Why do so many cyclists wear black?

In a sport so full of colour, why do so many British cyclists wear black? Is it just the Team Sky effect or is it more? You would think riders would want to stand out a little, especially given the difficulty we have with the roads, road conditions and the attitude of some drivers.

Look on any cycling retailer and the predominant colour is black, or black with a token coloured stripe. Yet ride in Europe and you rarely see black on the roads. Whether you’re in Germany, France, Italy or somewhere else, European riders embrace colour as part of the sport. Even shorts are many colours other than black, with most being either team colours or bright.

While black really should be the only colour for bib tights and shorts, the jersey or jacket has so much more potential.

Being seen on the road is one of the most important safety measure you can take as a cyclist. Yet riding in black kit does nothing to help that. Some riders ask why they should do a drivers job for them by making an extra effort to be seen if the driver cannot be bothered to look. I say, is your continued health and safety not worth a little extra effort if you can look good at the same time?

Even Team Sky’s new Rapha kit has a brighter look for 2016. While that’s apparently so they can be more visible on TV when in the peloton riding at speed, the knock on effect will also benefit casual riders. The principle of being seen while on the bike is obviously something Rapha had to consider regardless of where that might be.

Being seen on the road is all about contrast. If the colours you’re wearing contrast enough with the background, you are visible. If you blend in, you’re not so visible. So black has a tendency to blend into the road, shadow and anywhere shaded or dark, which is most country lanes in the UK.

While flouro leaves a lot to be desired, there is a lot to be said for brighter colours. There some awesome designs from the likes of Prendas or Morvelo and even the big brands have a few colourful options. Most of us ride black bikes, so why would we ride in all-black kit too? Embrace colour, look good and you might be a bit safer too. What’s not to love?


Leave a Reply