You've seen them. Those guys wearing Radio Shack, BMC, Columbia-HTC, etc. team kit but don't look like skinny pros. Amateurs wearing pro team kit. What's up with that? Are they wannabe pros? Do they think they're fooling anybody? On the other hand, is it really any different than people walking around in a Raiders jersey? I have stayed away from wearing team kit because I wasn't sure about the whole thing.
I now have a confession to make: I have become (a bit) of a team kit dork. What's up with that?
I do have a defense, so hear me out. First, I am doing long commutes to/from work so I want to wear something visible. With (sub)urban cycling long distances, I want all the visibility I can get. I do these commutes with a flashing headlight and taillight to help car drivers see me better. The last thing I want to wear on these rides is some oh-so-stylish Rapha kit than blends into the background. Give me some bright colors! Where to find them, though? Looking around, it seems like striking jersey colors aren't all the rage right now. When I was laid up after my crash, I was watching a road race on the computer. I became curious: which team kit stood out the most in the peloton. I had two answers: Lampre and Rabobank. ProBikeKit had Lampre kit in my size, but not Rabobank, so I ordered me a jersey and bibshorts. It would be several months before I could try it out but when I finally did, it felt fine. I'm assuming that cars can see me well.
Problem, though: that Lampre kit, like most cycling kit, wasn't cheap. In fact, it was a bit of a splurge with my insurance money. A purchase like that wasn't going to be happening on a regular basis. What to do? I needed more than one high-visibility outfit for my commutes. While watching another bike race, my girlfriend commented that she liked the Liquigas (now Cannondale, which she likes, too) kit. Curious, I went searching for the Cannondale kit and that's when I discovered them: sellers in China offering team kit at ridiculous prices. Tempting but what is the quality of this stuff? I decided to place an order for one kit and see what I bought. After a few weeks, my Liquigas kit arrived and it looked pretty good. I have been on a couple of rides with it and it feels great. So far so good. So good, in fact, that I have ordered three more (2012 Rabobank, 2011 Milram (which isn't exactly high-visibility but I've always loved the cow spots), and 2011 Acqua & Sapone) from the same seller. I'll see how they hold up in the long-term but I am hopeful.
How can I order three more if money is supposedly a concern? Honestly, for what I paid for that Lampre kit last year, I can get four of the other kits from China. And it seems to be good stuff, too! As I understand it, most of the official team kit comes from China, anyway, so why not cut out the middle man? I have to admit, though, that price is the biggest factor. Good quality stuff for that cheap? And it's exactly what I am looking for: high-visibility cycling gear. It was really hard to say "No" to all that.
I haven't become a total team kit dork, though. I won't be wearing it on group rides with the LBS or when I start track cycling. I am reserving it for my commutes and solo rides around the area. That keeps me from being a total dork, right?