Cycling caps, otherwise known as cycling berretta(s?), are a quintessential part of road cycling.
Often worn alone for racing until the UCI made helmets compulsory in 2003, they’ve been heavily documented perching atop the heads of pro cyclists of the 70s and 80s, the wearers exuding ‘cool’ and quirky racer vibes.
A cycling cap is very different to a baseball cap. It has a peak, but is made of thin cotton, the peak is more flexible, and the back of the cap is often elasticated to help achieve the perfect fit.
Why Wear a Cycling Cap?
Many commuter focused helmets, such as the Bern lids, come with an inbuilt cycling-cap-esque-peak – and the peak can be useful for those riding in cities who want a clear view of the road, without having to don glasses which need de-fogging at every set of lights.
The practical reasons for wearing a cap are to keep sweat from dripping into the eyes, likewise rain, and the peak is a sun shield in bright conditions.
Caps come into their own during Spring and Autumn – providing a light layer of warmth that protects the head from the effects of venty-helmets, without causing the rider to overheat, as they might in a thermal cap designed for winter.
The above are all perfectly sensible reasons for donning a cap – but the truth is for a lot of riders it’s really all about looking a bit more pro. Argue if you like, but most cycling cap wearers are either emulating Eddy Merckx, or if off the bike, making sure fellow cyclists recognise them as a rider outside of lycra.
Hardcore Velominati-ites would of course disagree on the grounds of Rule 22:
Rule #22 // Cycling caps are for cycling.
Cycling caps can be worn under helmets, but never when not riding, no matter how hip you think you look. This will render one a douche, and should result in public berating or beating. The only time it is acceptable to wear a cycling cap is while directly engaged in cycling activities and while clad in cycling kit.
Of course, most of us don’t live by The Rules, and will wear a cap whenever we like.
How to Wear a Cycling Cap?
A cycling cap can be worn under a helmet, or alone – depending upon your helmet persuasion (which is not a debate to be had here).
Regardless of helmet addition, or lack of – a cycling cap can be worn peak up – or peak down. I’m using pictures of my other half, because most cycling caps are actually too big for my head..
Occasionally, riders will choose to opt for the backwards cap. In summer, this is a scalp protector for the folically challenged, and a back of neck protector for those without the benefit of pony tail. In winter it’s a bit pointless.
Where Can I Buy Cycling Caps?
The high majority of cycling brands sell a cycling cap or berretta. Since the cap itself is a highly expressive item that tells the world ‘I am a cyclist’, you might as well opt for one that tells them what sort of cyclist you are, too (and yes, brand leanings do give a little insight..)
Moving away from style, and closer to practicality, the Sealskinz waterproof cap is actually perfect for autumnal conditions, offering total waterproofing.
The cap is apparently ‘unbranded’ but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where it came from… This one is water resistant, wind resistant, and made of technical cotton.
The quirky coffee shop/workshop sell a range of caps, but I quite like this one – it shows support for a great independent business and that’s always nice. It’s 100% cotton, doesn’t claim any technical features, but at £10 that’s understandable.
Do you wear a cycling cap?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.