How To Dress PRO

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I had a great question from a reader last week on how to look PRO.

Q. Having formally been a fairly keen golfer who started as a hacker and progressed to being a fairly decent low marker I know the transition from buying the wrong gear and wearing the wrong clothes. Being pretty new to this cycling thing and having already lived the loser/geek horror in my former golfing life I am scared, seriously scared, of going through that terrible process again.

Can we have some sort of ‘losers’ guide for those who can’t even get to the looking ‘pro’ stage yet. I mean I am so fearful of what to buy. E.g. does buying a pair of Livestrong Oakley’s make you and immediate loser who is just trying to look like Lance? I want to get a new helmet, and note to look pro it should be white…but!!…is it ‘loser’ to get one with the ‘worlds’ colours on it? I am paralyzed with potential ‘loser’ fear of making a purchase I will think is cool and only learn to regret in months to come…help!!!!!!!!!!

Great question and I think I can help.  You’re right – there’s a fine line between what the snobbery of cycledom considers to be wanker and what’s considered PRO.  If there’s one thing I know it’s how to look PRO.  Having the look is key.  If you don’t have the look, I’m not going to let you have the wheel I’m sitting on.   Let us start from the bottom up outlining the basic rules of how to dress PRO.


Not PRO: Thou shall refrain from wearing mountain bike shoes unless one is racing cyclocross in Belgium. Nothing will relegate one to the back of the pack quicker than wearing a set of mtb shoes on a bunch ride.

PRO: One shall only consider wearning white shoes.  However, the better one gets, the more obnoxious one’s shoes can be.  If done carefully, one can disguise lack of ability and fitness with a loud set of shoes.


Not PRO: Thou shall never wear socks that are low cut, dirty, non-cycling specific, any color other than white.  Socks are paramount.  One shalln’t overlook sock detail or the whole image will be blown.

PRO:  High-cuff (12cm, no more no less) Capoforma socks are only to be worn.  Preferably brand new every time one rides.


Photo by fyxomatosis

Leg Warmers

Not PRO: Skins or any other compression garment underneath one’s knicks are strictly forbidden.  These are not meant to keep one warm and demonstrates one paid $140 for some tight pants with no understanding what they’re for.

PRO: Though shall use embrocation in place of leg warmers whenever physically possible.  When not possible (i.e. -15C), one’s leg warmers must match perfectly with knicks with sponsor logos is plastered all over.


Not PRO: Thou shalln’t wear plain black knicks unless racing for Rapha Condor.   In addition, any knicks without a bib are strongly frowned upon and demonstrate one’s noobness.  At the opposite end of the spectrum one shall not, under any circumstances, wear knicks resembling these:


PRO:  One shall wear superb quality knicks that make a statement one’s commitment the roadie image.   Again, do not consider wearing anything except for bibs.  The current UCI world champion  is the only one on Earth permitted to wear white knicks.


Not PRO: Yellow, Green, Pink, Pokadot, World Champ, etc are strictly forbidden for everyday use.  ProTour replica jerseys are also not permitted unless one is Gerro or equivalent stature.  Cutoff arms are largely disproved upon unless one is of Italian descent or has worthy deltiods.  Tanlines are PRO and are a statement of one’s level of commitment to being PRO.


PRO:  PRO-approved jerseys can be acquired from Campagnolo, Santini, Rapha, Capofroma or an obscure Belgian team one raced for over the summer.  Under no circumstances will anything other than full zip jerseys be worn.

Arm Warmers

Not PRO: Loose fitting armwarmers or long sleeved undergarments are not PRO.   This clearly demonstrates one does not appreciate proper layering techniques.

PRO: One’s armwarmers shall be a perfect match with thy jersey. Tight fit is key.    If caught in a dilemma, armwarmers are better being too short than too long.


Not PRO: Thou shall not don a helmet exceeding 3 years old and below $200.  Subtle differences in helmets can make them look either cheap or PRO.  $200 is that threshold.    Visors and magpie diverting tie-wraps are automatic exclusion from the PRO Beach Road peloton.  Helmet shall be worn over forehead 2cm above eyebrow, not tilted back.


PRO:  If in any doubt – WHITE.  One cannot faulter with a $200+ Giro or Bell helmet.  Hideous are Metz helmets.  One’s cycling experience is displayed by the way one wears thy helmet.   Give heed to this small detail that is paramount to the PRO look.


Not PRO: One who dons a baseball cap underneath thy helmet shall incur a hefty penalty.  Proper cycling caps shall’nt be worn backwards.  And unti Marco Pantani comes back from the dead, thy bandanna shall never arise.

PRO:   Cap is only to be worn when armwarmers (at minimum) are called for.  35 degree weather does not warrant the use of a cap.  For locally PRO-made caps checkout Rocketfuel


Not PRO: Casual-wear sunglasses or anything with a wire frame is highly unacceptable.

PRO: Oakley Jawbones and Radar are PRO.  One cannot falter with any of these. Occasional models of Rudy Project are satisfactory and Giro are starting to become cool.

If you catch me violating any of these rules please pull me aside and politely tell me.  As snobby road cyclists we have all signed up to a commitment and obligation to make each other look and feel PRO.

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