Clothing Tips for Winter
British Cycling recommends the following clothing guidelines to keep riding regardless of what the weather throws at you this winter.
There is an old Norwegian saying in that, 'there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing!' Wearing the right sort of clothing for the conditions is essential to making your cycling experience more pleasant!
Beanie hat: A close fitting hat that’s worn under your helmet. Look for windproof panels covering for your ears; a headband that just covers your ears is a good alternative.
Sunglasses: On cold, clear and frosty days, the sun can necessitate dark sunglasses but usually, during the winter, you’ll swap in clear or light enhancing lenses. The glasses are there to keep the wind, rain and road spray out of your eyes.
Base layer: Key to staying comfortable, a base layer should be close fitting, wick sweat away from your skin and continue to insulate even when damp. Synthetics are okay but, for the best possible performance, it’s worth considering Merino wool.
Winter weight long sleeved top/jersey: A heavier weight cycling jersey with long sleeves and a slightly brushed or fleecy inside.
Waterproof jacket/Softshell jacket: Modern laminate materials combine full waterproofing with good breathability, keeping the rain out but ensuring you don’t boil in the bag and soak through with sweat. Look for an athletic fit, close seals around the collar and cuffs, a drawstring hem with a longer tail and some pockets. For cold and dry days, a softshell jacket will offer better breathability, more insulation and should also have a degree of water resistance in case of rain showers.
Gloves: Along with cold ears and feet, frozen and numb hands are guaranteed to make any ride a miserable experience. However you need to be able to operate your brakes and shifters so you can’t just wear thick mittens. Look for good wind or water resistance and some insulation. Ski gloves can be a good option if not too bulky and thin silk or Merino wool liners can make a real difference. Cycling specific gloves will also have some padding on the palms.
Bib tights: With shoulder straps to prevent slipping down, bib tights prevent your lower back from being exposed when you’re leaning forwards on the bike and provide an extra layer around your torso. Windproof panels on the front and fleecy “Roubaix” lining will keep you warm. Waist thermal tights are easier for toilet breaks!
Socks: Don’t go too thick as you’ll make your shoes too tight, limit circulation and your feet will feel colder. Merino wool works brilliantly, isn’t too bulky and you can get waterproof and breathable socks that are lined with it and are particularly effective. Most bike shops sell these socks.
Overshoes/Winter booties: Neoprene overshoes fit over your regular cycling shoes providing protection against wind, rain and road spray and some insulation. They work well but can sometimes rub annoyingly on your cranks. For optimum foot warmth and comfort, a pair of dedicated waterproof and insulated winter cycling booties are the way to go.