James has scoured the streets for sustainable cycling brands. Here are his picks and why it pays to be environmentally conscious when you’ve got a new hobby every other week.
For me, this lockdown has been all about a different C word — cycling.
Walk around Sydney on any sunny Sunday and you’ll realise I’m not the only one. There are gyms-worth of lycra-clad muscle pumping around roads in our major cities right now.
However, if you’re anything like me, you cycle (yes, pun absolutely intended) through hobbies on a fairly frequent basis — jack of all hobbies, master of none.
The problem with hobbies is they can require a whole new set of equipment. Very quickly in my cycling days I decided to upgrade my bike, then my shirt to a cycling jersey, then my shorts to cycling bibs, then my shoes to cleats. Every upgrade was entirely necessary and absolutely justifiable.
Suddenly I was buying arm warmers, gloves and gilets (cycling weatherproof vests) — and yeah, I admit, those weren’t quite as necessary, but they sure were good! Before I knew it, I’m now kitted out in lycra, hobbling to my local cafe with plastic cleats on for a mid-ride coffee with all the other MAMIL’s (Middle-Aged Man In Lycra).
But it got me thinking – this whole cycling through my hobbies thing – about the impact I’m really having. Maybe I’ll give up cycling in the future. What happens then, to all my cycling kit? I don’t want my hobby to last 1000 years, and I don’t want my stuff to either.
This motivated me to check out some environmentally friendly cycling gear when I started purchasing my own.
So, here’s a list of cycling brands doing good business for the planet. By purchasing from them, you know that your hobby isn’t doing as much damage as traditional manufacturing — in some cases it even has a positive impact — and you can keep cycling through hobbies with a clean conscious.
OORR is an Australian based cycling brand that started in 2013. They drop limited releases three times a year and they’re mighty popular; pre-orders book out quicker than you can think of a clever name for your recent Strava upload.
They’re our fellow B-Corp brethren, donate 50% of their profits to environmental causes, and plant five – yes five – trees for every garment they sell.
Their cycling kit is made from recycled polyester PET bottles, meaning your hobby is literally stopping other people’s hobbies (if chucking plastic bottles into the ocean is your thing) from sitting around forever.
They’ve developed a new fabric infused with coffee grinds, increasing surface area. It means your jersey absorbs more sweat, cools you down quicker and — because it’s coffee — it’s naturally odour resistant.
Presca calculate that they’ve saved over 32,000 days of drinking water with their latest collection alone – and they’ve been making sustainable cycling kit since 2014.
Everything is made from recycled materials — such as plastic bottles, fishnets and elastane — in factories 100% powered by renewables. Presca products are Carbon Positive products — that is, Presca offset the carbon created in manufacturing the product. Chuck a kudos on that!
Carbon Positive production, and Presca also cares about what you do with their products when you’re done. Send it back, and they’ll turn it into a new piece, or repair it if they can.
Founded by retired pro-cycling twins, Isadore is the perfect kit to see you hitting the roads while looking fly.
They innovate with fun materials like merino wool, and TENCEL – fibres made from Eucalyptus tree pulp. Any offcuts? The Patchwork Range is constructed from the offcuts of other products. Personally, the funky patterns and colours just make me look more retro – and that’s a vibe.
Most importantly, if you take that tight corner just a little too fast, they’ll repair anything that’s broken for free.’
If you swipe right to sustainability, you’ll get a match with French brand Matchy. (yeah, couldn’t help myself).
If you live in Annecy, France, they’ll deliver your order by bike. Like Ubereats, but for cycling kit. For everyone else, they use 100% compostable packaging, so you can unwrap with pleasure.
They plant a tree for every order, and when your kit is damaged or worn out, send it back and they’ll turn it into something new. (Don’t worry, they don’t dig up trees for each piece of damaged kit returned).
Their ‘Pure Range‘ below is also made from 100% recycled material.
When it comes to aerodynamics, sunnies are essential (or so I’ve convinced myself at least). By wearing Sungod Sunnies, I’m making a statement to the peloton: I’m here to go fast, and I love the planet.
Sungod Sunnies are made from fully recycled frames and come with a lifetime guarantee. Lifetime of plastic, that is. So it should cover you for the next 70 years at least.
These guys are so hardcore for the planet even the microfibre pouch included with each pair is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and 1% of the profits are given away to help save the planet.
Bike Maintenance – Mountain Flow
If they advertised the amount of bike maintenance that came with picking up cycling as a hobby, I estimate far fewer people would ever take up the pedals. Sometimes I wonder if my hobby is bike riding or bike upkeep — screw tightening, cable adjusting, tyre replacing and that’s not even starting on the chain.
I hate the sticky, gritty black filth that layers my chain, and I hate chain maintenance. And the planet hates it too.
Traditional degreaser is packed with kerosene and paraffin – two chemicals that definitely don’t sound ‘all natural.’ They pollute waterways and our beaches and oceans, and they’re so toxic that they react with sunlight causing ‘ground-level ozone’, affecting air quality and human health.
Mountain Flow hates plastic too – they have wooden chain brushes, and all their packaging is minimising plastic as much as possible; the lube comes in bottles made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
I still hate bike maintenance, but I feel a little better every time, knowing that the planet isn’t hating it too.
If you haven’t yet tried cycling, you really should. It’s an epic way to explore your LGA and hopefully further afield while staying fit and racking up the Strava recognition.
You can also feel better about spending on your cycling craze when it’s towards brands making an effort to be sustainable.
When all your gear is this recycled, maybe those arm warmers really are justifiable after all…
Cover Image by OORR