Jun 15, 2017

BLUE IS THE COLOUR

  • Style icon Fausto Copppi
  • Style criminal Pierre Rolland
  • The horrors of the 80s and 90s
  • Pro-peloton bib-short crimes
  • The Deep Ocean Etape jersey and Club bibs
  • Blue with everything

Things were better before say the traditionalists and, do you know what, they’re right. Mostly. Let’s take the professionals, specifically let's take Fausto Coppi.

Picture the Italian master now, Persol sunglasses adorning his ample nose as he glides along on his beautiful steel bike. He takes a long swig of brandy from the bottle and a short sip of water from a stainless steel bidon, flicking his black fringe from his eyes. Unhindered by a helmet his brylcreemed hair glistens in the alpine sunshine as the collars of his woollen World Champion’s jersey flap hypnotically in the breeze. His jersey is white, apart from the famous rainbow stripes, his shorts are black. Black as coal. Black as shoe polish. Black as cycling shorts. Everything is right with the world. Isn’t it?

He’s rolling around France looking like some deranged Minnie Mouse

Now let’s picture Pierre Rolland in 2013, riding for Europcar. The Frenchman is leading the King of the Mountains competition in the Tour de France and keeper of the famous polka dot jersey. He wears it with pride, honouring his home nation’s own race. The most famous race in the world, The Greatest Show on Earth. But what colour are his shorts? What colour are his black shorts? His black shorts are white and they have polka dots all over them. His mitts are white with red polka dots too, as is his bar tape, his saddle, his frame — he probably applied polka dotted chamois cream before he got dressed. He’s rolling around France looking like some deranged Minnie Mouse impersonator and nobody is stopping this madness.

If you’re World Champion, if you’re King of the Mountain, if you’re the British National Champion your shorts are black. This is law. Cycling law. Think of the history, think of the legendary panache of your forebears. My god, think of the children.

When cycling shorts were wool everything was simpler. Wool doesn’t clean easily and black is the best colour to hide grease, oil and dirt. When this pragmatism was usurped for lycra, a fabric that can be dyed and printed on, things started to go wrong. During the 80s and into the 90s cycling teams took full advantage of technology to go full technicolor. Colourful patterns were commonplace, teams created faux denim looks, paint splatters, pop art and worse. These were decades of experimentation; synthesisers and drum machines replaced rock bands and recreational drugs enhanced warehouse get togethers. Shoulder pads in suits were combined with rolled sleeves and espadrilles. Bucks Fizz were huge.

Cycling wasn’t to blame, let’s at least forgive them that. Blame the decade, blame the technology and the lack of self control. We’re better than that now. We are, aren’t we? We’re not you know, look at FDJ with their white shorts, AG2R with their brown shorts and Bardiani with their apple green shorts. How many times have you been sat, sipping your flat white when a white shorted cyclist enters the café and queues in your eyeline? Nothing, literally nothing, is left to the imagination. Not even his wife wants to see that level of detail. You know he wears them when it rains too, he must do. The sick, sick man. Bloody cyclists.

It’s very important to know the rules, rules make the world a safer place for everyone. You can’t go piloting a ferry on the Menai Straits without the proper training, you wouldn’t base jump from the Beetham Tower without a little understanding of your equipment. Pushing boundaries should be left to the experts, those with experience, an in-depth understanding of their craft and with vision. If you know the rules, you know how to bend them. But, for pete’s sake, leave it to the experts.

With years of experience in designing and making cycling kit we know our stuff at Chapeau!, which is why this year — for the first time — we bring you the Power of Blue. Stand back and feast your eyes on our Deep Ocean bib shorts. Our talented colour mixologists have slaved away at their drawing boards and computers, pored over samples and sacrificed at the altar of colour to bring you the absolute correct shade of blue. Eye-poppingly stylish, heart-wrenchingly desirable, mind-alteringly divisive and in no way eye-wateringly offensive.

Blue isn’t the new black, but it is new. There’s room for blue in cycling, especially in our range — you can pair the Deep Ocean bibs with our matching Etape jersey or cut a dash with almost all of our Club and Tempo range. The chest stripes in the red and blue Club jerseys are a perfect complement, whilst the grey and sky blue create an unrivalled look of the debonair.

We never dared to dream that a colour could exist to make us stray from our beloved black shorts, but with time and an artful eye we’ve cracked it. We don’t make the rules, but we’ll bend them if we can. Blue is the colour. Don’t beat yourself up about it, be black and blue.

See the blue bibs in detail