Not for the faint hearted: the Winter Cycling Cap.

Experts Only: The Winter Cycling Cap

Experts Only: The Winter Cycling Cap

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We just finished a thorough examination of the Cyclist’s marquee accoutrement, the Cycling Cap. Today’s lesson is about the Cycling Cap’s red-headed step brother, the Winter Cycling Cap.

This is a toque born of necessity; the thin cotton cap is nowhere near warm enough for the demands of the Flemish winter training season. Form should follow function, but when form is ignored altogether, we wind up with these sorts of creations, which is why I like to make sure form always gets a seat at the table during the design process. The cap’s main body is generally constructed of 6 or 8 wooly panels, the front section of which is often covered in a slightly windproof material. Added to this is the typical stubby visor found on a traditional Cycling Cap. Also covered in wool. Finally – and this is the real clincher, a third flap is added to the cap, which is intended to cover the ears but can also be flipped up if conditions do not warrant ear covering.

The Winter Cycling Cap is the most difficult article of cold-weather gear to pull off. The construction of the main cap presents the first challenge as the wool panels lack the finesse of its cotton sibling and tends to collect in a peak that resembles a reservoir tip. Which is very bad. The ear flaps present the second challenge in that their deployment is an automatic violation of the Three-Point System. Flipped up and stowed away for takeoff and landing, it is possible to adhere to the 3PS, but in that case the cap generally takes on the appearance of a derby crossed with a condom. I don’t have to tell you that’s also bad. The cap flies under the radar when worn under a helmet, although you’ll be thankful for a helmet locking system that makes it easy to adjust for a cap that adds two centimeters to your skull’s girth.

I found an orange one of these little monsters and it is a very welcome addition to my winter wardrobe, keeping all the heat that escapes out of my big brain from leaving the body. But it is far and away the most challenging bit of kit to pull off. You will have to spend some quality time in front of the mirror experimenting with what works for your goofy head if you want to have any chance of wearing it with dignity sans helmet. Skinny-faced people will have a better time of it than grapefruit-shaped head people like me. Popping your shades over the top helps to give it some shape, but be prepared to throw all the cap-wearing principles out the window in pursuit of finding a way to Look Fantastic wearing it.

I recommend you buy one and put it in your jersey pocket. Wear your cotton cap until the very last moment prior to hitting the road and only at that point deploy the little monster. If convenient, put it on in the dark where no one can see you. Under no circumstances attempt what Raul is managing here with expert help from Shelley Verses, unless you also have a Shelley Verses handy.

// Accessories and Gear // Belgian Affirmations // Look Pro

  1. @frank

    In fact, for most of it he’s not wearing anything;

    That’s definitely Rule #9. And if he’s hard as well, then double chapeau.

    On the skull caps, Gianni has it right. On the same principle that caps under helmets are wrong, winter caps under helmets are even wronger. A skull cap at least does the same job without interfering.

  2. @kixsand I have a Robocap, for the coldest of days. It’s does the job very well and with less bulk than most winter gear, and features the usual Assos overthinking – see the two loops? They’ve for your glasses after the cap went all Vincent Van Gogh on your ears. However, if I’m wearing it, I take care to get dressed in the dark and leave the house with the helmet already on. The “Sperm Cap”, as it’s known, earns the wearer plenty of ridicule.

  3. @frank

    @gilly

    Although this one is my favourite shot of Hampsten, maybe my favourite cycling pic. Cool

    as fuck

    What’s so cool about this picture is how anti-Hampsten it is. He looks so arrogant and confident. Like he fucking owned that race. And its the farthest from what a kind, modest person he is.

    Photography at it’s best. Thats, like, Pedale quality.

    Frahnk! Now who’s not reading whose posts??? See Post 24.

  4. Looking very Pro sans helmets.

  5. @Gianni

    @GogglesPizano

    Due to the fact that I am wearing a winter cap 5 months of the year up here I just went and bought a second helmet that fits a winter cap under it. I can wear a skull cap or a cotton cap under my normal helmet but the winter hat needs the bigger helmet. I will also add in a plug for the Rapha deep winter cap, it does a good job on the ears and head but wouldn’t wear it above about 20degF or you will be way to warm

    You are wise. A winter helmet with room for such a thing is a good idea.

    My ears have been what needs protection when it gets cold. To that end, usually a thin skull cap that includes the ears works. I’ve used the balaclava’s for winter commuting and there is no way not to look like a tool in one, unless you are Der Badger.

    But Gianni, don’t you live in Hawaii? What’s cold there? 50 degrees? (insert banned emoticon here)

  6. @manfromallouez

    Former GS-Mengioni road pro Matt Smith sells authentic wool caps in San Francisco, when he’s not riding on the same roads Frank enjoyed back in May or reporting for the Center for Investigative Reporting. I have three; buy one and you’ll wear it all the time.

    Nice looking caps. I like the weight of them. I think I will get one.

  7. Cima Coppi makes an okay looking one (just ignore all the national jersey replicas they sell).

    http://cimacoppi.ca/cycling-accessories/wool-cycling-caps/winter-cycling-cap

  8. @frank

    @Gianni

    @GogglesPizano

    Due to the fact that I am wearing a winter cap 5 months of the year up here I just went and bought a second helmet that fits a winter cap under it. I can wear a skull cap or a cotton cap under my normal helmet but the winter hat needs the bigger helmet. I will also add in a plug for the Rapha deep winter cap, it does a good job on the ears and head but wouldn’t wear it above about 20degF or you will be way to warm

    You are wise. A winter helmet with room for such a thing is a good idea.

    My ears have been what needs protection when it gets cold. To that end, usually a thin skull cap that includes the ears works. I’ve used the balaclava’s for winter commuting and there is no way not to look like a tool in one, unless you are Der Badger.

    That skull cap talk just got you two demerits, my man. As a Keeper you have a V demerit credit, but I’m assuming (as my dad taught me) that I missed at least 1 if not 2 along the way, which means you’re on your last demerit.

    Settle down and meditate on the masturbation principle.

    Skull cap! BAH!

    @gilly

    Although this one is my favourite shot of Hampsten, maybe my favourite cycling pic. Cool

    as fuck

    What’s so cool about this picture is how anti-Hampsten it is. He looks so arrogant and confident. Like he fucking owned that race. And its the farthest from what a kind, modest person he is.

    Photography at it’s best. Thats, like, Pedale quality.

    ‘Nuff said Frank. I’ve only seen a couple of interviews with Hampsten but he appeared to have a great humility about him, just came across as the most friendly fella. He could lay it down though! In any other athlete this pic would have screamed arrogance but I suppose after the beasting he’d received by the Gavia Gods he must have been feeling pretty invincible by the TT. Great man, epic victory…and those guns

  9. I certainly like Assos bibs and jerseys but haven’t looked at their headwear until this thread started. Or perhaps I had seen some of it and just kept subconsciously blocking it from my memory.

  10. Nuff said

  11. @extra special and bitter

    Cima Coppi makes an okay looking one (just ignore all the national jersey replicas they sell).

    http://cimacoppi.ca/cycling-accessories/wool-cycling-caps/winter-cycling-cap

    Good man! Thanx for posting this brand.

  12. I’ve got a Vermarc mutt Windtex cap that that tends to breathe and insulate pretty well, but I agree with Frank that wool is the way to go if you want the best. I’ve always liked the look of the Giro merino wool cap as it has a smaller brim than many of the other wool varieties.

  13. @VeloVita Red Dots Cycling are making great all rounder, classic caps. They also have winter wool.

    No way to deny this Nero

  14. @unversio

    @extra special and bitter

    http://cimacoppi.ca/cycling-accessories/wool-cycling-caps/winter-cycling-cap

    Good man! Thanx for posting this brand.

    They make nice stuff. A custom V-kit would be classy from them. They’re custom stuff is where it’s at.

    I have 2 of their team jerseys and they’re awesome. Although in wet conditions they get a little… heavy. If you buy a jersey I’d get a size down (if you’re in between). Race fit is key for wool so that it doesn’t bunch in the front when you’re riding. I’m usually a medium, but I fit their small jersey.

  15. @frank

    @Gianni

    @GogglesPizano

    Due to the fact that I am wearing a winter cap 5 months of the year up here I just went and bought a second helmet that fits a winter cap under it. I can wear a skull cap or a cotton cap under my normal helmet but the winter hat needs the bigger helmet. I will also add in a plug for the Rapha deep winter cap, it does a good job on the ears and head but wouldn’t wear it above about 20degF or you will be way to warm

    You are wise. A winter helmet with room for such a thing is a good idea.

    My ears have been what needs protection when it gets cold. To that end, usually a thin skull cap that includes the ears works. I’ve used the balaclava’s for winter commuting and there is no way not to look like a tool in one, unless you are Der Badger.

    That skull cap talk just got you two demerits, my man. As a Keeper you have a V demerit credit, but I’m assuming (as my dad taught me) that I missed at least 1 if not 2 along the way, which means you’re on your last demerit.

    Settle down and meditate on the masturbation principle.

    Skull cap! BAH!

    But really if you think about it this way – when out in Rule #9 conditions that warrant wearing winter caps, people are going to be so focused on how badass you are in general to be out riding that one might be able to pull-off get away with a few minor infractions. The situation where the discussion will bypass the extreme weather/riding conditions and focus immediately for 30-40 minutes on the skull-cap you are wearing really would only happen at something like a Keepers Tour or a Cogal. That being said having someone fully rule compliant roll up beside me and call me out for wearing a skull cap in a heavy cold downpour would be pretty enlightening and probably have me throwing the said cap in the ditch. Actually after having Frank set me straight in the above post I do not expect to ever put my skull cap on again anyway

  16. @extra special and bitter Oh I will commit to plans to get extra custom with them as soon as we connect.

  17. I give you the Assos Ninja. The Man with the Hammer dispatches him for certain dirty jobs – fashion violations, pros who won’t accept that it’s time to retire, difficult middle of the bunch work. Many an “inexplicable” crash is actually the doing of this fiend. He’s also been known to sabotage equipment leading to snapped handlebars/forks/frames/brake cables or front wheels dropping out. If you’re regularly violating the rules, be sure to give your machine a careful check before each ride lest you become the Assos Ninja’s next victim.

  18. @frank

    Settle down and meditate on the masturbation principle.

    Yeah. Me and the skull cap in the winter? Equals this.

  19. @dyalander

    I give you the Assos Ninja. The Man with the Hammer dispatches him for certain dirty jobs – fashion violations, pros who won’t accept that it’s time to retire, difficult middle of the bunch work. Many an “inexplicable” crash is actually the doing of this fiend. He’s also been known to sabotage equipment leading to snapped handlebars/forks/frames/brake cables or front wheels dropping out. If you’re regularly violating the rules, be sure to give your machine a careful check before each ride lest you become the Assos Ninja’s next victim.

    Beauty! He is probably following Michael Barry et al. as they ride sans helmet on icy roads. That seems crazy.

  20. @wiscot

    @Nate

    Yes, I do live very happily in Hawaii where, at best, a thin vest is deployed in darkest winter descending. But I have spent the majority of my cycling life in New England, freezing my ears and crank off whilst commuting or attempting the much hated winter training. Baaah!

  21. @littledove

    Very keen on the Keepers Tour, but having never riddden cobbles before I am concerned that I will be left behind. It’s not that I object to cycling on my own, it’s just that I do object to having less drinking time than others.

    Can you give me an idea of group size, age ranges, speed ranges etc?

    Or shall I just turn up and Rule #5 ?

    @littledove, cobbles are like clip ins, fixed gear and sex the first time. It is a head trip about what you think they are and they aren’t anything like you think. So the best way to tackle the stones the first time is just friggin go for it and you’ll be fine.

    And yes, Rule #5 and you’ll also be fine, I mean I have not been on the Keepers Tour, my guess is that it’s a no drop ride where of course you’ll be dropped – but so what?

    it seems you have the right attitude so sign up and have the best 10 days of your life! Garrenteed!

    P.S. Dig in the archives and find the article and study the films about the last Keepers Tour, then watch old Paris-Roubaix films and snap! your there!

  22. I like wearing a Buff under my helmet. Should I just leave?

  23. I’ve got a Solo CC Possum Fur cap waitin’ underneath the holiday bush for opening (a virtual one, we don’t have one). Very excited to try it out, been waiting a few years for one. Finally convinced the VMH to get me one, despite it being made from possum and not being cheap.

    Until then, been wearing an old Lampre cap that is stretch out over a Castelli skullcap for commuting. Does the trick and doesn’t look too bad. But hell, I’m commuting anyway so who cares.

    Shelley appears to be wearing my favorite, classic Casio watch. I just emailed those bastards last week to inquire about it, as they’ve discontinued the model. $12USD and now the only place I can find them is on ebay and they’re listed as “retro” and now selling for $300. Damnit.

  24. @dyalander

    I give you the Assos Ninja. The Man with the Hammer dispatches him for certain dirty jobs – fashion violations, pros who won’t accept that it’s time to retire, difficult middle of the bunch work. Many an “inexplicable” crash is actually the doing of this fiend. He’s also been known to sabotage equipment leading to snapped handlebars/forks/frames/brake cables or front wheels dropping out. If you’re regularly violating the rules, be sure to give your machine a careful check before each ride lest you become the Assos Ninja’s next victim.

    Ha! Excellent!

  25. @Gianni Yah but he has Dede Demet to cushion his fall so, you know, it’s like, all perfect and eveything.

  26. @Gianni

    @dyalander

    I give you the Assos Ninja. The Man with the Hammer dispatches him for certain dirty jobs – fashion violations, pros who won’t accept that it’s time to retire, difficult middle of the bunch work. Many an “inexplicable” crash is actually the doing of this fiend. He’s also been known to sabotage equipment leading to snapped handlebars/forks/frames/brake cables or front wheels dropping out. If you’re regularly violating the rules, be sure to give your machine a careful check before each ride lest you become the Assos Ninja’s next victim.

    Beauty! He is probably following Michael Barry et al. as they ride sans helmet on icy roads. That seems crazy.

    That’s dangerously close to being a spark for a new helmet discussion.

  27. @Ron

    I’ve got a Solo CC Possum Fur cap waitin’ underneath the holiday bush for opening (a virtual one, we don’t have one). Very excited to try it out, been waiting a few years for one. Finally convinced the VMH to get me one, despite it being made from possum and not being cheap.

    Until then, been wearing an old Lampre cap that is stretch out over a Castelli skullcap for commuting. Does the trick and doesn’t look too bad. But hell, I’m commuting anyway so who cares.

    Shelley appears to be wearing my favorite, classic Casio watch. I just emailed those bastards last week to inquire about it, as they’ve discontinued the model. $12USD and now the only place I can find them is on ebay and they’re listed as “retro” and now selling for $300. Damnit.

    Do they source their materials from local road kill?

  28. @Ron

    I’ve got a Solo CC Possum Fur cap waitin’ underneath the holiday bush for opening (a virtual one, we don’t have one).

    Have you got your virtual holiday bush up already?

  29. @Chris

  30. @RobSandy

    I like wearing a Buff under my helmet. Should I just leave?

    A buff is an essential piece of kit if you ask me. If done right you can totally rock a Buff. there was a pic of Paolini at Milan San Remo in a buff a few months back that had plenty of V in it

  31. @GogglesPizano

    @RobSandy

    I like wearing a Buff under my helmet. Should I just leave?

    A buff is an essential piece of kit if you ask me. If done right you can totally rock a Buff. there was a pic of Paolini at Milan San Remo in a buff a few months back that had plenty of V in it

  32. @dyalander

    I give you the Assos Ninja. The Man with the Hammer dispatches him for certain dirty jobs – fashion violations, pros who won’t accept that it’s time to retire, difficult middle of the bunch work. Many an “inexplicable” crash is actually the doing of this fiend. He’s also been known to sabotage equipment leading to snapped handlebars/forks/frames/brake cables or front wheels dropping out. If you’re regularly violating the rules, be sure to give your machine a careful check before each ride lest you become the Assos Ninja’s next victim.

    Sorry, I see this and think “gimp” I have no desire to see what else he might be wearing. It even has wee loops to attach restraints to FFS.

  33. @Chris

    @Ron

    I’ve got a Solo CC Possum Fur cap waitin’ underneath the holiday bush for opening (a virtual one, we don’t have one).

    Have you got your virtual holiday bush up already?

    +1 on this. I’m sorry if I sound like a Grinch here but the whole Christmas thing is starting earlier and earlier. I know the US economy is 70% consumer driven but what with the whole Black Friday crap and now stores are opening ON Thanksgiving Day, it’s getting way out of hand.

    Here’s a thought to be thankful for: that you’re not one of the poor buggers who will have to go into work tomorrow or at some god-forsaken hour of the night on Friday morning to deal with media-fuelled frenzied “shoppers” who want to get a good deal on shit they don’t need. How soon before the stores open on Christmas day or is that day sacrosanct? Opening on T-Day is the thin end of the wedge to 24-7-365 retailing. Sad times.

  34. I’m sorry, I meant to kick back and let this article just fade to black by itself. @Franks evil genius is to whip up a story where there is no story and this one is at the bottom in a admittedly short list because his saintly genius is to point out a story where no else see it.

    Come on, looking pro in winter gear? Even the pros didn’t look pro back in the day. Now maybe a little because we have choice of weather specific designed apparel. It cost an arm and 2 legs so I’m still a fan of old ski hats, plastic bags and improvising.

    But seriously, if your out and it’s snowing who the heck is judging your outfit – who the hell is out there?

    And wtf is a Buff… NO don’t tell me, I don’t need to know some things.

    And Paolini is rocking that facial hair maybe new Rule, facial hair is encouraged for deep winter and the spring northern classics but is off after Milan San Remo.

  35. @Rob

    I’m sorry, I meant to kick back and let this article just fade to black by itself. @Franks evil genius is to whip up a story where there is no story and this one is at the bottom in a admittedly short list because his saintly genius is to point out a story where no else see it.

    Come on, looking pro in winter gear? Even the pros didn’t look pro back in the day. Now maybe a little because we have choice of weather specific designed apparel. It cost an arm and 2 legs so I’m still a fan of old ski hats, plastic bags and improvising.

    But seriously, if your out and it’s snowing who the heck is judging your outfit – who the hell is out there?

    And wtf is a Buff… NO don’t tell me, I don’t need to know some things.

    And Paolini is rocking that facial hair maybe new Rule, facial hair is encouraged for deep winter and the spring northern classics but is off after Milan San Remo.

    All good points there Rob, but the face fuzz should come off BEFORE M-SR

  36. Relax, relax. Sorry to cause alarm.

    By holiday bush I meant…in the bottom of my cycling stuff closet, waiting to be opened.

    And, if we do put up a holiday bush, the VMH and I walk the dogs to the local bamboo forest, cut some smaller shoots and then tie them together. How’s that?

  37. @wiscot, I am open to any variation to the rule… Mainly because I do not rock face fuzz.

    @Ron that sounds great, I can now do the same in S. FL, where do you live?

    @All Murcans, happy gobbler day hope you all have the time for a pre or post dinner ride!

  38. @GogglesPizano

    @RobSandy

    I like wearing a Buff under my helmet. Should I just leave?

    A buff is an essential piece of kit if you ask me. If done right you can totally rock a Buff. there was a pic of Paolini at Milan San Remo in a buff a few months back that had plenty of V in it

    I’m very relieved. Actually, I don’t care. especially for commuting, it’s brilliant. Keeps my ears warm and doesn’t require helmet adjustment to fit underneath.

    For those not in the know, a Buff is a tube of stretchy microfibre. You can do all sorts with it (I used to work in an outdoor shop and we had a video of a guy making all sorts of hats with it on a loop – if I ever meet him I’ll kill him), but I tend to go for either the neck gaiter or a semi-balaclava/ear warmer effect.

    V branded Buffs?

  39. http://www.walzcaps.com/caps_winter.html

    Wool cycling caps with little earflaps. Half the price of the Rapha crockery.

  40. @RobSandy

    @GogglesPizano

    @RobSandy

    I like wearing a Buff under my helmet. Should I just leave?

    A buff is an essential piece of kit if you ask me. If done right you can totally rock a Buff. there was a pic of Paolini at Milan San Remo in a buff a few months back that had plenty of V in it

    I’m very relieved. Actually, I don’t care. especially for commuting, it’s brilliant. Keeps my ears warm and doesn’t require helmet adjustment to fit underneath.

    For those not in the know, a Buff is a tube of stretchy microfibre. You can do all sorts with it (I used to work in an outdoor shop and we had a video of a guy making all sorts of hats with it on a loop – if I ever meet him I’ll kill him), but I tend to go for either the neck gaiter or a semi-balaclava/ear warmer effect.

    V branded Buffs?

    A V – Branded Buff…. interesting idea – if you are wearing a Buff Rule #5 and Rule #9 are likely in play … I like it!

  41. @GogglesPizano

    @RobSandy

    @GogglesPizano

    @RobSandy

    I like wearing a Buff under my helmet. Should I just leave?

    A buff is an essential piece of kit if you ask me. If done right you can totally rock a Buff. there was a pic of Paolini at Milan San Remo in a buff a few months back that had plenty of V in it

    I’m very relieved. Actually, I don’t care. especially for commuting, it’s brilliant. Keeps my ears warm and doesn’t require helmet adjustment to fit underneath.

    For those not in the know, a Buff is a tube of stretchy microfibre. You can do all sorts with it (I used to work in an outdoor shop and we had a video of a guy making all sorts of hats with it on a loop – if I ever meet him I’ll kill him), but I tend to go for either the neck gaiter or a semi-balaclava/ear warmer effect.

    V branded Buffs?

    A V – Branded Buff…. interesting idea – if you are wearing a Buff Rule #5 and Rule #9 are likely in play … I like it!

    Utility aside, I just can’t get with the name. Like you should wear it with a shrug while sitting on a plouffe with your dainty hands in a muff. Call it a fucking collar or V-channelling cone or something.

  42. @pistard

    Utility aside, I just can’t get with the name. Like you should wear it with a shrug while sitting on a plouffe with your dainty hands in a muff. Call it a fucking collar or V-channelling cone or something.

    ^ too right!

    Now that the name for the thing that I never knew had a name has been named it has lost all appeal. It actually is a really useful article of winter gear for the motorcycle or the bike that will now be hard to wear, sometimes this site gives too much information.

  43. @Rob

    @pistard

    Utility aside, I just can’t get with the name. Like you should wear it with a shrug while sitting on a plouffe with your dainty hands in a muff. Call it a fucking collar or V-channelling cone or something.

    ^ too right!

    Now that the name for the thing that I never knew had a name has been named it has lost all appeal. It actually is a really useful article of winter gear for the motorcycle or the bike that will now be hard to wear, sometimes this site gives too much information.

    Apparently Brits also call it a “snood” (they also tend to call just about every other piece of clothing a “vest”, as I discovered when I first went cycling with my VMH).

  44. @tessar

    @Rob

    Apparently Brits also call it a “snood” (they also tend to call just about every other piece of clothing a “vest”, as I discovered when I first went cycling with my VMH).

    No that’s wrong, we are very specific about where a vest and pants are worn. Unlike muurica.

  45. @pistard

    @GogglesPizano

    @RobSandy

    V branded Buffs?

    A V – Branded Buff…. interesting idea – if you are wearing a Buff Rule #5 and Rule #9 are likely in play … I like it!

    Utility aside, I just can’t get with the name. Like you should wear it with a shrug while sitting on a plouffe with your dainty hands in a muff. Call it a fucking collar or V-channelling cone or something.

    That’s exactly how I wear it. Problem?

  46. In for a penny and all that.

    Here’s the video that made me want to commit murder. Enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewVEK-AElDY

  47. Wait! Shelley Verses? My Westhill H.S. friend. Where are you, Shelley?

  48. @manfromallouez

    Former GS-Mengioni road pro Matt Smith sells authentic wool caps in San Francisco, when he’s not riding on the same roads Frank enjoyed back in May or reporting for the Center for Investigative Reporting. I have three; buy one and you’ll wear it all the time.

    Ordered one the day you posted this and it just arrived today – very nice indeed. Will test it tomorrow morning

  49. Richie tried to rock the Winter Cap on the Paris-Nice podium today…not sure either he entirely pulls it off, but it’s a damn sight better than Spilak.

    Kwiatkowski would wanna make sure those ears are covered in any TT, they could just about serve as air brakes!

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