Looking at carrying form through the colder months or using your bike as a means of transportation through winter? There’s a seemingly overwhelming amount of products out there to help shield you from the elements, from multiple layers to indoor trainers to training tyres, it can all be a little confusing on where your money is best spent.
In this article, we’ve cut through the jargon and listed nine cycling products to not only see you through winter but are worthwhile additions to any cyclists’ kit throughout the year!
Frozen toes are sure to spoil any cold ride. Shoe covers are almost essential when cycling in wet weather. Be it city commuting, road cycling or trail riding, they’re a great way to ensure you, and your expensive cycling shoes stay warm and dry. Shoe covers will provide various levels of thermal insulation and water resistance at the cost of ventilation, so it pays to check the thickness of the insulation prior to buying a set.
A few features to look out for when selecting your shoe covers are windproof linings, waterproof treatments, optimal operational temperatures, ease of fitment, weight and reflective material. These design features not only ensure that your shoe covers will last the distance, but they’ll be more effective in blocking out elements and keeping you safe at the same time.
Winter Base Layers
Base layers by their very nature are versatile garments, designed to be worn year-round to keep riders comfortably dry, regardless of the temperature. Working by trapping a layer of air close to the skin, base layers not only provide additional warmth but this air pocket aids in wicking away sweat from your body, ensuring comfort when the mercury rises.
They’re made from breathable fabric that wicks moisture away from the body, as well as providing thermo-regulation to keep your core temperature consistent. Moreover, the quality of materials means comfort and durability. It’s common for a base layer to easily outlast the life of a jersey.
Premium cycling apparel company Assos is our pick because it has developed a unique approach to layering. The idea is that you can select your clothing combination based on the climate, with clothing within that range all working together to provide optimum temperature regulation. However, most brands will offer a base layer to suit a range of temperatures, sure to provide you with a versatile garment that will compliment your kit year round.
Not only do good quality sunglasses actively protect your eyes from UV rays, they also provide eye protection from wind, rain and debris.
Cycling specific eyewear is a step up from your standard fashion sunglasses as they are designed to curve around your head, fit with a helmet and provide extra eye protection, the latter certainly worth considering when travelling at high speed.
As many of us riding through winter will encounter changeable light conditions, selecting a pair of glasses with photochromic lenses, or a photochromic lens to suit your existing cycling glasses is recommended. Working by adjusting the tint level based on the UV exposure to the lens itself, photochromic lenses typically possess a light transmission of between 30 and 70 per cent. This means that they’re just as useful in all but the glariest conditions as they are when the sun is barely present.
With winter now well and truly underway for those of us in the southern hemisphere, it can be tough to muster the courage to face the cold, dark and often wet mornings. The good news is that technology has seen a huge leap in power trainers and linked devices, so you can ensure a quality training session without leaving the house!
Indoor trainers are no longer just the saviour for cyclists wanting to carry some form through the winter months, they now provide a fun and interactive environment that’s capable of giving a social fix, too. Available in a range of categories with a number of resistance methods on offer, there are indoor trainers to suit every cyclist, from the entry-level through to the more advanced, metric focussed cyclist.
Our pick is the Elite Direto direct-drive trainer. This interactive smart trainer boasts impressive power accuracy, a host of connectivity features housed in a sleek aesthetic that’s easily stored when not in use. For more information on indoor trainers and how to choose the right one to suit your needs, check out our ultimate guide for all you need to know.
Windproof Winter Jersey
Freshen up your motivation and cycling wardrobe with a winter specific jacket or jersey. Winter kits will have an emphasis on water-resistance, windproofing and work best when used in their optimal temperature range, which typically varies between 0 and 15 degrees celsius.
Now in its third iteration, the Castelli Gabba is our pick and remains the envy of other leading cycling apparel brands due to its smart combination of being aerodynamic, breathable, windproof and waterproof. With undeniable performance against the elements, the Gabba in itself is one of the most revered and imitated jerseys in the world, with the majority of Castelli’s competitors now producing a similar garment. Features to look out for in a reliable winter jersey include reflective trim, silicone grippers and extra length at the back to guard against road spray.
Designed to protect your hands from debris and wind-chill, Full-finger cycling gloves are the cherry on top when it comes to completing your kit.
For mountain biking, full-fingered gloves are already the preference thanks to the added protection they provide. As mountain bike average speeds are typically lower, you can often get away with regular mountain bike full finger gloves. When the mercury really drops, look for insulated models that offer a tacky grip on the palms for extra control in muddy conditions.
It’s a different story for road cyclists, where average speeds are far higher and wind chill is more obvious. Ensuring your mitts are toasty will go a long way to improving your comfort on the bike.
Considerations to take into account are the thickness or weight of the glove, as well as the resistance to wind and rain. Too thick and you’ll have reduced dexterity for shifting, navigating your cycling computer and using your phone, too thin and you'll likely feel the cold, so it pays to know where your preference lays.
Warmers are designed to protect your extremities from the wind chill. Typically made of lycra, these pullover garments are typically worn to complement your summer riding kit when the temperature drops.
For staying warm on those chillier mornings, it pays to look for warmers that feature an insulated lining. These insulated linings are typically made of windproof material and provide that extra layer of warmth, with some also providing water-resistance should you get caught in the rain.
In addition to expanding the versatility of your summer riding kit, another main advantage of warmers is that they can be stored in a jersey pocket when not in use. While leg warmers do get used on extremely cold days, we typically reach for the arm and knee warmers first. This is purely due to the ease of removal should things warm up mid-ride, and their lower price point.
Choosing the right tyres can do wonders for your riding experience. On a road bike, training tyres can improve comfort, puncture resistance and traction on debris riddled winter roads. They can also be highly durable, lasting for months at a time without a puncture.
On a road bike, the rear tyre will typically wear faster than the front tyre, as the rider's weight is distributed mostly over the rear wheel. Look out for cuts, scuffs and the shape of the tyre no longer being round but squared off than when it was new.
For mountain bike riders, selecting a tyre suited to the terrain that you’re likely to encounter will go a long way to ensuring your new rubber is up to the task. For wet, swampy conditions, look for tyres with taller, evenly placed knobs and a softer rubber compound for increased traction and mud shedding.
Indoor Training Application Subscription
Running in parallel with the rise of smart trainers, are third-party applications, aimed at enhancing your indoor riding experience. Apps like Zwift allow you to ride with other people in a virtual world, and can even simulate drafting, road surfaces, hills and descents. If it’s dedicated training programs you want, an application like The Sufferfest allows you to be ultra-specific with your sessions and act like you have a real-time coach. Want to ride the Alps in France, or tackle the climbs your heroes dance up at the Giro d’Italia from the comfort of your pain cave? A program like Road Grand Tours has a host of real-world locations and terrain to explore.
Priced at around AUD$10-15 per month for a subscription to an application, and with so much variety on offer, it’s a small price to pay for solid and rewarding winter gains on the indoor trainer this winter.
Looking for layering advice? We’ve got you covered from head to toe with our guide on how to layer up for winter.