What is the best pro team kit ever? I’m talking team kit only, not a leader’s jersey, national team jersey or the national champion jersey. Not the worst either, for those are legion and worthy of a much longer article than this. @wiscot and I exchanged emails about Urs Freuler and the fantastic Atala kit which led to quick discussion of best kits. He threw out Skil Shimano and La Vie Clair as kits to consider. It’s hard to disassociate the kit from the rider. Maybe the Orange Molteni kit would be rubbish if Lord Merckx didn’t own it for years. It’s also hard to come up with a great modern kit: too many sponsors, too much sublimation. Were wool kits nicer? Maybe they were in their simplicity, maybe more iconic. Sky’s kit was a excellent change for it’s uncluttered design and in years to come we may look back on it with as much admiration as we do a Molteni kit. But since that reedy weed Froome killed my VSP hopes recently, that jersey is dead to me, forever.
Here are a few nice ones. I’m sure I’ve left many nicer ones out. Let the arguing begin.
- Atala-I know my love of the Atala prisoner jersey is bolstered by Urs Freuler’s ‘stach and a young Gianni Bugno in the stripes. The design was a nod to the early Atala frames made in an Italian prison by real Italian prisoners. It’s a damn good looking, especially when it made the transition to lycra.
- Molteni-I can’t separate the jersey from Merckx. It’s a weird color and a nice design but without Eddie’s head sticking out of the top I’m not sure it would go far.
- TI Raleigh-So much ass was kicked by riders in this jersey it was like a black leather jacket. If three guys in this jersey ride up next to you, it’s sweatin’ time. The design didn’t change season to season. Red, yellow and black: a very distinctive kit but the best kit?
- Skil Shimano – If Sean Kelly didn’t wear this kit it wouldn’t be in the running. But Sean Kelly killing it in the red, white and blue Skil kit, he makes it look awesome.
- Brooklyn Chewing Gum – This kit may have stood on it’s own. It’s original and beautiful. If Roger de Vlaeminck hadn’t rocked that jersey in various Paris-Roubaix wins it may have stood on its own but it would not have stood so tall.
- La Vie Claire – Hinault never looked quite menacing enough in this Mondrian inspired jersey. He looked mean all the time but this jersey made him look too sophisticated, someone who actually cared about design instead of just ripping legs off.
- Bianchi – Like Atala, the bike manufacturer as sponsor keeps the kit simple. Bianchi’s beautiful color and simple design really do it for me. When Bianchi again sponsored a team and big Jan was the captain, everyone won.