A Beginner's Guide to Keirin

A Beginner's Guide to Keirin: What is Keirin?

Cyclists

Keirin cyclists battle fiercely for the SS rank, the highest rank which only 9 cyclists can attain.

There are 2,647 keirin cyclists (as at January 1, 2014). There are six keirin cyclist rankings: SS is the highest ranking, followed by S1, S2, A1, A2 and A3. Only 9 cyclists are ranked SS. Many competitors vie daily for the top rank.
Ranks are updated twice a year based on cyclists' performance records. Cyclists with continually poor performance have their registration revoked and must retire from keirin.
The life of a keirin cyclist is one of tough competition.

Takashi Kaneko was the top earning keirin cyclist in 2013, earning 189.56 million yen in prize money during the year.

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Upper body

1. Upper body

In addition to well developed thighs, keirin cyclists need to have powerful upper bodies.
While leg power is needed to move the bicycle, cyclists also need considerable upper body strength to control the handlebars. Upper bodies need to be as well developed as legs.


Thighs

2. Thighs

Keirin cyclists' thighs are extremely important since thigh diameter is equated with cyclist ability. Keirin cyclists take great pride in their thighs.


Uniforms

3. Uniforms

Uniforms and helmets are color coded to help identify each cyclist.

Keirin SS rank cyclists have special uniforms!


Cyclist shorts

4. Cyclist shorts

The color of the shorts worn by each keirin competitor indicates rank.
Keirin is a sport based solely on ability, with no consideration given to seniority. After completing keirin school, new graduates can register as competitors by passing a national qualification exam. All newly qualified keirin cyclists begin their careers with an A3 rank, and work their way toward the top rank by competing in events.