The This Is Cambridge Panache Cycling Cap is very nice, but probably more than a cycling cap needs to be.
This Is Cambridge just make cycling caps, but make is too small a word, they custom tailor them to fit your specific head, in Cambridge. They have three ranges of cap - Classic, Urban and Road and the latter is where the Panache lays and calls home.
The Panache cycling cap comes to you in a trendy brown paper bag that's classily wrapped in green tissue paper. The brown bag has the style of cap and size hand-written on it, alongside the name of the person who made, sorry, tailored your cap. All of this pretty presentation lets you know you're not getting any old cycling cap, and makes it a Nice Thing from the off, if you're a sucker for that sort of touchy-feely vibe. Ours also came with a pack of sunflower seeds. Should have really got round to planting them.
Out of all the natty wrapping you can tell that the Panache cap is head and shoulders above your common-or-garden cycling cap. The cotton is noticeably heavier, it's sewn together with care, and the peak is a sturdier structure.
The body of the cap is of a four panel construction and each panel is pleated for a neater fit to the head. There's a ribbon detail down one seam and a small tic logo on the side. All very knowingly subtle. The hem is lined with a traditional millinery headband and the rear section is strongly elasticated to keep it snug to your skull.
The cotton of the main body of the Panache is a lot thicker and better quality than your blue-collar cap. That makes for a high calibre hat, but means that it can be too hot to wear for summer use under a helmet. If you're wearing it just around town, to cut a dash as the highway dandyman, then it'll be just fine, or it could be the perfect warmer thicker tifter for Winter rides.
The peak is visibly a different shape from the peak of your standard casquette. While it's the same depth, it's a lot wider, by about 35mm. It extends well on to the temples, giving significantly more coverage, be that shade from the sun or protection from the rain. It's quite noticeable when it's on how far the peak wraps around your brow.
The insert of the peak is made of a thicker and tougher material than your normal cap, so it's not going to bend, crease or deform in any way like cheaper versions are wont to do. If you're keen to wear the Panache cap peak up, like a rakish young thing, then it flips up with an audible clip and stays there. Boom.
And you'll want to wear a This Is Cambridge cap with the peak up all the time because they specialise in putting funky and stylish designs on the underside. This is the neon yellow 'Boom' but there are six other patterns in the Panache range to choose from if this one doesn't tickle your fancy.
That design itself is printed on a nylony fabric so allows the use of detailed printing techniques to create those distinctive designs and it's not going to fade slowly over successive sunny days or washes. Oh, you'll have to do that washing by hand in warm water as the cap is a posh thing and doesn't like being tumbled around with your menial kit.
This Is Cambridge make all of their caps in five sizes from x-small to x-large, with a simple size chart on the site helping you get the perfect size for your particular head. Turns out our swede is 59cms, at the large end of medium, and the cap fits like, um, a glove. It's been through the mill of sweating and washing and it's still looking good and more importantly hasn't shrunk at all like other cycling caps have a habit of doing, making them too small, tight and unwearable, or leaving the Red Band of Strange Looks on your forehead. None of that.
A cycling cap has a very proletarian role, the domestique of cycling clothing it's there to humbly keep the sun, rain and sweat out your eyes, and the wind and cold off your head the rest of the time. It doesn't need to be fancy, it's not so precious that you can't take a poo in it, it's meant to be treated badly.
The This Is Cambridge Panache cycling cap raises this basic cotton garment to a different level, offering a handmade custom fit in a cap made from top quality materials with a cheeky attitude to design that's a world away from your cheap and cheerful team replica hat.
If you have a very large or very small head and are desperate to find a cycling cap to fit then This Is Cambridge might be worth a look and the extra spend over a normal cap.
Those that just want a cycling cap for humdrum use will baulk at the price and buy two or three perfunctory caps for the same amount of money, but others that want a well made cap that looks like it's going to last three times as long as a normal cap and want to show a bit of individuality on the bike will jump at it. It's also an obvious contender for a cap set at a jaunty angle that would make Norman Wisdom jealous for riding down the shops in, if you're the type that likes to ride down the shops with a cycling cap on as some kind of fashiony lifestyle statement.
You either get cycling caps or you don't really. The Panache is probably more than a cycling cap needs to be but it's a Nice Thing that you might need.
Quirky handmade custom top quality cotton cycling cap that's a cut and price above the rest
road.cc test report
Make and model: This Is Cambridge Panache
Size tested: Medium/59cm
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?
Panache is not just about what you wear and how dashing you look. It's about the charismatic way in which you ride '' the risks you take in an attempt to ride to glory. The Panache cycling cap is designed and handmade by us in Cambridge. It is an unlined tic contemporary twist on the classic cycling cap shape. It is designed to look good and perform well when you are working hard.
It's a good looking cap that's for sure, and the design is a giggle, not sure if it increased my on-bike charisma though. The hand tailoring means it fits well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
As with all our cycling caps the highest quality materials have been selected in the making of the Panache. The panel construction is made from high wicking brushed cotton, and each cap has a traditional millinery headband and detailing. The four panel construction is designed and cut in a way to hug and follow the contours of the head without being too snug. The hard flipable peak has been designed with function and flair in mind. It's slightly wider shape provides additional protection from the elements, and gives the cap a distinctive look. The underside of the peak is printed with a variety of graphic options and looks stunning when flipped up. As with all our caps it has been designed to fit comfortably under a helmet.
Beautifully made cycling cap, probably too well made for the job it has to do.
For soaking up sweat and keeping sun and rain away it did a good job. Marked down for being too warm sometimes.
With it's hand-made well put together construction and tougher than normal cotton it's going to last a long time.
Heavier than your everyday casquette.
With five sizes to choose from everyone should find a perfect fit.
That's a lot of money for a cotton cycling cap, well over twice the money than your usual. Yes it's hand made, custom made and far better quality but still...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a cycling cap, it doesn't need to do much. Hand crafted with heavyweight cotton, it's probably over engineered for the job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The quality, fit and design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price, the thick cotton. Hand wash.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not, despite my cap fetish. If someone was to buy me one as a present though...
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd point them in the direction of This Is Cambridge as purveyor of top quality cycling caps, yes.
About the tester
Age: 47 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.