Reader Letter: Three Kits or One?

April 29, 2016 by  

Reader letter: Three Kits or One?

I am team manager of a new team in the Northeast, and we are thinking about what kind of uniform we want to go with. Some members of the team want a different color uniform for each race day, like many of the factory teams, and I think we should have two uniforms of the same design.

You see a lot of riders, what do you think about this question?

GB – Northeast

Thanks for writing GB, and congrats on the new team. This is a great question, and one about which I have a split-opinion. The uniform of a BMX team is one of the most important aspects of their duty to sponsors, and to their own identity as a team.

Your note did not mention who, if any, your sponsors are, so I will go on the assumption that you have some sort of support, whether a set of co-sponsors or a bike sponsor, or a local business supporting the team.

As a photographer, I love the idea of different kits for every day of racing (as shown above on #NewsTeam member, Bryce Betts at the recent Carolina Nationals). Different kits allow me the opportunity to capture two, sometimes three, different “looks” for the riders who change day-to-day.

2016 Carolina Nationals – Friday
Sam Willoughby rockin the TLD Sprint kitWhen Sam Willoughby changes up his TLD uniform for each race day, the photos I come back with have some great variety. Of course, not everyone is Sam Willoughby, who is among the most recognizable riders in the world. Fans and media go out of their way to find him in the crowd. That can’t necessarily be said for a lower profile rider or team.

2016 Carolina Nationals – Saturday Sam Willoughby rockin the TLD Sprint kitWhen a team changes colors from one day to the next, it IS tough to pick them out. Not so much for the well-known riders, but for teams that are not as well-known, it is easy to miss those riders entirely from one day to the next, so they never gain recognition with the fans, because their identity is a constantly moving target. This is the point at which the “cool factor” that riders dig, bumps up against the “business” of being sponsored.

BRANDING is about consistency and repetition. This concept of consistency and repetition dictates that riders should be rockin the same uniform any/every time they show their face in public. Fans get used to seeing it, and can visually identify riders in the gate and on the track, without benefit of an announcer’s help.

So, to answer your question, as to what is “best,” like most things, it is going to depend on your goals. If emulating the factory stars is the desired outcome, and visual recognition is less important, then the multi-kit would work out fine. If, however your goal is being instantly recognized by the racing public, media, potential new sponsors and announcers, then stick with one consistent kit, and purchase two of the same pants/jerseys.

The riders should have two complete sets of clothing–at a minimum– in case they crash and rip one set, and to ward off the stinky funk of running the same clothes on day three of a steamy national weekend. If you only order one jersey for each rider, and that one jersey gets ripped, or left hanging on the shower rod at the hotel, it could take a month or more to get a new one ordered up from your jersey vendor.

I hope this helps give you some points of discussion within the team. If you’re shopping for your uniforms online, check out the link below for the “Race Wear” page on J&R Bicycles. Use Discount code JRSPOT15 for 15% off non-sale items (orders totaling $75 or more).

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