Like the pre-ride espresso, a perfectly coordinated bike outfit has become an indispensable part of the road bike scene. Off-the-peg jerseys for over € 100 have become the norm. But why pay so much when you can get a tailor-made outfit for the same money? Together with CUORE of Switzerland, we created our very own team kit.

Not all bike kit is created equal, and it has long become much more than just functional cycling clothing. More than ever, it is an expression of one’s own style and mentality. If you take a look at the development of bike outfits, you will quickly notice that the recreational rider of today is riding in kit far above the standard that professional teams used to have in the Telekom era. In the 2004 documentary, “Hell on Wheels” you’ll see fluttering sleeves in the time trial and you have to ask yourself how riders set record times when today every jersey, no matter how simple, is tighter fitting and clearly more aerodynamic.

Riders have come to enjoy and expect a higher standard of performance, and you can hardly deny that along with the arrival of the classic, white cuffed British jersey, style and design has come a long way too. For some time now another big player from Switzerland has been saying “Sponsor yourself,” offering high-end cycling kit at high-end prices.

Why pay so much for standardised, mass-produced goods when you can get a custom tailored outfit for the same price? You can hardly deny that a tailor-made suit fits better than one you buy off-the-peg. Custom jerseys have been around for a long time, so what’s changed? In the past, custom kit was the exclusive domain of your club, letting you proudly proclaim your affiliation. But now, what if you simply want to show off your own style or strive for the perfect look? What if you don’t belong to a club? Or you have your own idea for a design, as we did? Then you’ve got to go custom!

The Concept

Custom kit brings with it freedom, but also raises the question of theme and design. Inspired by baseball jerseys, the GRAN FONDO kit is meant to embody the team spirit that we love and live – with each player’s number on the back, adding up as an integral part of the team. And of course we had to have our names on the jerseys; how else are you meant to keep all the beards apart? That’s the first bit done.

The next challenge is choosing a colour. With all the testing we do, the kit has to be universally applicable: besides riding our own bikes, we also test ride a lot of differently coloured bikes throughout the season, and we’d prefer for the outfits not to clash. It quickly became clear that it would have to be the “little black number.”

In creating our custom kit, we chose to collaborate with CUORE. We were looking for a premium partner with a lot of know-how, who would be able to keep our logo intact even with it placed across the zipper. And besides being able to customise the design, CUORE also offers custom fits. Not all size Medium’s are the same after all, and off the shelf products often don’t fit as perfectly as we would like them to. CUORE is one of the very few manufacturers who are able to personalise the design as well as the fit. The icing on the cake: we got along brilliantly with the team at CUORE from the get-go.

The Implementation

What do I need to create a custom outfit? Do you have to be a skilled graphic designer or can anyone create a stylish custom outfit?

CUORE offers a choice of over 400 products, all customisable with your own design. Its repertoire ranges from jerseys, bib shorts, socks, gloves and caps to time trial suits – virtually everything you can find in your wardrobe at home. Their products are divided into four categories: from the entry level finisher to bronze, silver and top-of-the-range gold. Within these categories you will find subcategories such as original, sport, and race, offering yet finer gradations in material and fit. From beginners to professionals, there’s something to meet everyone’s needs.

CUORE has a professional team that will help you with putting your idea or design into reality. With offices in 6 different countries, their design team is able to draw on a wealth of experience to help you avoid making beginner’s mistakes and to get your logo, motivational statement or sponsor positioned perfectly on the jersey. Thanks to modern production technologies there are hardly any limits on the design you can create, not even the jersey’s zipper getting in the way.

For the perfect fit – arguably the most important aspect of new kit – CUORE provides a sample of test sizes. Once you’ve found the correct size, you can even have the sleeve and torso lengths of the jersey as well as the length of the bibshort adjusted to your unique requirements, for a small additional charge, if required.

The first ride

For many of us, choosing the outfit is our ritual before the ride. Even for the professionals, pinning on their start numbers before the race is like a semi-religious devotion. Custom kit makes it all that much better, because you ride in your own design, presenting your idea, your theme and your club, or, for us, our magazine. This is #sockdoping, or rather kit-doping, on the next level – we haven’t felt so fast in a long time.

Our chests puffed out in pride, we enjoy our pre-ride-espresso and then roll down the main street in St. Vigil in South Tyrol as if it was the Champs-Élysée. Coming back to reality: the pace picks up and we head along the valley in team time-trial style, our heart rates pushing outside our comfort zone. We hardly have time to catch our breath as we reach the foot of the Passo di Valparola. The lungs sting and the legs burn, we grit our teeth – and at that exact moment, from the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of your logo on the vest of the rider leading the pack and you can’t help but smile.

Fact: custom kit has the same effect as an epic beard and the perfect socks – it’ll make you a lot faster.

This article is from GRAN FONDO issue #010

GRAN FONDO Cycling Magazine is published in a digital app format in both English and German. Download the app for iOS or Android to read all articles on your tablet or smartphone. 100% free!

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of GRAN FONDO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl, Manuel Buck