Why Wear a Cycling Cap? Purpose, Alternatives & How To Wear One!

For many people, cycling is all about the feeling of freedom, of the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair.  For others, it’s all about the kit. The range of products aimed at cyclists is simply huge.

Why? It’s because cyclists are known to be huge fans of stuff. You’ll find that most cyclists have a huge collection of bike parts, pieces of clothing, accessories, and maintenance kit – most of which they rarely use.

One of the biggest categories of cycling products is clothing. Frankly, the array can sometimes be confusing. There are so many options that many simply don’t know where to start – and some don’t know when to stop!

But one thing all cyclists agree on the need for is a helmet. You only get one head, so protecting it is absolutely key. In most countries, there are laws to ensure that cyclists always wear helmets. In others, there is just an expectation that they will do.

But before helmets became commonplace, the ubiquitous piece of headgear was the cycling cap. They are less commonplace than they were, but you still see cyclists wear them everywhere. But if you’ve got a helmet, why bother wearing a cycling cap?

What is the purpose of a cycling cap? Cycling caps are designed to keep the sun out of the rider’s eyes, soak up sweat and rain, and keep the hair out of the eyes. In addition, to protect against the weather elements, cycling caps are also used for style.

Cycling caps are also known as casquettes. Originally riders wore a large tweed hat, but as they got faster these became unwieldy, so they were swapped for the small-peaked cloth cap we see today. During the European cycling season, particularly the Grand Tours, cyclists would often endure very high temperatures and be in blazing sunshine for many days at a time. The cycling cap helped protect against sunstroke and sunburn, whilst being light enough to not be a nuisance to the riders. (Source)

Cycling became immensely popular in Europe after the Second World War. As races weren’t televised, many fans followed the races through magazines. Teams quickly worked out that the cycling cap was included in almost every photograph of a rider, so it was valuable advertising space. They then began to be produced with the name of sponsors or the team emblazoned on them.

However, cycling caps became less commonplace as safety become more and more of an issue. In 2003, professionals were finally banned from wearing them on their own. After the death of Andrei Kivilev during Paris-Nice, helmets became mandatory.

When and Why Should You Wear a Cycle Cap?

Cycling caps can be worn in any weather and at any time, but it is probably best to only wear them when cycling. Cycling caps are well suited for a number of different climates. In hot and sunny conditions, they can keep the head from becoming sunburnt, and also help keep the sun out of the eyes. This was especially important before sunglasses were invented. In the rain, cycling caps can stop water trickling down the face and into the eyes, obscuring your vision. In the wind, the peak can be flipped low to shield the eyes and the cap will also stop your hair from covering the face. Finally, as one loses around 10% of the body heat through the head, cycling caps can be vital to keep the rider warm in colder conditions. (Source A , Source B)

However, off the bike, cycling caps are also a common sight at cycling races. That’s because they are a key part of cycling wear, and in the days before helmets, all professional riders wore cycling caps instead.

Wearing a Bic, Molteni, or Mapei cycling cap is a little like wearing your favorite team’s football shirt to a match. Many cyclists and cycling fans have huge collections of cycling caps, as they are often given away at races, cost very little, and don’t take up much space.

How Do You Style a Cycling Cap? (How To Wear It!)

Cyclists seem to have a rule about everything, and cycling caps are no different. The cap needs to peak towards the front, secured firmly to the head with a small gap between the top of the head and the top of the cap.

This is what Mitch Docker refers to as ‘Luft’.


Too low and you will look too military (and struggle to see). Too high and you will look like you’re wearing a chef’s hat. The best piece of advice is to look at how the professionals wear them. (Source)

If it’s particularly sunny, turning the cap around can protect your exposed neck from the sun. If it’s sunny enough that sunburn is a worry and you’re still cycling, it’s likely that you will simply sweat any suncream off, so they can provide a genuinely practical alternative.

Many cyclists like to flip the peak of the cap up when they’re climbing hills and down when they’re descending, or riding on the flat. They are aerodynamic advantages to wearing it down, but they are minimal. Many others use it as a sign of being ‘cooked’; they flip their peak up to let people know they have run out of energy.

Can You Wear a Hat with / Under a Bike Helmet?

The answer is yes – in fact, some will be designed to do exactly that.

You can still get all the benefits from using a cycling cap with a helmet on top. In fact, it may make it more comfortable, as the hat will provide a layer of cushioning between your skull and the pads of the helmet.

Also, check out our post : How to Keep Your Ears Warm & Protect It when Cycling? Why It’s Crucially Important!

Why Do Bikers Wear Skull Caps ? how Does It Compare Agianst Cycling Hat !

Skull caps offer many of the same advantages as cycling caps but are mostly worn to absorb sweat, provide a cushion between the head and the cap, stay warm in cold conditions and protect the rider’s hair.

When riding, your helmet can rub against your scalp where it meets the cushioning pad. This can be very bad for your hair and can lead to hair loss, especially if you are riding for extended periods. It can also be uncomfortable in extremely hot conditions. Wearing a skull cap means that the friction is absorbed by the material of the cap, not your hair.

Skull caps are different from cycling caps, in that they don’t have a peak, and are often made of a stretchier material, rather than having an elasticated band like the cycling cap.

The lack of a peak means, however, that they aren’t any use for keeping things out of your eyes.

Why Do Bikers Wear Bandanas Under Their Helmets?

Bikers wear bandanas for similar reasons as cyclists; namely, protection from the sun, soaking up sweat, and providing a layer of cushioning between them and the helmet. As motorcycle helmets aren’t vented, losing heat is not such a problem. However the helmet can also mess up their hair, so bandanas can be used to cover the messy hair. Bikers also wear bandanas to show off their favorite brands.

As the bikers are going faster than cyclists, many also use their bandanas to cover their faces when riding. This protects the skin on their neck and face, preventing them from dehydrating from the wind constantly hitting them at such a high speed. It also prevents insects from getting in their mouths – a deeply unpleasant experience and at high speed, dangerous too!


An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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