Knowledge Level: Beginner
With modern technical cycling clothing, you can stay dry and warm no matter how foul the weather. In this article the Great Britain Cycling Team Official On-Bike Clothing Supplier Kalas share some great tips for layering up on the bike and recommend kit for winter conditions.
Start off slightly cool
You want to try and dress for a few kilometres down the road once you’ve got going and started to generate some heat. If you roll off feeling toasty warm, you’ll be overheating in no time, sweating and are then likely to start feeling chilled. Start feeling slightly cold, have layers that you can unzip to increase ventilation if necessary and you should be able to stay pleasantly warm without overheating.
It’s all about the base
An effective layering system starts with a quality technical base layer next to your skin. This layer, as well as providing some insulation, wicks moisture away from your skin and, in doing so, prevents you getting chilled. For winter riding, our long sleeved WINTER X4 jersey is ideal.
On top of your base layer, a mid-layer provides more insulation and protection from the elements. Brushed fabrics, as used in our MOTION Z jersey, traps air and creates an insulating warm layer. A mid layer should also have pockets to allow you to carry essential spares and food.
In cold and wet conditions, you’d then want to finish off you’re layering with a waterproof shell layer. As well as keeping out the wind and rain, a quality shell will also breath to prevent your base and mid-layer getting soaked through with sweat. Our PASSION W&W eVent jacket uses an ultra-lightweight and highly breathable membrane and also has features such as fully taped seams, elongated tail and waterproof zipper to keep the elements out.
Cold but dry
If the forecast is for cold and dry conditions, you might want to choose a less waterproof but more breathable shell layer that still protects you from the wind. Our MOTION Z winter jacket achieves this with a lightweight three layer membrane and, if this forecast is wrong, will protect you from a winter shower. If you do start to overheat, you can also remove the arms and turn it into a gilet and you can stow them in three back pockets.
As your legs are working hard and generating heat, you don’t need multiple layers on them and a pair of insulated bib tights such as our PASSION X9 tights will provide breathable protection against the elements. Wind and water-resistant front panels provide protection and insulated Roubaix rear panels enhance breathability. A bib provides an additional layer for your core and helps to prevent your lower back from becoming chilled as you lean forward on your drops.
Look after your extremities
If your head, hands, and feet feel warm it makes a massive difference to how comfortable you’ll be overall.
An insulated under helmet cap is essential for keeping your head toasty.
Cold hands are not only extremely unpleasant but, if they affect your ability to brake and change gear, can impact on both perforce and safety too. Our NORDIC Z lobster gloves are insulated, windproof, waterproof and will keep your hands warm in freezing and wet conditions. A good tip for keeping your hands warm and dry is to have the cuff of your shell layer over the sealed cuffs of your gloves. This will keep warm air in and rain or snow out.
Winter socks, such as our NORDIC Z socks, are the first defence against the misery of frozen feet. Merino wool insulates even when damp, breathes and wicks brilliantly well and isn’t too bulky.
Make sure your shoes aren’t too tight with winter socks as restricting circulation can increase sensations of cold and numbness. Also tape over any vents on the soles of your shoes to keep the cold and wet out.
Even if it’s not raining, the roads are likely to be wet in winter and constant spray will soon soak and chill your feet without any protection. Waterproof overshoes, such as our RAINMEM Z, are a winter cycling essential. Sealing your tights over the top of your overshoes will help to prevent water ingress from the top.