Winter Cycling Clothing at BottomBracket get on yer bike and ride...

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Winter Cycling 80's Style!!
A long sweaty climb
and a sub-zero descent...

But things have changed a bit!

Winter Cycling Clothing

Cycling in winter can still be enjoyable - if you have the right clothing.

Your winter cycling clothing has to keep you comfy in many conditions...

If the temperature is anywhere near freezing, then a fast descent can expose you to -20c due to windchill. Your cold weather cycling clothing needs to keep that chill out.

But a long steep climb can still make you sweat... So you need to be able to cool off when neccessary!

You need to be able to adjust your winter cycling clothing (preferably while on the move) to suit these situations.

Multiple layers will allow you to add or remove layers to warm-up or cool down as neccessary.

Winter Cycling Jackets

A winter cycling jacket is your outer layer. This is sometimes called a shell layer. It should be waterproof & breathable.

Breathable materials such as Goretex, React & eVent allow your sweat to escape from the jacket - to avoid the 'boil in the bag' winter cycling experience of old.
In winter this becomes 'boil-in-the-bag then re-freeze'!

Adjustable ventilation is good - armpit vents & adjustable cuff-closers are always welcome.

Tags on the jacket zips will make them easier to use with winter gloves on.

A high collar will keep you snug and warm & a rear pocket is handy for stashing your gloves etc.
Reflective detail is also handy...

For commuting or recreational riding on a budget, the Endura Gridlock is an affordable waterproof breathable winter cycling jacket with zipped vents and pockets - great value for money.

For the worst of winter, the Endura Stealth was rated "the perfect cycling jacket..." (Cycling Plus Magazine 10/10). It's not cheap with a price tag of 150+ but you won't have to wear much underneath except on the coldest of days as it is very warm.

P.S. Zip down at the start of a climb to avoid overheating. Zip up before starting downhill - while it is still safe to do so.

Base Layers, Mid Layers and Winter Cycling Jerseys

A base layer is worn next to your skin. It should be NOT be cotton!
Cotton absorbs sweat. Wet cotton will cool your skin - it 'robs' your body heat.

Base layers use man-made fabrics (e.g.polyamide) that do not absorb sweat. This helps you stay warmer.
More expensive base layers are available in Merino wool.

The base layer will allow sweat to dry off - away from your skin.

On colder days a mid-layer goes between your base layer and your outer layer. You can just add another base layer - anything to add some insulation - a long sleeved cycling jersey does the job well.

A winter cycling jersey should have long sleeves and be made of a heavier fabric than usual.

A full length zip on your cycling jersey allows ventilation when required and long sleeves can be rolled up or down as needed.
The pockets on the back of a cycling jersey give you more room for stashing gloves & hats etc.

This layering-system combined with a waterproof cycling jacket will let you ride in comfort in most winter conditions, even long distance - opening and closing zips or stripping-off and adding layers as needed...

Cycling Trousers & Tights...

Legs don't seem to get too cold when cycling in winter. Leg muscles are working hard and tend to stay warm - even in moderate rain.

Thermal winter cycling tights (preferably with windproof panels up front) or tracksters seem to work well in most winter cycling conditions. If you are on a budget, check out the Altura Winter Cruisers

For a more urban style, long pants like the Endura Humvee trousers have cycling-specific design features but look like normal trousers. They're designed for mountain biking but look equally at home on the street.

Cycling tights and trousers are available with and without padding - padding makes cycling longer distances more comfortable.

Waterproof overtrousers must be breathable.
Cheap non-breathable waterproof overtrousers will soak you in condensed sweat!

Winter Cycling Gloves...

Winter cycling gloves are best when waterproof and breathable - if your hands get wet in winter, you'll be colder than ever.

The cuff of the glove should fit inside the cuff of your cycling jacket otherwise heavy rain can run down your arm and into your glove.

A generous fit will allow a pair of glove liners to add extra insulation for the coldest of winter cycling.

Winter Cycling Shoes

Winter cycling shoes should be a generous fit to allow thicker socks and to allow good blood-circulation in your feet.

For serious depths-of-winter riding e.g. training or a long commute, winter cycling boots such as the Northwave Celsius or Specialized Defroster are the best answer. The 120+ price tag may seem expensive but they will last you for years as they only get a few months use each winter.

A cheaper alternative is to turn your normal cycling shoes into winter cycling shoes with overshoes.
These are neoprene or fabric bootees that keep your feet toasty warm. Roll them up and stuff them in your bag when you don't need them!
Buy thermal-insoles to reflect heat back into your shoe.

Womens cycling clothes are specifically cut to fit the female form - So ladies, there's a range of winter cycle clothing specifically for you!

Winter Cycling
Winter Cycling

Winter Cycling Comfort...

  • Fit Mudguards!
  • Get lights before the clocks go back (usually late October) or get fresh batteries.
  • Carry food on longer rides.
  • Carry spare clothes on longer rides.
  • Be Careful Out There!
  • Club cyclists have traditionally always owned a 'winter bike' for mucky weather. Usually made up of cast-off bits from the 'best bike' with one important addition - mudguards! When it is cold, it is important to stay as dry as possible. Being sprayed with cold dirty water from below is unpleasant for you and bad for your bike.

    When the nights draw in, the normal bike-blindness of car drivers is multiplied. Many do not know how to de-mist their windscreen and peer out through a letterbox sized clear area. Get lights! Get reflectives!

    Carry a spare inner tube in your toolkit. If you puncture, fit the spare and fix the other in the comfort of home or the cafe.

    If cycling on a cold, bright day, take care on shaded areas as this is where ice can linger!


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