I know a funny topic to be discussing in March, but I have noticed the early morning temperatures are on the cool side now and well the cold and hopefully wet weather is not that far away. So I thought it was a good time to reflecting on my approach to winter riding.
I take a layering approach or is that really a segmentation approach to what I wear in winter on the bike.
Head (Under my Helmet)
Starting at the top, on my head on cold days I wear either a Ground Effects Baked Beanie or an Endura FS260 Pro Skull Cap. If it is raining I wear a cycling cap because it helps in keeping the rain off my glasses and in Perth it is generally warmer when raining.
My preference here is to stick with my summer jerseys and to wear a gilet (vest) for wind-protection/warmth. I find a gilet provides a good balance between wind protection and breathability. I am a bit of a fan of the Endura vests even if they make me look like a traffic cone.
For wet weather riding I have a Berghaus cycling jacket made out of Gore-tex Paclite material. I find this works well for me and have used this jacket for about three winters now.
Arms and Legs
On my arms I go with arm warmers. I have learnt to go with better quality ones as opposed to the type of warmers from the likes of Torpedo 7 for the simple reason of fit and quality of product. I am a bit of a fan of the Scottish manufacturer, Enduraâ€™s Thermolite or FS260-Pro arm warmers. The advantage with arm warmers is that you can easily roll them down on the move and if you wish, you can stop and remove them without getting undressed. I do find them very effective at keeping my arms warm and protected from wind chill.
I do also have a long sleeved jersey which I picked up in Invercargill, New Zealand. I find this a bit warm for riding here plus it just doesn’t give me the flexibility that arm warmers offer.
Legs: Leg warmers are out for me. Been there done that. Sick of them falling down as I ride. Tried wearing them under my knicks and over my knicks and but they just donâ€™t work for me. So leg warmers are out and tights or compression tights are in. My preference is for Skinâ€™s or similar tights as I find they are a nice tight comfortable fit; there may be some advantage from the compression effect and they provide just the right amount of warmth. Also they dry quickly so work well in the rain. I do also have a pair of Endura Tights but my preference is for the compression wear. With the prices out of the UK these are a reasonable option in my view.
The big winner for me with tights is that they are worn over my knicks (I donâ€™t get padded tights) so they can easily be removed on the road if desired; they stay up (the big one) and they work at taking the edge of the wind and cold.
I have a couple of approaches to my hands and that really depends on if it is raining or just cold. If it is raining I go with a pair of waterproof full fingered gloves. If it is cold I am protecting against I have tried a couple of approaches. The first has been a pair of Ground Effect Chipolatas which are okay as long as it does not rain. The other option which I prefer is a pair of SealSkinz Thermal Liner gloves which I wear under my summer cycling gloves.
The reason I prefer the liner glove approach is again this concept of layering. I often find I really need the warmth in the mornings but that on the return commute in the late afternoon/evening the cycling gloves are sufficient and that the Chipolatas are actually quite warm and uncomfortable to ride in. Hence the combo of summer glove and liner works well for me.
This is one aspect that I havenâ€™t quite got right yet. My current approach is in wet weather to wear summer cycling socks and for this winter a pair of BBB Waterflex shoe covers. In past winters I have used Endura Road Overshoes but they havenâ€™t worked as well as I would like. I have heard good things about the BBB Waterflex shoe covers so look forward to trying them out this winter.
I have also tried SealSkinz waterproof socks and found they were great for giving my feet a bath, i.e., they full up with water!
On cold days I go with summer cycling socks and Torpedo 7 overshoes but these are pretty bulky and I really should replace them with something that fits tight and provides protection against the cold.
The other change I am seriously considering is wearing winter socks. It is important to keep the toes warm!