I have been riding almost everyday through winter blizzards, gales, heavy rain and most things the Lake District weather can throw at me. So I thought I would share the secret to staying warm, dry and therefore motivated.I always have fun whatever the weather, once I finally leave the house mainly because I have kit that works and keeps me warm. Here are my reviews of my essential winter bike clothing:
In my opinion there is only one choice in bib shorts for winter riding: lusso-max-repel-bib-tights
I have one set going strong after TEN YEARS of hard riding, the second set is a mere four years old. They also happen to be about the cheapest around. They’re Lycra bib tights, backed with a breathable fleece insulation. The outside is treated to be water repellent and the water does roll off. They work like a wet suit, the rain eventually soaks through on wet days but they stay warm. The water repellent may wear off after a couple years use but they stay warm and fantastic to wear on a cold winter day. The bib goes high and helps keep your core warm too. There is no pad because this would just soak up water next to your backside all day, so I use a padded baggy short over the top. The quality is fantastic as testified by my 10 year old pair: this is probably to do with the fact that Lusso are made in the UK and not many companies can say that!
At the moment (January 2015) they are an absolute bargain too so click here and get a pair: lusso-max-repel-bib-tights
There are two options: firstly a good set of wool socks. I find that only wool socks keep your feet warm on cold wet days. There are many types of wool socks but I have been pleased with these:
Although the best wool socks I have are rabbit wool from an Uzbekistan market: Cycling Uzbekistan
If you have meshy thin bike shoes that aren’t designed for winter then try the Seal Skinz waterproof socks, every biker must have tried these at some point and while they don’t keep water out, in fact you’ll probably remember pouring the water out after a ride, but they do keep that wind chill down and reduce that cold water shock from a deep puddle: sealskinz-thick-mid-length-sock
A good bike shoe makes a noticeable difference but it is not the key item to keeping warm. I use a full ‘leather’ Shimano Shoe by which I mean it has no mesh so it keeps the wind out and most of the spraying water, but the shoe is not too hot in spring and summer. Goretex winter shoes are a bit better but in my experience they are not worth the extra money and they get too hot as soon as the temperature rises. I use these ones and have been super pleased with them, they also have 45% discount at the moment: Shimano-xc50n-mtb-shoes
These are vital on those below freezing or cold wet days riding. I prefer the wind proof/waterproof over shoes compared to the neoprene but it’s probably just personal preference over function.
I have been using these for the last few years, although they are sadly in a box in Chamonix so can’t use them until I pick it up!
I know most MTB’ers and commuters swear by these neoprene ones:
For me it has to be merino wool for a winter base layer long sleeved top. On a cold wet day nothing else comes close to the warmth they give. However merino wool does get wet and stay wet, unlike a Smelly Helly Hansen Lifa top that wicks away but isn’t so warm, I always carry a windproof and it’s fine.
I have some Survival ones from when I lived in New Zealand but these have a great reputation:
Merino can be machine washed but it does start to wear quicker than a polyester top so watch out!
I have used the Endura Strike waterproof gloves for the last few years and with my long fingers they are by far the best fit I can find. They are dry, warm and waterproof and wear well – I had no issues with them. Sadly I left mine in Kazakhstan somewhere but I will buy a new set soon.
Under Helmet Skull Cap
I find that I quickly warm up so I don’t need anything too thick, just a wind proof layer like this Lusso is ideal:
Finally I love my bright green Morvelo Gillet for high intensity winter rides. It’s windproof, warm and well fitted but sadly they don’t make this model anymore however check out their kit at:
THere are my suggestions that hopefully will get you all out riding whatever the weather!