The French call them “casquettes” and it appears cyclists have been wearing them since the early part of the last century. Who knew, right?
I’ve had an Orbea cycling cap for several years; it was given me by my friend Eric, who also gave me my first road bike, the lightweight 1985 Razesa wonderbike. I tried on the cap, thought it looked goofy, and put it on a closet shelf. In May, for an old bikes ride, I again tried it on. The cap’s bill had been crushed, and I think I may have bent it when I first tried it on attempting to make it look like a more ‘normal’ billed cap. Anyway, in May, the bill lay kind of flat against my forehead like broken nose. The look was better, though, with the bill flipped up. I wore the cap under my helmet and it kept sweat out of my face and protected my eyes from the sun’s glare.
Because I liked the utility of the cycling cap so much, I thought I’d buy a new one for the same effect without the smashed-brim look. I thought, since they are so cheaply made and flimsy, that they’d be super cheap – almost giveaway items at any local bike shop and free for the cost of shipping online. I was mistaken. Since Lovely Stepford has no local bike shop, I looked online. The lifestyle-chic chuckleheads at Walz want an arm and a leg for their caps. Nashbar, BikeTiresDirect, PricePoint and PerformanceBike dot com all carry cheaper versions. Performance Bike, however, appears to sell them cheaper than any other vendor.
I was looking for an Italianate color scheme reminiscent of a pizza box, but was unable to find one I really liked. Finally, I chose the Europcar cap the color of which is predominately green, but also has some red and white in the design. Since I drive a European car that is green in color, I felt I could sport the cap without seeming too much a poseur. In the same way, since I often ride a Spanish bike, I don’t feel badly about wearing an Orbea cycling cap. Strange, I know, this need to justify what I wear.
Stop! In the name of all that is rational or right
The Europcar cap seemed like a winner, but when I got it and tried it on, I found it presented, when worn, a sort of puffed-up 1970’s Burger King cap appearance that made me think, “Dyyy-No-Miiite!” I attribute that puff-bonnett appearance to the darts sewn into the sides of the cap. Cannot think why the maker would have put them there, but they ruin the look. The Orbea cap has radial panels meeting in the cap’s center with a distinctive blue strip of cloth sewn over the top. Below, you will find some comparison photos – they were taken week before last, and that was before the Europcar cap’s one-size-fits-all elastic in the back gave out.
During our family’s recent trip North to the cornfields of Indiana, my young son, while I was busy with something besides bicycling, grabbed up my green Europcar cap and wore it on a trip to the playground. Next morning, I was unable to find it because it had been left overnight at the playground. I found it late in the afternoon, where it had been left in the ground-tire mulch and rained on. The cap’s elastic was had lost its springiness and was completely stretched out. Photographic evidence from my wife’s camera indicates the boy wore the cap normally while playing, so I can only attribute the loss of elasticity to the cap’s overnight exposure to a rainstorm. Without the elastic, it’s pretty useless.
The other day, I wrote a review of the cap for the Performance Bike website, but that has still not been posted. It was not complimentary and contained many of the criticisms posted here, but without the clever illustrations.