A cycling cap is for both function and style. It keeps the sun out of your eyes as well as the rain, keeps your balding head from baking, and keeps you warm on a chilly day. It can complete the look to a cyclist particularly when wearing other cycling gear and are involved in a cycling related activity. There are a host of ways to wear a cycling cap both with a helmet and without. Wearing it at inopportune times or wearing one the wrong way leaves you looking silly and potentially not getting the best benefit from one.
First – When Is It Appropriate To Wear a Cycling Cap?
The first thing to know about wearing a cycling cap is that it’s not always appropriate to wear one. If you are riding, are about to embark upon a ride, are mid-ride, say at a coffee shop, or have just finished a ride, then it is appropriate to wear one. Away from cycling you should never wear one. The best style is the one that both looks good and is functional. A cycling cap away from the bike is not functional and you’re just trying to look the look. Also, if you are riding and it’s hot out, you should not be wearing a cycling cap. For one it will be too hot and two it’s not functional unless it is to keep the sun off your balding head or out of your eyes.
Getting The Right Fit
The second thing you need to know about wearing a cycling cap is that you need to get the size right. It is not one size fits all even though a lot of hats say that. The cap should not be sitting high up on your head nor all the way down to your ears. It should sit slightly above your ears and have a small bit of loft above your head but not too much. Additionally, you will want a brim size that correlates with the size of your hat; not too big but not too small either. And make sure it’s flat or has a slight curve when you wear it. It should not have any folds or creases in it and it should always, always sit straight on your head whether forward or backwards.
Styles Without a Helmet (When NOT Riding)
When you’re not riding, say you just stopped at a coffee shop or are stepping onto the podium, there are a number of ways to wear a cycling cap. Again, this is when you’re not riding. While riding you should always have a helmet on regardless of if you think it’s stylish or not. In some countries in particular (Belgium for example) cycling caps are worn a lot as a style while riding instead of a helmet. Don’t do this. You don’t want to pay for it with your life.
This first style is largely the original and intended way to wear a cycling cap. It has the brim over your eyes which is what the cap is made for. If the cycling cap doesn’t sit straight on your head, it will be pretty apparent in this position so make sure it’s straight.
This is the more hipster/I’m cool look. There is no real reason for the brim to be flipped up unless you’re riding, but you wear a helmet while riding so this is a non-issue. This look can also be used while riding with a cycling cap under your helmet and when you stop and take your helmet of, at a coffee shop for example, you flip it up.
The guy in the photo above is riding with a cycling cap and no helmet. This is a no go but he has the backward-brim down look down to a T. This is the I’m cool look but not too cool, just out doing my thing the way I want. With a backwards hat, one thing to make sure of is that the hat isn’t to high up on your forehead or too far down over your eyebrows. Again, having the right size hat will help to get the fit right.
Velominati is the maker of the cyclist’s Rules. This is a list of 95 rules for a cyclist to follow and properly wearing a cycling cap is one of them (Rule # 22). Wearing a cycling cap backwards with the brim tipped up is an I’m cool and serious look. Again, make sure the cap is at the proper spot on your forehead and make sure it’s straight.
Wearing a Cycling Cap With a Helmet
The above ways to wear a cap are for function since you’re cool and only wear a cap without a helmet when your’re not riding. The function of the cycling cap comes into play (besides of course to keep the low hanging sun out of your eyes while enjoying an espresso or beer) while riding. The first thing with wearing a cap under your helmet is that it will keep your head warmer. A perfect addition to your kit when it’s around forty to sixty degrees F (4.5-15.5 degrees C). Outside of this you’re going to be either too cold or warm with one.
The forward-brim down look while riding is the most functional style on the bike. It will keep the rain (or mud in this case in the photo above) and wind out of your eyes as well as bugs if you are riding into the evening. Also, if you’re riding at night, it is a great way to keep the blinding headlights from the other direction out of your eyes.
With the brim-down style above, if you wear the cap too low or you’re head is tucked down to stay more aero, you are likely going to have a difficult time seeing the road ahead. When this happens, flipping the brim up will give you the sight you need while keeping the brim right there to flip back down when needed. This style can also be used when wearing a cap to keep your head warm.
There Are No Other Ways
The above ways are the only way you should ever wear a cycling cap. It should never be worn sideways or partially crooked on your head. It should only be worn while cycling or around a cycling situation such as before, after, or during a ride but off the bike.
The Fall of The Cycling Cap
Cycling caps used to be the thing you would wear while cycling because at first, helmets didn’t yet exist and weren’t worn like they are today. Today, cycling caps are much less popular and tend to be worn by the more serious cyclist and the ones attempting to capture the style while getting function out of them. Cycling caps are worn less all the way up to the professional ranks even. Podiums are often outfitted with riders wearing baseball caps with their sponsors on it instead of cycling caps. However, there are some that try and preserve tradition and keep wearing them.