Our comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about layering when out riding your bike on those Winter days.
Why Do We Ride?
When the temperature drops, the days are short and cloud cover rolls in it can be easy to hit the snooze button, jump in the car or even dare I say – jump on an indoor trainer. Very easy options indeed, but there truly is nothing better than a bike ride in the great outdoors. And as the pioneering explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes once said, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’.
The landscape of our surroundings take on a prestige of their own in these winter months. With frost-covered scenery, juniper and sloe berries on the branches, and fantastically vivd sunrises the winter season can indeed rival summer for cycling serenity.
Having an effective layering system allows you to regulate your body temperature in a wide range of environments or when your ride tempo increases. I’ll run through my perfect winter wardrobe for those low single-digit riding conditions.
It’s no surprise to anyone that our fingers and toes suffer the most when the mercury plummets. Blood flow is prioritised for other major organs so the amount of warm blood flowing to your extremities is reduced, heightening the importance of adequate clothing choices.
Something like the above SPATZ Pro 2 Overshoe tick all of the boxes required. Providing full coverage, warmth, and waterproofness, these reinforced neoprene-based overshoes also offer a thermal lining, sure to keep your tootsies toasty when you’re out in the country lanes.
We’ve all got that friend who as soon as the temperature starts to drop, complains that they can no longer feel their hands when in control of the bike. Now, this is not exactly what you want to hear on a winter group ride, but most commonly, they haven’t equipped themselves with adequate insulation to fight back against the cold. A glove with Primaloft insulation & fully waterproof external membrane for unrivaled warmth should be a wardrobe staple. The Endura Pro SL Waterproof glove ticks these boxes and more! When the temperature really drops, and we’re talking into the minus celsius here, pair it with a silk glove liner for increased warmth.
A vital part of the winter wardrobe, offering comfortable and full-leg protection from the elements. Bib tights will always reign supreme over shorts with warmers – less restriction, less slipping, less faff.
These Kiko Bodyline Bib Tights from Stolen Goat pack plenty of features that offer a comfortable ride. From form-fitting stirrups to tempest fabric these bibs hit that perfect middle ground of a bib tight being just right, not overly heavy windproof fabric or not too light where there is no insulation offered. The great thing about bib tights is the thermal fabric, as well as covering your legs, acts as a mini baselayer by covering up into your midriff to offer further protection in cold conditions for your core.
Perhaps the most important element of your winter riding layering system! A good (or bad) baselayer can make or break a ride for whether you are well-regulated, overheat or end up shivering on the roadside. The most important garment is the one that sits next to your skin!
Merino is a fantastic antimicrobial material that manages to keep your body temperature regulated in a wide range of conditions, even down to the dreaded minus temperatures. Merino wicks moisture away from your body to help prevent any unwanted sweat build-up and creates a layer of insulation keeping you warm.
There are also other options on the market utilising synthetic materials such as PrimaLoft or Polyester. These have good properties of their own, with different construction methods to try to offer the same natural properties as Merino does. Both Endura and Spatz include garments in their range from both of these materials, the Basez 2 Long Sleeve Baselayer and the Transloft Long Sleeve Baselayer respectively.
Having said that, in cold winter temperatures, my go-to choice will always be a merino baselayer to keep the cold at bay and regulate the body temperature as much as possible. This is effective at steady-state rides or also when increasing the tempo if you have intervals to complete, for example. The Altura Merino 50 Baselayer does a great job at this with its flatlock construction, and very handy thumb loops to keep the garment fixed in place.
Mid and Outer Layers
Depending on the temperature outside, including the windchill factor, this layer could take on a few different looks; mainly relating to garment thickness and insulating properties. It could also be dependent on the outer layer used, so this really can be adaptable to your wardrobe and what the weather behind the curtains is showing.
One option available is to select a thicker winter shell jacket, such as the Endura option on the left, and a thinner mid layer like a technical long-sleeve jersey on top of your base layer. The Pro SL 3-Season Jacket kills two birds with one stone by utilising a lightweight, highly breathable PrimaLoft™ Active Evolve gilet.
This provides optional core body insulation and is an internally attached gilet that can be zipped or unzipped as the ride develops and temperatures change. With this jacket, you wouldn’t necessarily need a long sleeve mid layer such as the Endura Endura Pro II SL, perhaps only on the coldest days when the mercury is negative and the wind chill factor exacerbates that further.
Breathability is the key element here, this aids in keeping the chill at bay but also allowing you to not overheat. There is nothing worse than riding in deep winter but inside your thic winter jacket you feel like you’re boiling in a bag due to poor fabrics and low breathability.
Hitting the sweetspot out on the road with your layering choices, will make you want to keep riding into the sunset. It really does make a huge difference!
Spatz has created some fantastic garments aimed at deep winter riding in their portfolio of products. One such item, and a personal favourite, is the HEATR 4 Season Long Sleeve Jersey. As an outer jersey with thermal and moisture-managing fabric, and used with one of my previous long-sleeve baselayer options, it is a great basis for a bulletproof layering system.
On top of this Jersey, you can add the most versatile of winter clothing options – a thermal gilet – for an optimal winter ensemble. Zip down and zip up through the ride to combat the cold, and the wind to suit your riding style. Pairing this jersey with the Endura Pro SL Primaloft Gilet gives fantastic ventilation, whilst trapping warm air close to your body for warmth.
And that’s you all layered up with my top recommendations! You can now be sure to enjoy your winter riding following the tips and advice in this Ultimate Guide to Layering.