How is it that road riding and mountain biking fashions are just so different?

I’m a lover of all types of bike and I fervently believe that both road riding and mountain biking have a special certain something that prevents me from ever giving either of them up - and subsequently keeps my garage over-full. 

Mountain biking is just pure, unadulterated fun. There’s something so childlike about tearing through the countryside with mud on your face and bits of leaves in your hair.

For me, road riding is all about smooth, near-silent progress through the countryside. Sometimes in the sunshine at speed, sometimes with the wind in my teeth and blocks of ice where my toes should be. I love the way I feel the details of my surroundings blur into insignificance in the face of the ceaseless turning of the pedals.

Of course, that blur could just be exhaustion or road buzz making my vision go squirly.

Mountain biking, on the other hand, is just pure, unadulterated fun. There’s something so childlike about tearing through the countryside with mud on your face and bits of leaves (and on occasion, caterpillars) in your hair.

Even on the dry dusty trails of summer, there are muddy puddles to be found and splashed through, plus there’s no better fake tan for legs than trail dust stuck to sweat!

Obviously, there are practical reasons for road cycling kit being so minimalist and neat, and for mountain biking kit being looser and tougher (body armour anyone?).

But mostly it’s a style and habit sort of thing.

I’ll admit though, I have a definite preference for mountain bike gear to road kit. It’s not JUST the whole tight lycra thing, although that’s certainly part of it. Whilst I love some of the great new women’s road kit that’s being designed – Morvelo (above) and Rapha being two particularly outstanding examples – it just feels all a bit too serious for the most part. Yes, there are some sleek and stylish outfits to be put together, and even some humour here and there, but ultimately road kit, in my mind at least, is quite sensible.

Mountain bike clothing allows women riders to simultaneously celebrate their femininity and indulge their inner tomboy.

Not so mountain bike kit. The whole lary, mad, technicolour test card world is your oyster if fat tyre fun is your thing. I’m not even sure how or why mountain bike fashions became so varied, unless it’s entirely down to their roots in the extreme sports world.

If I want to go rattling around my local trail centre wearing bright red star-patterned baggy shorts with a loose slogan-bedecked shirt and turquoise shoes, I can. And I probably will.

While road cycling kit for women (and men) is all about form fitting sleek styles, mountain bike clothing allows women riders to simultaneously both celebrate their femininity – pink is way more acceptable off-road than on for some reason - and also indulge their inner tomboy.

The looser, less revealing styles for off-road riding can also be a godsend to each and every woman with a less than confident relationship with her figure. There is, perhaps, a greater confidence in how the body performs rather than how it looks to others. Oh, and did I mention the fun factor?

Honestly, if I could get away with wearing my starry baggies on my road bike I would. Instead, I’ll be the one buying the bonkers lycra jerseys that are in the sale because they’re too lary.


VeloVixen says: for the record, we're all about mixing it up and breaking down barriers between different kinds of cycling - if you like a piece of kit, it'll probably do you perfectly for your kind of cycling!

Some VeloVixen mountain biking faves...

... and dazzling proof that road kit can be fun too!