Caps not hats - the what, why, how!


Why are cyclists obsessed with caps? We uncover the history behind cycling’s fashion catnip...

The simple, short-brimmed cotton cap is inextricably linked to the history of cycling, with virtually every vintage race photograph featuring one being modelled by sport’s greatest names – typically in plain white or a sweat-stained beige. Back then, the cap was a utilitarian object used to shield eyes from the sun, divert rain from the face and – as an old Tour legend goes – as a substitute for toilet paper, dutifully handed over to one’s team leader if caught short.

Mercifully, today’s cycling cap is so much more than a bit of back-up bog roll. It’s a badge that says ‘I am a part of this weird sub-culture,’ and it’s a way to express individualism, livening up even the blandest Lycra ensemble.

Agonising over whether to wear your cap brim up or down? Honestly, it doesn’t matter, although brim up is ever so slightly more hip and will give you the chance to show off the slogan on its underside.

The big no-no, according to Velominati's Rule #22, is that cycling caps should never be worn "when not riding, no matter how hip you think you look. The only time it is acceptable to wear a cycling cap is while directly engaged in cycling activities. This includes... cafe appearances for pre-ride espressi and post-ride pub appearances for body-refueling ales." So, pretty much all the time then.

Wondering where the #capsnothats hashtag came from? It’s not just a cyclist’s mantra, but a response to a growing trend for pro cyclists to discard their cycling caps in favour of team-branded baseball hats. Why? Because they offer a greater amount of visible surface area on which to daub a sponsor’s logo while on the podium. While some modern riders have pushed back against this, it seems ‘podium hats’ are here to stay in the pro ranks.

For the rest of us, more is most definitely more when it comes to cycling caps. Oh, and did we mention that the French for cycling cap is ‘casquette’?

tan doan