When winter hits and the cold sets in, it is common for casual cyclists to put their bikes into storage or out of the way in some place or another, to be revived as the warmer months of spring and summer come about once more. Of course, to a lot of other cyclists who use their bikes to commute to work, or for casual travel to save money on fuel or public transport, winter riding can take place with reluctance if the proper attire is not utilised. So, what are the most suitable clothing options for cycling in winter?
Whilst it may seem simply put that with winter comes cold winds and a need to offset the chill with warm clothes, what we can forget is that there are many elements at play when cycling in winter that work in opposition to a comfortable ride. These elements can take the form of cold air, winds, rain, hail, storms, darker days, later sunrises and earlier sunsets. On top of this, however, is the effects of the ride itself: no one enjoys riding to work in the cold and damp only to get there and realise their outfit for the day is soaked through with either rain or sweat (or both). The ideal clothing for cycling in these cold and often wet conditions will be breathable, insulate the body, and keep the rain away.
Regarding the base layer, you will want to opt for a moisture-wicking top that keeps sweat away from your skin, helping you to stay dry and comfortable. On top of this layer, to prevent the cold piercing through, an insulating layer such as a wool jumper or fleece jacket will be critical to maintaining a consistent and healthy body temperature. For your legs, an insulating pair of cycling tights will work wonders at keeping you warm, along with waterproof trousers (if necessary) and a durable pair of shoes. Gloves will be a must in cold weather and will keep the blood flowing through your hands so you’re able to turn properly and signal. You may opt for waterproof gloves in rainy weather instead of wool, so your hands aren’t constantly submerged with the circulation ebbing from your fingers (which, in particularly cold conditions, can cause detrimental effects to your health). Headwear such as a cycling cap or jacket with a hood can be advantageous for added waterproofing underneath your helmet.
To top this all off, acting as the ultimate pièce de resistance will be a wind and waterproof jacket that offers breathability and prevents overheating and excessive sweating.
This layering of clothing to protect against the cold when cycling is extremely important, as is the need to be seen with lights and reflective elements. You won’t be able to remove clothing as you’re riding so it is sometimes a good idea to test drive your ideal winter-ride outfit before making any long trips and see to any necessary adjustments to make your ride as smooth and as comfortable as possible.