Not all of us mountain bikers live and work in our playgrounds. Some of us make the weary trudge from the North Downs into London every day, past the shiny new multi-story bike racks at Waterloo and onwards into the heart of the town.
We all know London as a city of diversity but its greatest display of this seems to be in its silent cycling revolution. Probably driven by new materials technology, bikes being fashionable again and showers in the workplace; all of a sudden the commute on wheels is back in vogue. Walking through the city (sorry but I cannot stomach a folding bike), it seems like the cyclists are breeding day by day and what a diverse bunch they are. From Bromptons to 'fixes' (with stupid tiny bars) to disc wheels to ladies town bikes a nd the odd racer; the bikes all rub shoulders at traffic lights with bike couriers and other road users. Long live the revolution I say, more bikes means more bike awareness and thus hopefully safer roads.
When it comes to clothing however there is currently less on offer. Some try and cycle in work clothes and casual wear while some seem to want to sport the 'b'spoke' look of Victorian London. Most however look like they have been 'done' on the 'cycle to work' scheme by paying as much in accessories as they did for their bike (certain shops must be rubbing their hands) while being wrapped in the latest £300 gore wear on shiny new bikes. So where do you go for a bit of style? Well up to recently it was a bit of a struggle and with my old raceface shore jacket looking tired, I started the hunt. When I found out Charge were launching a brand called Surface I was instantly interested and after much waiting I got my hands on the 'aquaphobic wool jacket'.
First off – it isn't wool but nylon but looks convincingly 'herringbone'. Its cut in a really nice skinny style and looks great on, and off the bike while being waterproof and more than well designed for riding. All the usual features abound but this jacket actually has a nice high collar that doesn't cut into your neck and practical pockets. The best bit however is that the sleeves actually fit the extended arm position of riding and the cuffs have an internal baffle to keep out the wind and the rain. The only puzzling feature (or missing feature) is the reported 'i-dock' (which I presumed meant some kind of hole for your headphones) but try as I might I cannot find this anywhere!! The jacket is light, packs away small, is by far the most stylish I have seen (even if I do say so myself) and is making the other cyclists in my office jealous.
t's not cheap at 120 notes but then it is likely to be sold in small numbers and while being initially dubious at the cost I'm strangely swayed to thinking it is good value. The only downside is the sun which means I can't wear the thing at the moment. So a great jacket, keeps out the elements, looks good down the pub, everyone wants one – What more do you need? Well £120 to be precise so not its not likely to be everyone's bag (and I don't want you all to have one either!) Charge have definitely added to the style factor on bikes and I hope a few more manufacturers realise you can look good and ride a bike; instead of looking like you have been poly-wrapped in a luminous bin bag.
Welcome to the jungle - now I have something to wear amongst the concrete trees and the road warriors.
So a great jacket, keeps out the elements, looks good down the pub, everyone wants one – What more do you need?
More information: www.surface-clothing.com