Sugar and spice and everything nice—that definition of femininity is a bit dated. Today, we celebrate women as spicy and bold, peppery even. Yet they also have a smooth, refined, elegant side—a minty component, perhaps. That embodiment of women as yin and yang, strong and soft, is precisely how Montreal-based women’s cycling apparel brand arrived at its name: Peppermint.

Now, after four years ranking as one of the top women’s cycling brands in the Great White North, the well-established Canadian brand is expanding across the pond to Europe and south into the U.S. into select specialty bike retailers, including six in Colorado: University Bicycles in Boulder, the Pro’s Closet in Louisville, Over the Edge in Fruita, the Kind Bikes and Skis in Edwards, and Basalt Bike and Ski in both Carbondale and Aspen.

“There are a ton of women who are really into cycling in Colorado,” says Vail-based Annie DeWaters, Peppermint’s director of sales in the U.S. She adds that these women make discerning choices about their gear. “They adapt to new brands, especially those that cater to the female outdoor enthusiast.”

Peppermint started in 2015 after two sisters saw a need to introduce cycling apparel designed for a woman’s body. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Genevieve Grondin explains that there was bike apparel for women back then; it just tended to be a smaller version of the corresponding men’s item. The cushioning inside the bike shorts (the “chamois,” in industry vernacular) fit male anatomy. The cut of the jersey hugged broader shoulders and hung on women’s narrower builds. Bib straps did not take breasts into consideration. The secret—yet obvious—formula: Use female designers to create female-specific bike apparel.

Two gravel bikers wearing Peppermint
The Signature Jersey. Photo courtesy of Peppermint

So while the sisters sold the brand to parent company MTN Dewds Distribution in 2018 (which yes, is owned by a dude), Peppermint remains a women-run brand with a women-led design team. “When you’re starting from the female perspective, it’s a game-changer,” Grondin says. “The apparel really reflects the needs of women.”

Take Peppermint’s innovation with women’s cycling bottoms. The design team positioned the suspenders on their bibs to sit to the side of each breast, not uncomfortably on top of them. They also developed what the brand has dubbed “bathroom friendly” bibs, meaning the straps are stretchy enough to allow the user to pull down the back when using the facilities (no shirt removal required), which not only expedites the process but leaves the woman less exposed if she must drop trou by the side of a road or trail. The chamois is positioned to provide comfort for a woman’s perineum; it rises higher in the front to accommodate (and cushion) a woman’s pubic bone; and it features an antimicrobial coating, which helps prevent yeast infections.

“Our anatomy is just so different, which impacts what comfort and fit we need when we’re on the bike,” DeWaters says. Designing for that can make cycling “so much more inviting and comfortable and fun. Women can enjoy it more.”

Two road cyclists wearing Peppermint
The Signature Long-Sleeve Jersey. Photo courtesy of Peppermint

The brand developed apparel not just across cycling disciplines (road, gravel, and mountain), but also for a range of ages, style preferences, and ability levels. The Classic line includes tops that hang just a touch looser and bibs that are slightly longer on the leg, while the Courage line caters to podium hopefuls with tighter, more aerodynamic bibs and jerseys. In the middle, sits the Signature line, which offers what the brand calls a “flattering fit” that’s neither too tight nor too loose. Currently, the sizes range from XS to XXL, though Grondin confirms there are plans to extend them further. “Whatever age or level you’re at in cycling,” she says, “you can definitely find something within the line to meet your needs.”

The brand also recognizes that women who feel good in their apparel will ride better. So beyond a great fit, Peppermint worked to create more stylish products that could be merchandised together. Their lines include bold florals, standard solids, color-blocking, stripes, and polka dots in a range of both vibrant and more straightforward hues. The idea: Offer shoppers an opportunity to mix and match. “It’s giving them the whole story and being able to have fun and find that fashion component in the cycling world,” says Grondin, who has a fashion apparel background. “You’re guiding your consumer to what to buy, but she still has the choice to put her kit together, to be her unique self and express herself.”

Three mountain bikers wearing Peppermint
The Trail Tank and the MTB Shirt. Photo courtesy of Peppermint

Notably, Peppermint isn’t the only for-women-by-women cycling brand out there. Wild Rye and Shredly also cater to female cyclists, though these brands focus on mountain biking. Machines for Freedom was another (its parent company, Specialized, shut it down earlier this year, though the website remains up to move through inventory). “There’s definitely room in the market,” DeWaters says. “That’s why you’re seeing more brands popping up. They’re realizing the need for women-specific cycling apparel.”

Colorado in particular, with its embarrassment of routes and races across cycling disciplines, was an obvious market for Peppermint to target as it ventured into the U.S. Beth Leibo, general manager at University Bicycles in Boulder, says she’s been impressed with the brand—and after 25 years in the bike industry, including working for elite cycling brand ASSOS, that’s a high bar. Leibo has seen her customers respond positively to it as well. “It has a sophisticated design, and it’s really high performance,” she says. Regarding sell-through: “‘Flying off the shelves’ is a really accurate description.”

That’s great news for Peppermint from a financial perspective—it is a business after all. The brand’s overall mission, however, goes beyond the cash register. Bottom line: The gals behind it want to encourage more women to get on a bike. Apparel that fits is key. Apparel that looks good is even better. “Peppermint wants to bring a breath of fresh air, to welcome women in the cycling world,” Grondin says. “We want to really give them confidence on the bike.”