Boonen in his final Paris-Roubaix

The Color White

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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.

// Awesome Belgian Guys // Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro

  1. 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.

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  2. Just the right tone of Antique White

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  3. @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.

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  4. @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).

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  5. @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.

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  6. 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.

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

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  8. @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.

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  9. @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?

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  10. @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.

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  11. 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.

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  12. @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.

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  13. @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!

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  14. @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.

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  15. @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

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  16. 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

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  17. @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.

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  18. @Buck Rogers Thnx Buck

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  19. @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…

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  20. @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 fi'zi:k 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?

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  21. 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.

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  22. @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.

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  23. @Teocalli

    Just the right tone of Antique White

    I am trying to imagine a #9 ride in these.

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  24. @chuckp Ha Ha! I have an alternative pair for that.

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  25. @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.

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  26. 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.

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  27. 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.

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  28. @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.

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  29. @Slowtrane

    Talking about the significance of white: https://americanliterature.com/author/herman-melville/book/moby-dick-or-the-whale/chapter-42-the-whiteness-of-the-whale

    Welcome aboard sir! Anyone who come on here and posts links to articles on Moby Dick is alright with me! Strong work indeed!

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  30. @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.

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  31. @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)

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  32. @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!

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  33. @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.

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  34. @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.

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  35. @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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  36. @chuckp

    @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).

    Is your wife wearing a sleeveless jersey? Two demerits.

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  37. @universo

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

    The repainted MX Leader looks badass. And I have to say the unorthodox white saddle/black bars looks the business as well. Here’s the design I’m planning for the Silver Don Walker (see bitchy post above.)

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  38. @Blackjohn

    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.

    I saw him at First Ave in Minneapolis. It was a great show; I’ve seen them a few times and they are really hit or miss because the band is so volatile. But when they are on, they are as swingin’ as any hard rock band can be.

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  39. @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.

    Loves me that Hollands. Please, PLEASE post us a pick of the 90’s-style STI/DT combo? @wiscot

    @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.

    Blue bar tape would go Full Pantani. That would be a tight program.

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  40. @frank

    @chuckp

    @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).

    Is your wife wearing a sleeveless jersey? Two demerits.

    Attention to detail…well, this is why you’re a Keeper.

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  41. @frank

    Loves me that Hollands. Please, PLEASE post us a pick of the 90’s-style STI/DT combo? Blue bar tape would go Full Pantani. That would be a tight program.

    I’ll see your STI/DT combo and raise you one pair of Record Titanium 9S Ergopowers. Yes, that’s Nuovo Celeste tape. Finished with my nod to The Color White:

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  42. @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.

    pegorettis are simply gorgeous. pure elegance.

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  43. Personally, I have always felt that the current stealth/murdered out/black-on-black-on-black bike design trend introduced a degree of banal geneticist and conformity to what should be an individual expression of one’s athletic personality.

    Of course, people just buy what is available, but this is why I have always sought out (or commissioned) white bicycle equipment- Always stylish, often leading the pack and reliably elegant https://goo.gl/photos/gehcWzTZvEqGzzPFA

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  44. @Buck Rogers

    @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!

    I’ll raise a glass and a mouse click to that suggestion. I also just noticed that Eroica Limburg switched the ride to Saturday and have added an excursion on Sunday to Heri-Chapelle to see the TdF go by. Be interesting to see how many do that and whether the TV coverage picks up on a contingent in vintage gear cheering on the TdF.

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  45. @frank

    Is your wife wearing a sleeveless jersey? Two demerits.

    Rule #99 – WAGs who ride get to do whatever they please because you should be so fortunate to have a significant other who doesn’t resent that you ride. That said, here’s a pic of my wife from a coffee ride we did a few weekends ago.

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  46. @frank

    Loves me that Hollands. Please, PLEASE post us a pick of the 90’s-style STI/DT combo?

    Here are a few pics from the PEZ Readers’ Rigs where it was featured. I think I may have posted these previously (a while ago) in The Bikes. I’ll see if I have any other pics on my computer at home that specifically highlight the STI/DT combo. BTW, since these were taken, I changed the stem/bars (Ritchey with a little more rise and modern compact bars) and black bar tape (because that’s what I had lying around). I think I’m going to go back to the stem/bars in the pic (PRO and ITM) and white bar tape.

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  47. @chuckp

    @frank

    Is your wife wearing a sleeveless jersey? Two demerits.

    Rule #99 – WAGs who ride get to do whatever they please because you should be so fortunate to have a significant other who doesn’t resent that you ride. That said, here’s a pic of my wife from a coffee ride we did a few weekends ago.

    I guess we should be balanced and non sexist and also have HABs?

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  48. @Teocalli

    I guess we should be balanced and non sexist and also have HABs?

    I’m fine with that. I have friends who have those too.

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