How Should You Cap Your Ride?

Is that even a question? Well, according to cyclists yes, this is THE question; a very serious and debated topic among real cyclists and followers of the sport. Even I, just a recreational cyclist, have a hard time believing that there is a war arguing over the proper headwear for cyclists. Besides the almost obvious benefits of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, cycling attire requires covering your head after you elegantly dismount your bicycle and strut around the premises at the end of a race or ride. I bet you and I could imagine hundreds of different ways of decorating your sweating and smelly head; however, the cycling code for decades mandated the use of the cycling cap (from the French capacette). This cute device looks like a soft and miniature baseball cap, with no panels, and a tiny bill. The cycling casquette had been the attire de rigeuer in the cycling world, including during racing.

Though the cycling cap was popular before the mandatory helmet of the 2000’s, the cycling cap can be used underneath the helmet to soak the sweat and to provide protection when facing the sun, and also for protection in case of a crash—kind of hard to believe.

The Traditional Cycling Cap

The Traditional Cycling Cap

And here is the polemic today, more and more professional cyclists are using the baseball cap and ditching the traditional and noble cycling cap. But why? I wonder if there is a war among headwear suppliers, or stylists. Are the fashion police watching the Kardashians instead of the Tour of France? Well nobody knows or takes ownership for sure; however, we can provide our scientific powers of observation and posit the quasi-true reasons for the cycling cap’s decline.

The baseball cap obviously has a larger surface area than cycling caps. Thus, it is ideal for advertisers and sponsors to cover your head with tiny logos and ads that you can read only when kissing the cyclist at the end of each race. A strike against the cycling cap.

After a benefit ride for Autism Speaks. You can see most riders hatless or with American Baseball Caps.

After a benefit ride for Autism Speaks. You can see most riders hatless or with American Baseball Caps.

Perhaps another reason is that baseball teams are secretly converting the hard core European cycling fans into lovers of the American pastime and changing the hat on one’s head is is the first step in changing one’s mind. I fear American businessmen are handing out zillions of free tickets to baseball games to any cyclist who wears a baseball cap at the end of the race.

Most likely we will have to continue watching the end of each race in the Tour of France and other famous cycling events to find the outcome of the race at the top. Let’s find out if the popularity of the cycling casquette bounces back and fights for its birthright of being the classiest and most comfortable headwear for cyclists.

I suspect that French, Italian, Belgian, Spanish and other cyclists as well as fans will not let the cycling cap die anytime soon. After all, both recreational and professional riders admire champions like Eddy Merckx and Greg Lemond, not only for their triumphs and almost superhuman achievements, but also for riding beautiful machines and looking magnificent in a cycling cap.

About the author

Roberto Campos Roberto is a professional scientist, avid cyclist, and extraordinary rambler. You can see him here with his true love and his wife.

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