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May 6, 2016
Photography by Dave Everett (video) & Cor Vos (photos)
For us cyclists, the humble cycling cap is our crown. It is part of our unique look and it plays a crucial role on those days of low sun in spring and autumn, shielding our eyes from sun and rain, and keeping our head warm.
We have fond memories of riders past donning cycling caps with panache, wearing them high on their heads with pride. But as helmets became mandatory and cycling grew to reach a wider audience, the podium cap was replaced with a baseball hat.
But now, through the voice of a new generation, a trend towards #capsnothats has emerged and cyclists are once again putting proper cycling caps back on their heads.
However, with this trend has come a wave of cyclists who insist on wearing the cycling cap all wrong. We thought we’d take it upon ourselves to offer some useful tips.
Before we start, here are a couple of things you should know. First, a cycling cap is this:
Not this (sorry Ian):
Second, “luft” is a German word for “air” or “space”. Many a debate has been had in cafés around the world about how this word made its way into cycling culture. As you’ll see below, luft is all important when positioning the cap appropriately.
Without further ado, here are some tips on how to wear a cycling cap properly:
1. Cycling caps should only be worn with cycling kit. An exception can be made at cycling events when not in kit. For some reason, this quirky garment seems to bind us together.
2. A cycling cap should only be worn on the bike when arm warmers and a vest (or long-sleeve jersey) are in use. In this case a cap completes the Spring Classics look. Wearing a cap when it’s a scorcher outside might shield your balding head from the sun or keep the sweat from dripping into your eyes, but in typical cyclist fashion we’ll take style over practicality here any day. (It’s much better to keep a cap in your pocket on these days and bring it out at the café sans helmet.)
3. While wearing a cap with the brim flipped is acceptable and indeed often recommended, it takes many years of wearing a cap before you can get this look right. If in doubt, don’t attempt this one straight away. See the image of Roger De Vlaeminck in his Brooklyn cap above to see how it’s done.
4. Make sure your cap is straight. Many caps have a ribbon down the centre to help you out. You’ll just look silly if this ribbon is worn off-centre.
5. When wearing a cap at the café, it’s essential to obtain the right amount of luft. Too high on the head and your cap is likely to blow off and ruin someone’s meal; too low and blood flow will be restricted, reducing your chances of an intellectual post-ride coffee debate. As a rule of thumb, the amount of luft should be proportional to your brow size.
6. A cap should never be worn backwards on the bike. And as with a flipped brim, a backwards cap worn off the bike takes a certain personality to pull off. Note: When attempting the backwards look off the bike, be sure to flip the brim.
Lastly, wear your cycling cap with pride and wear it high. Use these tips as a guide and you’ll be the toast of your local café in no time. And if you’re in need of a cycling cap, we’ve got a great selection in the CyclingTips Emporium to get you started.