By Mark Deterline – A few years ago, after disappointment in the quality and service provided by a clothing supplier to our women's and men's elite bike racing team in Northern California, we switched to DNA Cycling. The entire team, especially our women, loved every thing about the clothing line, including the fit of the smaller sizes, the women's and men's specific insert pads and the technical performance of each item.
[Editor's Note: Prior to his untimely death in July 2019, Mark Deterline coached some of Utah’s and California’s top cyclists, as well as triathletes, distance runners, cross-country skiers, motocross racers and boxers. This article was originally written in 2016.]
As owner and manager of the team, I loved working with DNA Cycling so much that I had my own brand's custom clothing done by them, and have never been disappointed.
Am I sponsored or supported in any way by DNA? Nope. Do I stand to gain anything by promoting them? Nope. They advertise with this publication, but all of that was in place via the publisher long before I was hired as assistant editor. Am I personally partial to certain brands? Yup, as evidenced by my cycling team's former list of sponsors — all longtime personal favorites of mine.
As a technical cycling journalist over many years for Triathlete Magazine, Lava Magazine, and as translator and sometimes online journalist for VeloNews, I had the opportunity to test many brands and models of clothing over several years, much of it excellent. Did I ever try anything I liked better than DNA? Never.
My association with DNA Cycling manufacturing quality actually goes back further than my acquaintance with the company itself. While living in Italy and working in the famed cycling region of “il Veneto,” where bike companies abound, I had the opportunity to use clothing produced by Ronni and Donatella, who have formed a mutually beneficial collaboration with DNA Cycling, which now helps drive innovation in technical features and design.
One of the cool things about DNA Cycling is not the “what” but the “why.” Drive Marketing is a very successful custom corporate shwag designer and manufacturer, the company that founded the clothing brand. If you want a custom corporate clothing articles, bags, nicknacks, awards, utility products or pretty-much-anything items, you can call Drive Marketing. I have been to their offices for meetings, team launches, strategic marketing pow-wows and design sessions. I can't be in there without thinking: Wow, that's cool, I should have them do something like that for me.
So, DNA Cycling doesn't exist solely to make money, but rather to do something cool that they are excited to do well — every day. They've invited me to go on bike rides, to come fit some of them on their bikes, to see what they're doing in the way of products for women, and that might make my coached and team riders happier.
But don't take my word for it, talk to cyclists — male and female, younger and older — who have ridden and competed countless hours in DNA Cycling products. Ask people who have worked with and for the owners whether they are driven, passionate people with integrity. Ask customers if DNA Cycling cares about female as well as male athletes; about handicapped, ill and recovering cyclists; about young people; and about events as big as Tour of Utah and as local as intermountain racing series.
And then, if you have the resources and energy to do so, try DNA Cycling products for yourself, so that you can decide for yourself. If you're like me, some of your all-time favorite cycling clothing items will feature their label.
Along with my son, my daughter is the most precious athlete in my life. She loves her road bike, and rides hundreds of hours each year, either outdoors or indoors. You can't fake comfort and performance when you spend that kind of time “in the saddle.” You can't fake female-specific comfort and fit, and you can't fake the pride you take in how good looking something is when you are an artist and aspiring fitness model. My daughter is always quite fond of the DNA Cycling products I buy her, and I want nothing more than to make her happy.
When I called one of the owners before writing this article, a guy I like very much and trust implicitly, I asked him how he would break down for readers what motivates him and his business partner, who is a favorite designer of mine. His response was, “Mark, here is our goal, the big story: We want cyclists to forget about their effort and everything they are using as products and LOSE THEMSELVES IN THE RIDE, which is, after all, what it's all about.” The other thing he emphasized was the pride they take in infusing that concept with a lot of history and tradition combined with innovation, such as new patterns, fabrics and designs.
I am a bike fitter, an ergonomic bike saddle and footwear advocate, and a coach who spends a lot of time and energy helping people get stronger, faster and achieve their athletic dreams. One of the ways I like to sum up success in equipment fitting and fitness is by stating that, “The bicycle and all components must disappear beneath you. There is a start, a finish and there are often competitors, with nothing but effort and smarts between you and the desired outcome. Once there is nothing but you and your will in space and time, you're on your way.”
So, if DNA Cycling claims to offer the opportunity to lose yourself in your rides, and you haven't find that yet with other clothing, this brand is probably worth a try.
For more information on DNA, see dnacycling.com