An old proverb says that even steel is tempered with cold. It is similar with cyclists. Even professionals, with training camps in the south of Europe readily available and the latest indoor training techniques at their fingertips, spend a lot of time riding on snowy roads. For them, this provides training in riding technique and allows them to get used to discomfort.
A cycling enthusiast will most of all appreciate the joy of riding, the white landscapes, and the satisfaction. The satisfaction that they did not give up, the satisfaction that comes with every surprised look from the people they pass, “You’re on a bicycle… in winter?!”
We will focus on the upper body here, as we do not offer winter tights yet (they’re coming next Autumn).
There are two schools when it comes to winter couture:
- Two layers (a base layer and warm windproof jacket)
- Three layers (a base layer, warm long sleeve jersey, light windproof jacket)
In our opinion, three layers works better. On climbs, you can unbutton the jacket when you have a jersey underneath it. When you are in awarm place (e.g. a coffee shop), you can even remove the outer layer. When the temperature is a few degrees above zero, you can put on just the light jacket, and when it is over 10 degrees Celsius – just the jersey.
So, when you buy 3 garments, you are good to go in temperatures from -10°C to over 10°C.
Temperature chart from one of December rides. Wearing three layers, I felt comfortable around -7°C.
Cycling jackets – what works best?
In winter, you must be especially careful not to get sweaty. A wet base layer loses its properties and cools you down immediately. For thatreason, the jacket has to breathe. If the entire jacket is made of a winter, windproof membrane, it must have ventilation holes.
Our jackets only have a membrane on the front, on the sleeves and (very importantly) on the stand-up collar. Interestingly, this material is, for a membrane, quite flexible.
The back is made of a flexible, breathable, thermally-efficient woven fabric, thanks to which ventilation is maintained. This material provides good thermal properties, and it is pleasant to the touch thanks to the microfibre finish.
Thanks to this combination of woven fabrics, there is no need for additional air vents.
As for the cut, it is quite close-fitting (although it allows you to wear a jersey under the jacket). The sleeves are long. With a hand extended to the handlebars, the sleeve will not slip out of the glove.
One interesting fact is that, by keeping your arms warm, your hands are also warmed up. For me, the problem of freezing hands has completely disappeared. It turns out that the jacket works much better than expensive winter gloves.
Our jackets can be viewed here:
Warm Long Sleeve Jerseys
When it comes to a jersey, what counts is its thermal performance (i.e. the fabric) and how well it fits (i.e. the cut). It is worth using flexible fabric so that the jersey fits the body better.
So, how do we do it?
Well, we used an elastic thermal material in all directions, finished with microfibre on the inside. Thanks to this, it is soft and pleasant to the touch, and it can even be worn on bare skin.
The jersey has a waist (especially the women’s one), thanks to which it adapts to the shape of the cyclist.
The sleeves are quite long so that their cuffs are hidden under gloves, while the stand-up collar is relatively low. As a result, it does not catch or rub on the collar of any jacket.
For those who like a warm neck, we stock snoods.
The jerseys are available here:
So how do you choose winter clothes for cycling?
Well, let’s consider different weather conditions:
Below zero (possibly a lot of wind)
There is no messing around here. We put on a warm undershirt, a jersey and a jacket.
The undershirt is to wick away sweat, the jersey to insulate against the cold. The last (most important) layer is a jacket to stop the wind.
It is also worth remembering about small chemical heaters, which you can put in gloves and shoes. They will provide several hours of heating even when it’s well below zero.
A few degrees above zero
Here, you can consider ditching the jersey. Just remember that what you wear depends on your ability to resist cold and the intensity of theride. On the road, you will feel colder when riding in open, windy areas than when riding over gravel in the woods.
This means that at 0°C you will sometimes need two layers, but at 4°C you will sometimes need three.
Spring / Autumn (above 5 ° C)
Here a lot depends on the sun, wind and humidity. Often in such weather it is possible to comfortably ride in a long sleeve jersey (in dry, sunny weather). On a chilly evening, however, the windproof properties of a jacket will be necessary for a pleasant ride.
For such weather, it is worth considering a lightweight windbreaker worn over a jersey. We shall be releasing just such a windbreaker in early spring.
“There is no bad weather for cycling, only bad clothes,” says the old cycling proverb. And there is a lot of truth in it, because there are clothes on the market that can even be worn at -20°C. When we add chemical heaters to the mix, you can ride to your heart’s content. I know this from experience. It should be remembered that stopping in such conditions means cooling down very quickly. Changing an inner tube or dealing with a forced long stop in severe cold can turn out to be quite dangerous.
Do not avoid riding outdoors in winter; there are more options than just indoor training machines. Just remember to cycle with your head (and with a charged phone and some memorised places where you can take shelter in an emergency).