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Whether you’re a seasoned road cyclist or a beginner just starting out, you deserve to be wearing the best gear available, that is both high performance and oozes style. In this definitive guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the top 10 road cycling apparel brands, covering their history, key clothing pieces, and what sets them apart from the crowd of other cycling apparel brands. We’ll also share some personal experiences and sprinkle in interesting tidbits to keep you entertained. So, let’s get rolling!
Rapha: A British Classic with a Touch of Style
When it comes to blending style and performance, Rapha is a cut above the rest. Founded in 2004 by Simon Mottram, this British brand quickly gained a reputation for producing premium cycling apparel that’s as fashionable as it is functional.
Rapha caters to both men and women, offering everything from jerseys and bib shorts to outerwear and accessories. Their trademark bold yet minimalist designs are a hit among cyclists, who appreciate the attention to detail and high-quality materials.
Positives: Rapha’s apparel is crafted from the finest fabrics, ensuring comfort, durability, and breathability. Plus, their design aesthetics make them a fashionable choice both on and off the bike.
Negatives: Rapha’s price tags can be steep, but their loyal fans argue that the investment is well worth it.
I remember buying my first Rapha jersey – a striking red piece that instantly boosted my confidence on group rides. And guess what? It still looks as good as new after countless washes!
- Buy it because: Rapha’s apparel offers a perfect blend of style, premium materials, and high-performance, making it a fashionable choice both on and off the bike
- Don’t buy it because: The brand’s high price tags may not suit every budget, and there are more affordable options available
Castelli: Italian Craftsmanship Meets Innovation
Born in Milan in 1876, Castelli is a brand steeped in history. Vittore Gianni, a tailor by trade, founded the company and later passed the reins to Armando Castelli. It was under his leadership that the brand transformed into the cycling apparel powerhouse we know today.
Castelli’s product range includes jerseys, bib shorts, jackets, gloves, and more. They’re known for pushing the boundaries of innovation, as evidenced by their Gabba line of rain-resistant jerseys and the innovative Nano Flex fabric.
Positives: Castelli’s commitment to innovation translates into high-performance apparel that meets the needs of serious cyclists. Their Italian heritage also guarantees a touch of style and elegance.
Negatives: Some cyclists may find Castelli’s sizing to be on the smaller side, making it essential to consult their size charts before purchasing.
When I participated in my first Gran Fondo, Castelli’s Gabba jersey saved the day when a surprise rainstorm hit. I stayed dry and comfortable throughout the ride, making it an unforgettable experience.
Fun Fact: Castelli is credited with inventing the first Lycra shorts in 1977, revolutionizing the world of cycling apparel.
- Buy it because: Castelli combines Italian craftsmanship with innovative, performance-driven cycling apparel that caters to serious cyclists
- Don’t buy it because: Their sizing tends to run small, which might make finding the right fit a challenge for some riders
Assos: Swiss Precision and Comfort
Founded in 1976 by Toni Maier, Assos prides itself on delivering top-notch cycling apparel that emphasizes comfort and quality. The Swiss brand’s extensive research and development efforts have resulted in cutting-edge products that set the industry standard.
Assos offers a full range of clothing, from base layers to outerwear, all designed to provide the perfect fit. Their bib shorts, in particular, are lauded for their exceptional comfort and ergonomic design.
Positives: Assos is known for its focus on fit and durability, ensuring that their products not only perform well but also stand the test of time.
Negatives: Much like Rapha, Assos is a premium brand, which means that their price points may be higher than other options on the market.
On a particularly grueling century ride, my Assos bib shorts were a lifesaver. The chamois provided excellent support and cushioning, making the long hours in the saddle far more bearable.
Fun Fact: Toni Maier, the founder of Assos, was the first person to use carbon fiber in bicycle frames, another testament to the brand’s innovative spirit.
- Buy it because: Assos emphasizes comfort, quality, and fit, ensuring their high-performance cycling apparel is both durable and comfortable for long rides
- Don’t buy it because: Like Rapha, Assos is a premium brand with a higher price point that might not fit every cyclist’s budget
Pearl Izumi: A Japanese-American Fusion of Performance and Style
Pearl Izumi’s story began in 1950 when Kinji Shimizu, a Japanese tailor, crafted his first bike racing kit. Later, the brand expanded to the United States, where it continued to evolve into the cycling apparel powerhouse it is today.
With a wide range of gear for various cycling disciplines, Pearl Izumi offers jerseys, shorts, shoes, and accessories for both men and women. Their products are known for their quality, durability, and attractive designs.
Positives: Pearl Izumi’s gear strikes a great balance between style, performance, and affordability, making it a popular choice for many cyclists.
Negatives: Some users report that Pearl Izumi’s sizing can be inconsistent, so it’s essential to read reviews and size charts before making a purchase.
I’ve always loved the vibrant colors and patterns that Pearl Izumi offers. Not only do they make me stand out on the road, but they also give me an extra boost of motivation during tough rides.
Fun Fact: The brand’s name, Pearl Izumi, is derived from a combination of “pearl,” symbolizing value and quality, and “Izumi,” the founder’s hometown in Japan.
- Buy it because: Pearl Izumi strikes a balance between style, performance, and affordability, making it an accessible choice for cyclists of all levels
- Don’t buy it because: Some users report inconsistent sizing, so make sure to read reviews and consult size charts before purchasing
Gore Wear: The Ultimate in Weather Protection
When it comes to weather protection, Gore Wear is tough to beat. The brand is a pioneer in technical fabrics and has developed some of the most advanced materials in the industry, such as GORE-TEX and WINDSTOPPER.
Gore Wear’s product line includes jackets, jerseys, bib shorts, gloves, and more, all designed to provide optimal weather protection, breathability, and comfort.
Positives: Gore Wear’s apparel is renowned for its ability to keep cyclists dry and comfortable in challenging weather conditions, making it an excellent choice for those who don’t shy away from inclement weather.
Negatives: While the performance of Gore Wear’s products is top-notch, some cyclists may not find their designs as visually appealing as other brands on this list.
Fun Fact: Gore Wear’s parent company, W.L. Gore & Associates, was founded in 1958 and is responsible for the creation of GORE-TEX, a revolutionary waterproof and breathable fabric.
- Buy it because: Gore Wear’s cutting-edge cycling apparel provides optimal weather protection, breathability, and comfort, making it perfect for those who ride in various conditions
- Don’t buy it because: If visual appeal is a top priority, you may find other brands on this list offer more stylish designs
Giordana: Italian Innovation and Design
Giordana, established in 1979 by Italian designer Giorgio Andretta, is known for its dedication to innovation and cutting-edge design. Their products, which include jerseys, bib shorts, and outerwear, are crafted with the modern cyclist in mind, balancing style, comfort, and performance.
Positives: Giordana’s commitment to research and development has led to high-quality apparel that is both visually appealing and highly functional.
Negatives: While not as expensive as Rapha or Assos, Giordana is still considered a premium brand, so their price points may not suit every budget.
I’ve always been impressed by Giordana’s ability to create sleek, modern designs that still incorporate elements of classic Italian style. Wearing their gear makes me feel like I’m part of a long, proud cycling tradition.
Fun Fact: Giordana’s parent company, Gita Sporting Goods, is also the exclusive distributor of Pinarello bikes in the United States.
- Buy it because: Giordana’s commitment to innovation and design results in high-quality cycling apparel that blends style, comfort, and performance
- Don’t buy it because: If budget is a concern, Giordana’s premium price points may not be the best fit for you
Santini: A Legacy of Italian Craftsmanship
Founded in 1965 by Pietro Santini, this Italian brand has a long history of creating high-quality cycling apparel. Santini is known for its attention to detail, using premium materials and innovative technology to craft jerseys, bib shorts, and accessories that cater to both professional and amateur cyclists.
Positives: Santini’s blend of fashion-forward design and high-quality materials makes their apparel a popular choice for those seeking style and performance.
Negatives: As with other Italian brands, Santini’s sizing can run small, so it’s crucial to consult their size charts before purchasing.
I recently wore a Santini jersey during a particularly hot and humid ride, and I was amazed at how well it managed moisture and kept me cool. It’s now my go-to choice for warm-weather cycling.
Fun Fact: Santini is the official clothing supplier for the UCI World Championships and the Giro d’Italia, showcasing their commitment to professional cycling.
- Buy it because: Santini combines fashion-forward design with high-quality materials and attention to detail, making their apparel a popular choice for style-conscious cyclists
- Don’t buy it because: Like other Italian brands, Santini’s sizing can run small, so be sure to consult their size charts before purchasing
MAAP: Australian Upstart with a Passion for Design
Founded in 2014 in Melbourne, Australia, MAAP has quickly made a name for itself as a creator of unique and high-performance cycling gear. With a keen eye for design and a passion for cycling,
MAAP has become a favorite among cyclists who appreciate their bold and fresh aesthetics.
MAAP offers a wide range of apparel for both men and women, including jerseys, bib shorts, and socks, all designed with performance and style in mind.
Positives: MAAP’s unique designs and high-quality materials make their apparel stand out in a crowded market, while their commitment to performance ensures that cyclists can ride in comfort and style.
Negatives: As a relatively new brand, MAAP may not have the same extensive product range as some of the more established brands on this list.
I was initially drawn to MAAP by their eye-catching designs, but after trying their gear, I was hooked by the quality and performance. Their apparel quickly became a staple in my cycling closet.
Fun Fact: MAAP is committed to sustainability and is a member of the 1% for the Planet initiative, donating a portion of their sales to environmental causes.
- Buy it because: MAAP’s unique designs and commitment to high-performance gear make them an excellent choice for cyclists looking to stand out from the crowd
- Don’t buy it because: As a newer brand, MAAP may not have the same extensive product range as more established brands on this list
Le Col: Professional Pedigree and Attention to Detail
Founded by former professional cyclist Yanto Barker in 2011, Le Col is a British brand that offers a wide range of high-quality cycling apparel. With firsthand knowledge of what cyclists need, Barker and his team design products with both style and performance in mind.
Le Col’s product range includes jerseys, bib shorts, jackets, and accessories, all crafted to meet the highest standards of performance and durability.
Positives: Le Col’s professional pedigree ensures that their products are designed with the needs of cyclists in mind, and their attention to detail results in high-quality, stylish apparel.
Negatives: Le Col’s prices can be on the higher side, but the investment in their gear is often justified by the quality and performance.
I had the opportunity to try Le Col’s Pro bib shorts during a multi-day cycling event, and I was thoroughly impressed by the comfort and support they provided, even after long hours in the saddle.
Fun Fact: Le Col has partnered with various professional cycling teams, including Bahrain Victorious and Team Novo Nordisk, providing them with high-performance gear.
- Buy it because: Le Col’s professional pedigree and attention to detail result in high-quality, stylish cycling apparel designed to meet the needs of demanding cyclists
- Don’t buy it because: Le Col’s higher price points may not suit every budget, and there are more affordable options available
Velocio: Style and Sustainability
Founded in 2014, Velocio is a brand that prioritizes sustainability and ethical production without sacrificing style or performance. By using environmentally responsible materials and manufacturing processes, Velocio aims to minimize its impact on the planet.
Their product range includes jerseys, bib shorts, jackets, and accessories, all designed with a keen eye for style and a commitment to performance. Velocio’s offerings cater to both men and women, ensuring that every cyclist can find something to love.
Positives: Velocio’s commitment to sustainability sets them apart in the cycling apparel industry, making them an excellent choice for eco-conscious riders. Their stylish designs and high-performance gear further enhance their appeal.
Negatives: Velocio’s focus on sustainability and ethical production may result in slightly higher price points compared to some other brands on this list.
I recently purchased a Velocio jersey made from recycled materials, and not only did it feel great to support a sustainable brand, but the jersey also exceeded my expectations in terms of comfort and performance.
Fun Fact: Velocio’s RECON collection is made from a combination of recycled and renewable materials, showcasing their dedication to sustainable practices.
- Buy it because: Velocio offers stylish, high-performance cycling apparel while prioritizing sustainability and ethical production, making them a great choice for eco-conscious riders
- Don’t buy it because: If budget is a primary concern, Velocio’s focus on sustainability and ethical production may result in slightly higher price points compared to some other brands on this list
There you have it, folks – our top 10 road cycling apparel brands for style and performance. Whether you’re drawn to the British elegance of Rapha, the Italian innovation of Castelli, or the sustainable ethos of Velocio, you’re sure to find the perfect brand to suit your cycling needs and personal style. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, then check out our guide to the top under-the-radar cycling apparel brands too. Remember, investing in high-quality gear can make all the difference in your comfort and enjoyment on the road. So, gear up and hit the pavement!