Cycling Cap Culture

19 November 2015

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In the early days of cycling, wearing a cap was purely functional. Caps were colorless and shapeless and looked rather odd. But they kept the sun out of your eyes, absorbed the sweat and gave a little protection from the rain.

Things changed in the sixties, when riders became more slender, their suits tighter and sponsors started to embrace the cap as a marketing tool.
The cycling cap became an object of desire and cyclists started to wear it as a fashion statement. Strictly speaking, the cap is not, and never was, a very flattering accessory. But it has a certain quirkiness to it that is quite unique. So unique that the exact same shapeless model is still in style today. But how do you wear it like a pro?

When to wear a cap

For starters, you should know when not to wear a cycling cap. Which is whenever you are not cycling. It excludes activities right before or just after a ride and in some occasions cycling related activities. If you want to be absolutely certain, read through Velominati rule number 22.

How to wear a cap

Now that you know when to wear it, we come to the question of how to wear it.
First of all, you can wear it under your helmet, it keeps your glasses dry and your head warm. And it looks cool if you’ve got the right helmet to match. Take the picture below. It’s a case of not wearing a chunky helmet, and not putting your helmet too far back. Flicking the visor up is a choice you should make yourself. Some people pull it off really well. You might be one of these. Ask your partner.

rapha caps
Wearing a cycle cap without a helmet is a different story. The right way to wear it hasn’t changed from the days when no one owned a helmet. Remember the helmet only became mandatory in 2003, following the death of Andrei Kivlev.

From the sixties to 2003 the pro cyclists cap look hasn’t changed much at all. But there were some legends that pulled it off especially well. Here’s the trick.

The cap

Cycling caps should be 100% cotton, and of poor quality. Merino wool is nice and so are earflaps and sweatbands, but caps with these extra’s don’t qualify as real cycling caps.
Visors should be short and make sure your cap isn’t fitted. Many people buy their caps too small. This means there is no extra fabric for the necessary cap luft. Yes, a properly fitting cap should not be a smooth stretch of fabric on your head, but a frumpy bunch. This might seem very nonchalant, but the cap visor should always we pointing straight ahead (or straight up like in the picture below).

Last rule on wearing a cycle cap with style is to get one that matches your kit. There are plenty colors to choose from and they are not very pricey. So having a number of caps to match different jerseys it totally fine. Check out these caps by Rapha, and these cute polkadot ones by Cafe Du Cyclist. Dutch magazine Soigneur designed these classy caps and they are on sale now! Use the code ‘EndofSeason2015’ to get 25% off.



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