Inside Trek-Segafredo’s ‘mild to wild’ kit design process

Get the low-down on our kit that's business in the front and party in the back

December is a magical time of year. A time to reflect, a time to celebrate, a time for change. In cycling team terms, there’s no greater symbol of a cycling team’s growth and ambition than a fresh new kit. And well, we’re really proud of ours.

Trek-Segafredo is rolling out a look that’s a mix of old and bold. “Business in front, party in back,” if you will. The front is a modest evolution of our classic look with colored sleeves: Red for our men’s team, blue for our women’s team. The back features a festive checker pattern that will help it stand out among teammates trying to find each other within the peloton and fans watching the action from a helicopter’s camera lens.

Where did that eye-popping pattern come from? Who decides whether and how much the kit should change every year? And how does a plethora of designers, sponsors, executives and more finally decide on a kit to represent their WorldTour squad? Excellent questions! For the answers, we talked to Trek Art Director, Brian Lindstrom, to get a better sense of Trek-Segafredo’s annual kit design process.

Come, let’s go on a journey that started in April 2021, while this past season was still young.

From mild to wild

Trek staff share their impressions of the new kit with the design team throughout the racing season, but the first formal round of 2023 designs were made in April. In the past, the design team typically sketched their first designs in June or July. However, the UCI, which must approve every kit worn by World Tour teams, created an early approval window in June, incentivizing the Trek team to get a head start.

During those initial brainstorms, the design team considers every idea for the kit, “from mild to wild,” according to Lindstrom. Lindstrom has overseen race team kit designs for 10 years, and has a good grasp of the elements that make a Trek-Segafredo kit so recognizable. “I’m very comfortable and I can turn out the mild to medium, with confidence,” he says. In-house designers who normally focus on other products and design projects often contribute the most unconventional ideas, elements of which may work their way into the final design.

“It’s fun bringing the entire in-house graphic design crew along for the team kit process, with an all-new perspective, and just say, ‘Blow it up, do whatever you want to do, have some fun.'” Lindstrom says.

Lindstrom will put together a digital presentation of the best 30-40 designs for review. The sketches include ideas for gloves, shoes, caps, helmets and bibs as well as jerseys. The decision has many stakeholders, including company leaders involved in marketing, product development, sports management, and more. But the opinion that matters most belongs to the person at the top. Trek CEO John Burke scours all of the designs and rates each one out of five. He’ll also provide his formal feedback, picking out elements he likes or dislikes in each sketch. From there, Lindstrom and his team get back to work by refining their efforts.

Narrowing the field

From 30-plus designs, the design team narrows their options down to 10,which they then send to Santini in Italy to create physical samples in both men’s and women’s colorways, creating 20 sample total. Santini quickly creates a full range of bespoke cycling gear and sends the items back to Trek headquarters in Waterloo. This past June, a showroom was set up where the same key stakeholders pored over options for the 2023 kit in person, and the evaluation process began again.

Burke ultimately makes the final call on the kit, but rigorous discussion takes place among a number of people to help whittle down the options to a top choice. Lindstrom flies to Waterloo to see his creations in person, as well as weigh in himself on what he likes, doesn’t like, and why.

A winner for the 2023 kit emerged in July, and it featured a radical design choice for a jersey that has pushed itself forward gradually over time. The alternating squares of parallel lines and checkerboards on the back of the kit were chiefly inspired by the checkered flag that waves at the finish lines of moto races, but the design also subtly nodded at Trek’s commitment to support both men’s and women’s racing across all disciplines.

“We filled in the pattern with two bars, and that just so happened to create an equal sign,” Lindstrom says. “We thought that was relevant to our men’s and women’s teams, and the mission that we’ve been pursuing over the last few years. We explored many different potential patterns, but this one felt most natural for Trek-Segafredo.”

From a practical standpoint, the back pattern is also highly visible. Lindstrom made sure of that by creating a document with vector drawings that simulated how the kit would stand out in the peloton from the bird’s eye view of most cycling broadcasts.

“You’re gonna have that nice clean podium view for the finish line view on the front, but then we’re hoping that the back will help from the point of view of the helicopters and teammates trying to find each other,” Lindstrom says. “It also enables us to bring a little bit of ‘wild’ to the kit that we haven’t had in the past.”

Burke approves the final design, but, according to Lindstrom, “John usually ends reviews by saying, ‘You guys know how to take it from here and wrap this up.'” This year, one kit emerged as a clear winner, but in year’s past, Burke might like three or four kits. In those instances, he trusts Trek’s designers to meld some of the best elements of all the kits and make any last decisions. Often, alternate kits for special races emerge from simply having too many leftover good ideas.

More adjustments and alterations are needed after a winning kit is selected to make sure sponsor logos are legible, that elements scale well on riders’ bodies, that the kit pairs well with the bike paint schemes that Trek-Segafredo has planned for the year, and more. Lindstrom made his last edits to the master design file near the end of August. The final tweaks are small, often nearly imperceptible, and based on input from dozens of people who have vested interests in what Trek-Segafredo’s riders wear on race days.

After an exhaustive process, Lindstrom crosses his fingers that the kit wins UCI approval. When it does, his work is done, and riders and fans can start looking forward to the ever magical New Kit Day.

Delivering the goods

Trek-Segafredo is unique compared to many WorldTour in that Trek wholly owns the team, which allows for cohesiveness across all elements of the race day look. For example, not only does Trek’s helmet and shoes team already have a strong understanding of the company’s stylistic language, they also work closely with Lindstrom on a number of different projects beyond racing. Communication and collaboration occur at Trek much more easily than it might on other teams, where helmet and kit design might be done by two distinct companies.

“We don’t design the kits in a vacuum, we design it for the whole team,” Lindstrom says. “It really does involve a lot of different people at Trek: Micah [Moran] on the bikes, Jamie [Banks-George] on the helmet, Jon [Takao] on the shoes, and many others. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the whole package. We’re not only focused on having the best ranked jersey in the peloton, although that’s nice too. But it’s not as important to us as having the whole team looking good, head to toe, all the way down to the vehicles.”

Kit design is a personal process at Trek. And at the end of the day, Lindstrom most hopes to impress the people wearing the gear. Riders may not have weighed in much during the in-season winnowing process, but their happiness is paramount, and the jersey must address certain functional parameters for them, like visibility. Certainly, no rider has ever raced slower because they looked too good.

Trek-Segafredo has worked with Santini since 2017, and they recently extended their partnership through 2025. That close relationship ensures that New Kit Day is always special. Every year, each Trek-Segafredo rider receives more than 200 pieces of fresh gear, and for the third year in a row, Santini saved roughly 150 kilograms of plastic packaging from landing in the garbage by folding the riders’ clothing directly into boxes and handing them out at team camp in October. The practice is not only better for the environment, but it eliminates the annoying process of riders fumbling and tearing through polyethylene bags to check out their new swag.

Every step in the process of creating a new kit — from those first wild ideas, to how physical kits land on riders’ backs — is carefully considered, honed by years of practice and continuity. The point of six months of hard work and hustle is simple: “The goal is to have two really good looking kits,” Lindstrom says. Evolving one of the most consistently clean looks in cycling requires mountains of hard work, but when a brand means so much to so many, the effort is worthwhile.