The seasons have been changing as long as the earth has been spinning, and phrases such as “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” and “you get what you pay for” have stood the test of time, too.
We’ve noticed the icy claws of Jack Frost snaking their way along the roads, but that’s nothing new, and a few quality pieces of kit will keep you riding comfortably all year.
Here’s a round-up of our top product picks that will work as long and hard as you do on the bike:
We’re seriously impressed with this entire range. Sportful have created bib shorts, tights, arm and leg warmers and jackets in their “No-Rain” material. This fabric is designed to provide warmth, stretch and breathability as well as having a water repellent finish which makes water run off the surface. The kit isn’t totally waterproof, but it keeps the worst off.
Customer reviews have backed up our first impressions. One male roadie gave the No-Rain arm warmers 5/5 and said: “They are very comfortable plus water simply trickles off the fabric.”
Clothing buyer at Evans HQ, Paul, has a pair of the No-Rain bib shorts and said: “I think every road rider needs a pair! When it is cool but not quite cool enough for full tights, a pair of these with some knee or leg warmers makes so much more sense than a pair of summer weight shorts and warmers. ‘Normal’ bib shorts and leg warmers often gave me a cold bum, whereas these mean my bum is as warm as my legs, and if there is water around the No-Rain treatment means the majority of it runs off making autumn rides a lot more pleasant.”
Sadly the bibs and jersey don’t come in women’s fit, but Sportful have created the Women’s Hot Pack 4 Jacket, which is a great water resistant and light weight packable jacket, and of course, the arm and leg warmers are unisex.
Everyone hates cold toes, we’ve heard customers ask time and time again for our advice on keeping tootsies warm, and of course at Evans Towers we’ve had plenty of post-commute cold toe complaints of our own.
The Louis Garneau winter boots are our favourite answer. Our friends at LG have pulled out all the stops for the LS-100 MTB shoe, which has an insulated inner sole, 4 millimetres of foam insulation, a waterproof coated lining and a water resistant 3 millimetre neoprene outer.
The Glacier Road Shoe has a fibreglass-reinforced outersole and aluminium-coated insole to provide insulation. These snug winter boots have a Thinsulate waterproof lining and all seams are carefully sealed to prevent cold air and rain from getting in.
Ben Hart, Director of Marketing and eCommerce here at Evans Towers has a pair and said he wouldn’t look back, even telling us that investing in a pair of these would be the end of cold, wet feet. Ben said: “Sick of cold feet syndrome and the constant hassle of putting on and taking off overshoes I invested in a pair of Louis Garneau Glacier Road Shoes. If you’re regularly riding and commuting by bike in winter then winter boots are a no brainer and I’ve been very pleased with the LGs. ”They have multiple layers of protection from the element which starts at the sole – a solid piece that does away with unnecessary ventilation (aka water holes) and is reinforced with a thermal inner sole. The inner shoe is then encased in a totally waterproof (almost rubber like) outer shoe which is secured with a waterproof zip, a waterproof cover adds extra protection to the zip and finally there is a Velcro strap across the top of your foot to keep everything snug. The top of the boots come up to mid ankle height reducing the amount of water that can be thrown into the top, and the top of the ankle area has a silicone gripper for extra water-tightness.” Helpfully, he added: “If you’re going for these particular shoes then you need to buy a size larger than you would normally as they do come up small.”
Many packable options are ‘water repellant’, but this light jacket from Altura is both packable and fully waterproof. The fabric is breathable, so you won’t find yourself boiling in your own juices, and Altura have opted for a pro fit so you will look pretty swish in this one, too.
If you’re lucky and the drizzle subsides, you can just roll this extra layer up small and chuck it into a pocket.
This one comes in black with white features, or a bright red with black details. This jacket will set you back £119,99. Reviewers say the spend is worthwhile, and one customer who gave this one 5/5 told us: “This jacket looks great is incredibly lightweight and withstood 4 torrential storms on a 40 mile ride ,it really is worth the money, highly recommended.”
Soft shells are designed to keep you warm and provide a barrier to the wind. Gore Bike Wear are renowned for their comfy windstoppers, and the new Power 2.0 does not disappoint. The material is cosy as ever, and fleece lining ensures you’ll be warm. You’ll be safe in the knowledge that your phone and other electrical items are safe, too, as there is a clever watertight plastic bag in one of the pockets.
In true Gore style, you can snap this up in red, black, white, yellow or blue and bright reflective strips mean you won’t be missed.
Online Merchandiser Lydia tested the women’s version and said: “The performance is top of its game here, the fleece lining felt so snug and warm. After I’d warmed up and was riding harder I didn’t overheat.
Riding in the rain, she said, wasn’t a problem: “The rain fell, forming beads on the jacket that didn’t get absorbed, so getting caught in a shower wasn’t a worry. Everyone loves little extras, and I quite liked the surprise of finding a durable watertight plastic phone holder in one of the pockets, which helped my phone stay as dry as I was.”
Seal Skinz mid-weight socks and winter cycling gloves
It’s hard to keep water out of your shoes when riding in the wet. Firstly – sorry – but we can’t make you waterproof:
But we can help keep your feet and hands that little bit drier.
SealSkinz have created waterproof socks to protect your feet from the rain that does get in, and we’ve heard these socks recommended time and time again. At £29.99, these are popular with people who don’t want to splash out on heavy duty waterproof shoes. Lined with the champion of warmth, merino wool, these wick away sweat and wont get smelly in a hurry.
Our Website Trading guru, Caven O’Hara has been rocking these socks this winter, and said: ”SealSkinz are waterproof, comfortable and aren’t too bulky, it’s like having a pair of well-fitted gloves on your feet – I couldn’t ask for much more. The Merino wool is warm, as you’d expect, and wicks sweat so well I don’t even notice it.”
The SealSkinz gloves also use waterproof but breathable fabric and include an extended neoprene cuff, to prevent that nasty drip-drop working it’s way to your fingers:
These are just a few of the clothing items we’ve tested ourselves, or heard fantastic feedback from.
Have you got a favourite bit of winter kit? Let us know in the comments. (main image: roadcycling.uk.com)