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Every item we feature is objectively selected by our editorial team. If you purchase an item through our links, we may earn commission. Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.

A Better Life on Two Wheels

Upgraded cycling essentials where form meets function.

A photograph of Firefly Bicycle Shop at Firefly Bicycles

I’VE LIVED NEARLY my entire life on two wheels. Mountain bikes, BMX bikes, motorcycles, road bikes — I love and ride them all. I’m not sure what drew me to them, but my addiction started at about four years old, and the adrenaline rush of flying down a winding road or jumping through the air has never lost its allure.

I’m fortunate to live in the Bay Area, generally considered a biker’s paradise. From road biking to mountain biking, the area provides options for even the most finicky and well-traveled riders. I’ve been told that there are over a million miles of publicly accessible off-road cycling trails in California alone, many of which run past stunning coastline and through redwood forests.

I’ve never been one to pay much mind to higher-end cycling gear. The basics tend to do me just fine. Function over form, I suppose? I’m realizing, however, that many of the routes around my home do require a bit more than your run-of-the-mill equipment and accessories.

So I started digging into elevated goods where form and function meet. Below are my recommendations for upgraded biking essentials that strike that perfect balance between quality and style.

Shop at Pas Normal

Pas Normal Essential Collection

The Perfect Kit

I was first introduced to Pas Normal on a film project I worked on documenting two cyclists riding 240 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge to Yosemite in a single day. Both riders were dressed head to toe in the Danish brand, found on fashion-forward online retailers including Mr. Porter, SSENSE, and Farfetch. The first thing that caught my eye was the colors. With shades of olive green, off-white, and dusty blue, the palette is neutral, subtle, and unexpected. Even with my tenuous grasp of fashion, I was able to pull together a variety of hues that felt like they could have come from a stylist. Trying a few items from their Essential collection on a 40-mile ride, my kit included a bib, jersey, shell jacket, and socks. I quickly noticed that each item fit true to size without any bunching. I’ve long struggled with bike gear bunching at my knees and elbows, or the spandex being too tight in the arms and legs. Every item fit as if it were customized. I’m typically adjusting my kit while riding, but during this ride I didn’t even have to think about it — a clear sign the clothes are doing their job. I received so many compliments wearing the kit that it was tempting to keep it on even after the ride. SHOP NOW

Shop at Breitling

Breitling Endurance Pro

The Watch: Light Enough for Play, Luxe Enough for Every Day

I’m not one for accessories, especially while exercising. I prefer to keep it simple with as few items as possible, especially if I’m about to subject myself to an arduous activity. While I do occasionally wear a watch, the thought of doing so while biking has never crossed my mind. When I was introduced to the Breitling Endurance Pro, I was surprised that such a rugged, substantial design could be so light. Watches of this size and build typically have a weight to them. Wearing it during a long ride, I completely forgot it was there. It’s built for athletes, without looking like a sports watch. I assumed the body was made of carbon fiber but it’s actually a “Breitlight” material — 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than stainless steel. Available in a variety of colors like navy, white, red, and orange, it’s a great option for a versatile, light-as-air timepiece that can be dressed up or down. SHOP NOW

Shop at Firefly Bicycles

Firefly Bicycle

The Last Bike You’ll Ever Buy

Purchasing a Firefly bike has been a dream of mine since their founder and lead builder started the company back in 2011. These are the bikes dreams are made of. Full disclosure, I do not own one — not yet anyway. I know many people who have had one (or two) custom built, and I hear nothing but resounding praise. I even created a film showcasing their entire build process, which gave me a firsthand look into the level of detail that goes into creating each frame. Each bike is custom built, with everything from the paint job to the accessories handpicked to complement the rider’s unique style and personality (there are some mouthwateringly beautiful builds out there). The care and dedication that goes into each one is evident in the details; if you look closely at the welds along each joint in the bike, you’ll see the work of an artist, a sign the bike is going to be a strong partner for years to come. SHOP NOW

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Our Contributors

Stebs Schinnerer Photographer

Stebs Schinnerer is a Bay Area director and director of photography. He specializes in documentary storytelling for commercial and editorial clients around the world.

Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator

Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.

Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.

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