Oh Jaja, why so French? photo: Eric Houdas

In Memoriam: The Headband

by / / 77 posts

Like the Spinaci bars, the headband was cool, effective and disappeared quickly. While the Spinaci was outlawed by the UCI for being too radical, the headband couldn’t co-exist* with the newly arriving hard-shell helmet and it said arrivederci, I’ve heard something about this ‘step aerobics’, I’ll go there.

Headband crossed national boundaries: Jean-François Bernard, Roberto Visentini, Dag Otto Lauritzen and Davis Phinney all engaged them with aplomb. It was form and function. Who doesn’t want to keep the eyes clear of sweat and who doesn’t want to look more awesome? Who, damn it?

This was more than a sweatband, for sponsors it was a chance to increase the billboard surface area. For certain riders it was also fashion statement, like extra wide bell bottoms were a fashion statement. Pulling off the headband required having good hair or at least high hair. One would think Super Mario should have killed one (hair and Italian) but no, headband would interfere with his succession of perms and hair gels festivals. Even Mario realized he could have too much going on up there. On the other end of the spectrum, Sean Kelly would never have worn one, (god, please don’t let someone here find a photo of this). In the middle of the 1980’s spectrum, experimentation was rampant, they were rocked by Hinault and Fignon. It was a crazy world back then.

*Gert-Jan Theunisse somehow made it co-exist, as only he could (see below).

// In Memoriam

  1. My training manual clearly states that a sweat band is an legitimate piece of racing kit

  2. Yep, been there… During the late 80’s,I had blue lycra shorts (see pic in previous post, taken 1 minute before I threw them away) with pink jersey (still have and wear it) plus pink headband and pink wristbands. I liked it back then as it did keep sweat out of my eyes. When wearing contacts, sweat in your eyes is just killing. It wore out and got canned decades ago, never to be replaced again.

    GJ Theunisse lost his hair while ago… GJ trying to get the Lion-look back

  3. Follicularly challenged

    Follicolly challenged

  4. I think Fignon looks awesome in a headband. I tried to get hold of one of the Renault-Elf headbands for a fancy dress costume (yes, I went out dressed as Laurent Fignon. No, no one got it), and they are like rocking horse shit.

    While I don’t think I’d leave the house wearing them, I do have a fine use for headbands/sweatbands – on the turbo/rollers. I have them on wrists and head every time I go on the turbo and it drastically cuts down the amount of sweat sprayed around the kitchen and onto my bike.

  5. @RobSandy

    While I don’t think I’d leave the house wearing them, I do have a fine use for headbands/sweatbands – on the turbo/rollers. I have them on wrists and head every time I go on the turbo and it drastically cuts down the amount of sweat sprayed around the kitchen and onto my bike.

    Agree! Although I do not have a headband anymore, I dislike this even more:

    So I usually have a towel in my neck. Right now, the garage is quite chilly so roller-sweat is rare anyhow.

  6. @wiscot

    I think they were actually 3ttt Superleggero ‘bars – those are Modolo Speedy levers too which had lever blades that came out too far so you had to run them lower just to get your fingers on them.

    That whole bike was chucked together out of whatever I could get my hands as I scrambled back to cycling life after five years of bikeless smokin’ and drinkin’, but I’ve probably never done as many miles on any bike since. It was a terrible mess of Sante derailleurs and brakes, 105 chainset and hubs, heavy FIR rims and a freaking Vetta saddle, of all things. I loved that bike…until a better one came along. (It’s not a De Rosa, by the way, it’s a Ferrari :winking emoji: )

  7. Haha, and a frame pump wtf! In my defence, this was 1992 – mini-pumps weren’t proven technology back then and this was a 160km event!

  8. Vetta. Oh, how I hate them. I have around 4 of their computers that no longer work. What bugs me is that I have older computers than these that work just fine. I’ve been trying to get customer service to do something, anything and they won’t. Jerks.

  9. @HigherGround

    I have proof positive Sean Kelly wore a headband but will leave them unposted out of respect for Kelly

  10. @Gianni

    chris

    @Ron

    Any chance to work some Eros Poli into an article I will. You got me there.

    This past Sunday Eros Poli came and rode with my local neighborhood cycling club and I missed it. I was out on a solo ride that day. I’m still kicking myself! What are the odds?

  11. @Jason Wright

    @HigherGround

    I have proof positive Sean Kelly wore a headband but will leave them unposted out of respect for Kelly

    I have a memory of him wearing one too, but there exists the possibility I’ve made it up. That’s never stopped me from sounding completely confident in my assertion though.

  12. @Ron

    Vetta. Oh, how I hate them. I have around 4 of their computers that no longer work. What bugs me is that I have older computers than these that work just fine. I’ve been trying to get customer service to do something, anything and they won’t. Jerks.

    I’m still using a Cateye that has outlived a couple of Garmins. Photo proof it’s still ticking.

  13. @Gianni

    Yes, and you guys keep quoting it. FFS.

  14. @Jason Wright

    @HigherGround

    I have proof positive Sean Kelly wore a headband but will leave them unposted out of respect for Kelly

    Yeah, buried deep in my psyche I can see the image. Still, Sean doesn’t seem like a headband guy.

  15. @Oli

    Haha, and a frame pump wtf! In my defence, this was 1992 – mini-pumps weren’t proven technology back then and this was a 160km event!

    In the grass, no less. Uphill both ways?

  16. @MangoDave

    @Gianni

    chris

    @Ron

    Any chance to work some Eros Poli into an article I will. You got me there.

    This past Sunday Eros Poli came and rode with my local neighborhood cycling club and I missed it. I was out on a solo ride that day. I’m still kicking myself! What are the odds?

    Holy smokes! What a missed opportunity. Do you live in Italy and if so, you suck.

  17. Have you guys not heard? The neck thingie is the new headband.

  18. @fignons barber

    His may be laced with coke…

  19. @fignons barber

    Have you guys not heard? The neck thingie is the new headband.

    Neck thingies are so pro right now. I don’t go out on the bike this time of year without one.

  20. You’re welcome.

  21. @fignons barber

    Have you guys not heard? The neck thingie is the new headband.

    That is a lot of ugly right there, but he is still a studly looking man. Respect.

    @Ccos

    @fignons barber

    His may be laced with coke…

    Allegedly.

    @Chipomarc

    @fignons barber

    Have you guys not heard? The neck thingie is the new headband.

    Neck thingies are so pro right now. I don’t go out on the bike this time of year without one.

    Pro is not the same as looking good. Stop it.

  22. But mine is a Castelli neck gaitor wrap, I’m sure I look great with that.

  23. @Chipomarc

    But mine is a Castelli neck gaitor wrap, I’m sure I look great with that.

    The Russian’s measure of manliness is going about with their necks uncovered in winter. They probably also drink a shit load of vodka to do it but that’s besides the point.

  24. @chuckp

    @Matt

    I maintain that Davis Phinney is one of the coolest cats to ever swing a leg over the top tube.

    And a genuinely nice guy too. Post-race party in DC after 1992 Tour DuPont.

    Davis Phinney is the best, a class act. I got to meet him and race along side, briefly that is, at the Hotter Than Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, Texas many, many years ago.

  25. @frank

    And with a permanent headwind.

  26. @frank

    You’re welcome.

    What. A. Man.

  27. @Chipomarc

    My training manual clearly states that a sweat band is an legitimate piece of racing kit

    Has anyone got a picture of Coppi with a cabbage leaf on his head – if we have photographic evidence does this mean that we too can put cabbage leaves on our heads?

  28. Pro – not Fantastic…

  29. Love seeing the 80s photos right now, as I have to wait until the 25th to open my gift-to-self-given-by-mother-in-law, a Turbo saddle for one of my classic steel bikes.

    Good god, I pulled a terrible oddball fi'zi:k saddle off my rain commuter yesterday and put on a Rolls. The change was immense. (not that I hate fi'zi:k saddles, have a Gobi XM on my cross bike, but this one was baaaaaad)

  30. Luca Paolini and Assos Man – the only two humans to own those granny shades?

  31. @EBruner

    Davis Phinney is the best, a class act. I got to meet him and race along side, briefly that is, at the Hotter Than Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, Texas many, many years ago.

    Very cool! I’m also fortunate to have met Connie Carpenter (on a different occasion). She is a great lady.

  32. @Jason Wright

    @HigherGround

    I have proof positive Sean Kelly wore a headband but will leave them unposted out of respect for Kelly

    Oh shit. I think you’re right. And what’s worse, I think he wore it when he got his only yellow jersey in the Tour. Talk about ruining a career highlight.

  33. @frank

    You’re welcome.

    Look at the last pic on the Champs Elysees from 1983. Reynold rider (Delgado) wearing a cap. Looks good. Fignon wearing a headband. Also looks good. Peugeot rider? Wearing a headband and a cap. Fail.

  34. I’m checking out that very cool photo from the Champs-Elysees and have an interesting thought. If those three bikes were painted black without Pinerello, etc labeled on ’em could we tell them apart? Contrast those bikes with bikes today: Imagine a Pinarello F8, Speshy Venge and Trek Madone in that photo all painted same black… we’d still be able to ID the three separate bikes for what they were.

    It’s possible that we’re in the golden age of bike design right now thanks to carbon yes? Hmmm

  35. @wilburrox

    I’m checking out that very cool photo from the Champs-Elysees and have an interesting thought. If those three bikes were painted black without Pinerello, etc labeled on ’em could we tell them apart? Contrast those bikes with bikes today: Imagine a Pinarello F8, Speshy Venge and Trek Madone in that photo all painted same black… we’d still be able to ID the three separate bikes for what they were.

    It’s possible that we’re in the golden age of bike design right now thanks to carbon yes? Hmmm

    I get your point. Lugs aside, I doubt there’s much difference between the Pinarello and the Gitane. The Peugeot is an early carbon-fiber model with the three main tubes being carbon.

    What I find really interesting is the positions of the three riders. All three are roughly in the same position but Mr Peugeot is sitting much lower than Delgado and Fignon is sitting pretty far back to judge from the POV of dropping a plumb line through the kneecap to the pedal spindle.But, again, unlike today, the saddle-bar drop differential is much less than today as they are riding bikes with conventional geometries and pronounced fork rake. Delgado seems to be riding pretty shallow bars too.

  36. @wilburrox

    I’m checking out that very cool photo from the Champs-Elysees and have an interesting thought. If those three bikes were painted black without Pinerello, etc labeled on ’em could we tell them apart? Contrast those bikes with bikes today: Imagine a Pinarello F8, Speshy Venge and Trek Madone in that photo all painted same black… we’d still be able to ID the three separate bikes for what they were.

    It’s possible that we’re in the golden age of bike design right now thanks to carbon yes? Hmmm

    Especially as a lot of those bikes from the steel and alu era were specials made by boutique craftsmen and not what they were painted up to be as stock bikes on sale.

  37. @Teocalli

    Sorry that peak/headband was best left o the golf course.

    LPGA at that.

  38. @Teocalli

    @wilburrox

    I’m checking out that very cool photo from the Champs-Elysees and have an interesting thought. If those three bikes were painted black without Pinerello, etc labeled on ’em could we tell them apart? Contrast those bikes with bikes today: Imagine a Pinarello F8, Speshy Venge and Trek Madone in that photo all painted same black… we’d still be able to ID the three separate bikes for what they were.

    It’s possible that we’re in the golden age of bike design right now thanks to carbon yes? Hmmm

    Especially as a lot of those bikes from the steel and alu era were specials made by boutique craftsmen and not what they were painted up to be as stock bikes on sale.

    in fact see here

  39. @Gianni

    @MangoDave

    @Gianni

    chris

    @Ron

    Any chance to work some Eros Poli into an article I will. You got me there.

    This past Sunday Eros Poli came and rode with my local neighborhood cycling club and I missed it. I was out on a solo ride that day. I’m still kicking myself! What are the odds?

    Holy smokes! What a missed opportunity. Do you live in Italy and if so, you suck.

    No, sadly I don’t live in Italy. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have been so depressed about missing him since I might have another chance. I’m in Phoenix, AZ so the chance he’ll ever come back is close to zero.

  40. @MangoDave

    WTF is Eros doing in Phoenix? Good god, his eyes will be damaged by the harsh light and some might say, blighted landscape. You are right, that was a chance of a lifetime. Now we must go to Verona and find him where he lives.

    I like Tucson so maybe I would like Phoenix. I’ve only been there to drive away quickly from the airport. If we ever do a Keepers Tour out of Bergamo Italy we will have to invite Eros. He can be the Museeuw of the Italian Keepers Tour.

    We might already have a place to crash.

  41. @frank

    You’re welcome

    I am neither pro, nor an arbiter of taste, but I have to say that Phil Armstrong is looking a little goofy here with an oversized cap on top of his helmet.

  42. @Gianni

    @MangoDave

    WTF is Eros doing in Phoenix? Good god, his eyes will be damaged by the harsh light and some might say, blighted landscape. You are right, that was a chance of a lifetime. Now we must go to Verona and find him where he lives.

    I like Tucson so maybe I would like Phoenix. I’ve only been there to drive away quickly from the airport. If we ever do a Keepers Tour out of Bergamo Italy we will have to invite Eros. He can be the Museeuw of the Italian Keepers Tour.

    We might already have a place to crash.

    Keepers Tour in Italy? Sign me up!

    Phoenix is a good place to ride, especially this time of year, except for the short daylight part. The city itself sucks pretty bad for cycling, but it’s not hard to get out and find some fun routes.

    I didn’t know why he was here, so I had to look it up:

    http://ingamba.pro/igb_blog/coming-to-your-home-town-eros-poli-is-on-the-road

    Oh, yeah – headbands. Now the thread is back on track.

  43. @cognition

    @frank

    You’re welcome

    I am neither pro, nor an arbiter of taste, but I have to say that Phil Armstrong is looking a little goofy here with an oversized cap on top of his helmet.

    I never felt comfortable about it when he was riding around with that yellow stuffy chicken tied to his stem.

  44. @wiscot

    The Peugeot rider is Le Skippy.

  45. @the Engine

    Photographic evidence of The Badger in a granny rain bonnet. I’d sooner wear one these than a headband.


  46. I never felt comfortable about it when he was riding around with that yellow stuffy chicken tied to his stem.

    cool shot. These bikes. Those shades. The Casio.

  47. @piwakawaka

    @piwakawaka

    I never felt comfortable about it when he was riding around with that yellow stuffy chicken tied to his stem.

    cool shot. These bikes. Those shades. The Casio.

    The physique. The attitude. The hair. The palmares. Who seriously gives a shit about his cap or lucky charms? Phil Anderson was the effing man when I was a kid. Still hammers it, even now.

  48. Found another great headband pic.

  49. Ronan Pensec, TdF ’90

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