Cycling Caps: a nostalgic part of your cycling kit

retro cycling caps

Over the years, cycling caps have gone from simple everyday items to many more variations and uses. Taking a few steps back into history, wearing caps like cycling caps were always for a purpose. Initially, it is suited to keep sweat that gathers around the forehead from dripping into the eyes. It also helps prevent sunlight from entering the eyes. In a way, we could say it was an item created to protect the eyes; acknowledging cycling as a sport came the need to keep the things around the head area at bay for full concentration. Cycling caps, therefore, became a “thing” in such a respected sport. Like tennis caps, cycling caps gradually became a fashion statement as well and had its share of trends and false in the fashion industry.

All in all, a cycling cap takes us on an evolving journey, just like the cycling tracks. With the nostalgia that came with remembering a particular cycling race, to fans representing a particular racer to casual wear made compete by a cycling cap in style, these handy headpieces have found their way into the hall of fame of comfort and style.

The history of cycling caps

When we look back into cycling history, the cycling cap was never a compulsory bike wear. While a helmet was essential due to the safety benefits it offered cyclists, the reason for a little piece of clothing strapped around the head seemed unnecessary. While caps seemed to be in vogue, in different colors, shapes, and sizes, some of which stood out pretty well in history, the need for a cap in sports never seemed to occur as an essential. Cyclist back then added little pieces of clothing and gears to their entourage for two particular reasons;

  • One was to set themselves apart. Distinct colors wear, and items were considered more or less an identity, especially among famous cyclists. Fans got copies of these unique items and displayed them as a sign of support and loyalty. The more unique the customization, the more cyclists caught the eyes of fans.
  • The second reason was out of necessity/need. It was under this directive that the cycling cap was born. While cyclists made unique customization and modifications, not all were accepted since there were still specific sports standards. One reason why the cycling cap, on the other hand, seemed to blow across the populace was because of the comfort it brought and the necessity for it. Cycling caps were not just an identity; they were equally useful, which most likely led to its general acknowledgment and acceptance. Cycling caps helped keep sweat at bay, which usually causes irritation to the eyes during a race and can lead to minor injuries or escalate into a major accident. Having the sun beam down on your eyes as well right in the middle of the road at a considerable high speed was another reason it was needed. Cycling caps solved both of these issues effectively.

How did cycling caps come into the limelight?

Back in the 1800s, when cycling was still a juvenile sport, the helmet was used as protection against various occurrences that could happen during a race. There had been speculations that the cycling cap had been in existence eve at this time. However, it did not come into the limelight until much later when James Moore, the first cyclist to win a race in 1868, was seen with a natty stiff brimmed hat. While this is quite different from what we have today, t marked the beginning of the evolving days of cycling caps. As of 1903, with the Tour de France’s premiere, a new dawn for cycling caps.

The first arrival was cloth caps, which provided comfort and protection that seemed to trend until the first world war. After this came, a change as young cyclists expressed their desire for rather peaked school hats. 

The early 1930s experienced another change, and it became a stark identity for cyclists. Even as a point of investment. As decades passed, cycling caps adopted a much more universal mode by syncing with other cycling kits. This gave rise to the matching cotton casquette. In no time, sponsors and business owners used it as a form of advertising, trolling, selling, and marketing. In no time, fans hustled to buy copies of their favorites, and before we knew it, it became a cycling style antic.

Why You Should Wear a Cycling Cap?

For utility and style, but mostly for utility. It tackled real problems cyclists faced while in the race. As previously stated, cycling caps have had their share of ups and downs. After the death of Andrew Kivilev in the Paris-Nice, it was presumed that the cycling caps would go extinct after the ICU passed a bill supporting its helmet counterparts instead. However, this was not the case; cycling caps only found a way to be much more specialized and relevant. It took a step forward in utility, reminding cyclists and the world alike why they need to wear cycling caps;

  • Prevents sweat and rain from dripping of rows and getting into the eyes
  • Shielding face from the sun
  • To keep your head at the perfect temperature in autumn and spring.
  • It was passed generally to be a fashion statement when combined well and seen as a means for advertising. 

Most of all, cycling caps brought with them the nostalgia of heroic cycling moments. Worn by both cyclists and their fans, they became a symbol for the game’s love with the retro yet fancy feel.

Different types of cycling caps

There are different kinds of cycling caps out there. To make things easier, here is a list of the top 15 different types of cycling caps;


How to wear a cycling cap?

Except you are in it for the socials and the casuals, a cycling cap is most times worn underneath a helmet. While it has been seen to be worn without it, it is the most common way. The cycling cap is one of the few mini accessories that climbed its way to the top of importance even while still underneath a helmet. If you want to feel the history, pain, and gain of cycling, then wear it as you should, beneath your helmet. Keeping out dirt, sweat, rain, and sun while still looking cool doing it

The different looks when wearing a cycling cap

The peak down look

This is the most commonly used style of wearing a cycling cap. It helps you keep dirt and wind out of your eyes while riding as well as bugs and particles. Even when it rains, you don’t have to worry about rain getting in your eyes or mud. Night cycling is excellent with the peak down look as it helps keep the distracting lights out of your eyes from all directions; it is the most effective and practical way of wearing the cycling cap.

The peak up look

Sometimes the peak down style can get in the way, especially when it is worm too low. You might end up having difficulty seeing the road even though you are protected from everything else. Flipping the peak up gives you a clearer view. This style is the most trendy when wearing a cap. As it helps keep the head warm and cozy. Want to grab a coffee or still prepping up for a race; then it’s the peak up look for you.

Backward and peak down.

This look is much more casual and relaxed. It is when you wear the cap backward while keeping the peak down. This method is excellent for sunny days as it protects your neck and therefore avoids irritation or sunburn.

Custom made cycling caps

Believe it or not, custom made cycling caps are a thing! There are many reasons why you might want a custom made cycling cap.

You might be a part of a team or a club and want a custom made cap for the entire team.

You might enjoy the feel and style of the cycling cap and want to rock it for the socials and the casuals.

An individual, Fans, and group of friends sometimes get custom made caps that show their loyalty for their favorite sports and teams while still maintaining a custom uniqueness familiar only to them.

You might be a cyclist with a knack for standing out or having a unique identity. Or maybe you prefer a specific color. A custom made cycling cap would leave the mark. You might want one that goes in line with your cycling kit, giving you a unique yet unanimous look. 

Sometimes brands, sponsors, and team owners get a custom cycling cap made for some or all team members to serve as a promotion or advert during a race. 

The uniqueness, the team spirit, the fan loyalty, the group games, the cool look and the distinct identity, The little headpiece that soaks up the sweat and reminds you that you can keep going; these are enough reasons to get yourself a custom made cycling cap.

Getting a custom made cycling cap is a pretty dope idea. You could check out Bello Cyclist or Walz to get quality custom cycling cap designs.

Bring up some nostalgy with retro cycling caps

Instead of designing your ow custom cycling caps, one could also go for that heroic retro look. Retro cycling becomes more popular every day resulting in retro cycling events, increased sales of retro cycling apparel and vintage looking bike apparel and even retro cycling races. Besides typical retro jerseys and bikes of those good old days one of the most crucial cycling kit pieces is the cycling cap. You can’t go retro without going for one of those typical nostalgic caps. Just ask your father or grandfather and they will tell you about the days in which the peak up look revealed famous brand names like Molteni, Peugeot, Raphaël, Brooklyn and of course the iconic Mapei cycling cap. Read more about Mapei and their vintage cycling accessories in this article.

Eddy Merckx with a Molteni cycling cap
Eddy Merckx with a Molteni cycling cap

Frequently asked questions

Where to buy custom cycling caps?

There are different places on the Internet where you could go to design your own customized cycling caps. We have good experiences and read good reviews about Bello Cyclist, Walz, Pace Sportswear, Arne and Owayo.

Where to buy vintage look cycling caps?

When it comes down to vintage cycling wear, we are big fans of Magliamo. Magliamo is offering a wide range of vintage cycling clothing with amongst others vintage cycling caps. They even offer those oldie goldie caps from Molteni, BIC, Peugeot and so on. One to watch and one to surf to when looking for vintage bike apparel.

How to wear a cycling cap?

There are no specific rules about how to wear your cycling cap. Just do as it suits you. There are 3 looks though which could be referred to as the most popular ones: the peak up look, the peak down look and the peak down backward look. Personally, we prefer the peak up look; whereby you flip up the peak of your cycling cap!

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