What's Cool In Road Cycling
Ronde van Spanje derde etappe, foto Cor Vos ©2002 Mario Cipollini

Ed’s Rant – The PEZ Style Guide

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Ed’s Style Council: Ed Hood has been ruminating over the falling standards of the cycling fashion styles seen on the roads the last few years. There are some rules that must be followed, even the normally trend setting Belgians have started to pull their socks over their leg-warmers/tights, just NO! Ed tackles the cycling style faux pas, the right and the absolutely wrong.


Maybe the car cost more than the bike?

The bike cost more than the car did and 300 dollars/euros/pounds shoes don’t faze you. But you still don’t feel you’re cutting it in the Sunday run posing stakes? Perhaps it’s time you had a cycling style make over? But we warn you, some of what you’re about to read might hurt.


Black overshoes

OVER SHOES: Should be black, we’re not talking about aero time test jobs, we mean the ones that stop you losing toes to frostbite on January runs. If it’s not too cold, white socks worn over your shoes still cut it, a nod to the 70’s kinda vibe but not full ‘retro’ just above the ankle though, no longer.


Just wrong!

SHOES: Careful! That’s all we’re saying; those yellow jobs might look cool in the ads but do they really go with the rest of your ensemble? You should see your clothing as a ‘system’ not individual items stuck together. Black is always good and white looks good if matched with white socks.


A bit short and a lot wrong

SOCKS: Simple! White, not too long, period. This especially applies if you have short legs, don’t make them look even shorter. Never patterned, black or featuring Donald Trump’s head. Only go ‘WorldTour’ if you have the jersey and shorts to match. Stripes around the top; blue and red or green and red are acceptable but NEVER worlds bands, unless you’ve pulled on a rainbow jersey at some time in your life. And whilst Mathieu Van Der Poel gets away with wearing his socks over the bottom of his leg warmers, you won’t. And if you do get into time testing, ask yourself this question; ‘is saving a couple of watts worth looking like a third division soccer player in these “leg fairings?” The UCi have banned them and for once I agree with the blazers in Aigle.


No Danilo

LEG WARMERS: Black, UNDER the grippers on your shorts. Yes, we know the Cofidis guys wear red ones but ask yourself this simple question; ‘am I Elia Viviani?’ Dark blue can look cool if the shorts and jersey match but NEVER, ever, white. Even one of the coolest men on the planet, Danilo Hondo couldn’t get away with white ones when he was German Champion – when he wore them with white shorts and long sleeves he had a disturbing resemblance to, ‘The Mummy,’


With thighs like those you might just get away with shorts like these…

SHORTS: As with shoes, we council caution. Black is hard to go wrong with and yes, we know that many of the World Tour teams have coloured shorts but their clothing is designed as a system by experts. Just think long and hard about those purple jobs. And, as with socks, if you’re short be careful with the length, if they’re too long they’ll make your legs look even shorter. If it’s cold please do not venture out with bare legs, you’ll only see pros devoid of leg warmers at training camps if it’s really mild. Legend is that no picture exists of Sean Kelly in shorts outside of a race environment. If you must show off those lower limbs – Shave them! Nothing worse than hairy legs.


Edwig Van Hooydonck – No

And before we close on legs – Edwig Van Hooydonck was a cool guy, 10 years a pro, four Brabantse Pijl and two Ronde victories. BUT he is the man who gave us ¾ length ‘knickers’ and that’s hard to forgive. One word: NO!


Always class – Johan Museeuw and you can see his undervest

UNDER VESTS: Always, wear one, there’s one for every type of weather these days, they’ll wick away sweat and/or keep you cool/cosy. And, perish the thought, should you come off they give your skin another layer of protection. Cool is zipper on the jersey down a little exposing the Vermarc/Castelli/Craft logo on the under vest, a la Museeuw. Jerseys, should match your jersey – the worst offence possible is shorts/jersey/hat from three different trade teams. ‘Retro’ clothing is fine BUT never on a new bike and don’t mix new equipment with old, for instance STi or Ergo shifters on a 70’s steel frame. And really, if you’re going ‘full World Tour’ look then the bike should match – Deceuninck kit on a Trek? No! NO!


The rainbow jersey has to be earned

JERSEY/TOPS: Club/pro team/regional/national all fine but make sure they suit with your shorts. NEVER Grand Tour or World Champion’s jerseys, these should be earned and treated with respect. If you ignore this advice then keep clear of Dave Chapman who will collar you and give you a 10 minute lecture on why what you are doing is WRONG. Also, avoid idiotic slogans, skull and cross bones, skeletons, scantily clad females, marijuana leaves. . .


Cipo, always cool even without sleeves

If you race and make the podium, ALWAYS wear your club/team jersey – Adidas, Nike and Armani all get enough free advertising already. Your club/team sponsors deserve respect and exposure. And we have to mention sleeveless a la Malcolm Elliott, ‘Cipo’ and ‘Didi’ Thurau. We saw the last mentioned in a Tour time test in a sleeveless orange Hitachi skinsuit, silk smooth, his blond curls dancing from the back of his aero crash hat – we just looked at each other in awe, he was beyond cool. If you think you can compare to any of the three nominated gentleman above then ‘go for it’ but ask a friend for an honest appraisal before you reach for the scissors.

Wevelgem - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Ludwig WILLEMS pictured during Gent - Wevelgem 1994 - foto: Cor Vos © 017
Arm warmers rolled down is OK

ARM WARMERS: Black, under the grippers on your jersey sleeves. If it gets too warm, rolled down to your wrists is cool.


Maybe if you are Italian?

GLOVES: If you’re down the WorldTour look then most teams have gloves to match, but black is just fine on all occasions. Track mitts should match your ensemble – crochet backed are retro, do not wear with modern clothing.


Pre helmet – When you could recognise the riders

HELMETS: Despite being a dinosaur and loving the look of bare headed 70’s heroes, in these days of demonic drivers it’s foolish to venture out without a skid lid. BUT get the size right, too big and you’ll end up looking like ‘pilot of the future’ Dan Dare’s sworn enemy, ‘The Mekon.’


Not a good look

Too small and it’s the ‘inverted dog water bowl’ look – neither is cool. Air brush work is nice; there’ll be a guy who does it for motor cyclists near where you live but under stated is always best – unless you’re ‘Cipo,’ of course. Skull caps for under crash hats are available but if you must wear an ‘Oppy’ cap underneath then keep the peak turned down. And going back to the podium, if you have a club/team cap, then wear it – but not pulled down tight on your skull, check Miguel Indurain pictures for guidance on this issue. DO NOT wear a ‘beanie’ hat pulled down over your ears on the podium.


Small head – Small glasses

SHADES: Should match your clothing colour-wise but be careful of sizing, if you have a small head and wear huge shades you could stray into ‘Dame Edna’ or ‘Fearless Fly’ territory – neither is icy. And if your club/team is fortunate enough to be sponsored by a helmet and/or sun glass provider then DO NOT turn up at a race/ride with any other manufacturer’s product.

Hoogvliet - Netherlands - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Archives - Stock - Archief - Sean Kelly - Paris - Roubaix - photo Cor Vos © 2014
Just class

Remember the words of Sean Kelly. Journalist; “which is your favourite equipment manufacturer, Sean?” Sean; “the one I’m being paid to ride with right now!”

Your cycling style is as important as what you ride – so take a moment to absorb all that and then head for the charity shop with that carrier bag full of shame. And while we’re spring cleaning, rip that paper sportive number off the front of your bike and bin it – you should have done that right after the ride.


It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,800 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

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