Back in Black: Why black shorts make you a better dressed cyclist

Women have the little black dress. Very few women have just the one.

This should tell the predominately male cycling population something. Sadly, far too many choose to ignore a simple truth: black is the most stylish of colours.

Rapha understand this, that’s why their classic jersey is black. So did Henry Ford.

For nearly a hundred years cycling seems to have survived with shorts only really available in black. Some would argue this was out of necessity and lack of other viable options in the fabrics available. I’d argue that it was because it works and looks good.

You think Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil wore black shorts for no good reason?

Anquetil and Merckx

Or Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi?

Gino Bartali y Fausto Coppi

The latter had jerseys handmade from silk for him by Castelli. If he’d wanted shorts other than black he would have had them.

Take any cycling jersey you own and pair it with any shorts you like. It will always look better with a plain black short.

The World Champion’s jersey has always looked better with black shorts. That’s not a matter of opinion, that’s a matter of fact.

And the same goes for any of the famous jerseys. The trend for shorts matching leaders jerseys started in the 1990s and has never been as cool as some riders and fans would have you believe.

For every Mario Cippolini resplendent in head-to-toe white and rainbow, there’s a multitude of Michael Rasmussen looking like a jaundiced famine victim at Le Tour…


(Note Alberto Contador sensibly opting out of white shorts with the Best Young Rider jersey. Remember: you win the jersey not the shorts and matching socks.)

Or like a smallpox outbreak on a bike…

Michael Rasmussen

So to recap: If you are serious about looking good on the bike, get some black shorts.

You may also be interested in reading Roadcycling UK’s Cycling Style Guidance Notes by Richard Hallett

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