Winter can be a great time of the year to ride your bike, but to ensure enjoyment you need to make the right clothing choices

Love it or hate it, there’s one sure-fire way that you can make cycling in winter more enjoyable: dress properly.

If you have the right winter cycling clothing then you’ll be more likely to have the motivation to head out in cold weather, giving you the base fitness to lay the foundations for a successful summer.

However, get it wrong and you’ll soon find yourself wet and cold, and more inclined to spend the weekends in the warmth of your front room than out on the road.

Winter cycling clothing can be pricey – but high quality kit can keep you going for several seasons. If you’re looking to save the pennies, there are always a few deals and bargains out there to be had.


Winter cycling clothing: what to wear to cycle through winter


So what should you look for in those crucial few pieces of kit to make sure that you can will keep your riding up as the winter closes in? Here are the key pieces you shouldn’t be without…

Bib tights

Giordana Trade team FRC bibtights

Giordana Trade team FRC bibtights

On milder days you might be able to get away with bib shorts and leg warmers, but for the middle three months of winter you’re going to need a pair of proper winter bib tights.

Bib tights should offer wind resistance and a little insulation to keep you warm, as well as water-resistance if you’re heading out regularly in wet conditions.

You can get tights either with or without a pad. Those without will usually be cheaper, but you’ll then have to wear bib shorts under or over them, which can be bulky. Extra warmth can be found with tights with a high front panel which will help to protect your core from really cold conditions, while straps that go under your feet can help to prevent the rights from riding up.

Product pick:

Castelli Nanoflex Pro bib tights

Castelli Nanoflex Pro bib tights

Castelli Nanoflex Pro bib tights

A heavy weight option, with waterproof reinforcements at the thighs, knees and rear.

Check out our review of the Castelli Nanoflex Pro bib tights here

dhb women’s classic bib tights

dhb Classic Women's Thermal Bib Tights

dhb Classic Women’s Thermal Bib Tights

Warm and breathable Roubaix lycra with a high front, and CyTech Elastic Interface Giro Air chamois to maintain comfort.

Check out our review of dhb’s Classic women’s bib shorts here (previously called Vaeon Roubaix tights)

Jacket

benefits of cycling

The Castelli Gabba is a breathable jacket that offers wind and water resistance

Alongside your tights, your jacket is an important piece of winter cycling clothing to get right. The bad news is that you’re not going to be able to buy one jacket for all conditions.

If you just need a light additional layer, a cycling gilet is a piece of kit which acts as a barrier against the worst of the wind without causing you to overhear. A light windshell or waterproof is a good option for slightly mild and wet conditions – most are packable, so if the weather turns out to be better than expected you can stash it in your back pocket.

However for the most part you’re going to be looking for a well-insulated jacket with good windproofing. This will keep you comfortable through most conditions, and even if you do get wet, it should still be able to keep you warm.

Breathability could also come into the equation, but this might only really be a factor if you’re throwing some intensity into your winter training.

Product pick:

Castelli Gabba

Castelli-Women-s-Gabba-Jersey-Short-Sleeve-Jerseys-Red-AW15-CS155740231

Castelli Women’s Gabba Jersey

Available in men’s and women’s fit, with long and short sleeves (to be worn with arm warmers), the Castelli Gabba is quite an institution in wet weather cycling clothing.

Constructed from a wind and water resistant material, it’s highly breathable. It’s not warm enough for slow miles on very cold days, but if the intensity is fairly high it’s a tremendously versatile piece of kit.

See our review of the Castelli Gabba 2 here

Baselayer

Sportful Second Skin Deluxe crea base layer

The unsung hero of your winter cycling clothing is your baselayer. This will not only keep you warm by providing an extra layer of insulation, but will also wick sweat away from your skin, therefore keeping you dry too.

For winter you’re clearly going to want a thicker base layer, and merino wool is a great option if your budget will stretch that far. For really cold days, it’s also worth having a long sleeve base layer to pluck out of the wardrobe, although if you don’t, then a pair of arm warmers will do just as good a job.

Product pick:

Pearl Izumi Transfer Wool base layer

Pearl Izumi Transfer base layer

A winter ready base layer, with a cycling specific cut, anti-odour treatment, and cool thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place.

Read our review of the Pearl Izumi Transfer Wool base layer here

Gloves

Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves

Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves

Your fingers are going to get cold much more quickly than other parts of your body, so having a good pair of winter cycling gloves will make cold weather riding all the more bearable.

On the coldest days it can also be worth wearing some cotton inner gloves for extra protection.

However the most important thing is to pick a pair of gloves which are both well-insulated and windproof, making sure you keep feeling in your digits to maintain control of the gear and brake levers.

You can also get waterproof gloves, which are obviously good in wet conditions, but can compromise on breathability – and after all the most important thing is to keep your hands warm.

Product pick:

Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves (pictured above)

These gloves are constructed from Neoprene – they keep rain water out, and aren’t breathable – so moisture produced by your body stays in and warms your hands. As long as you’re ok with sweaty hands, the fabric choice maintains dexterity and good contact with the handlebars. 

See our full review of the Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves here

Overshoes, warm socks and winter cycling shoes

Northwave Fahrenheit winter boots

Northwave Fahrenheit winter boots

Keeping your toes warm is just as difficult, maybe even more so seeing as, unlike your fingers, you don’t have the option of moving them around while you ride.

For serious winter riding, it might be worth investing in a pair of winter cycling shoes, but for most of us a pair of heavy duty overshoes will suffice.

Overshoes are designed to be pulled over your normal cycling shoes, and have holes in the bottom to allow for your cleats to connect to the pedals. Ideally the area around this will be reinforced to prevent it from splitting.

It’s also a good idea to pair it all with a pair of good winter socks. Don’t be tempted to fill your shoes with bulky socks, as this can reduce blood supply and result in numbness.

If it’s raining hard then your feet are going to get wet however waterproof your overshoes claim to be, so look for a pair of neoprene overshoes which will trap warmth and keep the feeling in your toes.

Product pick:

Endura Road II overshoes

Endura Road II overshoes

Endura Road II overshoes

Before you crack out the full on winter cycling shoes, try some heavy duty overshoes, like these from Endura. They’re made from 90 Neoprene and 10 per cent Nylon – so they’ll keep the rain water out, and the fabric is incredibly durable.

See our review of the Endura Road II overshoes

Helmet

If you’ve invested in an expensive aero cycling helmet to help you ride fast during summer, then the good news is that it will also come in useful in winter, where the lack of ventilation will prevent cold wind and rain getting in.

For those of you without an aero lid, don’t despair, as a normal skull cap or a cotton cycling cap will do just as good a job. As an added bonus a cotton cap will have the added benefit of keeping rain out of your eyes when you flip the peak down.

Product pick:

Bontrager Ballista helmet

Bontrager Ballista

Bontrager Ballista helmet

An aero road helmet worn by the Trek-Segafredo team, we found this lid breathable enough for summer racing – but it’s still less ventilated than your average lid so will keep some warmth in. Pair with a cap if you’re feeling the chill.

See our full review of the Bontrager Ballista here 

Sunglasses

Optilabs-Mac-sunglasses

Finally, shorter days don’t mean you can forget about your sunglasses. In fact, if you have ones with replaceable lenses then they can really come in useful during the winter months.

Many sunglasses come with clear or yellow lenses which will help to brighten up gloomy conditions, and will also keep water out of your eyes when riding in the rain – particularly useful if you’re wearing contact lenses.

What’s more, on crisp clear days the sun can feel almost as bright as in the summer and is much lower in the sky, so you might get winter use out of your darker lenses too.

Product pick:

Uvex Sportstyle 810 V cycling sunglasses

Uvex Sportstyle 810 V cycling sunglasses

Uvex Sportstyle 810 V cycling sunglasses

See our full review of the Uvex Sportstyle 810 V cycling sunglasses here

Photochromatic lenses that will grow darker in the sun, remaining clear in the low lights of winter.

  • dave

    No white at night Andrew! the colour does not matter.

  • Hassan Sharrif

    lafitte textile itself is expensive too costing 60 euro and more

  • David

    Hello Folks
    I am a courier in Toronto Canada
    The best investment I have made for winter cycling is a pair of winter cycling shoes
    The booties or overshoes that I have had in the past get chewed up and destroyed by the salt used on the roads.
    I have yet to make it through a winter without destroying 2 pairs

  • Ed E W

    WRONG Andrew.

    With a good rear/front blinking light there is nothing wrong with wearing black gear in the daytime or night, but why ride at night?

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Black or dark coloured jackets are an accident waiting to happen especially at night or twilight.

  • Josewales

    Don’t buy Famous brand with high price, when I was in France I have discovered LAFITTE Textile, a little company in East of France. They sell good products 100% made in France for good price