Rules of the Bike Style Police

You may not be aware of it, but as a cyclist you’re constantly being clocked by the Bike Style Police – best don the glam rags. 

If, next time you’re riding your bike, you notice a fellow cyclist eyeing you up, it could be for many reasons other than your obviously impressive pedalling technique. The chances are, however, that you’ve been clocked by the Bike Style Police (BSP).

If you’re relatively new to cycling you may not be aware of them, but the BSP are a permanent fixture of the weekend and commuting peloton. Between them, they set the rules for how we should look on a bike and have formed many unwritten rules, which we advise cyclists everywhere to adhere to if they want to avoid disdainful looks and more than a few raised eyebrows.

Below is a collection of just some of those rules.*

No to Dayglo

Regardless of the dangers you face, no matter the level of traffic, thou shalt not wear Dayglo. Dayglo is for old people or newbies. Or lollypop men. Next time the rain or night comes, reject that bright yellow jacket and select a figure-hugging, understated, stealth number instead. If you must wear clothing that allows other road users to see you, make it white.


If the Dayglo is part of retro team-replica jersey designs. Retro jerseys are absolutely forgiven.

Italian baby

Riders must wear at least one item of Italian-made clothing. The item should be immediately recognisable as Italian, which means a fancy brand or the Italian flag in plain view. Do not, under any circumstances, wear non-Italian clothing which is pretending to be Italian. Mama Mia.

Strip baby

If you’re familiar with the pro-peloton, you’ll know what arm warmers are. They are, essentially, tubes of material which can be worn over the arms, to convert short-sleeved jerseys into long to protect against the early morning – or high mountain – cold. The main advantage for pro-riders is that they provide a great deal of flexibility, allowing riders to manage a greater range of temperatures and conditions. The main advantage for us less-professional riders is that they look cool.

Note: there is nothing cooler than riding through the city with arm warmers rolled down to the wrists. Preferably white arm warmers. And Italian. Leg or knee warmers look silly when rolled down.

Team kit, no

Thou shalt only wear team kit if thou is professional – a rule with particular resonance when it comes to Sky kit. One unfortunate by-product of the increasing popularity of cycling is the increasing spread of Sky riders. You may as well wear a big hat saying “I’m a newbie”. Anyone wearing team kit is likely to receive comments along the lines of, “you must be quick” or something equally hilarious.

If you must wear team kit (God forbid), under no circumstances wear matching shorts. We won’t even go there.


If the team kit is a retro team-replica jersey.

Club kit, yes

While team kits are a major faux pas, club kit gains massive bonus points. Club kit demands respect and admiration from all other road users and looks stylish too. Again, full team kit with matching shorts is one step too far. The ideal look is club shorts worn with an understated, stealth, preferably Italian jersey.


Baggy clothing on a bike are for amateurs and old ladies only.

Three-day growth (men only)

Everyone knows that it takes a huge amount of energy for the human body to grow that initial facial hair following a night’s grooming. It makes complete physiological sense to refrain from shaving for at least two, preferably three days before a big ride. Your performance will be greatly enhanced and other knowledgeable cyclists will respect you.

In this short article, we have merely scratched the surface of the myriad unwritten rules that the BSP are constantly monitoring.

Break them at your peril; don Dayglo only if you embrace ridicule.

Instead, follow them and enjoy a happy, enlightening and stylish riding experience.

David Rae

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* Under no circumstances does &Bike endorse the rules of the BSP


  1. Rich

    ALL kit should ALWAYS match! None of this “club shorts with plain jersey” tosh – full club kit or full Castelli / Assos / Rapha / whatever else your poison may be is the only way!

    In winter even your booties should match, and at the very worst ALL of your ensemble – year round – should be from the same brand.

    There’ll be a Rapha-phile along any minute to tell you that day-glo (sorry, ‘Chartreuse’) is ok now that Rapha do it…

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      David Rae

      Ah, but a fully matched wardrobe screams ‘I’m trying really hard’. Mis-matching shows how the rider has simply thrown on the kit he or she has available that day, thus proving that he or she is a real cyclist and must be respected.

      After all, anyone can go out and buy a full matching outfit. It takes time, patience, and essentially bucket loads of style, to carry off a mis-matched outfit that works.

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  2. Steve Hall

    All I can say is you better be damned good if you’re going to match everything up. If you’re going to look like a costumed bike crusader, you have to ride like one.

  3. Ian Walton

    kit should match, colour wise. Manufacturer irrelevant. Unless you are a CEO riding a Pinarello.

    And the kit must match the bike and the helmet and glasses (which I class as equipment, not kit…discuss…)

    And, you must have your tongue firmly placed within ones cheek. DO not point nose skywards in pose of disdain…unless you are a CEO…etc…


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      David Rae

      Yes, cycling kit. That’s next.

      1 – Riders must squeeze their size 10 hobbit feet into size 44 Sidi shoes and learn to love the pain. Embrace that Deep Vein Thrombosis.

  4. Andy Reeve

    No Lycra when cycling to work if you ask me, your colleagues will feel the same I’m sure.

    Only other rule, if it has any other logo on it other than that of the manufacturer or a personal sponsor then it’s out. Unless of course it’s retro or Campagnolo.

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  6. Will A

    I hope you weren’t thinking of me when you wrote this Dave. I also note you don’t address the subject of leg-shaving…

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  7. melty

    Style police attack: “Thou shalt only wear team kit if thou is professional” should read “Thou shalt only wear team kit if thou art professional”. p.s. I wear fluorescent gear (day-glo is a brand) — I want to get to work and back in one piece. Yes. I wear spandex on the commute — whyever not? I don’t want to get to the office with blisters on my derrière. Not lycra though — I don’t want to support those damn Koch brothers if I can help it (yes, Lycra is also a brand name and also the source of “lycra lout”).

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  9. Julie

    Is it acceptable to ride a retro steel road bike with flat bars and a rear rack, ferrying a pack rat in an animal trap strapped to the rack (being relocated from my house to the back country), and blow past a Rapha-clad rider on a high-zoot carbon Specialized road bike with $500 road shoes and $300 helmet, etc?

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      David Rae

      Not knowing exactly the politics around transporting wild animals around the streets of the US, I’m a little hesitant to offer up judgement in this particular case.

      However, what I would say is that it is entirely acceptable, but only if you made sure that the visible effort you put in was not noticeable to the Rapha-clad poseur. If he or she could tell that you were at anaerobic threshold merely to make the pass then, pack rat or not, your pass has to be counted as void.

      Hope that helps 😉

      1. Julie

        I just wanted to combine an errand (rat relocation) with a fitness ride. Anyway, the Rat Attack originated (I think) with Jacquie Phelan, a mountain biker/road racer back in the 80s in Marin County (and wife of frame builder Charlie Cunningham). She supposedly rode around with a pet rat. I saw her once at Mt. Tamalpais Road Race but didn’t spot a rodent in her jersey pocket.

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