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Riding or racing a bicycle has, for many, a romantic aura. When the first precursor to the lightweights we now ride appeared, Baron Karl von Drais’ ‘Laufmaschine’, it was regarded as an eccentric accessory for the romantic gentleman or ‘dandy’ and thus dubbed the Dandy Horse. The ‘dandy’ may today be used as a derogatory slur for an 'overdressed fop', but figures such as George ‘Beau’ Brummell showed the self-made, non-aristocratic male how to pursue leisurely hobbies and embrace refinement and high society. Contraptions such as this newly invented Velocipide were facets of the high-brow culture of dandyism.
The cravat wearing Brummell strived to perfect the forms of appearance with understated and subtle beauty. He is credited with establishing the modern man’s suit, something which Rapha and Timothy Everset recently made innovations in for the modern cyclist. And modern is the word. Whilst the dandy of the 18th and 19th centuries dressed in an aristocratic style, his habits of dress and fashion broke with past traditions. Dandyism can be associated with living in style and the sartorial cyclist can be seen as a contemporary dandy, a man of refined taste and gallant progression.
(Of course there also exists the female dandy, historically termed the quaintrelle).
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