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Could a jersey re-design increase cycling fandom?

A fan designs a conceptual kit in response to Justin Williams' recommendations

Photo by: photo: Adrian Ridley/ @OfficialRidley

Justin Williams of L39ION of Los Angeles has been working to make changes within the world of cycling. His team launched a fundraiser to help increase diversity and inclusion in the sport and has already passed it’s $50,000 goal.  The money will be used to support junior programmes and will provide riders with grants, camps and equipment.

Attracting new fans

When asked about some other changes he would make to the sport in a recent CyclingTips podcast, Williams noted that new cycling fans can’t pick out their favourite riders when a teams are wearing the same jerseys, helmets, glasses and riding the same bike. Williams says that cycling doesn’t encourage “superstars” to develop when teams looks so homogenous.

Growing a wider fanbase is important for a sport to succeed at all levels. He had a few recommendations on how teams could improve their kit design and make the sport more appealing to new fans. Jerseys should have names, he says, so viewers can identify who is who. He also notes that teams switch colours too often, and that they should encourage custom helmets so that riders are more easy to pick out from something like a leadout train. Williams also thinks that numbers should be added to jerseys and bikes, with some numbers reserved for leaders. For example, in in FIFA, the number one team from the previous season has a special badge on their jersey. In cycling, it could be reserved for the winner from the previous year.

Adrian Ridley, a graphic designer from the UK, took inspiration from William’s suggestions and designed what he thought the jerseys could look like. He added a few of his own elements, giving Bettiol, a tiny lion of Flanders on his chest, signifying his Tour of Flanders victory, a similar concept to a rainbow jersey band but extended to include the monuments and major grand tours. Ridley also gives riders career numbers, like in many other sports.

photo: Adrian Ridley/ @OfficialRidley

The re-design, intended simply to conceptualize how these changes would look, actually breaks a few UCI rules. Right now kits must be uniform and numbers are currently forbidden on jerseys. Though it’s only a concept, these ideas could be a way to get more new fans to dip their toes in a sport that’s difficult to follow without diving in completely.