As the old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. With the leaves changing colour and the mornings getting colder we know how easy it is to leave the bike in the shed to hibernate until next Spring. With the correct clothing however, and a few winter upgrades to your bike, you can tackle those frosty morning commutes head on! Here are some of our tops tips...
Layers, Layers, Layers
By wearing the correct clothing in autumn and winter you can extend your cycling days all year round.
During these unpredictable months it is all about layers! With rides normally starting out in cold or freezing temperatures it’s not going to take long before you start to warm up and being able to peel off a layer or two is key to preventing overheating. Being able to then easily add a layer or two for a cold descent or throw a lightweight waterproof jacket on to keep you dry when the heavens open you should be covered for all eventualities. Either that or carry a newspaper to stuff down your shirt like they did in the old days!
A good base layer is key and this will draw moisture and sweat away from the skin allowing you to stay dry and warm. You can purchase either short or long sleeve versions and depending on your preference you can wear arm warmers with a short sleeve version that can then easily be removed if you start to feel too warm. For the lower body, base layers are available as leggings or leg warmers which can easily be worn with your cycle or bib shorts.
Over the base layer there are a number of jersey options and we here at Love Velo believe a windproof gilet is ideal for protecting your core from the elements. These can either be worn over your base layer or a long sleeve jersey on those colder rides.
That’s the cold and wind covered but as we all know if you are riding during autumn and winter you are going to get wet at some stage. It is very tempting to wear a thick heavy jacket to keep you dry but they will only cause you to sweat more and wear yourself out quicker. As a result we recommend a thin lightweight waterproof jacket.
We know how cool Team Sky look in their all black outfits and it is very tempting to replicate but as you will no doubt be commuting home in the dark or riding on a dull Sunday morning it is important to remain visible to other road users. That doesn’t mean however you have to go all neon. Find jackets with reflective stripes and patches.
Keeping your extremities warm is paramount and will ensure you have an enjoyable ride as cold feet or hands can very quickly ruin the best of rides. Most of our heat is lost through our head so we recommend a good cap which will not only prevent heat to dissipate through your head but also draw sweat and moisture away from your skin. A good pair of warm, waterproof gloves is very important and will keep you riding hour after hour. There are many different varieties of cycle specific gloves but it is important to go for gloves designed for cycling rather than a generic option as they may not offer the flexibility and grip required. Finally feet, these are prone to getting wet and cold and can cause discomfort. A good warm pair of socks and pair of waterproof overshoes will keep your feet warm and dry on the wettest of days and make it a lot more comfortable when you put your shoes back on for the commute home.
Now that you are looking good and covered for whatever weather will be thrown at you there are a few simple winter upgrades you can carry out on your bike.
The first is an obvious one but a good set of lights is key. Even if you do not plan to ride once it is dark, the short days can become very dull very quickly and it is both important to see where you are going but also to be visible to other traffic. LED lights are now becoming very popular and affordable and can either compliment your existing set of lights or be used on their own. If you’re looking to spend a bit more, check out Revolights for an uber cool solution.
Mudguards today are designed to be fitted very easily and can be removed as a when required. We highly recommend using at least a rear guard as this will stop your lower region from getting wet and make that halfway coffee and cake stop and lot more comfortable when you sit down!
As roads are likely to be greasier and wetter during the autumn and winter months, we recommended a set of wider winter tyres. Whether this is increasing from 23mm to 25mm on your road bike or higher, these will offer you more grip on the road and help with cornering and braking in wet conditions. If you do increase your tyre width for winter ensure your bike has enough clearance for the new tyres. If you are unsure all good bike shops will be able to advise which tyre will best suit your bike.
We hope you enjoy your autumn / winter cycling as much as we will at Love Velo.