I have no idea if Interbike has anything close to cycle chic this year. You’d hope so as the annual “bro event,” as it was called on The Spokeman podcast a couple of weeks ago started today. Chances are that the focus will be sport rather utility and fashion.. I’m happy to be proved wrong if you are there and have the photos to prove it. But the cycle industry could be missing out on a growing trend that is growing due to people’s own interest and not those of large marketing departments in the cycle industry. IBM’s new Birth of a Trend social sentiment study shows how business can spot emerging trends like this.

Of course, I ride my road bike most days to keep fit, wear Lycra, eat energy bars and wear a helmet. Not very cycle chic I know, but when you ride 50 miles up hills and lanes in the countryside through all weather a degree of comfort is required. For me, that side of my cycling is a sport.

But the rest of the time I do ride a “normal” bike down to the shops. It has mudguards, panniers and thicker tyres. I wear normal clothes but I probably don’t look chic on that either. Hopefully not too similar to Boris. I had my eyes opened when I spent a month in Copenhagen in 2008 when I saw how few people wore any lycra, helmets or high visibility vests. Of course I had read about cycling in Denmark before, but to see it for yourself and the extent to which people ride, it makes you look at your own city.

Cycle industry is always looking to sell more bikes but by and large the major bike companies seem to have missed the cycle chic revolution. I wonder everyday why I see people riding mountain bikes in town. But it is spreading with the help of regular people, enthusiasts, bloggers and fashion brands. To be fair to Giant Bikes they seemed to have teamed up with Levi’s in some of their stores, at least in Taiwan, to sell their cycle-specific range of tops and jeans. Indeed just today The Guardian had a blog on Levi’s everyday cycling clothing. Halfords, of all companies who has been responsible for supplying too many people with cheap mountain bikes, has seen success with a proper town bike called the Somerby, in it’s Victoria Pendleton range.

The thing with cycle chic is that it really shouldn’t be purpose made for cycle clothing, but suitable and stylish for riding a bike. If it is purpose made, it should look good on and off the bike. As for the Tweed Run set.. I tend to see that as something else, it’s chic if you like that sort of thing but it’s not everyday – bit like me on my training rides I guess.

If you have never looked at the copenhagencyclechic.com.com site there is no time like now – it’s regular clothes on regular people on regular bikes. However, I can see the attraction in some of this purpose made stuff, especially if you are doing a fair few miles a day and need a bit of comfort on the bike but don’t want to look like Mark Cavendish or Pavarotti in a boob tube.

Click the image to see the infographic timeline

So back to cycle chic, what the hell is the idea? Simple really. Make people realise that cycling is simple, fun and can actually make our lives better – the last reason is what got me back on a bike (well that and having a garage.) In their own words, “..Cycle Chic blog launched a global movement, a fashion trend and the imminent return of the bicycle as transport to the urban landscape.”

Cycle Chic movement is real and growing. I was touched when I read what Mikael said in his response to the IBM study on the history of CycleChic:

“Who knows where Cycle Chic will end up. The ultimate goal is that it no longer needs to exist because cycling has been reestablished on the urban landscape as transport and is normalised like it is in Copenhagen and the Netherlands.” Mikael Colville-Andersen

The world needs more people like Mikael and it’s getting them. The Cycle Chic Bloggers Conference starts in Budapest today.

Many thanks to Richard at Cyclelicious for this post too where he shares his own history with cycle chic.