VeloClub is CyclingTips’ membership program which brings us closer to our members, and connects likeminded cycling enthusiasts.
Here at CyclingTips, we love working with new cycling brands and the passionate creatives behind them. Today we’re pleased to be featuring the latest kit from skinsuit-only brand, Kern Cycling, available exclusively at the CyclingTips Emporium for a limited time only.
Photography by Andy Rogers
The skinsuit, usually reserved for elite time trialists or track cyclists, is slowly creeping its way into the wardrobes of amateur cyclists who want that aero advantage in their local race, or simply want to show off in their local bunch.
But while skinsuits (or “skinnies”) are becoming more and more common on the road, cycling apparel brands are still somewhat reluctant to add them to their range and options are limited as a result.
A brand that has chosen to focus solely on skinsuits is Kern Cycling. We spoke to founder, and friend of CyclingTips (you’ll notice his design flair in our new VeloClub kit), Greg Thorne (below), about his brand and why he has decided to focus purely on skinnies.
“I got really into wearing skinsuits a few years back when I borrowed the MTB world champion skinsuit off my mate Paul Van der Ploeg,” says Greg. “It felt pretty ridiculous at first but was incredibly comfy and I felt fast … really fast.
“I work as a Graphic designer and have always had a love for fashion. I started to look for skinsuits that I thought looked cool and would want to buy. I realised that the majority of skinsuits were pretty ugly; there seemed to be a general theme of gimmicky designs and skinsuits seemed like a bit of a joke item.
“I found this frustrating as skinsuits are the natural progression of cycling kit. They provide the most aerodynamic advantage out of anything you can buy for your body or bike.”
And while deep dish race wheels are a common sight in just about any weekend bunch or race, research suggests the biggest bang for your buck for an aero advantage is a good body position and an aerodynamic skinsuit.
Greg is an established graphic designer with a love for letters and typography, which is highlighted in his latest men’s and women’s skinsuits.
“‘Kerning’ is a graphic design/typography specific term. It means to adjust the spacing between individual letters in a word, so that the word appears more visually pleasing ,” says Greg. “For me it implies an attention to detail and an appraisal to the creative process.
“The name ‘Kern’ has dictated the company’s visual flair. I use typography as the main graphic elements for the designs and all of my designs have very considered design themes.’
While the brand is the sole creation of Greg, he sees the vibrant Melbourne cycling community that Kern is part of as key to the brand’s success.
“I am a huge advocate for collaboration and have worked alongside brands and industry professionals from the start to build Kern to what it is today. There’s an incredible abundance of cycling brands and companies in Melbourne, Australia, I like to think my brand fits harmoniously amongst them.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone creating beautiful and functional cycling products and love working alongside and collaborating with them to build the industry here.
“I got into cycling from injury actually. I used to be a competitive rugby union player but always suffered with injuries because of the nature of the sport. After a few serious ones I gave it a rest, but as most sports-mad people will understand I have a lust for exercise and a competitive drive that wouldn’t allow me to be inactive. I looked for a sport I could absolutely flog myself in physically without flaring up my rugby injuries.
“I was also drawn to the effortless style and insufferable coolness I had seen from riders in Grand Tour races. I wanted a piece of the action.”
Greg is very much a consumer first, and hopes to change the way big brands think about cycling apparel, through his own brand.
“Ultimately I’m a consumer, I want to buy beautiful kit as well as create it myself,” he says. “Another drive for me was that I wanted to make a women’s specific skinsuit. I have a lot of friends who are very impressive female cyclists and have watched them struggle with skinsuits that aren’t women’s specific.
“My manufacturer is widely regarded as the industry leader in speedwear in cycling. Their most recent accolades include the race suit that Greg Van Avermaet and Anna van der Breggen won the Rio Olympics road races in (the same foundation that my skinsuits are built on) as well as all the Belgian, German and Dutch track teams skinsuits.”
Of course, we know that wearing a skinsuit can be daunting at first, so here are Greg’s tips on wearing a skinsuit correctly:
1. Mindset is key and the skinsuit is a state of mind. When you rock up to a ride/race and you’re wearing a skinsuit, no one thinks you’re going to be hanging off the back. (and if you are, a skinsuit will definitely help)
2. Contrary to popular belief the skinsuit is not a limited-use garment. Wear it racing, commuting, training, drinking, eating, shopping and almost certainly around the house when you’re expecting guests or handymen.
3. Treat your skinsuit with care. Wash separately in a cold ‘delicates’ wash. I place mine in a pillowcase and leave a radio next to it while it’s drying. It seems to dry softer while listening to Orinoco Flow by Enya.
4. Skinsuits are designed to be ‘skin’ tight. However if you’re not 100% satisfied with the length of your sleeves or the way it sits on your muffin top, have it tailored. Most alterations shops can work wonders on all your cycling gear.
5. Always remember: style is the answer to everything.
You can find the latest skinsuit from Kern Cycling in both men’s and women’s specific options at the CyclingTips Emporium now. And if you’re in Melbourne you’ll also notice it at a few of the big races this summer.
“The ‘K2: Gradient’ skinsuit is all about the relationship between men and women in cycling,” Greg says. “We have two kits which have a similar design but different colour profiles to represent the two sexes. The gradients (colour shifts within the letterforms) are colour coded to represent men (turquoise) and women (fuchsia).
“I have also started a race team, Maker// Flanders, supported by some incredible brands including Flanders Cycles who I designed a custom team edition roadbike for, to match the kit. I’ve been loving building the team and watching them tear shreds at road races and crits here. We have a few riders racing the Australian Road National Championships as well as the Bay Crits and Shimano Supercrit. I’ll be putting a lot of effort into supporting the team in the year to come as well as expanding the Kern Cycling range, currently in the pipeline.”
The K2: Gradient Skinsuit is available for a limited time only.