In the last few years, there has been an explosion of unique and colourful cycling kit on Australian roads and trails. The desire among riders to feel good and look trendy, multiplied by the power of social media, means niche brands, and limited edition designs, are reaching a bigger audience than ever before.
Within this context, an Australian aesthetic has emerged. “My Euro colleagues comment that when they visit our production floor they can pick out the kits destined for our market, without checking the production sheets,” said Drew Johnson, General Manager for Cuore Australia.
Cuore are different to the other brands that are the focus of this article. They specialise in custom cycling kits, rather than a seasonal range, but the sheer volume of the unique orders they deal with makes Johnson interesting to talk to about the dominant trends.
“We embrace colours, in a smart, stylish way – go figure Australia – and then use them in ways that no-one else does,” Johnson told Cycling Central. “There’s a confidence to what we will wear and how it reflects our personality on the bike. When you look at what is coming out of Europe in custom kits you know that they really haven’t moved far from the 80s and 90s.”
The number of boutique Australian apparel companies launching in the last few years have also changed the face, and bodies, of cycling. So, what drives them? Who do they think is and isn’t their market? And, given that most started up because they were dissatisfied with the status quo, how do they see their products as standing out from the rest?
In a twist from the standard article format, we contacted nine companies out of the blue and asked them to review themselves. All prices are in Australian dollars. And yes, it’s totally OK to use this article to write a Christmas wish list, but keep in mind we stopped at nine companies. Like all good bib shorts, articles have a desirable length too.
Reviewer: Greg Hamer, Co-Owner.
What makes Attaquer different to every other kit brand out there? Back in 2012, we saw a gap in the market for fashion focused cycling apparel that was designed to “stand out in the pack”. As well as looking good, though, our objective was to produce kit that was market leading in terms of the fabrics, cuts, comfort, etc.
We believe our designs are what sell our kits but the quality is what keeps the customers coming back. We're extremely proud of what we've achieved over the past four years and the number of brands entering the market now is testament to that.
Price range for a jersey and bibs: Bibs: $259-289, Jersey: $179-199.
Buy it if: You want to look good, feel good, and ride faster.
Don't buy it if: You're content just blending into the background.
Learn more: attaquercycling.com
Reviewer: Kev Babakian, Founder and Creative Director.
What makes Babici different to every other kit brand out there? Babici is in the business of inspiration. We design beautiful performance apparel that inspires people to express their individuality through their passion and participation of cycling.
All Babici products are designed to harness the athletic potential of the athlete and are crafted out of the world’s finest performance textiles made in Italy and Switzerland. From chamois innovation to patterns that break the conventions of stock standard cycling kits, Babici is continuously innovating in the space of performance apparel.
Price range for a jersey and bibs: Jerseys $170-$250, knicks $149-$275.
Buy it if: You demand quality and performance benefits.
Don't buy it if: You are influenced by the masses.
Learn more: babici.cc
BLACK SHEEP CYCLING
Reviewer: Nik Howe, Creative Director.
What makes Black Sheep Cycling different to every other kit brand out there? There are very few cycling apparel brands we measure ourselves against, simply because there are very few cycling apparel brands that do what we do. All our garment development and design is done entirely in-house.
Sure, Black Sheep has become known for its distinctive aesthetic, forward-thinking design and engaging storytelling. But what makes me prouder than anything is the highly skilled and incredibly talented people we have in the business creating unique and innovative apparel pieces. For us. By us.
Price range for a jersey and bibs:
LIMITED Season Nine Kit (Jersey plus bib and brace): $350
ESSENTIALS Team Collection Jersey: $165
ESSENTIALS Team Collection Bib and Brace: $185
Buy it if: If you value our obsession with pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in cycling apparel; technically and aesthetically. Black Sheep strives to do things differently. Always.
Don't buy it if: If you don’t want to.
Learn more: blacksheepcycling.cc
Reviewer: Drew Johnson, General Manager, Cuore Australia.
What makes Cuore different to every other kit brand out there? Like any great brand there is more than one element that makes Cuore what it is, but essentially our excellence comes from our 25 plus years of product development and the ability to produce products to a QC level most can only dream about. Also, unlike most competitor brands we own our manufacturing facility which allows us to offer cyclists the experience of having built for them a true custom product, where they can define the spec as well as tailoring the length of either the arm, hem or legs of their respective kits. It’s a true bespoke/custom product.
One of my personal favourites is the kit we designed for Bacardi. It’s clean, on brand and represents each other’s qualities perfectly.
Price range for a jersey and bibs: Our system allows customers to order from one to 1000 pieces as well as select spec, so we don’t have a fixed price per the kits. However, even though we are a Swiss brand, our pricing is a lot lower than what people may expect due to the fact we offer a direct service model. There are no agents or distributors adding margin and time to a customer’s orders.
Buy it if: If you want your custom kit to fit, feel and last like the very best.
Don't buy it if: Your event is three weeks away and you need a brand new design but don’t have any logos in the correct format. Our standard lead time is five weeks.
Learn more: cuore.ch/custom/au
Reviewer: Jamie Murray, Marketing Manager
What makes DHaRCO different to every other kit brand out there? Our gear is designed to act, not look, like sportswear. We design lifestyle clothing that makes us feel good, and we add in great tech to ensure it also rides great.
Fabric is the foundation of our gear. We source performance fabrics where the ‘performance element’ is built into the yarns, not a chemical applied afterwards. This gives superior quick-drying and moisture-wicking performance and also means it won’t wash or wear out. It’s also more eco-friendly, and we like that!
Price range for a jersey and baggy shorts:
Jerseys: $55 - $79.95
Shorts: $119.95 - $125
Buy it if: Mountain biking is part of your lifestyle - and you want clothing that reflects a casual vibe built on great friends, trails and shredding hard. And if you want to support an Aussie brand!
Don't buy it if: You’re looking for Lycra.
Learn more: dharco.com
Reviewer: Gerard Thomas, Owner.
What makes ELEVEN vélo different to every other kit brand out there? ELEVEN vélo is one of the few, if not only, labels in the world specialising in modern Superfine Merino textiles for cycling. As we make each and every order, to order in Sydney, we offer a wide range of options allowing our customers to create their own unique kit. It’s very rare we send out two orders that are the same!
Price range for a jersey and bibs: Jerseys start at $135, bibs at $194.
Buy it if: You want something quality that’s not made from synthetic fibre and made 100% locally just for you.
Don't buy it if: You prefer synthetic fabrics and ‘fast fashion’.
Learn more: eleven.cc
Reviewer: Anna Thomson, Co-Founder.
Fun fact: The brand was founded by three female cyclists hell-bent on creating the best possible cycling apparel for other women just like us. Everything we do is centred on comfort, quality and style.
What makes Fondo different to every other kit brand out there? Fondo actually means ‘bottom’ in Spanish…and we’re all about comfy bottoms! Our customers tell us their Fondo kit is the most comfortable they’ve worn. It’s their ‘special occasion’ kit they can rely on when they want to be super comfortable.
When we develop our products, we list all the features we want in an ideal kit and then make sure we tick all boxes. Quality and comfort are our biggest priority. If we had to choose between cost or comfort in a chamois, we’d always go for comfort. It’s a non-negotiable.
Price range for jersey and bibs: Fondo jersey and bibs are sold as a kit for $390.00
Buy it if: You’re looking for comfort and performance on long rides.
Don’t buy it if: Sorry guys, at the moment we only make kit for women.
Learn more: fondo.com.au
Reviewer: Oliver Cousins, Co-Founder.
What makes MAAP different to every other kit brand out there? From the beginning, we've been driven by a simple idea at MAAP: your ride is your time. Road or dirt, training, racing, adventuring, you deserve the type of technical performance gear that lets you celebrate your time on the bike.
All MAAP garments are road-tested, informed by our team riders and friends in the field from across the globe, and designed to take on the conditions so you can ride the way you want to.
Price range for jersey: $180 - $215 (men’s), $180 - $195 (women’s).
Price range for bibs: $270 - $310 (men’s) - $270 (women’s).
Buy it if: Whether you’re training, racing or taking off to the hinterlands, if you expect a well-balanced combination of comfort and technically advanced performance from your cycling gear, MAAP kits are designed for you. And with a range of solid and mature colours, you can determine how you wear your MAAP.
Don't buy it if: Colour is not your thing. But for those who are drawn to our range of hues, it's an appealing proposition.
Learn more: maap.cc
Reviewer: Kristy Scrymgeour, Co-Founder.
Just to be fair, where is Velocio officially based? Velocio is based in New Hampshire, USA but I’m from Sydney and currently live here, so we consider this a globally run brand.
What makes Velocio different to every other kit brand out there? The fit is what makes Velocio different. When we started Velocio four years ago, we focussed on designing a collection for women with a whole new fit as we could see that there was a need for good quality women’s apparel that was really designed with women in mind. Then we did the same for men. Fit is our main focus with every piece we design. Once we get that right we fuss over fabrics, quality, performance, durability and finally, aesthetic design.
We also focus on sustainability. We want our pieces to last well and along the way we do everything we can to keep our carbon footprint low, from working with mills and manufacturers that use solar power, recycled water and post-consumer recycled content to make their yarn to our packaging choices.
Price range for a jersey and bibs: Our new bib program, soon to be released, includes three different bibs ranging in price from $239 to $329. Our summer jerseys range from $179 to $219.
Buy it if: You want the most comfortable ride you’ve ever had and want to look great as you’re doing it.
Don't buy it if: You don’t care about comfort and quality.
Learn more: velocio.cc