Caps Not Hats

There’s something about a cycling cap. With its short brim and soft construction, there’s just enough of it, and not a millimetre more. It’s perfectly in tune with cycling’s mantra of stripping down and drilling out and shaving off, and with the streamlined aesthetic of cycling clothing and equipment. (We’re not sure wearing it Euro-style – perched on top of your head with plenty of ‘Luft’ under it – is terribly aero, but anyway.)

It’s almost impossible to imagine our 20th century cycling heroes without their caps. Eddy Merckx, glowering softly in Molteni; Roger de Vlaeminck, a matinee idol in Brooklyn; Robert Millar, a fresh-faced whippet in Peugeot. It’s no wonder the cycling cap has taken on a significance of its own among the tifosi. Whole blogs are dedicated to the pursuit of the ideal shape. Decade-long family feuds originate in a tiff over someone flipping the brim up.

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Whatever your cycling type – retronaut or modernist, urbanite or audaxer – a cap is essential. The scaled-down brim shades your eyes, while allowing you to spot wayward sheep or check swiftly over your shoulder for rivals. Flip it up and bomb downhill, crouched over the drops. Flip it down, and magically, you don’t notice the rain. A cap provides a bit of insulation under a helmet in the wind, and a bit of heat protection when it’s warm. (And it stops your keys falling through your helmet slits while you’re waiting in the café queue.) You can even go running in it, in direct contravention of Rule #22.

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All that remains is to pick one. Like a well-chosen pair of socks, a cap hints at personality even when you’re sporting your most practical, won’t-show-the-mud-outfit. Keep it strictly retro with Castelli’s classic racing stripe, harking back to the days when men were men, shorts were short, and derailleurs were considered a bit soft. Or add a splash of modern colour with Cafe Du Cycliste or Morvelo with their cheeky updates of the classic style. Use the brim to send a message with Walz’s Share the Road design, or get on-trend with Vulpine’s colourful spots.

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While May’s still with us, we’re keeping a few clouts in our back pocket, just in case. Vulpine’s Storm Cap is perfect for wet and wild conditions. The cycling cap’s cool French exchange partner is Café Du Cycliste’s Belgian Winter cap, which keeps your ears cosy in proper Flandrian style. Scruffy Dog’s bobble hats are just the thing for washing your bike in a freak hailstorm, and a beanie will keep your post-race head happy at the summer cyclocross. Jazzy tweeds at ShuttVelo and retro wool plaids at Walz are fresh nods to British country style with a bit of extra warmth; perfect retro style for anyone attending Eroica Britania this year and ideal for those café stops where you’re reckless enough to sit outside. And when the weather finally heats up, Walz’s moisture-wicking fabric helps you keep that hard-won Euro cool.

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Whatever technical innovations are made in cycling, it seems that caps are here to stay. Whether yours is a nod to history, a spectator’s freebie, showing allegiance to a niche brand, or just a practical solution to the unpredictable British weather, wear it with pride. And look out for Victor & Liberty’s own model, coming soon. Here’s Cav explaining to Bicycling Magazine why he’ll always wear a cap:

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Blogpost by Alison Crutchley

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Posted in Cycling Caps, Cycling clothes
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