1. White shorts
Let’s start with the cardinal sin of cycling kit: white shorts. Although no one seems to have told the designers of FDJ’s team kit, there is simply no excuse for white shorts. Yes they might be a little cooler in hot weather, or could look better with your white jersey, but the fundamental problem is that white lycra is see-though.
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Get caught in wet weather on the club run and your mates will be given a close-up view of your derriere, and you’ll be swiftly dispatched to the back of the group where you will at least serve a purpose by forcing drivers to give you a wide berth.
Put simply black shorts are the ideal option – and used to be the only option allowed in races, with riders being fined for wearing Castelli’s green ones in the 1981 Giro. Add a splash of colour to match jersey or club kit as required.
2. Let’s talk about socks
Nothing divides cyclists quite like the controversial issue of sock length. In this stylish cyclist’s opinion, high 12cm cuffs are the ideal option, although shorter options can be acceptable if you happen to be a diminutive Colombian climber who eats cols for breakfast.
The main thing to avoid in the ankle area is trainer socks, i.e socks with a cuff that sits below the ankle. You are not a female tennis player, nor are you a triathlete (unless actually competing in a triathlon), so ditch the short socks and get the pro look with a glistening pair of long, white socks.
But wait! Where are you going? Not that long! Don’t go as far as knee high compression socks please. Again, you’re not a triathlete, and although there may be some performance benefits, it’s a scientific fact that they look awful.
3. Compression clothing
Putting aside the question of whether compression clothing actually works or not (and the jury is still very much out on the matter), one thing I hope we can all agree upon is the fact that compression clothing looks pretty ridiculous.
Unless your a 12-year-old girl, there’s no excuse to be wearing knee high socks, especially in search of gains that might be as much psychological and physiological. And after all, if you’ve been training hard enough, shouldn’t you be taking every opportunity to show off your tanned, bulging calves?
4. Pro Kit
In the past, the wearing of pro team kit would have been roundly condemned in the Cycling Weekly office, but with so many riders now showing their support for their favourite team in this way, it would seem harsh to be completely dismissive.
However, if you must wear pro kit, stick to a single team. Don’t go combining your Team Sky jersey with your Astana shorts and Cannondale-Garmin socks – not only will the colours not match but you might find your mates trying to disassociate themselves from you as you stand in line at the cafe stop.
On the subject of kit combinations, if you’re going to wear a single piece of team kit make it the jersey. Pro shorts won’t look pro with a plain jersey.
5. Leaders’ jerseys
One area where we’re not going to cave in to popular opinion is with leaders’ jerseys. While the wearing of pro kit can be interpreted as a show of support for your favourite team, buying a leaders’ jersey, be it yellow, green, polka dot, or white, cannot be justified.
These are jerseys which have to be earned through years of training, sacrifice and suffering all leading up to heroic exploits on the roads of France, Italy, or Spain that will have your mother weeping with joy in front of the TV. Does your mum ring you up to congratulate you every time you spend 30 quid at Wiggle? I hope not.
6. Sleeveless jerseys
Tan lines might not look good on the beach, but nice clean lines around your biceps will be enough to unnerve your rivals before you even turn a pedal in anger. With this in mind sleeveless jerseys should be avoided, as should the rolling up of short sleeves to rid oneself of tan lines.
The other reason for this is that, let’s face it, cyclists are generally a weedy bunch, so frankly you’re not going to be showing off by wearing a sleeveless jersey, and will only encourage snide comments when you get stuck at the traffic lights outside the local gym.
7. Clip-On Aerobars
Moving on to criticising your bike rather than you, aerobars and road cycling are best kept apart. Triathletes may think it acceptable to use aerobars while riding in the middle of a group, but then triathletes also have a notorious reputation for bad bike handling.
Turn up to a club run with aero bars and expect to be given a very wide berth as you sit in the middle of the group unable to reach the brakes and react to changes in pace.
The only acceptable situation in which aerobars should be attached to a road bike is when being used in a time trial. Ideally an uphill one. And ideally up the Col d’Eze.
8. Aero helmets
If you’re racing then, OK, wear an aero helmet. But if you’re not, and are just out for a cruise around the lanes with your mates, why bother? Putting aside the fact that aero helmets don’t offer the same ventilation as standard helmets, aero lids generally look pretty silly, and your use of one (especially when combined with other aero kit) gives you no excuse for not tidying up all the sign sprints.
9. Leg warmers without arm warmers
Contrary to what you might first think, this is a piece of practical advice rather than fashion advice. Unless you’re doing something seriously wrong, your legs are going to be working much hard than your arms when cycling, therefore generating more heat.
This means that while your arms are doing little more than getting cold from the wind, your legs are spinning around and getting hot, meaning that there’s no situation where you would need more protection on your arms than on your legs.
Just because a bike is sold with something, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it. For example, even if you drop seven grand on the latest Cervélo or Merida, the law dictates that it must be sold with a bell, which might be practical, but certainly isn’t aero.
The most common faux-pas here is leaving the reflectors on your wheels. They may offer a modicum of extra visibility for vehicles emerging from side roads, but if it’s after dark you should be using lights, and if a driver can’t see you during the day then reflectors won’t help much anyway.
We don’t think British Cycling is investigating the aero benefits of wheel reflectors, so if their only effect is to make your bike look cheap they must to be ditched ASAP.
11. High-vis clothing
If you’re wearing hi-vis clothing to help keep you safe when riding in the dark, then fair enough, but surely there’s no excuse for wearing it in daylight hours, especially when some studies suggest the the safety benefits may not be as clear cut as you might think.
The worst thing is that is that fluoro colours are now being increasingly seen in performance cycling kit, which really isn’t a good look even when combined with tanned skin and bulging muscle.