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City Scopes V
Never sacrifice style for speed
Riding a bike is the fastest way to get around town and there are more riders than ever on the road, but you don't have to follow the crowd and don a bright yellow jacket and unflattering bib shorts. City riding kit has come a long way in the last few years so you can look as dapper and individual on the bike as off it. Performance fabrics and rider-developed features can now keep you cool and comfortable, even when riding at speed.
Between them, Rapha staff have more than 100 years of experience riding in the city. Here are some of our tips to help prevent you sacrificing style when you ride in town.
Merino the wonder sheep
No matter how fast you ride in the city, you are going to work up a sweat. The key to staying comfortable on the bike whatever the season lies with your underwear. The best merino wool is soft, itch free and has an amazing ability to absorb twice it's weight in moisture, pulling the sweat from your skin. Better still, it is naturally anti-bacterial and you won't smell when you get to your destination. Start your day by putting on a base layer and even boxers made from merino - it truly is a wonder fabric.
Never overtake a messenger
They are the modern day 'convicts of the road', omnipresent in central London, with their large courier packs and fixed wheel bikes. They may look grimy and hollow jawed, their bikes dirty and 'Heath Robinson' compared to your new Italian thoroughbred. But bike messengers are harder, faster and always cooler than you. They ride over 50 miles every day in all weather, risking death and taxi drivers. They could eat you for breakfast. So show them respect and never overtake them.
The city chameleon
Your environment changes all the time when you're riding in the city. Your clothing needs to adapt to different weather conditions and from hard effort on the bike to off the bike in social and work settings. The key is to wear layers of performance fabrics, styled to work on the bike and look good off it. After all, changing your outfit when you arrive for a meeting or a meal is a waste of time. Keep a rain proof shell, hat and insulating top in your bag with emergency tools. The dreaded waterproof over-trousers have their place, but better still, wear cycling specific jeans or trousers. Get your clothes right and you will flow effortlessly from one mode to another.
Roll-ups are best
A conundrum for any new city rider is how to keep their right trouser leg from flapping into the chain. Let's face it, your bike is too cool to have a chain guard but you don't want your expensive strides caught in the chain or smeared black with oil. Countless solutions exist: reflective velcro-straps, traditional bicycle clips or tucking your right trouser leg into the sock, but only one solution passes the style test. Rolling your right leg up to mid-calf is simple, serious and stylish.
Zen and the art of city riding
It sometimes feels likes a war on the road, with all other vehicles out to kill you and stony faced commuters ready to burn you up at every traffic light. The key to staying safe and sane is focus and calm. 'Souplesse' and 'elegance' are two French words that we should all aspire to on the bike, no less in the city. Rise above the anger and frustration of motorists, relax into your ride and embrace the city around you. You'll cut through the traffic in effortless arcs and your wheels will create beautiful tyre tracks through the city.
Simon Mottram is the founder and CEO of Rapha Racing Ltd.