The Color White

I saw the Black Crowes in concert some years ago, and as the band swung into their first number, Chris Robinson casually strolled onstage wearing head to toe white sequins. Later in the show, he remarked that nothing quite makes you feel like a virgin like wearing white.

The color white is indeed a bold statement. A white house declares to the neighborhood that the homeowners are committed to give nature the what-for and keep it pristine at all times. Similarly, the Cyclist who wears white declares that they are willing to take their chances against road grime, despite effectively turning themselves into a human mudflap.

White is like hanging a “Kick Me” sign on Nature.

I personally find it irresistible. White bar tape and socks, even on a bike I expect to get dirty, is a must. I do admit to going through phases where I’ll experiment with black or orange socks or bar tape like a temperamental tween experimenting with talking back to their parents. But I always find myself irrevocably drawn back to white.

When I was 13, I bought my first Selle San Marco Regal saddle in perforated white leather. (I promptly crashed on it). It matched my Scott Drop-Ins which were wrapped in white Benotto bar tape, as well as the white spatters on my early Nineties paintjob. It was many years later before I bought myself some White Ladies. And to be fair, as much as I love my Orange Damsels, there is nothing like a clean, white pair of socks matched to a clean, white pair of shoes. Just ask Tom Boonen.

White sunglasses are a must as well, and after a short foray from the path, I’m back on the white helmet program. White jerseys tend to look sharper than their dark counterparts (assuming your physical qualities don’t require the slimming effect of black.) I’m on a quest for a white bike, but people seem loathe to make me one, as they are apparently unlucky. (I’m going for the next best thing: silver sparkles.)

White is bold and requires a concerted effort to ensure one keeps it pristine, but it pays you back by Looking incomparably Fantastic. It seems the only place where white doesn’t look better is on bibshorts. Go figure.

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122 Replies to “The Color White”

  1. i usually have a white saddle on #1, too, but i’m trying various Prologo models out right now.  when i settle on one, it’ll be white, too.

  2. White tape on all, white saddles on half.  The Fizik white is easy to clean.  After enough years you work clean and care is not hard.  White gloves and jersey pretty often,. Stands out in a sea of black.  White was always PRO since they got it free and didn’t have to work on it.  Still love the look and believe all shorts should be black.

  3. My Number One is white. I briefly tried white tape and saddle on her, but it looked a little…pretentious. I then couldn’t afford a new black saddle, so I’m still riding the stock one, which isn’t my favourite thing.

    In case you’re wondering about the spec (yes, it’s a compact drivetrain, and yes it’s a group-san), it was an ex-display model with almost 50% off list price and c’mon; she so purdy!

  4. My #1 is white.  Having a white bike encourages you to give it a clean after it is covered in road grime after a ride.  Cleaning your bike after a ride is Pro.  Plus it actually makes it simpler to clean because you can see all the muck easier.

  5. Riding in and around NYC is not conducive to white anything. Therefore, I chose the black, black, black option regarding Rule #8 compliance. #1 is black, albeit the matte version that shows the carbon weave. The seat post and handlebars are finished with a matching white design, which is continued on the saddle. Italians (Treviso), do these things with flair so I am loathe to change any of the accessories out.

     

  6. My last bike (replaced 10 months ago) was 80% white with a fine subtle silver met  (also black and red), the bar tape was white, the saddle had white trim, the wheels had white decals. Sweet – except that as it aged it when a cream colour. I eventually crashed it and since I wanted to repalace it for the same frame I had to take what I could get. The choice was gloss black with matt black decals or nothing.

    So, now I rock a black bike and I am not excited about it. I have contemplated white bar tape since it would match the saddle trim and wheel decals but can’t decide if it’s going too far. I am due for tape. I should just do it!

  7. White shoes, socks, bar tape and sunglasses on the bike are the tits. Off the bike white can be such a conflicted color (nothing quite says I’m a douchebag like white sunglasses).

    We’ve given up having too much white on the back of our jerseys here in merry old New England. Too much mud in the fall to justify the stains.

  8. My then-new Merckx is indeed white, and orange bands as it is a Faema-paint job from The Prophet’s own back shed. The second ride ever, in February, it threw me unmercifully to the ground on a mad descent, breaking a collarbone, four ribs, C7 spine and so much other shit I’m glad I don’t remember the crash or have a stupid camera going. I will also invoke Rule #85 here. White is extremely unlucky. The gentleman of the collection is fully rebuilt (go on, try to source pantographed SR) and has had a number of rides since, with greater respect for the colour. It still is the most awesome thing in the bike room. And the frame has not one scratch on it, which is rather concerningly Christine-like. We have a working relationship. White is awesome but dangerous. Choose wisely.

  9. My  #1 is a white 2003 Kona (but built with Italian tubing) and is in the process of a Group San to Gruppo metamorphosis. The red bar tape stays though.

  10. A timely article. I was just thinking about white.

    I recently got some new White Ladies and picked up some of my favourite Goldilocks LG white socks on offer. I’ve got white Fizik tape on currently but am going to re-wrap with white Lizardskins (when I have time to experiment with slamming my stem and changing the angles of my bar and hoods).

    I have also recently installed a white saddle, and bought a white helmet. My bike is mostly black so the white of the contact points looks pro, pro pro.

    It’s not the easiest choice of colour. It is the best choice of colour.

  11. How timely. After years of running black tape on my all-black #1, I just put white on it for the first time. Looks dandy. As for other things white, my sunnies are a 10 year old pair of white Serfas gregs. Love ’em. They’ve been superb and despite other sunnies being bought, these remain the first choice. Socks? Always, always, always short and white. Helmets? Various, but I have a few white ones that see regular action. Bibs? Just got a white pain but these may see late season action as I need to build up enough color on my legs to really justify them.Shoes? Two pairs of all black Shimanos, but other colors in the stable.

  12. @RobSandy

    I recently got some new White Ladies and picked up some of my favourite Goldilocks LG white socks on offer. I’ve got white fi’zi:k tape on currently but am going to re-wrap with white Lizardskins (when I have time to experiment with slamming my stem and changing the angles of my bar and hoods).

    I use Lizardskins bar tape and love it. But you should be aware that it gets dirty pretty easily and doesn’t clean up very easily. I used to have black/white Lizardskins with the black above the hoods and the white below. I don’t ride in the drops that often, but the white got pretty dingy and didn’t clean up. Once the Lizardskins “absorbs” dirt/color, it’s pretty much permanent. You can clean it up a little, but can’t rid of it completely. My wife’s green Lizardskins is dis-colored at all the contact points. Ditto for my pink (that replaced my black/white).

    You can sort of see what I mean/am talking about in this pic that I originally posted in The Bikes.

  13. @RobSandy

    Here’s a pic with my black/white Lizardskins. I know you can’t really tell, but the white is more “off” white than “bright” white (which it was when it was new). I wanted some brightness/color for this riding season hence the current pink (most obviously, for the Giro, but real men wear/do pink), but may eventually (after this season) go back to the black/white colorway. Overall, it’s a good look on my bike. Particularly with the white seatpost (3T Dorico Team).

  14. @Teocalli

    Just the right tone of Antique White

    Oh these are just lovely!!!  Chapeau!

    My 1985 Hinault Reynolds 753/Campag SR build is almost complete.  I went with toe-clips even though Hinault used the first iteration of clipless that year because I want to ride it in the Eroica events and not have to deal with explaining the clipless timeline every time I show up.  

    Still pondering what shoes to buy for the ’85 La Vie Claire team.  Seems like each rider used a different type of shoe.

  15. I definitely need to get back to Pinnacle Mtn — and let me mention that Boyd Johnson is riding his annual birthday ride from Hincapie’s Hotel Domestique this Sunday 9:00 — going up Green River and across Pinnacle Mtn.

  16. Velominati central did not like that # symbol in this image filename on the first pass. Here — Green River Rd

  17. @chuckp

    3T LTD Corius bar tape keeps white. There is also a not-so-often mentioned rule about matching bar tape to your seat post manufacturer whenever possible. Confession, I made that part up.

  18. @universo

    Velominati central did not like that # symbol in this image filename on the first pass. Here — Green River Rd

    Damn!  Now that’s a proper bike!  Who made it?  Frame?

  19. @universo

    @chuckp

    3T LTD Corius bar tape keeps white. There is also a not-so-often mentioned rule about matching bar tape to your seat post manufacturer whenever possible. Confession, I made that part up.

    My “problem” is that I absolutely love the feel of Lizardskins bar tape. It’s got enough padding that I don’t need to ride with gloves. And it doesn’t get slick/slippery with sweat. Actually almost gets tacky when it’s wet. I think maybe I need to query Movistar’s mechanics to ask how they keep the team bikes’ bar tape so clean. I think they’d probably tell me that they just change it often.

  20. Lizardskins came out with dual color black/pink so that might be what I do once my all pink gets too dirty if I still want to have a splash of color on my bike.

  21. @Buck Rogers

    @universo

    Damn! Now that’s a proper bike! Who made it? Frame?

    Eddy Merckx MX Leader — Noah Rosen of Velocolour turned my design scheme into his 2016 white edition. We collaborated on my understated graphics to carry only the an M, Columbus Dove, and Velocolour logos. Then M appears where needed and Velocolour added dashes of pink on the pantograph areas of crown and bridge.

  22. @universo

    @Buck Rogers

    @universo

    Damn! Now that’s a proper bike! Who made it? Frame?

    Eddy Merckx MX Leader — Noah Rosen of Velocolour turned my design scheme into his 2016 white edition. We collaborated on my understated graphics to carry only the an M, Columbus Dove, and Velocolour logos. Then M appears where needed and Velocolour added dashes of pink on the pantograph areas of crown and bridge.

    Oh FUCK!  Even better than I had imagined, though I knew that it was a true piece of art when I first saw it.  What a bike!  Well done!

  23. @Teocalli

    Just the right tone of Antique White

    Lordy, lordy, lordy., Those take me back to my first “proper” cycling shoes – some ALL leather Vittorias. I have a pair of all black Shimanos with some fine, small hole perforations. A friend of mine is a leather worker and I’m thinking of asking him to go a wee bit wild on making the holes larger.

  24. @chuckp

    I have a movistar team bike, the dark blue lizardskins they use aren’t available to buy, or at least I haven’t been able to get it anywhere online, only direct from Canyon. It’s the 2.5mm lizard skins and that custom dark blue stays clean until it wears through. Mine are still spotless after >5000km

  25. You know, calling out the guy (without naming names) who is making your bike for not painting it white is a sure way to tick off said builder.

    There are reasons for this policy and they are here.

    You can argue, cry, whine, bitch and moan, but your bike won’t be white. Period.

    Get over it.

    Love and kisses.

     

    DW

     

  26. @wiscot

    These are NOS Detto complete with the grooved locator for clipless pedals that screws into the nailed on base plate.  These are all leather, soles too, so I had the local cobbler add a small heel pad to preserve the sole in the heel area.

  27. @Teocalli

    @wiscot

    These are NOS Detto complete with the grooved locator for clipless pedals that screws into the nailed on base plate. These are all leather, soles too, so I had the local cobbler add a small heel pad to preserve the sole in the heel area.

    I had those Detto Pietro’s years ago, first without cleats (only just started to cycle) and by the time I saw the grooves of the teoclippedals (Freudian mistake?) in the sole, I bought some cleats which I had to fasten with small nails, hammered into the full leather sole (which I waxed regularly of course).

    Then, error happened, and after many years of not using them, nor using the real bike, I threw them away. And now I am frantically looking for a similar pair for the upcoming Eroica but haven’t found them yet in the right size. So I may go with old black brogues instead…

  28. @chuckp

    @universo

    @chuckp

    3T LTD Corius bar tape keeps white. There is also a not-so-often mentioned rule about matching bar tape to your seat post manufacturer whenever possible. Confession, I made that part up.

    My “problem” is that I absolutely love the feel of Lizardskins bar tape. It’s got enough padding that I don’t need to ride with gloves. And it doesn’t get slick/slippery with sweat. Actually almost gets tacky when it’s wet. I think maybe I need to query Movistar’s mechanics to ask how they keep the team bikes’ bar tape so clean. I think they’d probably tell me that they just change it often.

    I know exactly what you mean. For a birthday present I fitted the VMW’s Bianchi with the black/white camo Lizardskins tape (the same that Cav and the rest of DD use). It looks awesome but I was surprised how great it felt.

    So basically I got bar tape envy. My Fizik tape is looking  a bit scruffy after hitting the tarmac a few times, so once I get around to it I’ll replace it.

    However, I may be buying a new Nr.2 frameset very soon and I’ll then be busy building it up with all the old parts (see The Bikes for the full tale of woe).

    Don’t suppose any UK Velominati have any cheap framesets kicking about in 58cm, that they want shot of?

  29. I also saw Chris Robinson, head to toe in white, a long time ago at the Roadmender in Northampton.

    He knew he could carry that look off, if you’re not sure you can, the answer is you can’t.

     

  30. @RobSandy

     

    I know exactly what you mean. For a birthday present I fitted the VMW’s Bianchi with the black/white camo Lizardskins tape (the same that Cav and the rest of DD use). It looks awesome but I was surprised how great it felt.

    I was looking at the black/white camo Lizardskins. Not sure how it would look on my Felt. I think it would look really good on a white bike. But an option I may have to consider.

  31. @chuckp

    @RobSandy

    I know exactly what you mean. For a birthday present I fitted the VMW’s Bianchi with the black/white camo Lizardskins tape (the same that Cav and the rest of DD use). It looks awesome but I was surprised how great it felt.

    I was looking at the black/white camo Lizardskins. Not sure how it would look on my Felt. I think it would look really good on a white bike. But an option I may have to consider.

    Yeah, I’m not sure it’d work on my Felt. Although I did consider the grey white camo. But then, did Eddy have camo bar tape? I’ll stick to white.

    The Mrs’ bike is a Bianchi, but it’s mostly white with some celeste areas. So any colour but white, black or celeste tape would look rubbish. The black/white camo does look really good though.

  32. I’ve posted this before in The Bikes section.  For most of it’s life I’ve run black tape and saddle.  The white/white has been on the last couple of years.

  33. Like @MangoDave, I may have posted this before. But here’s my circa early 90s Reynolds 653 steel is real Hollands with black/white Fizik Aliante saddle and white bar tape.

  34. @MangoDave

    I’ve posted this before in The Bikes section. For most of it’s life I’ve run black tape and saddle. The white/white has been on the last couple of years.

    Very classy looking. With the bike’s colorway and the white bar tape, you could run either a white or black saddle and either would look great.

  35. @chuckp

    @MangoDave

    I’ve posted this before in The Bikes section. For most of it’s life I’ve run black tape and saddle. The white/white has been on the last couple of years.

    Very classy looking. With the bike’s colorway and the white bar tape, you could run either a white or black saddle and either would look great.

    I’m think a black saddle would be perfect. It would connect nicely to the brake hoods and stem and complement the rear wheel.

  36. @chuckp

    Like @MangoDave, I may have posted this before. But here’s my circa early 90s Reynolds 653 steel is real Hollands with black/white fi’zi:k Aliante saddle and white bar tape.

    Mein Gott!!!  What a bike!  Just love it!

    (although if it had the correct downtube shifters I am sure that you would not have left it on the little ring!–just kidding)

  37. @Teocalli

    @chuckp

    @KogaLover

    Just won an old, all black, Brancale Belgian hairnet off of the French ebay site for 45 euro.  Looks to be in great shape and it was a large size.  So hard to find them in large.  Cannot wait to get it!

    I think that we need to petition the Keepers to add a permanent Eroica thread/tab to the site as nothing screams old school Hardmen like Eroica to me.  Talk about riding with ghosts and legends–nothing compares to the Eroica scene for that!

  38. @wiscot

     

    @MangoDave

     

    I’m think a black saddle would be perfect. It would connect nicely to the brake hoods and stem and complement the rear wheel.

    Thanks, next time I’m bored I might try that.

    I’ll also see if I can find a photo from a long time ago.  The bike had black saddle and tape, silver brake levers, stem, silver wheels (Campa hubs with Open Pro rims).  It’s evolved quite a lot over the years.

  39. @universo

    @Buck Rogers

    @universo

    Damn! Now that’s a proper bike! Who made it? Frame?

    Eddy Merckx MX Leader — Noah Rosen of Velocolour turned my design scheme into his 2016 white edition. We collaborated on my understated graphics to carry only the an M, Columbus Dove, and Velocolour logos. Then M appears where needed and Velocolour added dashes of pink on the pantograph areas of crown and bridge.

    Nice!  I’d love to see some photos of these details.

  40. @MangoDave

    @wiscot

    @MangoDave

    I’m think a black saddle would be perfect. It would connect nicely to the brake hoods and stem and complement the rear wheel.

    Thanks, next time I’m bored I might try that.

    I’ll also see if I can find a photo from a long time ago. The bike had black saddle and tape, silver brake levers, stem, silver wheels (Campa hubs with Open Pro rims). It’s evolved quite a lot over the years.

    I think just changing the saddle to black could, very possibly, see you hit the sweet spot. Pictures required!

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