as well. This is just trying too hard.

It’s possibly just about OK on a very hot day if you have super fit muscly arms like about 0.0000009% of cyclists under the age of 40.

But the rest of us have pasty white cylindrical tubes for arms with varying quantities of chicken wings flapping in the breeze.

I’m not saying don’t wear short sleeved tops as this is fine. It’s just the people that think it looks good to go extreme, to reveal more flesh than is strictly necessary, to inflict more of their naked bodies on poor innocent passers by.

It’s just not fair on them!

Aero helmets

These are awesome if you are an ultra fit racing cyclist who rides the lightest bike in the world, carries not an ounce of surplus fat and needs to gain the infinitesimal aerodynamic gain that wearing an aero helmet gives.

If you are cycling at this altitudinous level an aero helmet is vital.

If you are wearing one on a club ride you just look like a dick. In fact you look like a dick extra from Alien.

Wearing trainers on a road bike

We have taken a long hard look at the rider who takes time over their appearance and who, in their sadly misguided mind, wears innapropriate cycling clothing in a vain attempt to appear more accomplished/fitter/younger/more attractive/thinner/sexier/professional/popular than they really are.

We now come to the polar opposite.

Yes, these are the types that don’t give a crap what they look like on a bike and give the rest of us tastefully and appropriately effortlessly cool and sophisticated cyclists a bad name.

They think it’s OK to wear a pair of crappy trainers on a road bike pushing on the massive flat pedals that came with their bottom of the range all purpose road bike.

This is like wearing wellingtons to play at Wimbledon, putting tractor tyres on a Ferrari or buying a sports car and never putting the hood down or getting out of third gear.

The point is one should always, darling, go clipless and wear road shoes.

Not only do they look better but the amount of comfort and power improvement is awesome. Once you wear them you will never go back and you won’t care that you can’t walk in them, will probably flop off the bike in them and that if you do accidentally tread on a dog poo cleats are the worst thing in the world to clean out.

Wearing long socks and shorts

It’s difficult knowing exactly how much skin is the correct amount to show. There’s an acceptable line that the good cyclist instinctively knows and appreciates and it’s not until this line is crossed does the onlooker fully appreciate the horror of a misjudgement in this area.

Wearing long socks, of any colour, with any shorts is pretty bad. However, wearing long socks with cycling shorts is just, well poor taste really and shows a lack of respect for oneself and other cyclists.

Cycling socks should always be short and probably either white or maybe black. They should always be worn though as there’s a hint of something rather promiscuous in men (particularly) that wear shoes without socks.

You have been warned.

Wrinkled stockings

I love arm and leg warmers as they do exactly what it says on the tin as well as being flexible and easy to take on and off to try to attain the perfect temperature.

However, if you put them on in a bit of a hurry and don’t bother to smooth them down they wrinkle really really badly. I’m always prepared to overlook this error on the arms but, wrinkled leg warmers are very very closely akin to granny stockings and should be avoided at all costs.

Wearing cycling gear as casual clothing

And here we come to a very special category of cycling fashion faux pas. This is the cyclist who wishes to give the impression that their training schedule is so intense that they need to wear cycling gear all the time, they are cycling, they are the complete cyclist and cycling is so ingrained in their DNA that wearing cycling gear as casual clothing is as natural to them as breathing.

They like to give the impression that it happens without a second thought, they hope that you might comment on how sporty they look but beware, as soon as you do so you will be entrapped in the longest most tedious conversation about power to weight ratios and carbon fibre you could ever imagine.

This type of cyclist thinks long and hard about the impression they are making.

Unfortunately it’s not always the right impression and again, trying too hard, trying to be something you are not, makes you look just a little shallow and needy.

So there we have my perfectly rational and sensible views on cycling fashion. I can’t imagine that you would disagree with anything but if you do, or if you can add anything or would just like to tell me what an opinionated idiot I am then please comment!

cycling fashion disaster

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