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In Which I Have One of Those Great ‘Aha!’ Moments

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Up until a few days ago, if you had asked me what a “head badge” is, I would have guessed something like what you see at right — the badge that police officers often wear on their hats.

But that was before reader Stephen Walker taught me that a head badge is that logo plate thingie on the front tube of a bike. I’d seen them before, of course, but I didn’t know the proper term for them and had never really given them much thought. (Although I bike just about every single day in Prospect Park, I’m not really a biker guy; just a guy who bikes. Many of cycling culture’s nuances escape my notice.)

“I have cleaned and repaired a couple of older bikes and I have always loved the metal plaques fastened to the frames, which give the models distinct identities,” Stephen wrote. He went on:

Nowadays the head badge is usually identical to the company logo and is either painted on the frame or incorporated into the frame in some way. However, if you go back far enough you get all these wonderfully unique metal badges, or occasionally decals. There are some really great designs out there, often with quirky company names on them, like Rivendell Bicycle Works. Unfortunately, I don’t really know much about the history of head badges or what they are worth as collector’s items these days, but I did find some cool galleries if you want to check them out.

The galleries Stephen’s referring to are here (that page mostly shows the head badges by themselves, removed from the frame) and here (that one shows the head badges in situ). Lots of interesting stuff in both sites, as you can see in this very small sampling:





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Nice, right? I love it when something becomes a little design subculture unto itself. Kinda reminds me of produce labels and typewriter ribbon tins (the latter of which I’ve thought about collecting for quite a few years now, although I’ve so far resisted the urge), both of which could have been blandly functional but instead developed their own design protocols with very high visual standards, just like head badges.

As it turns out, there’s a brisk trade in head badges on eBay. Most of them aren’t too pricey, either. But because they’re curved, they’re a little tricky to display — you can’t just tack them up flush against the wall or whatever. So collectors apparently tend to house in display cases with vertical columns.

All of which reminds me: You know those metal plates/badges/etc. on old appliances? One time, years ago, I saw a girl wearing a jeans jacket covered with those. Like, instead of cloth patches, she’d used those appliance thingies. I really liked that. It’d be cool to do that with head badges, but again, the curvature issue would cause problems.

Anyway: head badges — they’re cool. And until this week, I’d never devoted a single brain cell to them. Major thanks to Stephen for opening up this new aesthetic realm for me.

+ + + + +

Uni Watch News Ticker: The new NHL all-star jerseys are very similar to last season’s design. ”¦ New stadium-centennial patch for the Red Sox. Kinda bogus to be wearing it on the road jersey, though. … Yesterday I paid a visit to the NBA offices, where I saw all the new uniforms for the upcoming season (and also posed next to a Lego version of Kevin Garnett). Can’t share any info or images yet, but I can tell you that many of this season’s throwbacks are really good. … Speaking of the NBA, I believe we’d seen the Kings’ new black alt in a video game leak, but here it is for real. ”¦ Don’t think I’ve ever seen a UCLA insignia styled like this one. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Here’s an excellent piece on the guy who designed the Royals’ logo. ”¦ Here’s a breakdown of the top-selling NHL jerseys this holiday season. … A retired Philadelphia cop is in hot water for participating in Occupy rallies while wearing his old uniform. … Ryan Perkins notes that Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes has had some serious padding on his left ankle. That’s his non-kicking foot — odd. ”¦ Major pub(l)ic service by my old zine pal Steve Mandich, who scanned most of Tony Millionaire’s old “Batty” comics from the mid-1990s. ”¦ While he was at it, Steve also scanned a ton of Pacific northwest media guides, pocket schedules, etc. ”¦ Todd Droz decided to give his snowboarding helmet a Steelers theme. “Obviously, the Tennessee ‘power T’ doesn’t belong, but I didn’t want to take that off since I am also a fan/alum of Tennessee and it doesn’t bother me there.” ”¦ Here are all of Boise State’s uniform combinations for this season (big thanks to Geoff Baker. ”¦ Shops in St. Louis are giving away Albert Pujols merch (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Check out this great shot of Lefty Grove during a 1931 tour of Japan (major thanks to Bruce Menard). ”¦ Metallica was selling some Giants-themed merch at a show in San Francisco a few nights ago (from Daniel Moraine). ”¦ Ryan Dowgin found a 1932 shot of Georgia Tech halfback Pat Barron with what appears to be his socks pulled down over his shoes.

90 comments to In Which I Have One of Those Great ‘Aha!’ Moments

  • Tony Miller | December 9, 2011 at 7:46 am |

    I found Uni Watch while searching for something or other about uniforms. That’s probably still most of the reason I’m interested in UW.

    Posts like this are the reason I feel compelled to come here every day — I don’t know when I’ll find something I’ve never seen before, even though it’s probably been on every bike I’ve owned.

    The eye for detail this site can demonstrate is outstanding. Well done, sir (Stephen); more broadly, well done, sirs and madams (Phil/Paul/all of you with your names in bold).

    • Chris Holder | December 9, 2011 at 9:24 am |

      I agree, Tony. It seems the way things are going, it’s inevitable that some jackass will show up today and say “HEY THIS ISN’T ABOUT UNIS, I WANT MY MONEY BACK!”. But I, for one, usually enjoy the side items that Paul serves up every now and then. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t come here every flippin’ day.

      Kudos, Paul. Interesting subject that I would bet most of us, like you, had never put much thought into.

    • Chance Michaels | December 9, 2011 at 9:44 am |

      Agreed – these are often my favorite articles.

      Love the head badges. Always been somewhat partial to those of the Milwaukee Bicycle Company, if they could just tone down the typeface a little bit.

      • Connie | December 9, 2011 at 11:38 am |

        Wonderful, wonderful lead story. Nothing netter than a daily design epiphany.

    • Stephen Walker | December 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

      Exactly, Tony. Uniforms are just a small part of athletic design. I love this kind of thing.

      BTW, This article made my day Paul. Glad I could input an idea or two!

      • StLMarty | December 10, 2011 at 12:05 am |

        The bike stuff is great. But Pat Barron’s socks have my attention more than anything.

  • Mark in Shiga | December 9, 2011 at 7:54 am |

    Wow; I don’t think I’ve ever given even a moment’s thought about those head badges… and I ride a bicycle more than 340 days a year!

    Off to look at mine now!

    • Flip | December 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

      Man, I love this site.

  • Simply Moono | December 9, 2011 at 8:05 am |

    The Metallica site doesn’t allow hotlinking, so the link doesn’t work.

    • Kyle Allebach #school | December 9, 2011 at 8:07 am |

      Weird. It worked for me.

    • Phil Hecken | December 9, 2011 at 8:11 am |

      yeah…try it now

      fucking metallica…they made a billion dollars by recording COVERS, but shut down napster…now they won’t allow hotlinking to a photo of them basically RIPPING OFF THE GIANTS

      (granted, they probably paid royalties to the originators in both cases, but the point is that god forbid anyone should *share* their shit, and it’s not even their shit)

      time to run “Metallica Bad” again…just for old times sake

      • Kyle Allebach #school | December 9, 2011 at 8:22 am |

        They even ripped off the riff of Welcome Home from another band (scroll down to number 3). They didn’t have any room to try an shut down a site like Napster when they were stealing riffs left and right.

        Then they take the uniform design of a baseball team and sell it for $150. Fucking Metallica…

        • The Jeff | December 9, 2011 at 8:54 am |

          Meh, everyone steals riffs.

          They’re still dicks for various reasons, but I won’t hold a few borrowed/modified riffs against them.

        • JTH | December 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm |

          The Jeff is right. Show me a band who’s never ripped anyone off and I’ll show you a band that’s not trying.

          Anyway, the bigger news here is that Daniel Moraine was able to score tickets to see Metallica at the Fillmore. Congrats.

      • =bg= | December 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm |

        I’m not a Metallica fan, and I only know one song. “Sandman” easily has one of the greatest hooks of all time.

      • StLMarty | December 10, 2011 at 12:06 am |


    • walter | December 9, 2011 at 8:59 am |

      Their insignia with the capital “M” and “A” would look spiffy on one of those uniforms.

      • JTH | December 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm |

        Agreed. The generic baseball script is decidedly underwhelming.

        Hell, even the bands name done up in the Giants’ fonts would be an improvement.

  • Kyle Allebach #school | December 9, 2011 at 8:06 am |

    Those headbadges are pretty cool…I’ve always been kind of interested in those kind of things.

    Also, that Steelers snowboarding helmet; that’s really cool. I was thinking of doing something similar for my girlfriend (a Redskins fan). Where did you get that Steelers decal?

    • Maks | December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm |

      re: snowboarding helmet – as much it looks great, i suggest that you make sure there’s only 1 Steelers logo on the right side only if you want it to be authentic looking/feeling.

      • Maks | December 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm |

        d’oh… redskins fans… i just saw that. in that case, never mind :)

    • SWC Susan | December 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

      You can typically find helmet decals on eBay.

  • Adam R. W. | December 9, 2011 at 8:15 am |

    Looks to me like Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes has the padding on both ankles. You can just make out the texture on the outside of the right ankle, and it appears to only go around the back of the foot.

  • BurghFan | December 9, 2011 at 8:17 am |

    The Kings’ black alt with silver numbers looks more readable than the purple with black numbers.

  • teenchy | December 9, 2011 at 8:20 am |

    I provided the Royals logo story link yesterday. Happy to see it make the Ticker.

    • walter | December 9, 2011 at 8:57 am |

      I’d like to see them work that big “R” back into their uniform, maybe by putting it on a road cap. It’s a nice, unique element.

  • scott | December 9, 2011 at 8:21 am |

    The Boston Globe’s article today on Fenway Park 100th anniversary celebrations indicates Red Sox and opponents will periodically be wearing turn-back-the-clock uniforms. Has anyone seen a full schedule for these games?

  • BirdsForBrains | December 9, 2011 at 8:40 am |


    Richard Nixon likes to stay fit by riding a ten-speed between recordings:

    • Mike Edgerly | December 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

      Aaaah… Give Gino Bartali some love will ya?! Nixon couldn’t hold Bartali’s jock as an athlete or a man. Tricky Dick bad-mouthed Jews whenever he could, while Bartali (The Pious) helped save some from the Holocaust and worked for the Italian Resistance in WWII.

      Myth has it that Bartali even hid Jewish Refugees in a trailer on his bike and rode them across the alps to Switzerland, have Lance Armstrong match that!

  • Shane | December 9, 2011 at 8:56 am |

    Wow, would have never expected Cladue Giroux to be that high on the jersey list.

    What does make me happy though, three Bruins!

  • fiesta | December 9, 2011 at 9:12 am |

    The Red Sox centennial patch model sure wasn’t an office flunky. Quite the watch!

    • Mark Hamilton | December 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

      Haha, distracted me from the patch at first.

  • MEANS | December 9, 2011 at 9:21 am |

    The part of the bike where the head badge is attached is the head tube, not the stem, the stem is where the handlebars are attached to the bike. Just a pet peeve of mine but I always referred to it as “riding” not “biking”.

    • Paul Lukas | December 9, 2011 at 9:42 am |

      The part of the bike where the head badge is attached is the head tube, not the stem

      Like I said, I’m not a biker guy. I’ll change the text. Thanks.

      • MEANS | December 9, 2011 at 11:21 am |

        That’s cool, I actually never knew it was called a head badge, so we both learned something today.

        • Kenny Jacobson | December 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

          To clarify: the head tube is the vertical tube of the frame in the front that holds a set of bearings which allow the front fork and wheel assembly to turn. The stem is the bracket that clamps the handlebars to the front end.

        • Dumb Guy | December 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm |

          Where the Huffy at??

        • Keith S. | December 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm |

          @Dumb Guy….mine is probably still in the garage of the punk that stole it from my front yard in 5th grade. Huffy for life! Represent!

  • interlockingtc | December 9, 2011 at 9:30 am |

    That Bertin head badge with the eagle and the cracking paint is just tremendous.

    When I was 10 or so, I had my mom sew a patch featuring the original Royals logo onto a blue baseball cap. I wore it proudly playing pee-wee ball.

    My favorite image of the day…. This deliciousness:

    Thank you for the post, Steve Mandich.

  • Teebz | December 9, 2011 at 9:43 am |

    If anyone in St. Looey is picking up a t-shirt, I’d be happy to compensate you for your troubles in picking up a second one. ;o)

    • Jeff P | December 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm |

      If anyone gets a jersey, I’d love one. And I would give you something for the trouble, as well as cover shipping. cptjeff at that google site if you’re willing, I can give you details through there.

  • Wheels | December 9, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    Some of those head badges look like they would make really cool labels for a beer bottle.

    • The Jeff | December 9, 2011 at 10:23 am |

      I had that same thought.

      • HarryPotHead | December 9, 2011 at 11:04 am |

        Actually, I have a Heineken bottle label over where the head badge used to be on my bike.

  • PB | December 9, 2011 at 9:53 am |

    Write-up on the Navy Pro Combat uniforms for the Army/Navy game by the Navy Football beat writer. Go Navy! Beat Army!

    • PB | December 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

      Also included in the article is an overview of the Navy and Marine Corps unit patches the Navy players will be wearing for the game.

  • Dumb Guy | December 9, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    So, you thought we wouldn’t notice, eh. That police hat photo is backwards!! Busted!!

    Or did the Notre Dame folks supply that pic??

    • Paul Lukas | December 9, 2011 at 10:19 am |

      Right you are. Wanted it to be facing in that direction and couldn’t find a suitable alternate photo. Good catch!

  • scott | December 9, 2011 at 10:40 am |

    Interesting write-up on the Lansing Lugnuts uniforms:

    But how can a baseball team not have a road gray set? I bet they still wear gray pants on the road.

  • DonS | December 9, 2011 at 11:25 am |

    I am going to check my Trek badge.

    • The Jeff | December 9, 2011 at 11:26 am |

      Original or Next Generation?

  • Dan | December 9, 2011 at 11:25 am |

    Those St. Louis shops should give away the Pujols merch to the church that will donate them to an L.A.-area clothing pantry. A bar in NYC is doing the same with Reyes shirts & jerseys.

  • All The Way Ray | December 9, 2011 at 11:35 am |

    Thanks for the head badge stuff. Us bike geeks are every bit as nerdy as us unigeeks except for the Chris Creamer board geeks who make Trekkies look normal.

    • Ricko | December 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

      Yeah, a few minutes at the Creamer board and I always think of this exchange from THE WEST WING…

      PRESIDENT: You know that line you’re not supposed to cross?

      C.J.: I’m coming up on it?

      PRESIDENT: Look behind you.

  • Tris Wykes | December 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    Ever seen a polar bear wearing hockey goalie leg pads? You have now:

  • JTH | December 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |

    I believe we currently have somewhere around 10 bikes in our garage and I don’t think I could tell you what any of their head badges look like.

  • random reader | December 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  • Donnie K | December 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    Man Leaves Prison After 28 Years in Darrell Green Jersey

    Sounds like an Onion headline, doesn’t it? But oh so real.

    • BSmile | December 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

      That’s great!!

      • Dumb Guy | December 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

        That jersey is in good shape for having been the only thing his guy has worn for 28 years.

        • jdreyfuss | December 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm |

          I think she meant he threatened, in public, to kill her.

  • Tom V. | December 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    Am I missing something with the COTD? All I get is a map of the earth without NYC presumably extended.

    • Paul Lukas | December 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

      As you move your cursor, it should show you what street and avenue you’d be on, if the NYC grid had been extended across the globe. Because NYC is, you know, the center of everything….

    • Dumb Guy | December 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |

      I’m with you Tom. I get nuthin’ but a map.

      • Connie | December 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

        Did you punch in a location? Worked like a charm for me. My friend Steve in Berkeley lives near the corner 14,373rd Street and 15,891st Avenue. I think you can get there on the 7 Train.

        • Tom V. | December 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

          There is no option to punch in a location. Just shows a blank map, you can zoom in, zoom out, thats it, shows no other info. Might be the IE8 I’m on at work, can try later from home.

        • Dumb Guy at home | December 10, 2011 at 8:52 am |

          Ah, it works for me at home…just not at work.

  • Tim E. O'B | December 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    Paul, this might be something you might could use for das catch of the day (pardon the russian…).

    It shows what games are on TV, what the score is, what channel they’re on and how much time is left. They also use an algorithm on the Y axis to calculate which games are most exciting.

    Been using this for almost a year now, and it really helps during crazy sports days like NCAAF Saturdays and when the NHL and NBA are both in playoff mode.

  • Matthew Robins | December 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Manufacturers Logo on an NBA Jersey? These better be replicas. Utah Jazz Green Alt. –

    • Paul Lukas | December 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm |

      Only on the replicas. No maker’s mark on NBA uniforms this season (or in the future, as far as I know).

  • Brian | December 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm |

    Also odd that Tynes has a bottle of Pedialyte next to him in the at photo. Was someone boozing the night before?

  • TxWarEagle | December 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

    Auburn and Virginia to go color v color in Chicken Bowl new years eve. Auburn Blue vs Virgnia Orange.

  • Jordan Pope | December 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm |

    It looks like Lawrence Tynes might be wearing the new Nike Vapor Football Sock.,pdp&pid=SX4600-101&cid=1&pgid=SX4600

  • Matt | December 10, 2011 at 4:08 am |

    I was watching the nfl thursday night game and was wondering where you can get the sweatshirt mike Tomlin was wearing on the sideline. It is cream colored with Pittsburgh on the chest in a simple black font. I looked on and they don’t have it. My wife is us navy and we live in San Diego so we don’t see everything in pittsburgh. If you could help me out it would make a us service woman’s Christmas.

    • BurghFan | December 10, 2011 at 5:10 am |

      I assume you checked as well.

  • Adrian | December 10, 2011 at 9:29 am |

    Any more pics available for the 1931 tour of Japan? I’m wondering if the jacket is different from the one worn in 1934.