It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part VI

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

As part of the series on the 1980s, here are five items related to fashion during this decade.

Riders had their styles before the 1980s: a slick haircut there, some meaty sideburns there. But cycling didn’t mix with fashion. Shorts and shoes were black after all. But all this changed in the 1980s…

1. Sunglasses

Few riders rode with sunglasses. The threat of a crash and broken glass meant “eye wear” took on a secondary meaning. The only riders with shades were usually those who had to wear glasses for eyesight reasons. All this changed when Oakley introduced the Eyeshade to Greg LeMond and soon enough several riders were wearing polycarbonate lenses. The orginal Eyeshade was a big thing, more suited to downhill skiiing or motorcross but it worked.

2. Shoes
Prior to the 1980s, shoes were always black. But during this decade we began to see new materials, like sunglasses plastics played their part, but leather was also dyed. We got blue first offerings first from Italian company Gaerne.

3. Fluo

This marked the decade when bright colours arrived. No more the reds and browns of the 1970s, suddenly we got day glow yellows and pinks. Greg Lemond’s ADR kit typifies this, purple and bright yellow meant they could almost ride at night.

4a. Big Hair

Whilst the 1970s are more associated with long hair, this didn’t hit cycling until the 1980s. Laurent Fignon had a ponytail, whilst the likes of Phil Anderson and Gert-Jan Theunisse sported the heavy metal look. Quite a few others grew longer hair, unworried by aerodynamics and sweat.

4b. No hair
Male baldness is widespread but many riders were losing their hair in their mid-20s. Wikipedia says “approximately 25 percent of men begin balding by age 30″ but during the 1980s we seemed to see many more riders losing their hair and often all in one winter. Was it the wind or the cold? Rumours said hormone abuse was behind it, in taking testosterone injections a rider’s natural production of the hormone shut down, leading to hair loss.

5. Helmets

Head protection meant the hairnet or sausage helmet. The name said it all, you might as well drape some saveloys over your head because these things offered little protection. But by the end of the 1980s the likes of Bell and Giro were introducing so-called hardshell helmets. These offered protection like any-modern day bike helmet but were very poorly ventilated. Made from styrofoam, the insulation properties kept many a rider hot. But there was also a macho element to this, despite knowing crashes happen almost every day, many riders thought these helmets were for children and they did not catch on until the 1990s when the UCI ruled them compulsory.

This is part of a recurring series of things that marked cycling in the 1980s. The other entries are:
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part I
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part II
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part III
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part IV
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part V
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part VI
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part VII
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part VIII
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part IX
It Was Acceptable in the 80’s – Part X

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