"Style is no guarantee of success, although it is always a sign of talent," once quipped Cycling Weekly's Chris Sidewells, highlighting the important role wearing the right gear plays in cycling.
Emulating the pro look is a big part of every sport, and the same is true of cycling as we watch inspirational figures push the boundaries during the world’s biggest bike races.
Cycling has a long and rich tradition, and the sport has produced many of the most exceptional exponents of any physical pursuit in the world.
The legends of cycling and the gruelling nature of their efforts is worth honouring, as is the sense of style they created over many years and miles.
It is out of respect for this impressive heritage that the wearing of pro-inspired clothing celebrates today.
So, if you want to pay homage to those towering figures of fitness and finesse and you’re not sure how, then our guide to pro-clothing should put you on the right path.
Looking good on the road
Getting that pro-inspired style isn’t as easy as picking the most expensive gear at random. A bit of planning and good taste is necessary to ensure your pro-style keeps cadence with your technique and performance.
It’s also important to note that quality gear provides a number of significant benefits in terms of performance, practicality, and – quite significantly - how they make you feel on the bike.
Attempt to compete in a race in tracksuit bottoms, a polyester t-shirt, and football socks, and you’ll soon appreciate the full benefits of lightweight, breathable gear.
Flattened seams and a race ready-fits offer significant aerodynamic advantages, while specialist materials ensure warmth without the weight or the bulk.
Sweat-wicking properties will also keep you dry and protect against nasty chaffing, while the benefits of a quality chamois during long miles are beyond dispute.
There are practical advantages too. Thin fabrics allow you freedom of movement for an efficient technique, while pockets on the back of pro-level jerseys provide the perfect storage place for energy gels.
But look beyond the tangible benefits and there are many mental advantages too. Having that pro-style helps make you feel part of the community and part of cycling heritage, which has benefits not only for you but the wider cycling community and its proud contingent.
And when you feel good on the bike, there’s no doubt that you perform better too.
Top tips for choosing pro-issue cycling gear
Here are some of our top tips to help you emulate the pros:
- Express yourself: While there are pitfalls to avoid, there is a world of classy, vibrant, and eccentric cycling gear with which to explore and experiment. Whether you want ultra-cool and understated, or big, bold and attention-grabbing, expressing your personality is part of enjoying being a cyclist.
- Go for quality: Shabby gear can be a false economy. Unlike big brand fashion clothing, which is rarely built to last, cycling gear is tested literally to destruction by cyclists every day. Poor workmanship gets found out very quickly on the bike, so premium gear must produce the goods in terms of performance and durability.
- Go retro: Retro gear is classy and always gets the nod of approval from fellow cyclists.
The jersey is where you can fully channel your inner Fabian Cancellara. Go wild with colour and design, or stay conservative for a cool, sleek look. A pro-standard jersey is also lightweight and ensures you stay cool and fresh.
As the official kit partner of Team Qhubeka-Assos, Assos can develop and test the kit at the highest level. Everything about this EQUIPE RS jersey, from the 3D knit miniCheck Tex fabric to the aggressive cut have been optimised to help you achieve your fastest times.
Now in its sixth iteration, this Castelli Aero Race Jersey just gets better and better. As seen on the Ineos Grenadiers, it's designed to perform best at speeds of between 30 and 55 km/h. Within this range, the aerodynamic efficiency is optimised giving more speed without an increase of power output compared to a standard jersey.
The kit supplier to BORA-Hansgrohe has created the bomber jersey to give racers at all levels a competitive advantage. Tested in the wind tunnel and out in the real world, it features raw edges, no collar and fewer seams for a more streamlined fit, minimising drag so all those hard-earned watts are channelled into going faster.
A great pair of mitts adds pro-flare to your cycling garb and reduces the windchill on your knuckles as you descend.
The longer length cuff and cutting-edge fabric from leading Italian mill Miti Spa have been designed to enable optimum airflow over the hands and wrists. When every second counts, the little things do add up.
Assos has thought of every detail when it came to making these mitts as streamlined as possible. 3D shaping follows the anatomical structure of the hand and lightweight Breezer Tex fabric stretches smoothly with no wrinkling.
Offering luxury comfort for your hands, the Icon race gloves from Castelli mean maximum grip and maximum style.
Pro-issue cycling caps
Cycling caps are really a matter of personal choice, but if you find the right one it's a great way to take your pro-style up a notch. Handy too in the descents or the cold weather when those helmet vents start blasting your bonce with a bitter breeze.
Pay tribute to the biggest of all the Grand Tours with the La Grand Boucle cap from Black Sheep.
Quick-wicking lightweight polyester will keep the sun off your head and the sweat out of your eyes as you push for the summit finish.
For the toughest days in the saddle, this cap from Le Col will draw moisture away from your head and keep the sun out of your eyes. It's made from 3D Mesh Pro Air Fabric so it's unbelievably light.
Pro-issue eyewear adds class to complete your cycling look, plus aids visibility so you can really take in those views.
The modern, oversized frame is perfectly at home in the city as much as out on the road. The Prizm lens has been designed for bright conditions and increases contrast and boosts colour, contrast and clarity.
Take style points from EF Education First without going all-over pink with the white edition of the oversized POC Devour sunglasses. The PC lens, designed by Carl Zeiss Vision, features a 'Ri-Pel' treatment that will pearl water from the lens and an anti-fog treatment so you'll be able to see clearly whatever the weather.
The revolutionary new design concept from Oakley conforms to the contours of your face like a superhero mask. They might not give you the ability to fly but the Prizm lens technology and wide field of vision will inspire confidence at speed.
Pro-issue bib shorts
Never underestimate the benefits of a quality chamois. Pro-issue bib shorts should be at the top of your list and will repay your investment in double quick time.
The Free Aero has been a best-seller for Castelli since it was released, receiving praise from both amateur and pro cyclists. Not good enough for Castelli - they've further refined the fit and the pad to create their best bibs yet, as worn by Team Inneos.
Comfortable even over the longest stage, the dhb Aeron LAB Raceline bib short was developed with feedback from UCI Continental Team, Canyon dhb. The second-skin fit and aerodynamic fabric will help you to take down those PBs.
The ErgoBox construction stabilizes the seat pad making it ultra-comfy on a multi-day tour, with no irritating rubbing. Light compression encourages blood flow and helps to flush through lactic acid so you'll still have the edge at the sprint finish.
Quality shoes deliver a power and performance upgrade, as well as looking sensational.
The Giro Imperial Road Shoe is designed especially for the road cyclist who wants lightweight performance combined with great looks. It features the high-modulus Easton® EC90 SLX2 carbon sole for durability and optimum power transfer.
Fi'zi:k have used their experience of working with athletes at the top of the sport to create an affordable shoe with many pro-level features. The Tempo R5 Overcurve combines a micro-adjustable IP1-B Boa dial with a velcro strap to give you the best fit possible as you rack up the miles.
The original was a favourite with amateur riders and the pro peloton for the lightweight, stiff carbon sole which facilitates optimum power transfer. SIDI's cult hero gets an update for 2019 for improved fit and comfort.
Don't undermine your surgically-selected cycling outfit with a pair of saggy old soccer socks. Plus your feet will thank you for the sweat-wicking tech and breath-ability.
All-day, barely-there comfort with just enough support and compression in the right places.
These high-performance socks will keep you cool in the hottest conditions. Available in a wide range of colours to complement your pro look.
Keep your feet drier for longer, no matter how hard you push yourself thanks to the Meryl® Skinlife® bacteriostatic yarns in the HRc Team™ Race Socks from Giro.