It’s no surprise then that the hoodie has become the go-to brisk weather garment for the discriminating urban fixed-gear cyclist. Among the things you want for cycling in cold weather are a shell that blocks wind and doesn’t become heavy with moisture, and a head covering that stays on in wind or at high speeds, doesn’t impede peripheral vision, and allows full range of head mobility. A hooded sweatshirt offers none of these things, and thus is a logical choice for cycling.
Now that things are getting a little chilly here in New York I figured it was high time I started shopping for a cycling hoodie to complement my cycling jeans. Here’s just some of what’s out there:
My first requirement in purchasing anything is that the company I’m buying from has a philosophy I can really sink my teeth into. Cadence does:
Taking chances, asking question, providing answers, acknowledging fear, acknowledging love.
Establishing goals, following them, allowing them to change.
Embracing that change...Welcome to the winter project!
Holy crap! These guys sure have my number. I set goals and then change them when they prove to be too difficult all the time. I also embrace change, and I’m looking for answers. More importantly, though, I’m looking for a really cool hooded sweatshirt. So what have they got?
Black on black. Reflective detail on hood. Button base to block neck from elements.
This is a well-though-out garment. The “button base” is a nice touch, and that “reflective detail on hood” is all about protection. Any vehicle approaching me on my left is sure to think twice about running me down, assuming I’m not already under the front wheels by the time the driver gets close enough to notice it. It also has the requisite artificially distressed abstract pattern that will look dated even before my lime green Deep Vs. Best of all, I can tell from the model that this garment embodies the company’s philosophy. He actually looks like he’s taking chances, asking question, providing answers, acknowledging fear, and acknowledging love—all at the same time!
Very tempting, but I owe it to myself to see what else is out there before I buy.
I’ve heard about the Wolfpack thanks to my readers. Apparently their regular moderately-paced ride around Los Angeles is the stuff of legend. Judging from video I’ve seen, it’s also one of the few group rides in the US that includes smoke breaks. What I didn’t realize though was that they were branching into clothing. So what’s their philosophy?
Wolfpack Hustle is dedicated to fixed gear, track and road bike culture in Los Angeles, a city currently dominated by the lowly automobile. No we aren't Olympians or roided-out weekend warrior types... not even close. We are simply here to ride stronger, faster and to assert our rights to these gritty streets.
In addition to riding we have collaborated with Xlarge Clothing to create X-Hustle, a clothing line inspired by our ride that intends to blur the lines between streetwear and functional cycling apparel.
These guys are speaking my language. I hate automobiles! Automobiles are for lame authority figures like my parents, librarians, teachers, postal workers, and municipal employees. Those are the people in whose faces I want to thrust my anti-authoritarian fixed-gear lifestyle! And those LA streets are gritty—the other day some aspiring actor tried to steal my Coffee Bean card! Best of all is the part about blurring the lines. Only roided-out weekend warriors have separate on-the-bike and off-the-bike wardrobes. Me, I want those lines blurrier than a liberal arts college student’s sexual orientation. Oh, yeah, I’m ready to think about buying a hoodie from these guys. What have they got? I scrolled down past the reversible(!) top tube pad and found this:
"American Apparel light-weight fleece"
Made by Xlarge
Made by Xlarge
Sweet! An American Apparel sweatshirt with bikes and wolves on it! But how much does it cost? I couldn’t tell from the Wolfpack site, so I figured I’d extrapolate by visiting the Xlarge site. A bit about Xlarge:
Of course, you can't talk about the early days of XLarge without talking about Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Mike helped Eli and Adam in creating a unique concept for XLarge. XLarge however was and continues to be the brainchild of Eli Bonerz- from first conception to final execution. Blending skateboarding, hip-hop, and art culture, XLarge made an original style fashion out of the mix. After 15 years, XLarge remains an innovator and pioneer in streetwear.
Hip Hop? Skateboarding? Art Culture? Now I’m getting nervous. This may be taking me someplace I don’t want to go. I mean, I started out looking for a cycling hoodie. Now I feel like you do when you’re online looking at regular porn and two hours later you somehow wind up on some weird site with barnyard animals in lingerie using kitchen utensils on each-other. At any rate, I’m going to assume the price of the Wolfpack hoodie is somewhere between the price of the “OG Gorilla Hoodie” ($53.30) and the "All Over Logo Print Hoodie" (description: "logo prints all over,” $60).
Hmmm. This decision’s going to be tougher than I thought.
R.E.Load’s bags and top-tube pads are quite popular, so I decided to look into their clothing. Unfortunately, things started off on the wrong foot, since their sober, austere Protestant work ethic didn’t thrill me nearly as much as the Cadence and Wolfpack philosophies did:
The R.E.Load™ messenger bag was born in early 1998, as a direct response to the lack of durability and features of existing bags on the market. as working Philadelphia messengers, we (Roland and Ellie, the R and E in R.E.Load) began the slow and steady process of continuously improving upon our existing designs so that we might offer possibly the finest bags available worldwide.
Slow and steady?!? Who am I gonna scare with “slow and steady?” I ride a fixed-gear with no brakes! I’m dangerous! All right, on to the sweatshirts:
Special edition print by Emily G. "The cog on the bike goes round and round"! Printed by Outlaw Print Co. on American Apparel California Fleece Zip Hoodies (please see their site for sizing info). Small front print on left side, large back print. Both are two-color.
Sorry, no sale. The adaptation of the children’s song leaves me cold. If I’m going to buy an American Apparel hoodie with a design on it, it’s gonna be from Wolfpack. I want my purchase to be a symbolic act in which I reclaim my portion of the gritty streets, not some tepid celebration of the joy of cycling. Color me disappointed.
Okay, I couldn't find a philosophy here. In fact, I couldn’t find anything—my screen just went black when I plugged in the URL. But then it hit me. Not having a philosophy is even more badass than having a badass philosophy. Plus, the name says it all. Overgeared and turning the pedals over at 30rpms is how I roll. Good so far. So what about the hoodies?
The Outlaw hoodie is really the best thing you will ever own. Zipp Hoodie 50/50 Featuring a detachable face shield that not only protects you from the cold, but also keeps you hidden while committing your favorite crime. Whether it be skidding down your best friends tire, or knocking off the side mirrors of bad motorists, the shield still allows you to breathe freely without moistening your skin. The face shield features 3 eyelets in the front that allow moisture out, and 4 snaps for removal/attachment of piece. The top snaps have 2 options: 1) Regular Head and, 2) Big Head. If Big Head is not big enough, you probably should not be going outside.
The Outlaw hood also features the same pockets in the back as the Jersey Hoodies, which come in handy for holding the face shield, amongst other things: Keys, Tools, Phones, radios, tubes, spray can's, guns, fireworks, explosives, cheeseburgers, small animal's, PSP's, etc...
Cold wash, tumble dry low...
Oh my God. I think I may have just found my sweatshirt. This thing makes the Wolfpack hoodie look like my great-aunt's bra. Firstly, the only thing that says you’re an outlaw louder than wearing something called “outlaw” is wearing something called “outlaw” that also includes detailed washing instructions. Secondly, I want to instill fear in people’s hearts as I ride around town on my bubblegum-colored fixed-gear, and there’s no better way to do that than by looking like a rock-hurling member of the Intifada.
In fact, looking at this garment makes me feel like Alex at the end of “A Clockwork Orange.” My eyes roll back into my head as I slip into a reverie in which I’m riding slowly down a trendy urban street on my fixed-gear freestyler, drawing admiring gazes and waving to women like some kind of cycling Austin Powers. My peripheral vision is only slightly obscured by my Outlaw Hoodie, and as I pass trendy boutique after trendy boutique I suddenly notice a plain brick wall. I dismount my bike in that cool leg-over-the-bars way, reach into the pocket of my Outlaw Hoodie, withdraw a can of spraypaint, and start tagging. I’m halfway through the “N” when I hear that familiar “whoop-whoop.” Uh-oh. It’s the po-po! But one-time’s not gonna do me like that. I cast my paint can aside, hop back on the whip, and tighten the Toshi double straps around my canvas girl-Keds. It takes me a few blocks to get the 49x16 gear up to speed, but once I do I’m flying. As I reach the intersection of Wythe and Metropolitan however I’m unable to stop my brakeless bike and wind up getting hit by a Mini Cooper. Next thing I know I wake up in the Brooklyn House of Detention where I spend the next 24 hours crying and blowing my nose into my detachable face shield.
Okay, well that ended badly, but I’m still quite taken with the garment. The only issue is the price. $75 is pretty steep for a hoodie, even one that comes with it’s own schmata. Before I commit, I find myself considering an intriguing possibility: perhaps I can adapt a non-cycling sweatshirt to cycling use. But where can I find an American-made garment with a hood and a pocket that will be suitable for my purposes? A quick Googling brought me here:
All American Clothing (formerly The Union Jean Co.) first opened in 2003 and is organized under UFCW local 1099. We provide union made and USA made clothing for your individual needs, company/organization, special events or garment fulfillment programs. We supply only USA made products selected from America's best manufacturers! Our current products are made in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia.
BO-ring! Eeew, aren't those red states?!?
OK, let’s see what they have. It looks like I’ve got two options:
Legacy Hooded Pullover -- $31.95
Soft 80% cotton 20% polyester heavy weight fleece pullover hoody. Muff pockets.
Union Made in the USA
Union Made in the USA
Meh. No graphic. How are people going to know it’s a cycling hoodie when I’m off the bike? If you saw me in a store or in a bar you wouldn’t even know I own a fixed-gear! Then there’s this:
Legacy Full Zip Hood -- $32.95
Supersoft 80% cotton/20% polyester heavyweight fleece full zip hooded jacket with kangaroo pockets.
Union Made in the USA
No way. Look at that model! He doesn’t look like he’s “taking chances, asking question, providing answers, acknowledging fear, acknowledging love” like the Cadence guy is. He looks like he’s mulling over the relative attributes of Subway vs. Quiznos. No way I’d wear a sweatshirt like that.
It’s gotta be the Outlaw.