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Cycle jerseys come in a great variety of colours and designs, and I always enjoy looking at what teams have come up with over the years. It is unlikely that I will ever get to see more than a small percentage of them in real life, so seeing large images in a good quality book is the next best thing. Oliver Knight makes this a real pleasure in Pro Cycling Style.
Following on from The Cycling Jersey, Pro Cycling Style could be regarded as volume two of Knight's work. As I commented back in 2017, it was likely that there would be enough material for further books, possibly indefinitely – but would there be demand? It appears so. Not only is there another book, but sales have been such that the first one has even been reprinted. It seems I am not alone in enjoying such things!
The first book had the subtitle of 'Craftmanship, Speed and Style', and the new book follows a similar format, although it is themed mainly around the last of those aspects, style. If you like one, you will like the other.
In this latest book, Knight tries to determine how to define style and discover why only some kit achieves it; he even wonders if looking good could be a marginal gain that helps you to go faster. Don't worry if you were simply hoping for lots of high-quality images of glorious jerseys, supported by a bit of background information – because you still get all of that.
It is the continued churn of teams that gives rise to most new kit, and Knight serves up another great selection. Some turned out to be an important part of cycling history, such as Renault, 7-Eleven, or Café de Colombia.
Others are more notable for their assault on the senses. I'm looking at you, Murella Rossin, keen to explore 'the creative possibilities afforded by the dye sublimation process', a new technique at the time which 'allowed inks to be printed directly into the jersey's polyester fabric'.
There are some welcome new categories, such as a visit to the Milk Race, Six Day cycling, and an unexpected article about the history of Polish cycling. The latter is text-heavy, with fewer images of jerseys (but more of other artefacts) – but all are themes that could provide plenty of future material.
Some events are back again, such as the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, and the World Championships – mainly because Knight keeps coming across new jerseys that warrant exposure.
He also focuses on the jerseys worn by a few stylish riders, such as Giuseppe Saronni, and even comes up to date with Wout van Aert. As befits the 'style' theme, there are a couple of riders making a reappearance, namely Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser – perhaps it's the law that Merckx has to be present in every book like this? It does mean that a handful of jerseys have been repeated from the first book, to present a coherent narrative, but rest assured that no one who has both will feel remotely short-changed.
The section on 'The Creators' is nearly as much of an advertorial for various brands as it was last time, though there is some useful historical context in there. I found these pages to be the weakest in the book – although only in comparison to the extremely high standard set elsewhere.
By contrast, the section on 'The Collectors' is a delight. I wondered if Knight might have run out of enthusiasts such as these to feature, but it appears not. Some of these guys (and you won't be surprised to hear that it is all men) are impressively obsessive – I doubt that anyone will beat Jason Cool's Mapei collection, for example.
Prendas Ciclismo is included as a creator. Although the replica kits it produces will be of little use to proper collectors, they are a real benefit to those who actually want to wear retro jerseys. With company owner Andy Storey having his own personal collection, he could easily feature as a collector as well. At one point it looked as though this chapter might be overtaken by events, but fortunately the business is back in action again.
There is also a miscellany of other contributions, which I would mainly class as heavily illustrated articles. There is plenty to read in them, supported by some great images of jerseys.
Michael Gamstetter is one, recounting his experience in riding L'Eroica events (described as 'Comic-Con for cyclists'), and his endless mission to be period-accurate while (of course) looking good; another is the ever-stylish Brian Holm, who supports the idea of a team having only one sponsor because 'just one logo with nothing else present...usually leads to a great jersey design'.
I always respect those who choose to self-publish their work, and Knight shows that this decision doesn't necessarily lead to higher-than-average pricing or lower-than-average production values. On the contrary, as with his first book, Knight seems to have gone over the top with heavyweight glossy paper and an overall feel of high quality – which is appropriate for such a large, colourful, and high-price publication.
Obviously the two books complement each other, and because they have the same production values they look good together. If you decide that you want the set, Knight has offered a 10 per cent discount if you use 'road.cc discount code' as the promotional code.
Just be warned that if more editions materialise, this might not be the end of it. But if he keeps up this standard, those of us with an interest in the subject won't be complaining.
Another beautifully produced tribute to one of the most visible bits of cycling kit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pro Cycling Style – Woven Into History
Size tested: 200 pages
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
'Pro Cycling Style' is the all new follow up title to our first hugely successful sell out publication 'The Cycling Jersey' - a book which was described as 'Beautiful and Enlightening' by the influential Rouleur Magazine, and listed as one of the best books on the subject of cycling by the highly respected road.cc website - high praise indeed!
This new book is raising the bar even higher, providing a further in-depth study concentrating on the legacy and evolution of the professional cyclists style, throughout the history of the sport.
A 200 page large format coffee table book, illustrated with over 500 images showcasing a wealth of original jerseys and kit from the pro peloton, a strictly replica free publication - this book contains only those original items worn by the pros themselves!
The book is complete with interviews with the pro cyclists themselves, the world's leading jersey aficionados and collectors, and the creative teams behind the breakthrough and defining designs of the past and into the modern era, from racewear brands including SMS Santini, De Marchi and Rapha.
The book also features specially commissioned essays from key writers including the menswear commentator Josh Sims, cycling journalist Michael Gamstetter and renowned collector Gordon Tiemstra.
'Pro Cycling Style' is a book created for, and with the participation of, the growing network of devotees who appreciate the culture, craft and heritage of these iconic items.
This book is created to the highest standards, encased in a hard backed cover complete with dust jacket, with pages printed on heavy 150gsm 'Creator Silk' stock which feels wonderful to the touch.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: Pro Cycling Style
Author: Oliver Knight
Date: November 2021
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I gave the first volume a score of 9, and still think that is appropriate; this volume is its match, so is fully deserving of the same score.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,