Feminized Athletic Wear Sucks

March 24, 2013 § 4 Comments

If you’ve biked down the 1 in the west coast, you’ve probably seen directional signs along the way by The Three Amigo’s. The Pacific Coast bike route is in decent repair and mostly well signed, but some roads are unsigned and some turns confusing. In those times, you can pretty reliably find spray painted in the bike lane a big arrow pointing you the right way labeled “Three Amigo’s” with the year they were there. Super helpful, all the way down the coast.

In 2007, I rolled into the hiker/biker site in Gaviota State Park to find none other than The Three Amigos in real life..!

Gaviota State Park

Three Amigos, Gaviota State Park 2007

Totally. Cool. Dudes.

They’d biked the coast so many times that they were doing it again on single gears with nothing but sleeping bags and a change of clothes. While we woke up to unpack our mess kits and cook breakfast, they woke up to bike to a hotel with free breakfast that they’d scoped out.

When we first met them (the night before that photo was taken) two of them were rockin’ flannel shirts and bike shorts. The next day they were also wearing what seemed like whatever.

This is exactly what I’d like to wear – whatever. But sometimes whatever chafes and doesn’t breathe that well. Sometimes, whatever smells terrible after like, an hour, and retains all the colors of all the things you’ve dropped on it. In other words, what suffices at whatever in normal life, is actually more trouble than it’s worth in bike life.

For years, I feel like my only option was ugly pink crap like this when I walked into the bike store. In an effort to appeal to female cyclists, companies made exactly the thing that I would never buy (ugliness aside, marketing pink as a gendered product – because let’s be honest, the same clothes decidedly are never offered in men’s sizes – smells a little too much of the history of sexism in marketing for my tastes). I’ll take the men’s extra small in neutral colors please.

Some brands are taking note – Beta Brand’s Women’s bike to work pants for example:


Practical, demure, and like, whatever. They’re pants, they help you not get hit by cars, and they don’t make you look like a 13 year old dressed up as princess on Halloween. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for, but there it is. Beta Brand and companies like it are certainly helping to shift the absurd apparel gender divide, but their products are still more than a little too pricey for the average cyclist (and if you look at their whole catalog, they still have more practical men’s cycling clothes than women’s).

When it comes to practical things that aren’t stupid looking (and last forever!), I still look to REI. If you’re looking for something to spend your dividend on this year, look no further than their women’s cycling wear!

Novara Haisley Woven Bike Top

Gender equity in athletic wear is obviously just facet in a world seeped in accidentally reinforcing gender stereotypes, but it’s one that I’m just as happy to get rid of as the rest.

Viva la women’s cycling flannel!


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