Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jersey selection for the recreational cyclist

Lisa's Mum was very excited to receive a letter from a Ride Happy reader during the week. Actually, the letter was an email, and it wasn't actually addressed to Lisa's Mum, but it did concern cycling etiquette and so it fell well within her portfolio.

A Ride Happy reader, James, read my review in Bicycling Australia magazine of Vaude's new jersey where I wrote that 'No, it's not a trade team jersey, but really, trying to look like Thor Hushovd went out with the noughties.' James had the following comments: For 100% of cyclists I pass on my rides there is always the sideward glance, checking out the bike make/model and the kit the other is wearing, and they're all so judgemental! Why is this? And how should one go about choosing a jersey kit to wear? Is it a faux pas for recreational riders to wear "trade team" jerseys?

It's a brave cyclist who would wear this by choice

Lisa’s Mum is more than happy to share her wisdom on the subject of appropriate jersey selection. When Lisa’s Mum started cycling, she noticed that many cyclists seemed to look at her when she was riding, but she always assumed that this was because of her outstanding beauty and gloriously sculpted calves. On further reflection she noticed the practice extended to other cyclists who were not so beautiful. The following summer Lisa’s Mum commenced her PhD thesis entitled The pack mentality: Why cyclists love looking at themselves and each other. Mum's thesis concluded that cyclists share a significant percentage of their DNA with most domestic dog species. This is most noticeably observed at the greeting stage of social encounters, where, like dogs sniffing each others’ bottoms, cyclists will carefully observe a new specimen’s bicycle and kit before deciding whether they will become friends. Anthropologically speaking, Lisa’s Mum’s findings were a revelation. Some say the scientific community is not yet ready for such a radical challenge to the status quo. Others say she is an evolutionary genius on par with Charles Darwin. Mum prefers the latter school of thought and will not attend afternoon teas hosted by any of her detractors in the former camp.

How to choose your jersey
Given that your kit will play a crucial role in first impressions to other riders, it is important to project the right image. The first rule of jersey selection is to dress for the occasion, and choosing an appropriate jersey/bike combination is critical. For example, if you are riding a flat bar bike, a plain jersey/knicks combination is a practical yet stylish look. Plain kit is also appropriate for pro cyclists wishing to ride ‘under the radar’ out of season. Black is the preferred colour for those who ride under the radar because they are doped to the eyeballs.

Alternatively, if you are Cipo get yourself some wraparounds and a big stick for beating off the ladies

Jerseys that you have earned may be worn anytime. This includes Around The Bay in a Day, Amy Gillet Ride and Degani Kinglake Challenge jerseys. Wear them with pride and use them to start snappy conversations with other cute single riders. This also applies to world and national champion jerseys, although you are unlikely to need to use them to find hot cuties as you probably have one already.

Hot cuties: get in line
If you are riding quite quickly, you may upgrade to a club or shop kit, preferably in return for that shop giving you some love. Naturally, if you ride like a tool you should wear a RadioShack jersey. However, please note that there is nothing quite so stylish as a fast cyclist in a plain jersey.

Singlespeed riders should at all times observe Bylaw 3.5.2(a)(ii) of the Inner Melbourne Singlespeed Regulations, which states that every bottom atop a Brooks saddle must be clad in tweed print shorts.

Just your everyday commute in North Fitzroy

Fluoro jerseys and jackets are to be used for commuting only. Under no circumstances should fluoro be taken out on a bunch ride unless it is for practical joke purposes or you believe it will keep you alive. (Before you get upset, safety conscious readers, please let me emphasise that Lisa’s Mum firmly believes that a good fluoro commuting jacket is worth its weight in gold. Just not when you’re not commuting.)

A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the ratio of $ spent on kit vs $ spent on your bike remains approximately 1:10.

Trade team jerseys
Lisa’s Mum loves trade team jerseys but only on trade team riders. She once tried to wear a CSC trade team jersey but it was for a fancy dress party back in 2007 when Basso had just been busted and in the end it fell through because she couldn't organise a matching blood transfusion bag.*

As another rule of thumb, the better the trade team is, the more reasons there are that you should not be wearing their kit. If you must wear it (i.e. if you have been given it for a present by a well-meaning yet unschooled relative), please at least make sure the jerseys and knicks are from the same team. It goes without saying, however, that if you are extremely good at riding and can beat anyone over any distance, on any terrain, then you can wear what you like. Best combined with hairy legs, this really stirs up aspiring Euro pros. Other situations where wearing a trade team kit is acceptable are:
  • you are on the trade team
  • you own the trade team
  • your friend is on the trade team and gave you the jersey
  • you're an alcoholic Belgian cyclo-cross fan with a string of failed marriages and a penchant for pommes frites (in which case, bad lycra fashion is the least of your problems).

Eduard on his way to the pommes frites van

Under no circumstances should the following trade team jerseys be worn: Mapei, Jelly Belly, Aqua Sappone's zebra edition, Carrera's stretch denim kit circa 1990, Cipo's skeleton suit...and come to think of it, most of Cipo's other suits, too. Each was an aberration and everyone just wants to forget them.

Enough said

James, I hope this answers your question. If other readers have additional pearls of wisdom to share, Lisa's Mum would happily add them to her PhD thesis (appropriately referenced, of course).

Ride Happy

*This may have actually been me, not Lisa’s Mum.


  1. Awesome post. Glad I came across your blog!

  2. Ah, such pearls of wisdom, I can now ride with confidence in any situation. Having a Brooks saddle on one of my bikes I feel I must travel soon to Melbourne to enjoy the finer aspects of city cycling!

  3. Thanks I Cho and Terry. Lisa's Mum is always happy to dispense advice, although I suspect she's just jealous that she doesn't own a zebra suit...

  4. Where do I get a skele suit like that? :-)

    I like this forumla:

    "A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the ratio of $ spent on kit vs $ spent on your bike remains approximately 1:10."

    Since I just got a new bike, I might have to go online and get some more kit :-D

  5. Gold! Waiting for the next one on what socks to wear ...

  6. Nice one Lisa's Mum! Based on your rule of thumb kit$$ to bike$$ ratio I now have carte blanche to go out and buy a $45,000 bike!

  7. @Marcus Speed what the heck did you buy... a gold covered kit???

  8. I have not laughed so hard in a long time.

  9. Hey Lisa - great post! time for the 'sister' post on socks .. acceptable colour and length/height .. as well as 'acceptable' helment/shoe colour combinations.

  10. As an owner of both the carrera jeans kit and the acqua and sapone zebra kit i am very disappointed in Lisa's Mum and her advice.

  11. I love that you managed to track down both - I thought all remaining sets had been burnt in the Salem Acqua Sapone witchhunt of '07. Lisa's Mum would love to see them... perhaps a photo is in order??

  12. The Jelly Belly Kenda kit is a nice one....shame on you!

  13. They come in many different styles and shapes. Men's and women's biking shorts also differ. Many cyclists wear them alone with no underwear beneath it. Some consist of more than one panel and they fit better, but they are more expensive.

    Female Cycling Knicks