As it gets colder, it can seem more and more like winter is here to stay! And while some cyclists might welcome cooler temperatures and quieter routes, it’s important to have the right cycling gear when you’re on the bike in the wind and rain in the winter months.
Get your winter cycling clothing down with our advice on how to cycle in any weather.
What to wear?
It’s best to invest in what you wear when cycling in the winter, and while it might be tempting to make do as quality clothing can add up, you’ll enjoy your bike ride much more with the right kit. Use multiple layers of clothing. One of the main advantages is that you can dress up/down easily if you get too warm or cold. In winter it’s always best to carry some spare clothing with you.
Base layers: When shopping for a base layer, make sure it’s made from a fabric that will wick sweat away from your body, as this will make you colder when cycling in winter. You might be surprised how much you still sweat when it’s freezing outside. The best way to go is long sleeved, lightweight and snug fitting, made from a fabric such as merino. You can then use your jersey as a mid-layer.
Our picks: Endura Baabaa Blend base layer
Bib Tights: Although your legs are doing all the work, it’s still a good idea to keep them warm. Keep your legs covered with sweat wicking, thermal fabrics. Other things to consider are reflective details, quality chamois to make the ride comfortable, and a tighter fit that doesn’t catch the bike or the wind.
Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey: It’s worthwhile investing in a good thermal jersey if you plan to ride outside this winter. Your upper body is not moving when cycling, so it’s more prone to getting cold. Windchill can also make it feel a lot colder, so look for something that can also protect you from the cold winter wind. Look out for reflective details, rear jersey pockets and wind protection. Zipped underarms are also great to easily cool down if you end up warmer than you thought.
Our picks: Rapha Winter Jersey
Waterproof Jacket: Keeping yourself protected against the wind and rain can make all the difference when cycling in winter. You might be tempted to go for a super thick coat, but that’s not ideal on a bike. Cycling jackets are usually made from material that is breathable and light. Use a thermal long sleeve jersey to keep warm and carry a rain jacket in your jersey pocket (make sure it folds away easily) so that you can use it as an additional layer of protection in case it rains, or to use it as an extra layer if it’s colder than expected or need to make an unscheduled stop. A jacket that you can store in your jersey pockets also means it’s easy to remove and carry if you get too warm. Make sure if there isn’t some reflective detailing on your jacket, you invest in some reflective armbands or lights.
Our picks: Sportful Stelvio Jacket
Hat or headband: While you’ll obviously still be wearing your helmet, you might want to add a skullcap to keep your head warmer. Also consider whether you want your ears covered when looking for a cap.
Glasses: You might find you need some glasses to help with any spray from roads or cycle trails. Normal sport sunglasses will work for this, but you might want something with clearer lenses as it’s darker in the winter.
Gloves: A good pair of cycling gloves are vital – you use your hands to grip the handlebars, brake and change gears and when your hands are cold it can be hard to maintain control over your bike. You might find it useful to have two pairs – one that’s waterproof and one that’s better for dryer weather. Make sure that the gloves provide you with enough grip so you still have full control of your bike.
Shoes: Whether you go for waterproof shoes or overshoes, it’s important to pay attention to what goes on your feet. Start with some good warm socks or something made out of wool to keep the heat in and tuck them into your leggings to help keep water out. Overshoes are much cheaper than buying new shoes, so it can be best just to go with your current cycling shoes as long as they don’t have massive vents. If you are suffering from cold feet on your ride, you might be surprised by what difference a good pair of overshoes can make.
Our picks: Altura Thermostretch Overshoes
In winter, bike maintenance is more important than ever. It’s vital to keep your bike in tip top condition to help minimise problems when you’re out riding, so give it a regular look over, especially after riding in wet weather.
Top tip: After every ride, give your bike a quick clean with hot soapy water to get all the salt and mud off. It’s easiest directly after your ride, and it means you don’t have to worry about it later in the day.
Punctures: Worse weather means more punctures, so make sure you’re prepared with at least two tubes and a pump when you’re out on rides.
Lights: With shorter days, it’s important to be visible on roads and trails. Invest in some small but powerful rechargeable LED lights.
Tyres: In winter, you might find yourself needing a thicker tread tyre. Most go for a minimum of 25mm, but you could go up to 28mm. Make sure they have a degree of puncture protection and are generally harder wearing, and as always you’re checking them over regularly.
Mudguards: Mudguards are an absolute must in winter to keep water and dirt off your back, water bottle and face. Not to mention, it’s much nicer for anyone riding behind you!
Other small but effective ways of preparing your bike for winter are things like using anti slip tape on your handlebars (especially if you don’t grip on your gloves), and a seat cover if you need to stop while out in the rain.
What ever the weather, you can still have a great bike ride! Just make sure you’re prepared and are staying safe. Good luck out there!
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