Best Kit Ever?

Celeste Heaven

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.

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211 Replies to “Best Kit Ever?”

  1. I love this site!  It’s like a bike museum run by curmudgeonly (sp?) get off my lawn! types.  I like some of that classic kit but would like to find an (current) American pro team that had decent kit I could brag on but I can’t recall any.  RSNT isn’t bad but that baby-blue stripe burns my eyes…

  2. @AndyH

    I love this site!  It’s like a bike museum run by curmudgeonly (sp?) get off my lawn! types.  I like some of that classic kit but would like to find an (current) American pro team that had decent kit I could brag on but I can’t recall any.  RSNT isn’t bad but that baby-blue stripe burns my eyes…

    Ha! That’s funny. Yes, you pretty much nailed it. Stubborn, opinionated, argumentative. It’s our brand.

  3. Sanson (its gelato – what’s not to like?) as worn by The Sheriff. Maes Pils (its a beer – what’s not to like) as worn by the Bulldog. Wiel’s Groene Leeuw as worn by almost no one.

    Worst kit running around at present is AG2R. Poo brown. ‘Nuff said. I think this years QS kit is nice, maybe helped by Tommeke monstering the first third of the season. Everything else is a bit forgettable. The new Saxo Tinkoff kit makesthe team look like they are all the Swedish national champion. Orica Greenedge is OK, but adding the blue that taking Orica on board seemed to require was clearly a challenge.

    Non-compliant suggestions: 2005 Aussie national champs jersey (as worn by Robbie Mac); 1999 Tricolore (Tafi); 2010 Suisse national champs jersey (Faboo); 2008 Belgian national champs jersey (Devolder); 2011 French national champs jersey (Chavanel).

  4. I’d have to say that to me, the Peugeot-Michelin-BP kit is the nicest ever – here’s why (will try to upload a photo here – albeit with a distinct sense op trepidation. But then again, providing a good laugh for all you fine people is a noble act,surely?

    Yes, yes, I know – horrible violation of Rules #17 and #27, and the brown socks are hideous. But at least the lad is in compliance with Rule #14, and I think the Peugeot kit (almost) manages to make this dorky teenager look cool. And hey: this was in the late 70’s, after all. I know that the rules have existed since the beginning of time, and all that, but I still had a lot to learn… Shoes are pretty cool though, no?

    The bike is a story in itself: it’s a Peugeot UO8 with one of the first (cotter-cranked) triples ever to be seen in those parts – a 36-45-52, to be exact, and I loved it. (The dork disk was removed at some point…). Mafac centre-pull breaks, Simplex shifters, shiny steel rims with ‘cheese grater’ pattern on the sides for better braking… I rode more than 40,000 km on that bike, but sometime in the mid-80’s, crashed it beyond repair, sadly

    On a long cycling holiday in France, I came across the jersey in a bike shop: I agonized for almost an hour, and then decided to blow about a fifth of my total vacation budget on it. I still have the jersey, as a matter of fact: it gets washed, very carefully, by hand; I squeeze it as dry as I can (never wring it) and then lay it out to dry on a big stack of towels. Takes about two days to dry. The green-yellow BP chevrons – made of felt – are almost gone now, and there is a big, stitched tear on the left shoulder from a bad crash. The ‘Peugeot-Michelin’ lettering on front and back are actually embroidered – and I don’t think they had machines for that kind of work in those days? It’s a tad on the warm side for riding in temperatures in excess of 20 degrees C, but hard to beat for early spring/late autumn rides – and it stays wonderfully warm even when wet. It’s easily my proudest posession in the world.

  5. @ErikdR

    Fantastic…  I agree about the Peugeot jersey.

    Although I imagine you would have had a few interesting looks standing around like that in a public park. Probably could have paid for the jersey…

  6. @ChrisO

    Cheers Chris. This photo was taken in front of my parents’ house, so most of the passerby were used to my appearance – but yes, me and the other two guys I used to go on these cycling holidays with did get some odd looks every now and then.

    By the way: I really have no idea wtf is going on with the shorts in that picture: Looks like I’ve folded or rolled up the legs quite a bit. Ah, the folly of youth…

    Actually, those shorts were not bad as such, as I recall: Wool, of course – weighed a quarter of a fuckton in rainy weather – and the chamois was just that – chamois leather. Also to be washed by hand with a special detergent, and took ages to dry. Good times

  7. Nattering on a bit. I’m aware – sorry, but with reference to my remark above that “they didn’t have machines fior that kind of work…”, I now realize that it was not very well put. What I meant to say was that they probably didn’t just load the pattern into some computer-controlled high-tech sewing machine in those days. I assume the lettering was made with the help of a regular sewing machine with some smart ‘loop-stitch’ function (?), and almost certainly not embroidered by hand. (My Peugeot jersey was expensive at the time, certainly – but not THAT expensive…)

  8. @ErikdR Great stuff! Props for posting the pic. I’m sure there are more than a few Velominati who wouldn’t post such a picture! I still regret not buying a long-sleeved Peugeot jersey that hung in the window of Dooley’s Cycles in Paisley back in the early 80s. It looked so pro.

    Shorts were cut shorter back them and they had no grippers. Real chamois was literally a pain in the ass. Chafed like hell and provided next to no padding after a few washes. My first cycling shoes looked like yours – mine were flat-soled Rivats. touring shoes I think. Then I got some badass Vittorias – all leather including the sole. Good times indeed – but I still don’t want to turn the clock back.

  9. @wiscot @Nate Thanks

    Haha… yes: those black shoes in the picture had flat, all-leather soles – slippery as hell on smooth surfaces, I never went for the shoe-plates for some reason – just pulled the straps of the toe-clips tighter (and got numb feet as a result, of course…) 

    My Peugeot bicycle weighed in at 13,8 kilograms or thereabouts – and I seriously considered it to be a ‘racing bike’! It was actually scary as hell in fast decents, as the frame flexed hugely while cornering – but on the long and straight, it performed beautifully.  

  10. @ChrisO

    Chris, I must be very naive and/or stupid, or lacking in my command of the English language, because your remark about ‘paying for the jersey’ went completely over my head initially – I’m not even sure I completely understand it now, but am I right in assuming that you think I look like a ‘moneyboy’ in that picture? (If so, I can only respect your vastly superior knowledge of such matters…)

    Personally, I just think I jook like a bit of a softie – but for the record, and in spite of the fact that it doesn’t really make any difference one way or the other as far as I’m concerned: I’m straight.

  11. Christ on a raft, when will I learn to check my posts for spelling? That should have been “…think I LOOK like a bit of a softie…” of course. Argh. Over and out for today.

  12. @ErikdR

    That should have been Mafac centre-pull BRAKES, FFS! Twatwaffle…

    Funny bunch of comments here. You were wise to blow money on that jersey back then. Who wouldn’t? I had a Peugeot PX-10 le. No idea what the “le” was about. Same fucked French parts on it. Heavy, yes. It rode well and looked fantastic because the 60 cm frame came in champagne gold. It was nice.

    Thanks for posting the photo, funny stuff. There should be a picture of me looking about as intimidating in wool shorts and a less interesting jersey and longer hair.

    I have no idea what a money boy is.

  13. @Gianni

    Ah yes, the Peugeot PX10LE… Didn’t you use a photo of that bike (or one like it) as the header for an article you did at some point, called ‘Bikeography’? I may be totally wrong about this, but the ‘LE’ in the name could have been an abbreviation og ‘LEGÈRE’ – indicating that the ‘LE’ type bikes/frames were made of better – and lighter – tubing?

    My orange UO8 (64 cm frame) was made of what those French geniuses called High-Carbon steel – I believe that is about the equivalent of what Frank refers to as recycled boat anchors. Still, I took that bike (and the jersey, and about 10 kg of luggage in panniers) over the Lautaret and the Galibier in ’79 and, a year later, over the Gross-Glockner in Austria – and it performed admirably (except on the descents, as previously mentioned).

    BTW, I figured that perhaps a former Peugeot afficionado like yourself might find the following article of interest:


  14. @ErikdR

    That’s an amazing link, thanks. Interesting about the LE  too as the bike was not light, the lugs were very unexceptional and it sure looked like another factory Peugeot frame. Maybe light compared to recycled boat anchors.

    I tried touring on my peugeot: tent, stove, sleeping bag, food, tools. FFS, it was so heavy I could barely pick it up if it fell over. I quit after two days.

  15. I’m going to second my interwebular buddy Oli since his design is great kit. I do prefer the blue over that black however. And yes, I’m back after a serious month of proposal work during the US Gov’t fiscal year end.  Finally got in decent ride in after all the very early morning or very late evening rides.  Here is me near Morrison, CO on the Front Range of the Rockies in Oli’s design.

  16. @niksch Great stuff, Eric, and nice to see that the Blue is preferred – it’s my favourite also, despite the Black Ops version.

  17. Oh, and thanks again for reprazentin’! Very cool to see the kit on the loose in other parts of the world…

  18. @oli You are welcome. Like I said earlier in the FB, it was noticed and I like wearing something other than the “Colorado” jerseys that are so common around here.  For the record, I’ve seen no V-Kit here either.  Everyone seems to wear the “Colorado” jerseys or Beer jerseys.

  19. @nikschoh there’s no doubt you’re Looking Fantastic! Nothing but agreement about the quality jersey that @Oli‘s put together too.

  20. @niksch

    I’m going to second my interwebular buddy Oli since his design is great kit. I do prefer the blue over that black however. And yes, I’m back after a serious month of proposal work during the US Gov’t fiscal year end.  Finally got in decent ride in after all the very early morning or very late evening rides.  Here is me near Morrison, CO on the Front Range of the Rockies in Oli’s design.

    I’ve always liked Oli’s kit.  We need to get more over here.  Oli, do you do periodic orders?

  21. Hey guys, thanks very much for the kind words. My good friend John and I have just done two big orders back to back so we’re having a bit of a break for now, I’m afraid. If Frank and the Keepers don’t view it as advertorial I’d be happy to let you know when we next plan to do one, otherwise you’ll have to find me elsewhere on the net. Cheers, Oli

  22. @Gianni



    you blind tit.

    The some kid in photo 7 is Steve Houanard.

    You spent 20 minutes looking at him before Paris Roubaix 2012.

    You really need some Malteni

    Ride the crest


    Faaack. Yes, I need much Malteni. I am a blind tit, a dumb one at that. I will correct. Bianchi Denti would have nailed me on that if you didn’t. cheers.

    Goddamn it!!!


  23. Certainly not going to suggest its one of the best kits of all time, but I didn’t know where else to post this – I kind of like the new Team Blanco kit, especially Boom’s jersey.  Its definitely better than the previous ‘team without a sponsor’ kit of High Road.

  24. I got passed by a truck painted in Mapei colours today, never knew they were a flooring company, much like Quick Step! Sadly the driver wasn’t Meseeuw…

  25. @ErikdR Always wanted one of those tops, on the bike, in the pub, can’t think of anywhere it wouldn’t make me surprisingly cool…

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