dhb has long been a popular choice for female cyclists. The brand believes in identifying and meeting the needs of women and ensures that all their innovation and technology is available for women too. It helps that so many members of the team behind dhb are women who ride, run and tri together as the ‘dhbaes’. They design, they develop, they market, and they manage the commercial side too.
We spoke to some of the dhbaes to find out more about how they create their women’s collections.
What specific considerations to you take into account when designing for women?
Steph (designer): ‘Anatomy for sure; boobs, sizing, shape, padding etc. Also, women are on average 5 degrees colder than men so wear more layers, which is important when we’re looking at building outfits.
‘Women are generally more attracted to more design detail, different prints, styles, fabrics and colours. Men tend to be more into detail and anything tech orientated or aero.’
Rebecca (designer): 'There is a lot more to designing for women than ‘shrink and pink.’ Ergonomically they are completely different to men. If we’re not sympathetic to women’s design, we could negatively affect their comfort and experience of cycling.
‘It’s important to consider fashion trends when designing for women, and we draw inspiration from an array of sources from current cycle designs to catwalk trends and even car museums!
‘Women are far more in tune with the touch and feel of a garment. Testing women’s garments is also vital because women ask for a lot of things, including extra support…as well as the capability to go to the toilet.’
Are there any differences in your processes when designing for women?
Steph: ‘Most dhb products are available for both men and women, but with different pads, straps, and colours to work better for women. The new Aeron bib shorts (launching mid-2019) have brand new, women-specific bib straps we’ve been testing for ages. The jerseys have subtle prints, and seamlines have been changed slightly to be more feminine.’
Hannah (Developer): ‘We also ensure we fit everything on female cyclists to check that it’s fit for purpose. We have a bike set-up on a turbo trainer in the office, and we often pull in team members as well as ambassadors to check our fit is on point.’
What’s your personal favourite dhb piece?
Steph: ‘The halterneck bib tights. Great for pee stops, especially if you’ve got loads of layers on! Also, I can’t wait to get my hands on the new sleeveless Aeron jersey (due mid 2019). I designed it, and it’ll be a real women’s only style.’
Rebecca: ‘My lightweight mesh base layers. I love them because they’re soft and wick sweat really well! They have even crept into my everyday wear and I wear them underneath t-shirts as warmers. I will wear them between about 6 and 26 degrees and I have them in all the sleeve lengths. The best ones are the Blok print ones!
‘I’ve also got to give a shout out to the MTB jacket which is just a fantastic waterproof jacket, and always makes me feel protected. Plus, the cut is fabulous!’
Kirsty (Marketing Manager): I’ve worn my Aeron Hybrid jacket loads last winter, so it’s got to be that. It’s windproof at the front, but breathable at the back, so it’s great for tougher rides when it’s cold but I’m still working up a sweat!’
Hannah: ‘My lightweight merino jersey for summer. It’s soft and not sweaty when it’s warm. The pockets are bigger than usual, and I love extra pockets. For winter, it’s my merino base layer – extra warm and comfy.’
Annie (Designer): ‘I’ve been testing our new Run collection (launching Spring 2019) and I absolutely love the new leggings and long sleeve top. I ran around New York to put them through their paces, and they were great.’
Jess (Developer and UK National Keirin Champion!): ‘Our new Aeron Ultra shorts. They’re due to launch in the summer, but I’ve been testing them for ages. They are the most comfortable shorts I’ve ever worn (and I’ve worn a lot!) but they are also really flattering. There are extra pockets which are handy on long training rides, and the grippers are insanely good.‘
What barriers have you had to overcome within cycling?
Steph: ‘Being rubbish in the wind and rain- good kit helps but it’s a never-ending battle! I also used to hate cycling shorts, but now I’ve found dhb which is ace! The new Aeron ones (with the Paris HP pad) is super comfy.’
Rebecca: ‘There have been a few that I have broken! One was strength; I hated being the slowest in the group, so I used to go out by myself and ride up and down the hills until I could keep up with everyone, and now I have even started developing baby abs!
‘Similarly, was confidence, but I’ve gained a lot of confidence while cycling, and I’m now comfortable going out in groups which used to be scary!
‘Lastly was the idea of mountains, real and metaphorical! But last year, I climbed 1000m in one go AND did the Red Bull Time Laps event. These were huge achievements for me that I never thought I’d ever be able to do.’
What’s the best thing about cycling for you?
Hannah: ‘I love being in a group of people and exploring new areas. Visiting little towns that I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t of been on my bike. Riding with the dhbaes pushes me to improve and I learn new things about riding - everything from kit to fixing my bike. But mainly it’s all about the cake.’
Kirsty: ‘I love the places it can take you… for free! It’s such a great way to explore new places and get to really know familiar places. I like that it improves my fitness as well as being a great way to spend time outdoors with friends, justify amazing food, and give you a real sense of achievement.’
Steph: ‘I looooove being outside, the ups, the downs, the socialising, learning about bikes, training hard, getting to the top of reaaaally big hills, getting lost, touring- all of it! I love riding with the dhbaes because they are AMAZING. They work hard, they are inspirational, we have good chat, and we go for lots of coffee stops. Good times.’
Rebecca: ‘It was the bonding agent between me and my dad, so it has a very special place in my heart. It’s also something I do with my boyfriend, and a way for me to de-stress and make friends.
‘I like it because after I broke the limit of distance, I feel I can go anywhere on a bike.
‘I really love our dhbae rides. It’s been a great feeling to now be part of the group, having previously been the one lagging behind. It’s purely down to everyone wanting me to succeed. The women I ride with are hugely inspiring – some are ultra-marathon runners, some have cycled across Europe and one is even a National cycling champion! I couldn’t be luckier to have such an amazing and supportive peloton.’