Posted by Richard Sault on 30th Nov 2016
When cycling it’s important to keep the wind out, especially In the colder months, you generate a layer of insulating air close to the body; if that layer is exposed to the wind it pulls the heat away and you therefore you feel the cold. The wind can make it feel much colder than it actually is, and throw a cyclists sweat into the equation and on a windy winters day; you can quickly feel very uncomfortable if not wearing windproof clothing.
Modern helmets are incredibly well ventilated, this is perfect to keep you cool in the summer but does mean that your head is exposed to the elements in the winter months. A traditional cycling cap is easily slipped under a helmet and will provide a surprising level of insulation on the nippy days. A peaked cap will also help keep the rain and low sun out of your eyes. They are lightweight and therefore are easily stowed in a jersey pocket when not in use.
Glasses should be used all year round to protect your eyes from the onslaught of debris and insects, however, they are also a must in the winter months to protect from the wind, low sun, or low light.
The aim of a wind proof jacket is to protect from the cold winter chill which is essential in the cooler months.
Lightweight Jackets have minimal features and designed to be easily packed away. They tend to concentrate on windproofing only and usually don’t insulate, relying on other layers to provide the warmth.
There are some softshells available that will provide insulation and also have wind resistant panels – they are basically a long sleeved jersey and wind proof jacket rolled into one. They are good for riding on colder days but do lack the versatility of a jacket.
A good quality cycling jacket is breathable and can be waterproof, windproof or both and, unlike synthetic materials such as nylon, quality materials stop the rain getting in and let the perspiration out. You’ll also want to look out for taped seams, often a weak point in cheaper jackets, that can let water in.
Good gloves are a winter essential with the main objective of keeping your hands warm – they should therefore protect from the cold and wet. Windproof gloves provide protection against winter temperatures and are ideal for cold and dry days – they will also have an element of water proofing so can be used for riding in light rain.
They tend to have a windproof membrane which will keep the worst of the windchill off your hands whilst being thin enough to allow for maximum dexterity and grip.
Thicker gloves will keep you warmer and should be used in sub zero temperatures; the trade off, however, would be the loss of a little of the dexterity.
Neoprene gloves are great when things turn drizzly, with Neoprene soaking up water to create a insulating warm layer.
Keeping your legs insulated is essential if you want to stay comfortable and warm when cycling in winter. A pair of bib tights will keep your legs warm – bib tights have either straps that loop over your shoulders or a waist band.
They can also include a padded insert which is provides extra warmth and comfort. Most tights are made from Lycra however some use thicker more insulating fabrics such as Roubaix and Super Roubaix fabric which can be fleece-lined, to add more warmth for the winter months. Adding a double layer of fabric at the knees also provides additional insulation where is needed most. Some tights are also made with windproof panels to keep out the wind chill.
Over trousers can be both wind and waterproof – as the name suggests, you wear them over your usual cycling trousers to protect from the elements.
Protecting your extremities from the wind and cold is key to keeping warm and comfortable during the winter months. During cycling, your feet don’t have to work hard and the body can very quickly divert blood away from your toes to other parts of your body that need it more.
Overshoes are worn over cycling shoes and tend to be both wind and waterproof; they will therefore keep your feet warm and dry. It is essential they fit well – the fewer openings on the shoe and around the back,the less cold air that can sneak in. Reflective strips can help with visibility in low light and at night.