Designing a WorldTour team kit can't be easy.
First and foremost: you've got to appease sponsors. Related, comes loading the logos in prominent positions, without creating a jersey that appears to be emulating a train station billboard. You'll need to gain a nod from the UCI, and somehow, amongst all of that, create a kit that the riders will want to wear. There are a lot of constraints - and some designs go down better than others.
Outside of the WorldTour, comes a world of freedom. Straight lines are replaced with colour bursts, gloriously messy paint drips, and expressive rainbows of colour. The greatest examples of this can be seen within areas of cycling where boundaries are being pushed: gravel racing and the crit scene being the most prominent examples.
That's not to say there aren't WorldTour teams who have taken a leaf out of the book of 'alternative kit design', see: EF Education's 2020 Giro kit (for which, they were fined £3,700 by the UCI), and more recently, Canyon-SRAM's brand new 2022 gear.
However, the reality is that in this instance, the pros are emulating the stars of creative cycling.
Our list contains teams, clubs, and 'we don't want to be classified' groups of all types, and all levels. Some feature riders who have raced at World Championships level, others are more likely to be found disappearing down your local gravel track.
What they've all got, however, is some proper vibey kit.
London-based team Tekkerz promise to load up the crit scene with 'cycling charisma', a quality that - let's be honest - a sport perceived by most to be primarily devoted to the altar of MAMIL culture is severely lacking in.
The brainchild of Alec Briggs, Tekkerz has housed stars such as Elinor Barker, and Paralympic tandem world champs medallist Jenny Holl.
The team is supported by a long list of sponsors, but the dinosaur motifs take centre stage.
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L39ION of LA
L39ION of LA is yet to unveil its 2022 kit, but if it looks anything like the 2021 collection then we're in for a treat.
The most commonly cited example of the growing US crit scene, L39ION is a pro team, that describes itself as being "dedicated to increasing diversity, encouraging inclusion, and giving supporters access to their favorite athletes."
Applause from us on all counts.
The Steezy Collective first came to our attention when its riders fronted the popular Rapha Women's 100 ride of 2021.
It's difficult to encapsulate the ethos of a diverse group, but Rapha described them as a "a group of trailblazing women who are helping to change the face of cycling" and "an inclusive cycling collective representative of all cycling disciplines."
The London-based collective extends a warm welcome to women, non-binary riders and trans men. The 2022 kit is yet to arrive, but designed by Rapha, it's looking pretty rad.
"We Are Neighbourhood. Everyone is welcome here," says the Brighton-based club.
Founded by Jake Vita and Harry Gilliam, it's attached to the newly named LAKA x Pedal Mafia Race Team, a men's and women's squad with a 50/50 parity goal. It just so happens that the candy corn-inspired training kit really pops.
US team LA Sweat describes itself as a "women's cycling team that proves you can be feminine and strong as hell," it's amazing anyone would think otherwise, really, but ingrained attitudes can take a while to die.
Setting out their goals, the team states: "In a culture of power profiles, recovery tights, and carbon bottle cage bolts, it's nice to be reminded there are still women out there who just wanna go fast and have fun. Because bikes are fun. Riding is fun. Racing is fun. Oh, and winning races every now and then ain't too shabby either."
LA Sweat is really rocking the colour bursts, a choice that we're reliably informed is bang on trend and suits female figures in all of their unique, varied and to-be-celebrated forms.
Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
Added retrospectively (by extremely popular demand) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling is a British UCI Continental Team, that's proud to be "backed by British brands."
You'll see the team flying its - clearly not afraid to stand out - colours across the UK scene, at the National Championships and National Series races, but also mixing it up at UCI Continental events.
The team has housed powerhouses such as Dan Bigham, supporting the now Ineos race engineer to British Hour record success, and John Archibald, who went on to sign for Alberto Contador’s ProTeam Eolo-Kometa for 2021.
It's no surprise that Bigham's aero expertise has been incorporated into the team's approach - with practices initially considered a bit 'out there' rather quickly adopted once the competition saw the benefits on the road.
Speaking to British Cycling in 2020, Team Manager Tom Timothy noted: "One of the things that sets us apart is that we always try and question the status quo.
"There’s a reason we had the whole team wearing aero socks before everyone else and racing in skinsuits, narrow handlebars, tubeless tyres... People might have questioned our approach at first, but now look at how the sport has evolved."
Once again, Jukebox Cycling prides itself on eschewing the status quo. Their strapline puts the goal on the tin: "A different kind of cycling team."
Stars include the headline act behind 'the worst retirement ever', Phil Gaimon, cyclocross champion Ruby West, and Xander Graham, the 12-year-old who enjoyed his moment of fame after riding alongside the Tour of Britain peloton.
"Our riders are visionaries, rule-breakers, inspirations, badasses - they’re riders with that certain X factor that sets them apart from the rest of the peloton," Jukebox says. No pressure guys and gals.
Kudos for the matching helmet cover: aero, and snazzy.
NLTC (North London Thunder Cats)
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Well, the full title is 'NLTCBMBC' (North London ThunderCat Black Metal Bicycle Club)', but we thought that might blow some of your minds.
Founded following "a drunken conversation in a North London pub in 2012" (remember the days of social non-distancing, in pubs?), the team specialises in fixed gear crits - and apparently - pizza eating.
NLTCBMBC has gone for black and gold tones, forgoing much of the colour we've seen elsewhere. However, for a club with 'Black Metal Bicycle Club' in its name, was there any other logical choice available?
Who are they? In their own words: "Inspired by early punk ViCiOUS VELO are a group of bike riders and racers who love cyclo-cross and road racing. Don't call us a club or a team, we're neither. We've no rules and no team orders. You're either with us or against us."
The Anarchy in the UK vibe is real, and in the spirit of 1977 (well, actually, 1976), we even let them override the Cycling Weekly style guide by reproducing caps 'where not an acronym'; WorldTour teams (and brands with a seeming disregard for vowels) do not enjoy the same lenience.
Shining moments include the 'I'm so bored with the U.C.I." merch the not-club-not-team once produced, though we can now no longer sing 'with the U.S.A.' to Joe Strummer's dulcet tones without mangling (or, improving, you decide..) the words.
Velociposse launched back in 2015, as an all-women's track cycling team. Come 2017, it re-formed as a member-run club, and it's perhaps indicative that there's a 'vibe' section on its 'about us' page.
"Chill, fun, friendly and supportive," is what Velociposse aims at. "There’s no pressure to race but lots of encouragement if you’re up for it."
Challenging the status quo in its London (and Essex) home, Velociposse says: "We acknowledge that cycling can be an elitist sport, and we’re doing what we can to change that, and improve representation for minority groups."
The team puts on assorted skills sessions, and, recognising that cycling is a sport with an obvious financial barrier to entry, keeps a fleet of Aventon track bikes ready for beginners to try their first pedal strokes.
The kit has evolved over time, with its wearers, moving away from the 'Femme Brutale' slogan of the early days (though, from a personal perspective, we rather liked it!). The bold pink tones, of course, remain.
A photo posted by on
Alright, I'm cheating now.
VS.LetsGetIt is not a team, and it doesn't have a kit; but the social media account gains a home here because - like the other initiatives before it - it's redefining cycling culture, one reel at a time.
VC.LetsGetIt bases its name on the London club VC Londres (VCL), which alongside Herne Hill Velodrome, can proudly boast the title 'Britain's Medal Factory' for its ability to turn young hopefuls into history makers.
What keeps VCL fresh? Well, partly, the incredible volunteering spirit of its members. But also, the community effort to ensure cycling - a sport sometimes hampered by stale attitudes, dusty village halls and club constitutions - keeps on appealing to a new generation. And I dare you to watch of few VC.LetsGetIt reels, and not feel an extreme urge to sign yourself up to a race next weekend.
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