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April 17, 2021

Cycling Clothes – How to Dress for the Bike

The correct cycling clothes for the conditions and the quality of your kit can really make or break a bike ride. There is nothing more distracting than being overly cold, uncomfortable or even sweaty on a bike so having the right cycling clothes on can make all the difference to your ride experience. By now you have probably seen our Essential New Season Kit List and have an understanding of what kit to take on your rides. In this article we will be looking at how to dress for cycling in more detail focusing specifically on how this changes throughout the year.

Let’s go ahead and dive in with spring and fall.

Cycling clothes for the spring and fall (10–15°C)

Spring and fall are the hardest seasons to dress for because the weather is so changeable. This makes it tricky as you will often start your ride in the blistering cold but end it being bathed in sunshine. As a result, layering with clothing items that can be packed down into a back pocket or bike bag is super important. This way, you can strip off clothes when it becomes hotter throughout the day. There you have the key to springtime clothing choices, start in more and end in less. What you take is also slightly different if you think there’s a chance the heavens might open.

What to wear:

On top

  • Light base layer for core heat
  • Short sleeve jersey with arm warmers
  • Long sleeve jersey
  • Outer layer gilet that can be taken off
  • Rain cape if raining (or threatening to!)

On bottom

  • Cycling shorts and leg warmers/knee warmers if sun is out
  • Full tights if forecast says temperature isn’t changing

Hands

  • Finger length Spring gloves

Head

  • Cycling cap

Feet

  • Warm cycling socks
  • Shoe covers (if raining) to protect from road spray

What to wear when cycling in summer (20°C and above)

Compared to the transition seasons, summer is probably the easiest time of year to dress for. Sure, if you are starting very early in the morning you may need a gilet layer or some knee warmers for that first hour, but these items will quickly be shed. Light, warm and comfortable, it becomes less about trapping heat and more about getting out the sweat and drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration. Always remember to get the sunscreen on pre-ride to avoid getting burnt and take a small cape just in case. Not only for summer storms but also if you have any long descents in your ride. You get chilly on these even in the height of summer.

What to wear:

On top

On bottom

  • Bib shorts

Hands

  • Either no gloves at all or fingerless gloves

Head

Feet

  • Smaller lighter cycling socks

How to dress for cycling in winter (10°C and below)

When we get to the early stages of winter the aim of the game is layering and protecting your extremities – that’s your hands, feet and head – where you lose the vast majority of your heat from. This is particularly an issue on the bike as freezing extremities will make it difficult to pedal, change gear and brake. The top layers listed below work to block out any potential air gap which could be infiltrated by the cold weather which will bring your core temperature down.

That’s why we suggest interlacing soft- and hard-shell cycling clothes so that you are protected from the elements outside while also protecting yourself from your own cooling system, sweat. On your bottoms you will want to layer against those biting icy winds. This means wearing proper insulated cycling gloves and always wearing shoe covers so that these extremities don’t freeze.

What to wear:

On top

  • Long sleeve base layer
  • Soft shell long sleeve jersey
  • Warm cycling jacket
  • Rain cape if raining

On bottom

  • Thermal bib shorts with leg warmers or thermal tights

Hands

  • Insulated gloves

Head

  • Winter thermal head cap
  • Sunglasses (even if the sun’s not out)

Feet

  • Thick woolen socks
  • Shoe covers especially when there is water on the roads

Cycling clothes for the Canadian winter (below freezing)

It’s one thing dressing correctly for cycling in winter, but it’s another thing dressing for ‘Canadian winter’. We all know that freezing temperatures bring ice and snow, but this doesn’t necessarily stop you from riding. If you wear the correct cycling clothes and layer properly you will still be able to ride your bike outdoors, even in the most extreme conditions. The mission when faced with these temperatures though is to bundle up, bulk the air gaps on your body and cover up any exposed skin, especially your face. If it is really cold you can start thinking about wearing ski or hiking jackets or soft-shell hoodie style layers that can be used as insulation. Always top this with a hard-shell jacket though to protect your body from those vicious winter winds.

What to wear:

On top

  • Long sleeve thermal base layer for wicking sweat
  • Soft shell long sleeve jersey as insulation
  • Warm cycling jacket
  • Emergency soft shell insulated down jacket
  • Hard shell jacket for wind protection

On bottom

  • Thermal bib shorts with leg warmers
  • Layered with thermal tights
  • Thermal hiking trousers if snowing

Hands

 

  • Cycling gloves
  • Well insulated winter specific gloves
  • Hand warmers

Head

  • Balaclava or thermal buff
  • Sunglasses (to keep the snow off)
  • Helmet cover

Feet

  • Thick woolen socks
  • Then a trick from the old masters is to wrap your foot in cling film, trust us it works
  • Thermal over shoes

There you have it, our guide on how to dress for the Canadian seasons. With the correct clothing you won’t even miss a beat and you will be able to stay in the saddle all year.

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