In Memoriam: The Cycling Cap

The cycling cap, perhaps at it's peak

We gather here today to pay our respects to one of the icons of our great sport, the cycling cap.  The perfect union of form and function and an excellent example of why the former follows the latter, and why together they are beautiful.  The brim is just long enough to shield the eyes from the elements, but is short enough to allow the rider to gaze up the road with head tilted in determination as steady drips of water fall from the apex of the brim and and tap out the rhythm of the stroke.  The cloth construction is comfortable under a helmet or hairnet, and allows it to be easily stuffed into a jersey pocket when not needed.

It’s appearance is clumsy; the short, stubby brim can be flipped upward or downward and, generally made of cotton, cap’s shape is soft and floppy.  Yet, it has been worn by the Greatest Greats of our sport with a transcendent sense of cool. Over time, it became a badge of honor for those of us living La Vie Velominatus; wearing a cycling cap in public amongst the uninitiated felt almost like bragging that you were in on a secret – the cycling cap was what we used to recognize one of our own in a crowd of nonbelievers.

Then something started to change.  Frist this guy, and these guys, and then this fucking guy started wearing our sacred headpiece, and rather than being mistaken for Giants of the Road, we were mistaken for douchebags. The unpalatable and tragic truth is that almost overnight, the history and culture that the cycling cap represented was mistaken for little more than a social prop used by hipsters who suck even more than cyclists at picking up dates at the local cafe.

Slowly but surely, the status of the cycling cap has diminished to where we are today, with the brim of our noble cap barely visible beneath our compulsory helmets only on days where the weather merits its use and  Rule #22 forbidding it’s use off the bike.  We’ve arrived at a place where the men who climb upon the podiums of our storied races wear something more akin to a baseball cap than to the cap that brings back memories of the hardmen of our sport.

I leave you, my fellow Velominati, with some of the great images that show our fallen icon at the height of it’s status as a Symbol of Cycling.

[dmalbum path=”/ Galleries/[email protected]/cycling caps/”/]

Thanks to @Geoffrey Grosenbach for inspiring this humble eulogy.

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107 Replies to “In Memoriam: The Cycling Cap”

  1. I wonder if those two prominent protuberances seen coming out of Merckx’s left side is the socket where he plugs in the V hose for a fill-up. Either that or broken ribs he never bothered to really get fixed because he was too busy winning races.

  2. @Marko
    I’d been wondering what they were for too. I like your idea but I think you have it wrong. Surely that’s where they plug in the hose to drain excess V into lead-lined barrels preventing him exploding catastrophically from a dangerous build up of V between races?

  3. My first (and only) cycling cap was one I found in a box when I was 7 or 8. Said “Campagnolo” on the brim. Used to wear it while riding my BMX bike.

    I think I’ll have to find another one.

  4. They’re actually V-nipples for lesser riders to suckle from… I believe the Flemish term is “Vippelen”

  5. I’m big fan of cycling caps and can’t even wear a baseball-style hat at all anymore – they feel so big and bulky atop my head. I don’t care who the hell else is wearing them or has appropriated them, I’m going to keep wearing mine.

    Look, most of us can discern rather fast if someone is a hardman and rides like one and has a passion for cycling or is just some jackass. I try not to spend a minute concerning myself with the jackasses.

    As for the cap rule – I ride a bike just about everywhere since walking is so pedestrian and I don’t own a car. This means I have a cap on most of the time, whether on the bike or just off of it. This is the one rule I’m not that concerned about breaking. I ride everyday and commute by bike to most places I go. Caps keep my hair out of my eyes and provides a sun visor when I have eyeglasses on and not contacts + shades.

    Maybe the Velominatus can create reduction system whereby you can do work off rule infractions by doing extra grueling pedaling in the big ring?

  6. i’m wearing a cap right now, but only because I’ve just been out for my first ride in a couple weeks. It’s a classy little pink brooklyn number.

  7. Caps is good.

    So are Velominati kits, by the way. Note: I always ride with a helmet, but this discussion seemed to warrant an old-school cap look.

  8. I ran across this today in my attic, not a cap, but certainly from BITD.

  9. @michael

    Oh wow, I’ve been scouring the internet looking for a hairnet, got this crazy idea that wearing one with a cap underneath would be a cool accompaniment for the Bozzie…

  10. @mcsqueak
    Perhaps, but better than the angry fucker who chased me for several hundred metres last week. Not exactly a “V” moment, but I put in a pretty good sprint…

  11. Steampunk :

    Caps is good.

    So are Velominati kits, by the way. Note: I always ride with a helmet, but this discussion seemed to warrant an old-school cap look.

    Cyclops approves of this.

  12. That was my hairnet when I was 15-16 in 1984 which is, I believe, the last year you could wear these. I won my first race wearing that. I think I’ll sport it later when I’m peaking.

  13. Helmets and caps do not go together in my personal Rules.

    The person I most think of wearing this combination is Cadel Evans. Nothing against the guy but he’s hardly an icon.

    It’s even in the Bible. “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel.” Could it be any clearer ?

  14. I’m about to get myself another cap… I’m wondering what the consensus would be as to which I should get… (I currently have a Mapei one that’s falling apart)… I’m thinking Molteni or Cinzano atm.
    Can be found here

  15. @Nathan Edwards
    I think either would do but the Molteni would do best. Can’t beat the tradition and heritage there AND it’ll look super pimp with your V-kit. If you don’t have a V-Kit yet, it’s time my brother.

  16. @Marko
    Ok Molteni it is… sadly the V-kit is out of my price range… gonna have to buy the revision of my Uni Team Kit soon, it’s a bit cheaper than the V-kit but will still hurt my pocket

  17. @LastBoyScout
    Well done. Some loosening of the rule is surely in order, so that the cap’s important message reaches a wide audience rather than languishing unseen under the helmet.

  18. I’m not gonna cite Matthias Brandle on his Three-Point system violation, instead I’m giving him a big push of the shifter and say, “Thanks mate, for wearing a good old fashioned fucking cycling cap with its fucking brim flipped up old school style on the podium.”


  19. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to be on the net the simplest factor to keep in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while other folks consider concerns that they just don’t realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thanks

  20. @G’rilla

    Walz brand cap from Heck of the North. Recommended.

    here we go again. I can see Im gonna half to make it up and try to order one.

  21. @RedRanger


    Walz brand cap from Heck of the North. Recommended.

    here we go again. I can see Im gonna half have to make it up and try to order one.

    that disconnect between my brain and fingers

  22. @Ron

    See I have to disagree with the article when it says that baseball caps are now basically de rigeur because they offer more room for sponsors’ logos. That’s BS. A real cycling cap has just the same amount of material on the front, back and sides AND a brim – and the b-ball caps don’t put logos on there so in fact the real caps offers more logo real estate.

    The Velominati cause would be helped immeasurable if we had a V cap.

  23. @wiscot

    The Velominati cause would be helped immeasurable if we had a V cap.

    Agreed, we can neither complain that the douchebags have stolen our icon or that the pros are fucking it up wearing baseball hats when we don’t have a cap of our own.

  24. @Nate



    The Velominati cause would be helped immeasurable if we had a V cap.

    The cycling cap cause as well.

    Shhhhhhhh! Frank’s on vacation. The last thing he needs is us to open up the “where the fuck are the V caps?” topic while he’s enjoying some R&R. I’m sure he’s on it. Same with the V scented candle that’s been in the works for yonks. Don’t you realize how hard it is to distill the sweat of Merckx into something that can be encased in wax? Then there’s the somewhat limited market for having one’s house smell like sweaty wool and chamois leather . . . “But honey, what do you mean you feel nauseated? Don’t you like the aroma of the Prophet’s crotch?”

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