Once upon a time, in a
kingdom far, far away bike shop downtown, my boss gave me a Colnago cycling cap. The point was actually to keep my bangs out of my eyes when I was working in the shop — a task at which it performed admirably.
Soon, I discovered another purpose for my cycling cap: keeping the rain off my glasses (cycling caps do this job especially well, by the way, when paired with helmet visors). This worked brilliantly throughout the cool rains of the short Kentucky spring.
Soon, however, I found that my beloved Colnago cap had a major weakness.
I mentioned, didn’t I, that Kentucky springs are short?
Soon after that first delightful cap-shielded spring, I discovered that it still rains in summer, and sometimes when it rains in summer, it’s hot. In fact, “hot” is pretty much the norm in Kentucky from roughly the end of April through the beginning of November (this year, we’ve had it easy).
And I, for one, do not ride well when my brains are boiling.
With a probably-wet century looming on the 4th day of what’s normally the hottest month of the year — July — I decided it was time for a change.
Enter Headsweats’ “Spin” cycling cap, which blends fairly traditional cycling cap styling with breathable Coolmax™ polyester.
Let’s start with styling. I say that the Spin cap is fairly traditional. What I mean is that it takes the basic “cycling cap” design — three panels, curvilinear seams, and a close and unstructured fit — and builds from there. It’s lightweight and small enough to carry easily in a jersey pocket.
That said, Headsweats adds a couple of touches that one might not quite consider traditional.
First, instead of a single, centered racing stripe — a popular design for cycling caps — it features a very bright, off-center reflective strip. The strip is placed to the right; I’m not sure if that’s a function of aiming for a global market or not, but if I were designing a cap primarily for the American market, I would place that same strip on the left to increase the likelihood that oncoming headlights would pick it out.
That said, it is superbly bright and probably just fine as a sort of “backup” device (I don’t believe it’s ever a good idea to rely solely on reflective materials for visibility).
Next, the designers at Headsweats made a smart move in covering the inside of the Spin cap’s bill with black fabric instead of white. This means that reflected glare is never a problem. Oddly, this feature wasn’t mentioned in Amazon’s ad for the cap: I rolled the dice and ordered it anyway. I’m not sure why this important and useful touch was overlooked.
Lastly, the bill on this cap is quite a bit longer than usual.
The drawback, here, is that if you flip the bill up — as we cyclists are wont to do when we want to get in the drops and be able to see more than three feet ahead — it both looks kind of ridiculous and bumps into your helmet. If you don’t flip it up, can significantly restrict your view from the drops.
The benefit, on the other hand, is that the bill in question does a great job keeping the rain at bay when you’re riding on the hoods (which is how I roll most of the time during low-intensity rides). More on that later.
Like most cycling caps, Headsweats’ “Spin” cap fits close. Unlike some, it also sports a really powerful elastic grip. My head is not enormous by any stretch of the imagination — if anything, I’d say the circumference of my skull is on the small side for a male. Those with heads larger than mine might find the elastic in question uncomfortable. However, for me, it wasn’t uncomfortably tight (I have, in fact, encountered helmet liners with uncomfortably-powerful elastics).
The close fit meant that my cap stayed in place throughout the course of the day, even when I took my helmet off. It also fits nicely under both the spare helmet I used on the Boston-Munfordville-Boston ride and under my regular helmet.
This year’s Independence Day century proved very, very damp. It was not raining during approximately five minutes of the ride. The rest of the time, it was at very least drizzling; sometimes — at one point, for a good half an hour or so at a stretch — it simply poured.
At no point did the rain falling from the sky interfere with my glasses (FTR, I use photochromatic lenses so I don’t have to swap ‘em out when it gets dark). I can’t say the same for the spray thrown up by the wheels of Timothy’s trike*, but unless I decide to start wearing a Cone of Shame on rides — and, let’s face it, that wouldn’t be aero at all — spray from the road will always be a possibility.
Without the cap, I would have been unable to see through my glasses throughout much of the ride. Headsweats’ Spin cap did a great job keeping the rain off my glasses.
But how well, you might be wondering, did it breathe?
Well, it’s a little difficult to say. I believe the high temperature during our July 4th century might have been about 75 degree Fahrenheit — not cold by any stretch of the imagination, but not hot either. During much of the day, it was cooler still.
At no point did I feel as if my brains were boiling. My head remained comfortably cool even in my spare helmet, which doesn’t exactly measure up to my usual aiflow standards (though it does have cool grey curlicue designs all over it). When I wandered into our lunch stop with helmet off and cap on, my head definitely felt cooler, not warmer, than expected. That bodes well for the cap in question, even with my thick hair.
I was able to test it very briefly today in warmer temperatures — about ten degrees warmer, in fact. Thus far, the Coolmax™ fabric continues to live up to its name.
I can’t yet say whether it would do the job at higher intensity over the course of a longer (or much-longer) ride, but so far it seems pretty effective. I’ll report back soon on how it performs under more challenging conditions.
Doing fine after 108 miles. Once again, I’ll update this category at a later point.
Headsweats’ “Spin” cycling cap seems to achieve a nice balance of features at a sound price-point. Standouts include the reflective strip and, especially, the black underbrim. Coolmax™ fabric appears to perform in accordance with claims, though further testing will provide better data. Fit might be a bit tight for larger heads, but is fine for those of us with medium or small brain-cases.
I paid about $15 for my Headsweats Spin cap through Amazon Prime, which is within the expected price range for comparable caps online and in area shops. The cap has already proven itself well worth the price. I look forward to further road-testing, and it looks like I’ll have plenty of opportunity.
*Don’t hold this against Timothy, by the way. He runs fenders on his usual bikes when rain is expected; the trike is a loaner that he’s using while he recovers from the effects of a bulging disc that has greatly limited the functionality of his right arm. It would probably be possible to acquire fenders for it, but they’d be expensive and hard to procure on short notice.