Do you want to stay warm and comfortable riding this spring? Of course you do.
The ever-changing conditions of spring can present a unique set of challenges for cyclists.
No longer is it simply a case of throwing on as much warm clothing as possible, and hoping it’s enough.
Staying comfortable during spring cycling requires a few essential items of clothing, as well as a bit of know-how; read on for our comprehensive guide on how to choose the right clothing and gear.
Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a place with a year-round warm climate, the transition from winter to spring is an exciting time for cyclists.
Many will finally be putting that dreaded turbo trainer back where it belongs, in the dark recesses of the basement.
Although springtime comes with the promise of ever-warmer conditions, the weather can be fickle.
Conditions can change rapidly and, if unprepared, you can go from happy and comfortable, to miserable and cold within a matter of minutes.
With riding types and styles varying greatly, even with the same cyclist on different rides, there’s no one- size-fits-all solution for everyone.
Some people naturally run warmer than others, and a commute is likely to be a lot less intense than a session of hill reps, for example. It’s important to find the solution that works best for you.
The key here is giving yourself the flexibility to remove, or add, pieces of clothing during a ride; this allows you to effectively regulate your temperature. A prime example of this is with the early riser, who begins their ride while a chill remains in the air.
While this initially requires some warm clothing, as the day progresses they will need to be able to shed layers in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. Luckily, there’s a huge variety of clothing available to help you get the most out of your spring adventures. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Leg & Arm Warmers
An essential weapon in the battle to maintain spring comfort is the humble leg or arm warmer. A highly versatile piece of kit, these warmers come in a variety of styles to suit your requirements.
They’re the perfect option if you’re heading out early in the morning, with the temperature expected to rise throughout the day.
They are lightweight and easily foldable, meaning that when, fingers crossed, it does warm up, you can easily take them off and pack them away in your jersey.
There are several things to take note of when picking this important piece of kit. Firstly, getting the right fit for your limbs is essential for comfort; slipping arm warmers can be a great irritation during a long ride.
Most come with grips to help keep them in place, but this is certainly something to keep in mind. Flexibility is also something to look for; it’s important that your warmers allow a full range of movement from your joints.
Leg and arms warmers are generally great for keeping the wind off, but not all are so good at keeping you dry. While they should never be relied up in heavy showers, some do provide a level of water resistance.
SUGOI MID ZERO LEG WARMERSBuy from Amazon
PEARL IZUMI ELITE LEG WARMERSBuy from Amazon
LOUIS GARNEAU LEG WARMERSBuy from Amazon
GORE UNIVERSAL SOFT SHELL LEG WARMERS
Buy from Amazon
CASTELLI NANOFLEX ARM WARMERSBuy from Amazon
LOUIS GARNEAU ARM WARMERSBuy from Amazon
PEARL IZUMI ARM WARMERSBuy from Amazon
2XU COMPRESSION RECOVERY SLEEVESBuy from Amazon
Toe Covers & Oversocks
Although you can now ditch those heavy overshoes, it’s still important to allow your feet some protection from the elements. Oversocks are a great alternative, and provide adequate protection from showers and dirt without risking overheating.
GIRO AMBIENT TOE COVERSBuy from Amazon
LOUIS GARNEAU TOE COVERSBuy from Amazon
While it still may not quite be the time to break out the fingerless mits, it’s certainly time to ditch those heavy winter gloves in favor of something lighter.
There is plenty of choice available in this area, and the key requirement is really only that the gloves provide some protection from the wind.
With that said, however, they’re still an essential component in a cyclist’s spring arsenal. There are few things that ruin a ride more than numb fingers.
DEFEET CORDURA GLOVESBuy from Amazon
GIRO DND GLOVESBuy from Amazon
CASTELLI LIGHTNESS GLOVESBuy from Amazon
Worn beneath a jersey, base layers are particularly important during spring. In addition to providing an extra layer for warmth during cooler rides, a good base layer will help keep you dry by wicking moisture away from the skin. Perfect for harder efforts.
Base layers come in 2 broad categories: natural and man-made. Synthetic base layers tend to have efficient moisture wicking properties, while natural materials like merino tend to cope better with colder temperatures.
Many cyclists tend to prefer how synthetic layers feel on the skin and this is certainly something to keep in mind for comfort on longer rides.
PEARL IZUMI LONG SLEEVE BASE LAYERBuy from Amazon
CRAFT LONG SLEEVE BASE LAYERBuy from Amazon
CRAFT SLEEVELESS BASE LAYERBuy from Amazon
Basically a lightweight jacket with no arms, vests provide an extra layer of torso protection. They’re great for keeping your core warm, while ensuring that your arms don’t overheat. Vests are a very versatile piece of kit and come in several styles.
Lightweight vests are designed to be easily removable as temperatures increase. Likewise, they’re take up little room in your back pocket.
Conversely, heavier vests are intended to be worn throughout rides in colder conditions and aren’t so easily folded away when not required.
CASTELLI FAWESOME 2 VESTBuy from Amazon
GORE ELEMENT WINDSTOPPER SOFT SHELL VESTBuy from Amazon
CASTELLI VELO VESTBuy from Amazon
Similar to vests, but with added arms, lightweight jackets are perfect to keep packed away when a risk of rain is forecast. They’ll save you from being caught short by showers and give you adequate protection for a dash away from the rain.
While they’re no substitute for a proper waterproof jacket in a heavy shower, a lightweight jacket can be a real lifesaver in the changeable conditions of spring. An important factor to consider here is fit, as a loose jacket can be a real annoyance in the wind.
CASTELLI VELO JACKETBuy from Amazon
PEARL IZUMI ELITE BARRIER JACKETBuy from Amazon
CANARI CONVERTIBLE JACKETBuy from Amazon
Note: Since cycling jerseys and bib shorts are highly personal decisions, I didn’t make any specific product recommendations.
With temperatures on the rise, it’s time to ditch that winter jacket in favor of something lighter. When it comes to jerseys, there is a huge and sometimes overwhelming amount of choice on offer.
A lot of this comes down to personal preference and just how much on-the-fly customization you want in your kit options.
For those who like to shed layers rapidly while riding, a short-sleeved jersey used in combination with arm warmers may be preferred.
While long-sleeved jerseys may be a good option for the beginning of spring, their usefulness will wane as the weeks go by.
With this in mind, the preferred option will likely be a lightweight short-sleeved jersey used in conjunction with some easily removable layers such as arm/leg warmers, base-layers, and vests.
The use of multiple removable items provides a huge amount of flexibility. However, if you’re not keen on wearing a vest, there are jersey options available with windproof fabrics. Again, fit is crucial here.
After ditching the winter tights, there are a couple of options when it comes to your legs. Short bib-shorts, in combination with knee or leg warmers, are an excellent choice.
This provides a good level of flexibility, with warmers easily removed as you warm up over the course of a ride.
These tend to less tight fitting, however, and many cyclists prefer the former option. Regardless of your preference, it’s important to keep the legs muscles warm during cooler rides; they won’t work as efficiently if they are cold.