Cycling caps were worn by most all cyclists who raced, including the Tour De France. Cycling caps were the dominant head wear for cyclists. The cycling cap was not used for style or fashion reasons, but instead was used to protect the rider from the sun. A cyclist could wear the cycling cap with the small brim forward to help shield his eyes from rain or sun. The brim easily flipped up or down depending on the rider’s preference and riding conditions. The cycling cap was often commonly worn with the brim facing backwards. This was often done so that the rider could protect his neck from the sun.
The bike cap was a very versatile piece of cycle clothing. The cycling cap could do almost everything the rider needed, except to protect the head and brain in case of a crash. Deaths occurred in cycling and were considered simply part of the sport. Eventually the first “safety helmets” for cyclists were introduced.
The first safety helmets were made of strong leather, similar to how the old style football helmets were except the leather was gapped for breathability. Cycling helmets continued to evolve. Head trauma was a major concern for race organizers, and it became mandatory that racers use a bicycle helmet to help protect their noggin.
Credit: Flickr/doubledareyaThe mandatory use of bike helmets meant that the traditional cycling cap was no longer a “mandatory” part of the cyclist’s repertoire. The bicycle helmet was mandatory and most riders no longer wore a cycling cap. Some cyclists however would wear a cycling cap underneath their bike helmet.
Bike racing teams continued to produce the cycling cap. When a rider won a stage he would often wear the cycling cap as part of the uniform for the ceremony and pictures. This tradition continues today.
Bicycle caps are still used by amateur cyclists, recreational riders, and the general public who may not even cycle.
There are collectors of bicycling caps who have amassed thousands of different cycling caps. The cycling cap can come in a wide variety of colors and styles. You can even get your old t-shirt made into a cycling cap.
In 1979 the popularity of cycling caps was renewed when the bicycle movie “Breaking Away” was released. The main character in the movie wore a cycling cap.
The market for cycling caps continues to this day:
- Inexpensive cotton cycling caps
- Heavy wool cycling caps
- Cycling caps with ear flaps to keep your ears warm
- 100 percent custom made cycling caps
The variety of bicycle caps you can buy is limited only by your imagination. You can also find free sewing patterns online to make your own bicycle hat.