Summer may be the best time to ride a bike. However, winter riding has its magic, and when you do it with the right gear, it can give you lifetime experiences. It's hard to forget the time you braved the cold weather, rode a snow-packed road, and had a great time on your bike while less braved souls were back home sitting in the couch watching TV.
Being that said, the gear you wear can make a huge difference when riding out in the cold. At bikeNOW we know it's essential to wear the right winter products, that's why we've put together this guide for you to layer up properly.
Some of the layering processes apply equally for roadies and mountain bikers, although there are some differences which will point these out as we go.
Key points on layering up
The first rule of cold-weather riding is to dress in layers using the right fabrics. Riding in a T-shirt could be comfy but really could be lethal. The problem is that cotton feels nice, but it sucks up the sweat and then holds onto it. Instead, you can opt for one of the many high-performance, cold-weather-oriented products that we keep in stock and that you can buy here.
Base layers are the foundation of your layered clobber. A breathable layer that's worn next to the skin under a jersey and comes in different thicknesses. On a warmer day, a thin version will help wick sweat away from your core, and when worn on a colder day will help keep warmth trapped.
Baselayers are made from different kind of fabrics – Merino wool being the most common one – being also blended with synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and Lycra to create different properties.
Mid layer - Jersey
A good jersey is your next layer of protection against cold winds and rain. Jersey choice depends on your riding conditions and style, with plenty of options for materials and thickness, not to mention sleeve length.
Jerseys feature an ergonomic cut to shape cyclist position on the bike. Cross Country and Road jerseys will have a tighter fit, while gravity MTB jerseys will have a looser cut to enable armour to be used underneath.
Outer Shell - Jackets
There are two different kinds of cycling jackets, Waterproof and windproof jackets. Windproof jackets are a lightweight, and thin outer layer usually made water and wind-resistant materials that keeps your core warm and dry in most of the weather conditions. They can be packed down tightly to be stowed in your jerseys pocket. They are also often loose fitting so you can add layers underneath.
On the other side, a thin waterproof jacket is a winner. On those cold days, you can start riding while wearing it and if you get too hot or start climbing you can whip take it off. When the weather turns bad, they will offer the maximum protection to keep you dry and your body temperature warmth.
The biggest amount of body heat we loose is through our extremities, including head, feet and hands. For your head, a skull cap, a headband or a Buff-style tube, will make your riding experience much better; chuck them in your pockets if it's warm and put them on as soon as it gets cold.
Hands and feet need protection from heat loss as well. Your hands are the first thing to get in touch with the cold air, so choosing the right gloves is essential. Similar to the jackets, there are windproof and waterproof gloves, which depending on your riding needs, you could go one or another.
In order to keep your feet warm, overshoes will offer a perfect solution for those cold rides. Since the overshoes wear easily when walking off the bike, especially in off-road terrain, mountain bikers are better off with waterproof/insulated socks or winter shoes.
Now that you are all layered up, you are ready to go for the next adventure. Remember that if you are missing any of the previously mentioned items, we've got your back and we are more than happy to help you out.