John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
For the performance benefits, of course.
For never-nudes who get forced into a World Naked Bike Ride, there's this: Lycra cycling outfits made to look like fleshy near-naked bodies, complete with your choice of cleavage or a six-pack.
Podium Cycling, a bike-gear company in Gainesville, Florida, is selling the "Skinsuits" for $149.95 a pop. Podium claims the eye-catching costumes are not just meant to get you noticed, but have real performance benefits. For instance, there is a "leg gripper" that prevents "flapping" (I assume that's a reference to fabric and not anatomy). Then there's this sentence, which unfortunately sounds like it came from the mouth of Buffalo Bill: "[A]s a result of the quality zippered design, you'll have no trouble slipping in and out of this skinsuit."
But who are these guys kidding? The main reason to buy one of these things is for a laugh. Interestingly enough, though, the sight of an almost butt-naked rider might carry safety benefits, according to vehicle-insurance provider ETA. Here's how:
Research carried out by Bath University revealed that drivers leave a much wider berth when passing a female rider with long hair. Traffic psychologist, Dr Ian Walker donned a long wig to see whether there was any difference in passing distance when drivers thought they were overtaking what appeared to be a woman on a bicycle. When wearing the wig, drivers gave him an average of 14 centimetres more space when passing. Wearing the bikini version of the skinsuit above is likely to get the same reaction.
Or distracted male drivers will crash into oncoming traffic, but whatever – the important thing is that people are noticing your skinsuit! Have a closer look at these babies:
Images from Podium Cycling