Not too long ago, I received a number of pre-loved cycling jerseys courtesy of generous relatives from the United States.
When I say pre-loved, I mean it. Compared to most of my road cycling wardrobe, these feel like they were from a different era entirely, judging from the sponsors’ logos alone. Fortunately, they still fit me and my fat ass just fine, although they do fit slightly differently because of the general construction. Unlike most of my jerseys, all three of these are half-zip affairs, where you slide the zip down as far as it will go before you put it on like a shirt…a tight fitting shirt.
As old as they seem to be, these vintage jerseys all have the same classic layout of three back pockets for carrying spares, food, or a rain jacket with.
Perhaps the most telling difference is the material on these things. Older jerseys seem cut from a fabric that is noticeably less breathable than modern equivalents. These do the job, and the fit is ultimately similar, but their feel next to my skin is noticeably different: a little heavier, a little scratchier. Seeing as these were shipped from America, they seem made for slightly cooler climes, the jerseys’ material trapping heat a bit better. These won’t quite wick your sweat away from your skin in the heat, although they are comfortable for rides on the indoor trainer in December or January – customarily the coolest months in the Philippines.
The coolest thing about these vintage jerseys has got to be their louder, more garish graphic flourishes and treatments. As I’ve touched upon earlier, these are an absolute throwback to bygone cycling heydays. SRAM was still heavily marketing its Grip Shift technology for mountain bikes. Gary Fisher, one of the fathers of modern mountain bikes, still had his own company and brand, well before the days of the acquisition by Trek. Even better, American cyclist Greg LeMond was still quite a big name, no doubt helped along by his three general-classification wins at the Tour de France. They’re a departure from the solid colors and more restrained patterns of what I normally wear, and surprisingly I don’t find them tacky at all.
I liken these jerseys to lightning in a bottle. It’s not always practical or a good idea to have them around, but they sure do feel nice.