If you have noticed that the nights are drawing in, it means that it’s time to dig out your hat, jacket, and extra-warm gloves because you will need a lot more extra protection if you intend to keep on cycling. I don’t mean to scare you off – winter cycling is absolutely amazing: the trails are much quieter, the scenery around you is beautiful, plus you will be maintaining your fit body that you built up over the warmer months. In this case we turn to the old saying – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So, to help you out stay warm while doing what you love, we compiled a list of the must-have bicycle clothes for this winter’s joyrides.
A Winter Jacket
Depending on the conditions you’ll be riding in, you have two options. You can buy a soft-shell jacket which is not entirely waterproof but it is very warm and breathable, or go for a waterproof shell which will keep you protected from the worst of rains. The very best fabrics tend to be both waterproof and breathable at the same time, but they certainly come at a higher price, so depending on your budget and the compromise you’re willing to make, you have several options to choose from. Also, when shopping for bicycle clothes, don’t forget about safety. While the research on whether wearing high-visibility clothing makes a world of difference is still inconclusive, it certainly can’t hurt. Reflective details increase your safety when you’re illuminated by car headlights.
A Winter Hat
When purchasing a hat, you have two options – go for a full-on style one that’s complete with earflaps that can fit under your helmet, or a skull cap that just adds a small layer of protection. It all comes down to preferences, but make sure to wear one as keeping your head warm and dry is imperative. Wearing a regular cycling cap is better than wearing nothing at all to keep the chill off your scalp. Similarly, neck gaiters are another very lightweight but really effective piece of winter bicycle clothing. You can use them in several ways – put them over your chin or you can even wear them as a hat if you forgot to take one.
Tights and Trousers
If you are a roadie then go for bib tights, leg warmers or tights that are over your regular bib shorts. If you are a commuter though, your best bet is to think about waterproof trousers. And if you are more of a mountain biker then you can choose between tights or shorts. The perfect combo would be wearing baggy shorts on top of tights.
Despite the constant advances in designs and materials for bicycle clothes, cyclists have to accept the fact that their feet will eventually get wet. For that reason, they all need overshoes. These can be made of waterproof materials such as neoprene, but they will still have holes underneath for cleats. In cases when it’s raining, even waterproof socks can’t provide total protection as rain can run down your legs and once it’s down in your socks, it’ll stay there. However, you can improve your chances by wearing your leg warmers or tights over the tops of your overshoes. Think roof shingles – in this case you’d want the water to run over instead of under. This will help keep your feet significantly dryer and warmer than they would be without them.
Freezing your fingers on a long ride can absolutely make you feel miserable. Plus, it is also dangerous, especially on busy roads. You need your fingers for clinging on tight to the handlebars, changing gear, braking, ringing the bell and what not. There are so many good options on the market today that will keep your fingers perfectly dry, warm and happy. There are even models that can work with your smartphone if you want that. The best MTB gloves made of silk or merino will warm up your fingers at the needed level but you might need to go a size up on your outer gloves.
There are some brands that offer a layering system that consists of dedicated liners, gloves and overmitts, but you don’t really need all these three combined. Don’t forget – if your gloves are too thick – you won’t be able to operate your jacket’s zipper, gear levers, the brakes and any of the other little jobs that your fingers do when you’re cycling. It is also always a good idea to buy longer cuffs so that you can tuck them inside the arms of your jacket and retain your precious body heat. Don’t forget to buy gloves with padding on the palms to increase your comfort and cushion yourself from jolts. These can be made from gel or foam inserts and they certainly make a world of difference for your overall cycling experience.