The Chainlink

As the weather gets colder, I find myself spending more and more time salivating over stylish bike gear online, but when it comes to clothing, I always like trying the fit before I buy. The problem I find is that most LBS's carry only a smattering of clothes, and the places I know with the bigger selections don't really seem to have my (epic!) tastes in mind. So what's the best place in the city to look for good looking bike clothing?

While I'm at it, I'll tell you what ruins many a nice piece of gear - A giant (insert brand name here) logo splattered all over it.

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another cool aspect of REI (even if you are not a member) is www.rei-outlet.com great prices and free delivery to the store


DB

alex said:
My favorite has been REI lately. You just have to become a member and look out for their sales. I found a $60 pair of waterproof insulated gloves for only $20 at one of their garage sales and ordered some cool rain boots at 25% off

What about Target? I was in there today and they had a ton of athletic gear like base layers and stuff. Anyone have any experience with their stuff? Is it of any decent quality or should I stay away from it? The price seems right, but will I get what I pay for...

I buy most of my clothes at second-hand stores like VDO and such.  They have a ton of good cold-weather gear and fleece jackets in nearly-new shape (I'm just going to beat it up anyhow).  And the prices are incredible.  My wife and I have bought incredible wool and silk warm-weather gear there for pennies on retail.  I got a silk long underwear top there for $2 or $3 that sells at Wintersilks for $48 -and many other similar bargains.

 

More technical cold-weather gear can be got cheap at the REI garage sales (keep an eye out for them at each individual location and mark the dates on your calender).

 

Also there is a place online called GearTrade which is totally amazing.  It's way better than ebay which is such a PITA these days as about the only payment method most sellers accept is paypal (No way I'd ever get a PayPal account after reading all the fine-print in that scary TOS). 

 

GearTrade is awesome and there are tons of good deals from private sellers as well as they seem to be the prefered way of internet gear shops like BackCountry.com which usually has much better prices than REI on their website and doesn't have Brick&Mortar stores to have "Garage Sales" like REI does so they sell returns and such on GearTrade.   I've gotten so many deals on gear there that I can't believe it sometimes.  The only drawback of GearTrade is their website is SLOW as heck.  Sometimes searching is tough -and often many of the people selling have things poorly categorized so items are hard to search for.

 

One other place to buy bike gear is WhiskeyMilitia which is another close-out division of Backcountry.com  and works sort of like Woot's Woot-offs as stuff goes fast there.

 

If one needs to buy something fast and/or one prefers to buy local there is always Moosejaw -which I prefer 10000% over REI.  REI used to be a great company 20 years ago but these days it's more like Walmart than what it used to be -I say that with a heavy heart as a longtime Member.  Erehwon is another choice that I'd pick before going to REI.

Has anyone seen this?

maybe you guys should start shopping places where they sell MEN'S clothing

If you are looking for casual, cycling-specific gear with an eye for style (fellas), I must admit that I've been pleased with items (for which I've spent more $ than I ever imagined I would) from the likes of Outlier and Rapha.  No local retailers from what I can tell, however - mail order only. Both names offer pants which have made me feel well dressed on the bike, and have attracted compliments almost every time I wear them - not to mention performing well technically and fitting beautifully.

 

And I still hold that the winter collar from Rapha is the best piece of winter gear I've ever bought. 

Hey,

Where and what is VDO? I thought I knew all the Chicago thrifts, which are basically the only places I buy anything these days. In fact, most of my winter riding gear is from the Bridgeport and McKinley Park Uniques, which frequently offer new or nearly-new cycling jerseys, tights and jackets. I think I've acquired as many as 15 jackets, including several Illuminite shells. Also an entire inventory of Castelli, Pearl-Izumi and Descente jerseys, most of them new and unworn, for like $4 a piece.

James Baum said:

I buy most of my clothes at second-hand stores like VDO and such.  They have a ton of good cold-weather gear and fleece jackets in nearly-new shape (I'm just going to beat it up anyhow).  And the prices are incredible.  My wife and I have bought incredible wool and silk warm-weather gear there for pennies on retail.  I got a silk long underwear top there for $2 or $3 that sells at Wintersilks for $48 -and many other similar bargains.

 

More technical cold-weather gear can be got cheap at the REI garage sales (keep an eye out for them at each individual location and mark the dates on your calender).

 

Also there is a place online called GearTrade which is totally amazing.  It's way better than ebay which is such a PITA these days as about the only payment method most sellers accept is paypal (No way I'd ever get a PayPal account after reading all the fine-print in that scary TOS). 

 

GearTrade is awesome and there are tons of good deals from private sellers as well as they seem to be the prefered way of internet gear shops like BackCountry.com which usually has much better prices than REI on their website and doesn't have Brick&Mortar stores to have "Garage Sales" like REI does so they sell returns and such on GearTrade.   I've gotten so many deals on gear there that I can't believe it sometimes.  The only drawback of GearTrade is their website is SLOW as heck.  Sometimes searching is tough -and often many of the people selling have things poorly categorized so items are hard to search for.

 

One other place to buy bike gear is WhiskeyMilitia which is another close-out division of Backcountry.com  and works sort of like Woot's Woot-offs as stuff goes fast there.

 

If one needs to buy something fast and/or one prefers to buy local there is always Moosejaw -which I prefer 10000% over REI.  REI used to be a great company 20 years ago but these days it's more like Walmart than what it used to be -I say that with a heavy heart as a longtime Member.  Erehwon is another choice that I'd pick before going to REI.

I think he's talking about Village Discount Outlet: http://www.vdoil.com/ .  Lots of area stores, digging required but I've found lots of good buys.  

Thanks Julie -I assumed everyone who lives in Chi knew what VDO is -they are EVERYWHERE.  The best thing about them is the colored tag system they use to mark their items.  I don't think I've ever been in a VDO when at least 2 or 3 of the colors for the tags were on sale half-priced.  Usually I fixate only on the items that are half-off unless it is something I really want/need.

 

Yeah, I'm REALLY tight...

 

My only issue with VDO is the way they tag the shoes by piercing them sometimes with the tags and staples.  They aren't the only thrift store to do this.  It really annoys me to see a HOLE through an otherwise nice pair of shoes.  That's a horrible way to treat a pair of Cole-Hahns or New & Lingwoods in nearly-new condition!  It's sacralige if you ask me -and yes, you can find some really high-end shoes in a second-hand store because your average person is pretty ignorant about quality in today's throw-away culture.  You wouldn't believe what people throw out or sell for nothing.   I hate junk shoes but I won't pass up a quality used pair.

 

My wife found a Tumi bag at a garage sale for $10 because it was ripping out.  She bought it and sent it back to Tumi and got a credit for another $400 bag of her choosing since it was out of production.   I guess they didn't know about Tumi's excellent repair/replace policies ;)

 

I never buy anything at retail if I can help it -why?  You can find high-end items that other people just get rid of and end up at garage sales or second-hand stores :-D

Didn't realize VDO referred to Village Discount. Of course. I much prefer Unique, personally. Better organized and not quite as dirty, although they are also heavy on the staples. They even put a pair of staples through the BRIM of a fur felt Borsalino fedora. Unthinkable.



Joe TV said:

If you are looking for casual, cycling-specific gear with an eye for style (fellas), I must admit that I've been pleased with items (for which I've spent more $ than I ever imagined I would) from the likes of Outlier and Rapha.  No local retailers from what I can tell, however - mail order only. Both names offer pants which have made me feel well dressed on the bike, and have attracted compliments almost every time I wear them - not to mention performing well technically and fitting beautifully.

 

And I still hold that the winter collar from Rapha is the best piece of winter gear I've ever bought. 

Tati cycles I think has or will stock ralpha and outlier apparel. 

 

campmor and sierra trading post might have good (enough) prices on lots of things, though you should look at the philosophy of the STP owners if it's important to you before buying from them. 

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