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Designing Custom Kit

If you're reading this article, chances are you're keen on discovering how to design your own custom cycling kit. Let's look into the benefits, inspirations, and step-by-step processes of turning your design ideas into a reality. Along the way, I'll share insights from our experience designing this year's FGA kit.



Identity and Uniqueness

Designing your cycling kit provides the freedom to express your club's identity uniquely. Choose any colors or graphics you desire, always keeping in mind the goal of standing out from your competitors.

Cost Savings

In some cases, the kit itself could be more cost-effective than buying it off the rack, and certainly cheaper than having the printer do all the grunt work for you.

Designing your kit is both easier than you think and surprisingly challenging in ways you may not have considered. So, let's explore all of this, and I'll include some examples of our FGA kit design work.


Local Teams and Themes

Start by examining kits from teams in your area, noting general themes in terms of color and design. While there are attractive aspects you might want to recreate, be cautious of things to avoid. The last thing you want is to go through months of design work only to end up looking exactly like the team you're racing against.

Pro Tour Peleton

Another source of inspiration is the professional peloton. Some pro teams boast incredibly attractive designs, while others resemble a hot mess of sponsor names and awful color choices. - Personally, I enjoyed seeing the Vancouver-base Musette Club sporting the denim-themed shorts from the 90s Carrera team kit.

... striking design or simply embarassing?

... attention getting or just humiliating?

Cultural Icons

Flags, iconography, locations, and heroic figures all play into how your team will want to identify itself. It's worth your while to think about this. Maple Leaves, Stars & Stripes, and Hammer & Sickle immediately place a team within a geographic location, and send a messages about the athletes.



Too Many Cooks

The most challenging part of kit design is achieving design consensus. The secret? Limit the number of people involved in the design process. Make a design with your club leadership and present it to the rest of the club as a final decision. Asking for feedback from everyone may lead to trouble. Keep your design team small, and remain open to other ideas to avoid arguments and delays. For the FGA kit, it was just Keith Bruneau and myself doing all the design work.

Kill Your Darlings

Compromise and collaborate. Initially, Keith and I discussed the team identity. Keith came up with a sketch of the logo design, and I did some layouts. We provided a lot input along the way, always respectful and open to each other's ideas. I came up with numerous ideas, willing to accept rejection without a second thought.



As a cost-saving measure, we chose to create the graphics ourselves to maintain control of the design and also save money at the printer. Note that I have the advantage of working in a field that involves graphics (visual effects), and my wife is a Graphic Designer, so I could interrupt her 'real' job to answer some questions. Regardless, I believe anyone can take on this task and build their own files.




Invest some time in learning which colors complement each other. A simple Google search for "Complimentary Colors" will guide you in the right direction.

You might hear some talk of RGB vs CMYK color. For the DIY home-gamer, this doesn't really matter. Our printer JAKROO handled that specific detail. We picked what we liked on a computer monitor, and JAKROO handled the conversion into printing.


The first task was to create simple layouts to bounce off Keith.

Some were literal recreations of Keith's idea, while others were copies of existing kits I liked, and some were variations that came to me.

The idea is to generate numerous options initially. I would send Keith a PDF with several designs, asking him to pick his five favorites, and we proceeded from there. These examples represent just a few of the ideas that we tossed around.

Keith drew inspiration from the kit worn by Canadian speed skating legend, Gaétan Boucher. The design was simple, classic, and quintessentially Canadian. We ran with it.

Vector Graphics

To create the layouts, I used Adobe Illustrator (Advanced users can work in CMYK) and Inkscape (free, open source) to create logos and text as "vectors." Vectors are outlines of each graphic element that remain sharp, regardless of zooming. The printer uses these vectors in order for the edges to look sharp, and you can save a chunk of money if you provide these files yourself. Drawing vectors is not hard but can be tedious.

A major benefit of creating your own vectors, is that they can be sent to a variety of printers for other projects, like t-shirts, EZ-Ups, Stickers, Banners, Start/Finish line, and Podium Banners.

Examples demonstrating low-resolition raster graphics vs vector. The vector is always sharp.

2D Design

While in Illustrator, I traced a basic jersey outline, dropped in the graphics, added text, and color. Breaking everything into layers allowed me to adjust size, position, colors, and quickly copy/paste elements. This work is not difficult. I also sampled colors directly from reference images to see how they fit with our designs. By the time I was done, I had lots of ideas—some great, others not so much. At this early stage, I didn't care.

Keith narrowed down his favorites, and based on his feedback, I refined the designs until we had a few finalists. We then identified the best qualities of each option, and I built one final design, which was our winner.

3D Design

After the 2D works was complete, I exported each design element from Illustrator as an image (.PNG) and uploaded each into the JAKROO Design Lab web page.

My experience with JAKROO Canada has been very good with fast turnaround, service, and the kit always matching the approved designs.

In the Design Lab, I applied the graphics to the provided 3D kit models. This is super easy (drag & drop, click & drag). At this stage, you can rotate the 3D model and see it from all angles in real-time. The hardest part is ensuring everything is symmetrical on both sides of the kit. A 'Symmetry' feature would have saved some fiddling, but overall, this process was fun and easy. It doesn't really matter because JAKROO creates the final patterns, and the ensure everything is tidy.

The Unveiling

After Keith and I made final tweaks to the 3D design, I provided a link to the rest of the team so they could view & rotate the finished model themselves. After some collective high-fives, we were ready to send final files to JAKROO.



1. Instructional PDF

I believe I could have simply linked the my Design Lab link to the JAKROO rep, but I wanted something more specific because JAKROO only gives you two free revisions before additional charges are applied. So, I made a PDF with screen grabs of the 3D design and also instructions for specific features we needed them to include in the final product. The road to cost-effectiveness is paved with clarity and diligence.

2. Vector Graphics

Remember the vectors we created during the initial design phase? I provided each vector file so that the designer at JAKROO wouldn't need to build any of it themselves (significant cost savings). The vector files should be in either .ai or .eps format. Click on the JAKROO logo to link directly to their Artwork spec sheet.



JAKROO used our vectors to recreate our design on their printable pattern. After a couple of rounds of tweaks, Keith and I approved it, and the kit was placed into our JAKROO Team Store, where riders placed their orders.


Like all kit vendors, you get a better price based on volume. If your club is smaller, it's wise to limit the number of kit options available. This drives the volume up on each item, increasing the likelihood of meeting the minimum threshold for a volume discount.

Order and Shipping

After Keith closed the store, our order went into production. 7-10 days later, the box arrived at our door.



DIY Kit design is not only possible; it's entirely worth the effort. There's nothing wrong with having the printer handle the entire process for you, but it comes at a cost.

I'm happy to help if you have further questions. Just drop me a line (


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