Living as I do on the suburban end of the New York City to “Upstate” training route, I have a particular birds-eye view on cycling patterns. (I could have told you that “aero” road bike frames were popular years ago, and I can accurately predict Triathlon season by the size of time-trialist biceps…) I’ve noticed one recently that’s taken me a bit by surprise.
For as long as I’ve been a road cyclist, loud (visually) jerseys and bright garish colors were the norm. Between the guys wearing full team kit for their favorite Euro squad and the guys wearing popular and eye-bending jerseys nearby Piermont Avenue often looked like a rolling circus. I even have a few jerseys in my personal collection that I keep just for their eye-bleeding awesomeness.
Recently though I’ve noticed a change—there are many fewer team kits on the road and there are even fewer “design” jerseys. On a two-hour ride today (a Saturday and as such the most heavily ridden day of the week here) I decided to do an informal survey. I kept track of the ratio of logo jerseys to design-free jerseys and was shocked to find that a good 75% of the riders were wearing a jersey with no sort of design.
I discounted any rider sporting a kit from an actual local team (since it wouldn’t be possible to know if they were racing on the team or just wearing a jersey) but I did count any rider with a local shop, even if it was the shop’s team jersey.
Most of the riders (especially those on the most expensive bikes) were wearing Castelli or other brands with no designs on them beside the small company logo. The cut of the cloth (blue against white, for example) was the only stylistic element. There was also one Rapha jersey.
Personally, I’m happy with this trend. Unlike, say, playing softball in a weekend league (or actually racing your bike in a race)—where a uniform is a good idea—there’s not a lot of need for athletic people to wear the printed logos of two dozen obscure European companies on their chest. It’s pretty rare, for instance, to go workout at the gym and see more than the occasional baseball or basketball jersey on a guy lifting weights. I don’t put on a Euskatel top to go for a hike in the woods. I’ve never wanted to kayak dressed in a Team Home Depot wetsuit.
I think the some of the stuff cyclists wear contributes to the “us versus them” mentality that is pervasive in suburban and many urban areas. Pros wear the gear they do because it’s designed to be so eyecatchingly-ugly as to guarantee recognition on the TV. Even some teams (LeOpArD Trek, Garmin-Cervelo and BMC come to mind) have begun to relegate the various sponsor logos to inferior positions on the jerseys and take advantage of the higher-resolution of HDTV to be less dependent on eye-blistering designs.
And since I don’t look as good in a BMC jersey as Cadel, I’d just as soon have something that leaves me visible to traffic but makes me look less like a rolling billboard.