Or, to the people outside of the cycling community, which men/women look the least worst in Lycra? Certainly not those.
Trigger Warning: Some kits contain brutalisation of lycra and murder of all good designs.
So, it’s rolling into the end of 2016 and as a result – all of the teams are reassuring their sponsors they won’t get the Lanterne Rouge at a Grand Tour this year, trying to squabble away ever last bit of money to get a new DuraAce chain just in case it breaks on the training camp to some place where you can’t cycle and trying to retain riders like a student attempts to learn stuff before an exam. Okay – maybe I am a little bit too cynical. However, the end of 2016 means the teams are releasing their new kits for 2017! And for most teams – most – it is an improvement from 2016. So, I break down team-by-team what kits are the best looking in the WT Peloton for next year when they are climbing the Col de la Madeleine in July, they will be doing it in style.
AG2R La Mondiale
Now I am a huge sucker for AG2R’s Brown and Blue kit. I have loved it ever since I saw it for the first time at the TDU in 2013. So when I heard that AG2R had changed kit makers for 2017 and 2018, I was scared that the kit would go into the grave. Thankfully, there has been minimal changes from the 2016 kit (which was probably my second favourite kit in the pro peloton behind Katusha’s).
The blue and brown squares stay, and the large AG2R stays in the middle just in case you forgot their name; but their jersey is distinctive enough to burn it into your brain. It stands out in a peloton in which there is only 2 white kits – but the very unique colour palette is something I love. Thank god they didn’t change it. The only thing I have wanted from this kit is a bit more colour on the shorts, maybe a drop of blue, but other than that it’s another outstanding kit.
Astana’s not completely ditched the turquoise of old. Their 2017 kit incorporates the very common black shorts and quintessentially-Astana blue in a nice, fluid way with a fade between shorts and jersey.
The shorts are finished with a yellow trim at the upper knee, again paying homage to the Kazakhstani roots of the team. I really like the hexagonal texture on the kit, but you wouldn’t notice those minute details down the side of the French Alps. I would prefer it if there was some blue incorporated into the shorts, but this new design is definitely not bad! I don’t love it, but it’s better than their past kits (even if they are less iconic).
Note: As I was writing this article, they released it as I just looked it up. No bull, posted 5 minutes before I looked it up.
Seeing the sneak peek of this kit I was thinking “oh no, this isn’t going to be good.” Now that they have finally released the full kit, I am now thinking “this isn’t so bad!” Bahrain-Merida for their first season have pulled out a very stylish kit. The red is very vibrant and pops out, and the gold emblem on the front looks amazing. The gold continuing on the trim also looks good, and it being separated from the bottom of the sleeve looks different but nevertheless snazzy. The only thing I don’t like about the jersey are the grey sleeves, it would look better if the red was continued all the way until the trim in my opinion – and then have a black and gold trim.
The shorts are great too. Very minimal sponsorship allows the hexagonal pattern to stand out (opposed to Astana’s) and is finished off cleanly with another thin gold trim. The colours on this kit are amazing, reminds me of a lighter BMC. The only thing that let’s the kit down are those sleeves (good heavens I hate them), but other than that it is a top kit.
I am not sure which team this is actually. Team BMC-Tag Heuer? Tag Heuer Cycling? Because that Tag Heuer logo sticks out like a sore pimple – and ruins what a lovely kit this would be otherwise. The BMC Boys are back in Red and Black, but with a irregular pattern on the front (red-dominant) and back (black-dominant). And the kit is also white, thanks Tag Heuer.
Honestly, without the Tag Heuer logo this is easily a top 2 kit for 2017. But the Tag Heuer logo just draws away from the pattern awesomeness of the kit and just blares out at you “Buy our watches, because if Tag Heuer becomes time sponsor for ASO we will win Le Tour”. The slight gold tinge on GVA’s kit as well is a perfect commendation to his brilliant Olympic’s win. The black shorts tie the kit together (it works with their kit because the jersey actually features a good amount of black) and it’s a really nice kit, until you hit the biceps. Yay for a good kit, boo for poor sponsor placement.
So the newly-WT Bora (aka Team Sagan) has deviated from their Argon-18 days of solid black with a touch of red and white to a reverse-Astana fade (I call it a reverse because Astana released their kit first, copy-cats). The teal dot pattern is really nice, but those sleeves could do with a pop of colour on the trim and not just plain white.
The shorts are a little bit weird. They don’t match up with the same intensity of dots the jersey finishes with and it just looks a bit…unpolished. While the shorts are a huge amount better than some other teams, it just feels like two different kits between the jersey and the shorts. And that chamois is just calling for someone to use it as target practice (Sagan playing Cycleball maybe?). Take the jersey and shorts separately and they look good, but together they just look eh.
This. Kit. Is. Amazing. Like, wow. If Cannondale riders are as unimpressive this year as they were last year, at least they can be proud of wearing this kit for (a sadly not long enough) 12 months. The Cannondale green is so vibrant, the plaid pattern is stunning to look at (and stands out in the distance) and the back (not shown) is equally as amazing as the front. The red of Drapac is a nice contrast to the green and the trim of the jersey looks stunning against the green.
The shorts are brilliant too. The white logo of Cannondale looks nice on the black, Drapac’s red isn’t overpowering and the trim of the shorts is to die for. It’s an almost perfect kit, but the only thing that annoys me (and it’s only a little touch of annoyance) is the thickness of the black strip on the bottom of the jersey. If it was a little bit thinner, perfect. If anyone is my Reddit Secret Santa next year, please buy me this kit (or Orica’s kit which is coming later and is equally as cool).
Dimension Data’s kit last year, let’s admit it, was pretty horrible. This year has been a pretty big improvement though – especially on their National Champions jerseys (not pictured, but Daniel, Edvald and Jaco look very snazzy). The jersey looks very nice, encorporating the green of Dimension Data in between the black and white of the rest of the jersey in a sleek way. It’s proportioned nicely and there isn’t too much green that it makes the kit look like an Army uniform.
However, the all-black shorts, while better than the next lot coming up, would look a bit better with a non-black trim. Maybe a bit of white or green to tie it all together, but it’s not bad. The bike team with a cause has a good cause to wear this jersey next year, because they look sharp.
Alright, when I first wrote up this article in mid-December, FDJ had only released their concept kit, and it looked horrible in concept. Like, so bad, incredi-bad, worse than anything I’ve seen people wear. And this is what I wrote about it before I saw it on a rider. However, since seeing it on a rider, it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it’s still heavily flawed.
The jersey looks really nice! I like the triangle design and the tricolour design paying homage to the French heritage of the team. I don’t like the white stitching on the right shoulder that breaks the run of the blue, but if there was blue stitching on the jersey it would look bad, so I will give that a pass. The texture on the blue by changing the colours slightly in a pattern makes it look really nice and modern (if you see Boels-Dormans kit at the bottom of the post, you’ll see another good use of that kind of colouring).
I am still however not a fan of the white shorts. It isn’t practical and it just isn’t pretty. If they used the blue shorts from last year and maybe incorporated the red and white through there, it would look really nice, but white just by itself for a cyclist shorts isn’t a great look. The jersey is very nice, but I don’t dig the shorts, but thank god it isn’t as bad as what the concept art was.
Of course, Katusha just had to go get a new sponsor to replace their awesome 2016 kit with an average 2017 one. At least they’ll get great hair with their Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo™ (I am more of a Head and Shoulders fan myself). The 3(?) tone kit just looks a bit eh. The old, dark red on top looks great as per usual and the sleeves look great with the white trim (word of the day: trim). But the Alpecin red in my opinion ruins the kit. If they went the full dark red over the kit it would look a lot better.
The shorts are a huge redeeming factor for me. They take the awesome factors of last year kit and make them pop. The darker colour is prominent, the white trim on the upper thigh looks nice and the Katusha logo (probably the nicest looking logo in the peloton) blends nicely into the shorts. It’s a shame that they had to change their jersey to promote their new sponsor, but at least it isn’t a complete crash-and-burn.
I think Lotto NL need to learn that Yellow and Black is only an attractive combination on a NYC taxi cab. I don’t like the jersey at all. Yellow and black do not go together nicely on a cycling kit and they look like a few guys who you would dinkey on the back of as a bike-taxi. Although we are judging based on their long kit, I suspect they would have solid black sleeves, which would look better than if they added a yellow trim at the end.
The shorts are a redeeming factor in this. Their consistency of making sure the black on the sleeves matches up with the shorts means that the shorts look half decent. And if you blend black shorts on a kit, it looks better than blending white shorts (looking at you FDJ). They really need to find a new colour combination, but their sponsors wouldn’t be too happy. Until then, their jerseys will look average at best.
I don’t know why I am rating a kit that literally hasn’t changed since last season, so I will just do a quick blurb instead of the in-depth stuff I am doing. The red stays, the German flag borders the bottom of the white strip and the thigh on the shorts and looks good. The white stitch looks awful in my opinion. The black shorts also return, and again they look sharp as usual. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?
Now there has been lots of raving about this kit, and understandably too. It is light years ahead of last year’s kit, the Movistar ‘M’ looks absolutely amazing in the 17 different places it is on the jersey and shorts and the navy blue is a great colour for a kit. The jersey is very stylish and the green shoulder trim doesn’t look bad at all. I don’t like how many times the Movistar logo is plastered over the jersey though – it’s a bit like ‘too much of a good thing’.
The shorts are just plain navy blue, and I think could be improved with a dab of green on them at the trim. Without it, they just look a bit bland. But this kit is visually stunning to look at and light years ahead of previous Movistar kits. The changes are subtle, but they add youth and modernness to the kit.
2 name changes in 6 months means that
OGE OBE Orica-Scott (OS?) have to again release a new kit with a new sponsor. However, the kit quality has once again gone up a notch. When this kit was first released, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Yellow – but I have very quickly grown to love it. The navy blue that we have gotten to know with the OBE kit returns, with a sharp yellow cutting through the middle of the jersey; and it looks good. The trim on the sleeves is subtle enough to notice, but not too big to overpower.
The shorts are equally as good. The navy looks solid on the boys from Down Under with a little yellow trim on the bottom. My only critique on this jersey is that the shorts trim is a little bit too fine and if it was a tad thicker, would look schmicko. Great kit from my favourite lads, hopefully they can do it justice in the races this year.
Etixx Quick-Step (really need to stop calling them Etixx) have gone a little retro with their 2017 kit. The blue really pops out against the white sleeves. However, you would be mistaken if you thought they actually changed their name to Lidl. Every. Where. On this kit there is a Lidl logo. It’s a bit like Europe when you think about it, one around basically every corner. Or is that Aldi? I dunno, never been there. Back on track, I really like the kit, but they look too much like a billboard to appreciate the colours (I mean, cycling teams need money).
The shorts are great on this kit. Less like a billboard and nice with the simple Specialised ‘S’ and the Quick-Step logo. The white trim ties it all together, while the red of the Quick-Step logo is a nice bit of contrast – but would look better if it was a wee-tad darker. So the walking billboards at
Etixx Quick-Step Lidl Specialised Racing do look mighty fine. Shame we can’t call them just Etixx anymore though.
The rebranded Giant team has kept some things the same – most of the roster, most of their sponsors, and as we can see, most of their kit. However, there are some slight changes on their kit for 2017, and it’s for the better. With Sunweb coming on board, the red of their logo pops on the front and adds a nice trim on the shoulders (which looks like a tricolour flag, I find that cool). The black/white stripe combination is inverted from previous years, but it works better with the black stripes down the front. It’s a stylish looking kit.
The shorts tie it all together. All black, minimal sponsorship, and a nice white/red/black trim to match the jersey sleeves. The kit just blends nicely together, and for Sunweb in 2017, it seems that white is the new black – and they have made it fashionable enough for a Paris runway. Very, very nice kit.
The super-villains of cycling return in 2017 with an equally-super-villainy kit.While some people are fans of the broken pinstripes on the front, I personally am not a big fan of them. The blue strip on the back returns (not pictured), but looks really out of place on this new kit because of the smaller stripes on the front, and it doesn’t really match colour-wise (probably again as a consequence of the thickness difference).
The all navy shorts are nothing to wow at, but again fits the super-villain theme they have been running at the past few years and is kind of now a signature for their kits in the future. Not a huge fan of the kit this year, much prefer last years kit but who knows, it might look better in the flesh.
We had to wait a while for Trek’s 2017 kit, but the wait was well worth it. It’s a stunning kit that is way better than their white kit.The red on the jersey is really strong, but doesn’t take away from the black and the fine pinstripes. The white trim on the sleeves pops off the red and is stunning. They have used a really nice colour scheme and kept to it, but I guess it helps when you use the colours of your main sponsors.
Their shorts are a bit iffy I think though. While they were in a dilemma of the fact that if they used pinstripes the whole way even over the crotch it would look weird, and all black just doesn’t suit the pinstripes; the middleman they have found is probably better than the extremes of both. However, if they used a black stitch instead of a white, it would blend in nicer. However, the shorts aren’t bad at all, the red and white trim ties it back to the jersey and it’s just a really sleek kit. If they went with their fluoro sportive kit, they would be my only 5/5 in the WT peloton, but this is still a great kit.
UAE Abu Dhabi
Now, Sunweb was a good example of mixing black and white. UAE…isn’t. And I thought the FDJ kit was bad, until I saw it on a rider and it looked good. This, I saw on a rider and went “This is fricken horrible.” I went on a rant on Reddit about it, so I will relay my thoughts from there here.
My first impression when I saw the kit was that it looked like some crap WordArt you would find on a copy of Office 2017. The skyline on the bottom doesn’t fit into the rest of the jersey, which is a shame because it could have looked so nice if done right. The font on the front looks like one you would use in a thesis statement, and the UAE flag looks so out of place on the front even though they tried to make it trendy. So, how can you improve the jersey? You basically start from scratch. They used 3 different monochrome colours on the front, and if they consolidated them to 2 (+ a fade) it would look good. Make the whole jersey black except for the skyline, which you make white. This would allow both the skyline and flag to stand out, instead of the white torso. Also, just change the f***ing font to something a little bit less…formal.
The all black pants look good with the red trim on there, which is kind of the saving grace of the kit. The UAE font still looks ugly, but at least it isn’t plastered everywhere on the shorts. It had a design with great potential, but their execution of colours is horrendous. Hopefully this will improve in 2018.
So there were some great kits, some good kits, and UAE’s kit. I am sorry I put your eyes through the torture of seeing that but they will be wearing that for the next twelve months so look forward to all the pan shots of Pinot falling back of the Peloton in Le Tour. Just kidding, he will go great guns without the pressure of riding as a Frenchman for GC in Le Tour.
There are also some great kits from teams not in the World Tour. Bardiani (4/5), Cycling Academy (4.5/5), Aqua Blue Sport (4.5/5), Nippo-Fantini (4.5/5) and Boels-Dolmans (5/5) is probably the pick of the non-WT bunch. Boels-Dolmans is also probably the only kit I would rate a 5/5 this season, it’s absolutely amazing – the orange checkered pattern is superb and the ladies absolutely rock it in style. For now, rock out in style (or slob for some of you), because I’m out.
~ The Cycling Raven