The Wearing-o-the Kit

Who doesn't want to look this good on the bike? Photo Graham Watson.

Is it awesome to wear matching jerseys and shorts? Yes, but it took me a long time and a trip to Italy to have this revelation. Is it a violation of The Rules (#14)? Perhaps.

I always had a drawer full of black bib shorts and a drawer of jerseys. It makes it easy to get dressed to ride, black goes with everything. Grab clean shorts, meditate over jersey selection and boom, suit up. I was never compelled to buy a professional team kit as I’ve never been a rabid fan of any team, any rider or any team kit. I may become Sean Yates in my Motorola jersey for a fleeting few seconds but that’s about as far as it went until I finally made it to Italy.

When driving around near Lucca I kept seeing older guys (my age) out on the road, a foot from the tractor trailers, unfazed, fit, wearing matching jerseys and bibs. I didn’t recognize the kits but these guys looked impossibly good and since I’m a devout Italophile, that’s all it took for me. If that’s how it’s done in Italy then I’m all in.

Luckily Cervelo rider Ted King (self-anointed King of Style) agrees with me.

Among a smattering of other worthy reasons, cycling rocks because you can experience exactly what we pros experience. You can ride the bikes we ride, wear the helmets we wear, pedal the roads on which we race… and you obviously have the opportunity to rock the clothes we wear. So why the crap not?

Moreover, if you’re going to piece together a bicycle outfit, instead of the ragtag/patchwork look, why not look good when doing so? We look good, so you sure as heck might as well hop on the bandwagon and look nearly as good as we do.

I had a run-in with the KoS about my issue with tall socks (and punctuation) but we have agreed to disagree about sock style. Ted’s website is worth a visit as he is a well spoken pro and he gets to hangout with Thor.

In truth I don’t really own (or wear) too many matching kits even now. I own two local club outfits and now four Euro-esque pairs, one set I really can’t wear much because I look too much like Cipo in his zebra Aqua Sapone days and it scares people. I bought an early (pre) Garmin-Slipstream set as I am a fan but never dared wear it when the team was in the same town for two weeks training. Everyone would be embarrassed if we intersected.  But my wife and I are now killing it in our Heinrich and Henrietta Haussler Stylin’ All White Cervelo outfits*. In mine I am actually descending more boldly as I channel H.H. from the wet Stage 13 of the 2009 TdF. All is well unless Heinrich turns out to be last doper of many dopers from the doomed Gerolsteiner team.

So don’t be afraid as neighbors look askance and they pull their kids inside as you leave the house in your bright billboard of matching jersey and shorts advertising, say, an Italian cement company. Wear it loud and wear it proud knowing looking good on the bike is important and it’s the Italian way.

*more violations, Rule #1 and #4

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39 Replies to “The Wearing-o-the Kit”

  1. Well said. Well said indeed. I’m also in violation of Rule #4 and Rule #3, but I wear my Dutch Championship jersey with pride. Sometimes Rules were just made to be broken.

    It’s interesting how proudly the Euro’s wear their team kit. But here in the states, seeing some fat ass in his full USPS kit on a USPS team bike riding on the bike trail around Green Lake is just laughable. I think that’s more the spirit of Rule #4.

  2. Nice post John. One thing about Cipo in that zebra suit, there sure are enough pics of him wearing it in the lead. I myself have the most cobbled together kits to go with my hairy legs. Agreed that the CTT kits are among the coolest in the peloton.

    But now I’m gonna hijack this post by asking the keeper’s input on buying a used pair of 404’s for $900. Frank knows the story as he is behind all this. They’re last years, rentals from frank’s lbs, great condition and would strengthen my rule following in terms of matching color scheme. Seems like a solid deal all around. I’d only get a 53 gram weight savings but I know there’s way more to it than that. Any thoughts?

  3. @frank
    You are correct, Sir. Fat fucks in lycra are always bad, especially in a nice kit. And I’ve seen ’em. Looking good on the bike includes not being a wide body. There is a rule in there somewhere but I don’t think we need to write it down. It’s so implied.

    I’ve had to print out the Rules so I can reference quickly. I carry them from room to room.

  4. @Marko
    Oh hell yes…404s, $900, do it. Are we talking clinchers or tubs? No matter. They look so F’ing good. Jump on the carbone wagon, they are good enough for Thor, that should be enough.

  5. @john
    Excellent work. I have laminated a copy myself, and mounted it on the shop wall. We need to make one that folds up into jersey-pocket size.

  6. @Marko
    I will be consulting with Marko over the phone tomorrow, so lets get our advice together here so we have a full picture for Marko to mull.

    First off, lets assume that, unless my detailed inspection tomorrow or Monday proves otherwise, thanks to the gang of first-rate mechs at Speedy Reedy the wheels are in excellent condition. Saul and Garek are the only two mortals I let service my bike, and those two have solved every problem I’ve ever thrown at them.

    With that assumption, I agree with John that, while a lotachedda, $900 is a really good price to snab a pair of 404’s. They are clinchers, which in my experience, is the way to go for non-racing cyclists. Hell, even racing cyclists, provided they are not getting the gear for free. Maintenance is so much easier, and weight/ride quality advantages are minimal these days. As a second set, sure, I’d love a pair of tubs, but for a daily use set, forget it. Not worth the hassle.

    Second, yeah, the weight thing is secondary, I would say. Lighter wheels than Zipp exist for sure. Like 303’s and 202’s. The Zipps have great rotational weight, and while I don’t know what wheels you have currently, the difference between my Ksyriums and Zipps is hugely noticeable.

    Next is the amazing ride quality. The deep rims give the wheel lots of stability and the things just carve like skis on corduroy. Also, while stiff, they are still compliant and are really comfortable while incredibly fast accelerators.

    The “sweet spot” is amazing on the 404’s. The rims are shaped like a plane’s wing, so you get a Bernoulli effect on them. At certain speeds and wind conditions, the wheels have negative lift and accelerate. You’ll be riding along and all of a sudden you don’t have to pedal anymore. Incredible feeling.

    Lastly, they look fuckin’ sweet and sounds even sweeter. Even just rolling, it sounds like a jet. Climb out of the saddle next to a concrete wall and you will get serious carbone. At one point I had to retrain myself not to climb with my head off to one side because I was trying to listen to how sweet my wheels sound.

    Further thoughts?

  7. @frank
    No need for tubulars, unromantic, expensive, messy, really messy to patch. Love the 404 clinchers with the Aluminum braking surface (cork, who wants it?) and I agree that the aero effect will trump any weight issue. I have some vintage Campy Vento wheels on my steel bike. The wheels are not light but the aero profile more than covers any weight issue, especially once they are up to speed, it’s all haul ass.
    Marko, we will need photos once wheels and bike have co-mingled.
    …do it…

  8. @Marko
    I have to post a comment to about Cipo in the Zebra kit. The year Acqua e Sapone debuted the Zebra kit – a humorous reference to Cipo’s nickname, the Lion King, and the fact that he would be chasing his Zebra lead-out train to the finish line – was his best season ever, 2002 (the photo in this post is from the 2002 Gent-Wevelgem, I believe, which he won). He won MSR, Gent (bridging solo to a breakaway, no less), countless stages in the Giro, at least one but possibly two jerseys in that same Giro, stages in the Vuelta, and the World Championships.

    Unbelievable. It is possibly the ugliest kit on the planet, and somehow – between his immense personality, his style on and off the bike, and his results, it transformed into one of the coolest kits ever.

    Only the Lion King could pull that off.

  9. @frank
    And this is precisely why I’m sticking with my understated raggamuffin kits, because I ain’t got the Cipo Chops. Heck, I feel bad enough having labeled the Lion King the Rainbow Turd.

    @John. Zipps purchased and on the way. Thanks for the nudge.

    Updated pics to follow in the coming weeks.

  10. @frank

    Unbelievable. It is possibly the ugliest kit on the planet, and somehow – between his immense personality, his style on and off the bike, and his results, it transformed into one of the coolest kits ever.

    You were right that this was the ugliest kit on the planet. And that is where you should have ended, it was never a cool kit. No matter what (drugs) Cipo did that kit was fucking hideous.

  11. Re. the Cervelo kit (which I also quite like): is there anything wrong with wearing this team kit while riding a non-Cervelo bike, or does Rule #17 have something to say about this?

  12. @Steampunk
    I hope not because I do just that. Bugger Rule #17. No one has mistaken me for anyone but a sweaty slow punk in Pro Kit. Only Frank has to worry about the problem if matching Cervelo bike with team kits.

  13. @Steampunk
    I think you’ve answered the question yourself. It’s clear to you that wearing C. kit and riding a C. bike is a problem–it’s a huge problem. O.K. So, now what? If you wear the C. kit, but are not on a C. bike, the problem vanishes? No, of course not. The problem is not as bad, but the same problem persists. You’re wearing stuff that doesn’t belong to you.

    Now, Steampunk, if you can’t afford the new Velominati kit, and you already have a Discovery or Cervelo jersey, well, go ahead, I guess. I haven’t yet paid for my team kit, the shit is so expensive, let alone Velominati kit. But, personally, I’d wear a white t-shirt with holes in it before I’d put on a Cervelo jersey.

    Am I just fucking nuts or what? Nobody seems to find it a problem wearing ProTour kit, with the exception of Rob. I’ll try one last time, and then say no more about the issue. I’ll keep my disappointment to myself whenever anyone mentions wearing ProTour kit.

    Surely, my animus goes back to my childhood . . . I had to earn my way onto every team I got on, with tryouts or what have you. Sure, some of the hurdles were set low, especially in the youth sports. But, later on, making it on to varsity teams was sometimes a hard won achievement, and I wore those uniforms proudly. I first heard the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) motto, Everyone plays, when I was seven or eight years old. And, even as a young lad, I was puzzled, bewildered, and then deeply offended. Since then I’ve looked for every reason I can find to despise and mock soccer on any level. What is it? Today, do they let anyone who wants to be on a team on a team, so that wearing a team uniform means nothing? Were all you mofos AYSO soccer players?

    Wearing the uniform, or kit, of a pro team, of whatever sport, is what a fan does. Fans are fat, drunk, and lazy. The Velominati should be practitioners, not fans, of a noble art.

    And, I’ll not mention in public that Frank’s icon photo is a photo of someone wearing a Luxembourg national champions jersey. That can’t be a photo of Frank?!

  14. @david

    Actually, I was just asking for a “friend.” Rule #17 says you need to be sharp if you’re going to pull this off. (I like the loopholes in a number of the rules). But then the question: can one be sharp in Cervelo kit without Cervelo bike. This is an interesting case, insofar as it’s about the only case where the bike and team are joined at the hip (BMC, too, I suppose).

    For the record, I don’t wear any team jerseys and I don’t own a Cervelo one (but it’s about the nicest on the Pro Tour at the moment if you ask me); this really was a bit of a hypothetical question. But let’s leave soccer out of it, ‘kay? In another life, I had a professional trial, and while I don’t play anymore (and miss it even less), I will defend the beautiful game until the bitter end. Your point, though, is well taken. I earned every pair of shorts, socks, and jersey I ever wore. No more needs to be said here: I think we’re on the same page.

  15. @Steampunk
    Well, apologies. I misunderstood your post. I often write after a ride and my favorite recovery drink of choice: Coors Light. Indeed, let’s leave soccer out of it. No need to sow dissension in the ranks.

  16. @davidWHooa “Coors Lite” – (holds hand over face) on Velominati? Isn’t that like saying the ToC is better than the Giro? I am just jumping in here because you might be able to say your joking or something clever? before Frank see this… Amstel, Belgian even English brew, I just got a six of a very fine Wild Blueberry from Maine that might even avert the snobs of the Hops and Grain from slagging you?

    Just trying to be helpful as I feel very close to your excelent thinking above.

  17. @Rob
    “Before Frank sees this” Heh. Funny. But, any beer with a cycling team named after it needs no apology or justification for drinking. Frankly, no beer at all needs any apology or justification for drinking, especially as an post-ride drink. High glycemic index carbs in liquid form. You can’t beat it.

  18. Never had a Coors, but my experience of Budweiser was akin to making love in a canoe… it was fucking close to water.

  19. david :@RobFrankly, no beer at all needs any apology or justification for drinking, especially as an post-ride drink.

    OK, but the question we’re asking is whether “Coors Light” counts as “beer”…

  20. @david
    yes, you’re fucking nuts, because you’re hardcore cognoscenti. And then you go and ruin the hardcore image by ‘fessing to drinking Coors Light…

    As for wearing Team Kit (re-checks Rule #17), as I’ve said before, we are ultimately fans (apart from the Cognoscenti who are fanatics) and so wearing of team kit is acceptable but with two caveats: 1) you don’t wear full team kit 2) you don’t wear kit from more than one team on the the same ride.

    Not matching a jersey with a bike is not an issue, for practical purposes at least. Kit wears out and is cheaper than a frame to replace. Not all riders ride for a club/team, so are they only allowed to wear plain kit? No, this will alienate people (freds?) and may put them off joining in our great sport. Let them enjoy themselves, but within certain rules. But you can’t expect people to have to buy a new frame if they want to show their support for a team (I expect an argument back on this point).

    There should also be a rule for those who are members of a club/team. You must never wear any kit other than the club/team to which you belong. You have chosen to join that club/team for a reason, therefore you must represent them when out on the bike.

    The important thing is how kit is worn. It must never clash with another item of kit, it must look good, It must fit correctly: the jersey must never be pulled down to cover the arse. If you have saggy pockets, you must never load them so that they distort the shape of the top – you will have to go hungry and risk a puncture. Either that or get a new top with better pockets.

  21. New Rule: You must drink beer of European derivation. If you have to drink a North American beer, it must be from a micro-brewery.

  22. @Jarvis
    I’m under a self-imposed gag order on the kit thing. But, I find this troubling, “we are ultimately fans”. I hope not. Ultimately, the Velominati should be practitioners, even craftsmen, if you will. The practice, the art, is informed and enhanced by carefully studying, admiring, and simply enjoying professional racing, much like a carpenter’s work may be informed and enhanced by studying, admiring, and enjoying the works of master furniture makers. But the practitioner must be more than a fan of antique furniture who knows a lot about it and enjoys studying it, but never builds anything himself. What that craft is exactly, I’m not sure. I’m working under the hypothesis that the craft is not simply racing. At any rate, if the Velominati are just a fan club, akin to a posse of rabid (European) football fans who know all the player’s stats, wear the jerseys of their favorite clubs, and kick around a soccer ball now and again, then I’m out the door.

  23. Steampunk :New Rule: You must drink beer of European derivation. If you have to drink a North American beer, it must be from a micro-brewery.

    Yes, and we might call it the “Metrosexual Rule”.

  24. @david – can we call you sgw again, I preferred that. Anyway, you are absolutely correct. I didn’t really get my point across, or perhaps I was crossing two streams of thought. You can strike that comment of mine you have quoted, for it is wrong and you are right, we are craftsmen, artisans if you want to be “euro”.

    I do however have a problem with banning people from wearing team kit, as this verges on us being snobs…oh. Anyway, by all means a rule that no-one is allowed to wear full team kit.

  25. Got it. “Artisan”, yes, good.

    I just quickly choose “SGW” to make a post or two, not thinking I’d be so drawn to the Rules and around for a while. But that’s my team’s name. And, I don’t want to pose as speaking for them. In fact, many of them are Rule Holist’s for sure.

  26. david :@Rob
    “Before Frank sees this” Heh. Funny. But, any beer with a cycling team named after it needs no apology or justification for drinking. Frankly, no beer at all needs any apology or justification for drinking, especially as an post-ride drink. High glycemic index carbs in liquid form. You can’t beat it.

    Geof :

    david :@RobFrankly, no beer at all needs any apology or justification for drinking, especially as an post-ride drink.

    OK, but the question we’re asking is whether “Coors Light” counts as “beer”…

    david :

    Steampunk :New Rule: You must drink beer of European derivation. If you have to drink a North American beer, it must be from a micro-brewery.

    Yes, and we might call it the “Metrosexual Rule”.

    Good riposte SWG-David
    But we better clear up this beer thing cause it’s going to get in the way of the other important stuff. My apologies to all,I kind of started this.

    I hold no beer against any thirsty man but having raced around that industrial behemoth in Golden a couple of times (and the name for the race was a money thing cause the real name was Zinger first [I was in other races, not that one]), the brew is questionable at best. Without knowing your budget, which really, I guess, is not critical to the point but may have been at a formative stage in your maturing, when you were indoctrinated to beer and grew to like watery tasteless floor mopped up stuff.

    So can I suggest we just forget this whole line of posts and agree that you can drink what you want but if it has to be US factory made pantherpiss that you just do not mention it in these august pages.

  27. @david

    This is a tricky one. In retrospect, my suggestion has an elitist ring to it that I don’t like. But I do like my water clear and not yellowed just as I like my beer “hopping” with flavor. This is hardly worth the serious consideration””suffice to say I withdraw the rule (it has nothing to do with cycling and is only divisive)””but I thought craft and quality were matters of importance when it came to cycling, and therefore why not also, too, and as well, to the post-ride drink?

  28. @Geof Cheers

    And apologies David on the SWG-SGW I was not trying to be checky, really am slightly dislexic… can not spell at all and gramar foget aboutit.

    @Steampunk Good points but this is about the bike, again I am sorry I side tracked this lets get back to Team Kit – I loved the Lion Kings Zebra togs! Only he could wear them and get respect (except from Brett).

  29. WRT team kit, it seems to be acceptable to don some retro team jersey that went doon the pan many moons ago, so on my xmas list this year is a 1964 Gitane replica, in honour of Anquetil’s TdF win in the year of my birth. Other than that, is it acceptable to wear obscure pro-continental kit at all ? I have a SpiderTech jersey, and think it will be ok to ride around the Scottish Highlands with it.

    Thoughts ?

  30. As a kid I rocked team kits as soon as possible. My first jersey and knicks were netti plains with some mesh gloves, the 1st Jersey I bought was a Supermercate Brianzoli team Jersey that was donned by the sublime Francesco Moser. Man I loved that Jersey and still have today in the back of my wardrobe.

    I also had a mad love of the PDM team which has turned into a bit of an obsession and have one of the largest PDM collections I know of anywhere in the world as a fan to match my impecible Concorde Squarda in the 1991 flavour which allows to rock the old or the new team kit as team rode both variations on that bike.

    Also my 2009 Cervelo Test Team kit would not be complete without my 2009 Cervelo S2. It would be lacking to have one and not the other when you have team builds on your bikes. While I may not be pro my mindset is and if it wasn’t for circumstances I may have been pro myself but alas that’s a whole other story.

    But my 2008 Look 595 demands nothing less that my plain Castelli kit although I see the V kit would look spectacular with it and will be purchased once the funds are a lil more flush.

    I think though its all about how and where you wear it especially if you have the body to pull it off and fortunately I do and I make it look fuckin awesome while doing so so why the hell not. I know am now a rec cyclist these days but I dont club race and my group rides are limited so why the heck can’t I enjoy kit I think looks spectacular and I have access to and comes from the most beautiful sport of all – I am with Ted King all the way on this

  31. Wow, I didn’t know there were so many rules to having fun.  What the hell does it matter what you are wearing as long as you are on a bicycle having fun, putting your hair (or lack thereof) to the wind?!  Stop reading senseless websites (I  know I will) and instead ride another hour or two, it will make that matching kit fit a lot better.

  32. Funny thing is, this was the first article I read back in the summer of 2010. Been looked since.

  33. Funny thing is, this was the first article I read back in the summer of 2010. Been hooked since.

  34. Is it against the rules to wear a manufacturer kit when not riding one of their bikes?  For example, I have a moots mountain bike but my road bike is not Moots.  will I look like a dolt if I wear my moots kit while riding the road bike? I come from a mtb background where the etiquette seem much more relaxed so I come here to learn the road rules.

  35. A couple of points:
    1. I’ve only passed through Italy when racing, but was based in France and Belgium most of the time when I was there. The rule was: Team kits for teams that you don’t ride for or haven’t ridden for are worn by the little kids, old guys and sad-sacks. A Melbourne friend of mine rode dilettante in Italy and was in the Italian national selection squad for the worlds, but didn’t make the team on race day and still has a national kit in plastic that he has never worn and never will because he never ‘made’ the team. It’s been a few years, but not long ago, anyone serious would have shaken their heads at a rider who turned up to a training ride wearing kit to a team that he didn’t ride for.
    2. Getting a ‘team kit’ printed up in Europe is cheap and easy. A group of business-owning cyclists that ride together will create a club and get the names of their businesses printed on their professional looking club kit. I once asked a friend which team is that when seeing a different kit in a bunch out on a training ride and he said, “Oh, that’s not a team. That’s my dad’s cyclo-touring club. They only go out on a Sunday and they got a team kit printed up with their businesses on it.”
    3. H.H. was a short-hand sign-off for Heil Hitler in the Nazi regime.

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