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With the night’s drawing in and temperatures dropping, you can be forgiven for opting for the smart trainer and powering up Zwift. However, getting outside for Autumn and Winter rides can be a perfectly pleasant (or at least better than bearable) experience if you wear the right clothing. We’ve outlined our key tips for winter riding clothing below.
For the next few weeks, the key to comfortable riding is good layering. Conditions and temperatures can vary quite dramatically over the course of a ride, so to avoid being too hot or cold, you need clothes that will allow you to change as the conditions evolve. Lightweight layers are a great way to achieve this; items such as gilets, wind jackets, arm and leg warmers are your friends for autumn rides.
When selecting your layers, we recommend starting with the weather forecast and establishing the projected maximum and minimum temperatures you will face over the ride. Similarly, evaluate the likelihood of rain and also the type of riding you will be doing.
From there you can effectively identify the least amount of riding that will be required - what you will want to wear when riding at your hardest in the warmest conditions of a ride. From this base point simply add layers as required to be comfortable when riding at the lowest intensity in the coolest / wettest conditions you are likely to face.
What those layers look like depends on the specifics of a ride. For instance, a hard ride in the hills, you will likely be either hot or cold, so a simple wind jacket and leg / knee warmer combo will allow you to maintain a comfortable temperature, make quick changes, and minimise pocket bulk. Alternatively, for rides where the temperature slowly creeps up or down, you’ll want to add more options, so arm warmers, a gilet, neck warmer, potentially a packable rain jacket.
The key is to have options for the best and worst conditions, with something for the in-between as needed.
It won’t be long until we are in the depths of winter. Rides will likely be consistently cold, consistently wet, occasional both cold and wet! For these rides, good layering is still important, but you should be looking at more dedicated winter riding products.
So, put away your shorts and get yourself in some thermal tights. These offer better thermal regulation and greater long-term comfort compared to shorts and leg warmers.
Invest in some good winter tops / jackets. Ideally, we’d recommend having a long sleeve, mid-weight thermal top that’s perfect for milder days, but can also be used as a mid-layer for the proper cold days. Additionally, we’d suggest a mid-weight jacket, that offers greater protection from the cold, rain and wind, but retains a high degree of breathability. This is realistically the jacket most of us will spend the majority of our winter riding wearing.
Then for those that want go out no matter what the weather, a full-on water repellent/proof, thermal winter jacket will be just the ticket!
The key to comfortable winter riding is keeping your core warm. If you have a warm core, it’s a lot easier to keep your hands and feet comfortable. Investing in good quality gloves and overshoes is a must too, however unless your core temperature is maintained, you are going to struggle to keep your extremities warm.
Ok, this isn’t clothing as such, but the biggest step forward in winter riding comfort I personally experienced, was fitting mudguards to my winter bike. Minimising road spray is an incredibly easy way to make winter riding a whole lot more enjoyable… get some!
To summarise, the key to comfortable winter riding is to make sure that you have the right clothing options for the conditions you will be facing on a ride. Layering is a great way to provide on the bike flexibility and maintain the right temperature in a variety of changing conditions.
Adding a few key products to you riding wardrobe will make winter riding enjoyable, and let’s face it, getting out there and enjoying the outdoors is why we all do it. See you out there!