Winter Clothing for Cycling

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Beautiful winter morning in Delhi, perfect for cycling

The TL;DR

  1. Use layers of clothing i.e. avoid heavy single winter wear/thermals
  2. Inner layer should be tight
  3. Make sure to cover end points well i.e. Fingers, toes, head
  4. If possible, buy bright colored clothing
  5. Always carry a good baclava/neck warmer
  6. Better to carry a light extra layer, than carry inadequate wear
  7. If shoes are breathable, consider overshoes
  8. Avoid loose fitting clothes, they slow you down and are less effective

Use layers

Layer 1: Base layer: Light, tight

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Decathlon base layer
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Base layer

Substitute: Dry fit/compression shirt, tight

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Dri Fit/Compression

Hack: Buy an extra, bigger size base layer and use it as Layer 3

Layer 2: Kit

You can use your regular cycling kit (jersey and bib shorts)

Layer 3: Lightweight Jacket

Two types:

  • Effective upto 6deg C
  • Effective below 6deg C (has some fleece)

You can check these at a Decathlon store, at times available in the hiking section

I use the hack mentioned above for temperatures above 10deg C (bigger size base layer)

Substitute: Sweatshirt (best avoided, but better to have something than nothing)

Sweatshirts should be avoided as they will absorb sweat, are heavy and baggy. So they will slow you down. Also chances are high that the wind will get in through gaps (near wrists and neck). A good, value for money purchase: Fleece

And also

  • Neck warmer: if possible keep two – one to cover your head under the helmet, other to cover your neck and face
  • Arm warmers: Essential at the beginning of early morning rides, can be worn under base layer. Remove as sun comes out
  • Leg warmers: I personally use regular running tights over bib shorts. They aren’t comfortable (and could cause chaffing). So recommend to use leg warmers [will update after trying them out]

Fingers, Toes, Head

Gloves

Get a good pair of gloves that cover your fingers. Ensure they aren’t too tight or too thick, else you will lose ‘feel’ of your bike and hence control

Hack: An alternative is to use your regular gloves in combination with Tactile gloves. The upside: You can use your mobile screen. Downside: Not the best, you might still feel the chills

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Tactile Gloves: Perfect for winters

Socks and shoes

Regular socks and shoes will be enough for most people. But if you are feeling numbness, use a second layer of socks over existing ones (especially if you have ventilated shoes). Make sure you are comfortable and can feel your toes against the shoe surface, once worn. Else best is to get overshoes (more about overshoes)

Head

A large portion of heat escapes from your head. While the helmet does an adequate job of covering it, incase you still feel the chills, use the multipurpose neck warmer as a headband/head warmer. Make sure you feel comfortable and do not feel suffocated.

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Neckwarmers: Multipurpose

Also for some, like me, it’s important to cover the ears and nose. Pull up the neckwarmer to cover them.

Hope this practical guide helps you enjoy your winter cycling.

As a parting thought, it’s better to combine winter clothing you already have than buy new clothing. See if it works out for you, provides warmth, is comfortable.

If it isn’t don’t spare a second thought (or money) to buy the best gear. Good gear eventually does translate into a better ride, but only when you have explored the alternatives yourself.

Cheers and have a safe, enjoyable ride!

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