Cycling kit says a lot about a person…apart from the bike itself it’s the only way to add a bit of creativity, flair and personality to your ride. Your body is a blank canvas with which you can show off what sort of rider you are, be it hipster, racer, coffee shop regular or just simply a rider with no fashion sense.
Wearing the wrong cycling kit, especially on club rides opens you up to huge amounts of ridicule by other riders (some of it snobbish, some of it justified). I personally play it safe but have a few rules that I’ll abide by.
Rule #1 – Never ever wear leaders jerseys and kit
Wearing the Yellow Jersey singles you out as someone who obviously knows something about cycling, but nothing about riding. There is accepted wisdom, that you only wear a leader’s jersey if you earned one. This shows respect to the jersey (much like an adored relic).
Generally, I’ve only ever seen 1 yellow jersey. But I’ve seen a couple more Green Jerseys on the road and the relatively more common Polka Dot jersey. If you’re seen wearing the Polka Dot jersey whilst cycling uphill, this is an invitation to start racing you. Your jersey has made a declaration that you are a King of the Mountain. Anyone seeing it will feel the need to defeat you on the climb, which they probably will.
Rule #2 – Team Kit
Team kit is fine to wear, but it must be coordinated. You can’t wear a Garmin jersey with Team Sky shorts for instance. This is mainly because it looks weird and clashes more than anything. Speaking of Team Sky, I flat out refuse to wear it. It still has a little bit of the glory supporter feel about it. I don’t want to advertise Murdoch and at the end of the day, it’s a bit bland too.
It’s possible to dig out and find some former team kit. Popular choices here are Mercatone Uno, Saeco and Rabobank. This seems to be the only area where we embrace the old doping culture for style purposes. Despite that, US Postal or the pink Deutsche Telekom kits are rarely seen these days. You see a proper old school Peugeot or Molteni jersey more often.
Rule #3 – Rapha Cycling Kit – Yes/No?
This may create a divide. But to me wearing Rapha gear is a bit like advertising you have far too much money. Although some of the Core kit during the sales is quite reasonable and I’ve started wearing some.
It’s become a bit of a game to guess the cost of the most expensive jersey on the Rapha site. I think £180 is the record so far. Largely Rapha seems to be perfect for making it easier to identify the full-blown MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra). Some of this group is fine, usually the club riders. However, the ones you can come across in a mass sportive are a huge liability to cycle around. The 2019 Velo Birmingham is a good example.
Rapha gear seems to give a red rag to a bull effect. I find I have to absolutely have to race past. Mainly to show that no matter what you spend, it’s what’s in the legs that matters and also partly to remove my green eyes of envy.
Rule #4 – Jeans
Jeans on a bicycle machine are never seen….or something.
All in all…
Aside from these 4 rules, nearly anything else goes. You can be garish as long as you can take the banter. Some of the Morvelo kits fall into this bracket. Plus if you can ride fast, it won’t matter what kit anyone else is wearing because you won’t be following it for very long anyway.