While winter cycling has its upsides (Fresh air! The wind on your face! Getting back before the sun rises!), it isn’t for the faint of heart — or the ill-prepared. The best way to enjoy the fresh air and wind in your face is to layer up, efficiently. You can’t just throw on a puffy jacket like you can with running (if you’re desperate) or hiking. Winter cycling requires clothing that is thin and flexible, yet warm and insulating.
The concept of layering for winter cycling is not unlike layering for nordic skiing or winter running. You need a foundation — a sweat-wicking base layer. It’s inevitable you’re going to sweat, no matter how cold it is outside. And because of the wind and freezing temps, as soon as you start to sweat, you’ll get cold. Look for something that’s going to dry fast so you can take the downhills like a champ and not end up with chattering teeth. From there, add layers — a jersey, winter jacket and fleece-lined bibs.
Next come the accessories: gloves, neck buff, hat and winter booties. The thin gloves you’ve used all fall likely need to be upgraded to something more suitable for deep winter riding conditions — insulated but flexible. Keeping your extremities warm will make braking and pedaling feel almost as good as it does in spring. For your feet, invest in a solid pair of winter booties. Your feet will be the first to go cold in freezing temps, so make sure you pair them with a warm pair of socks.
Once you’re all bundled up, head out and revel in the emptiness of the roads. It’s worth it. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
Additional contribution by Tanner Bowden, AJ Powell and Andy Frakes.
Pro Team Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey by Rapha $205
Pro Team Winter Tights with Pad II by Rapha $285
Pro Team Insulated Gilet by Rapha $190
Pro Team Winter Hat by Rapha $65
Deep Winter Gloves by Rapha $190
Deep Winter Overshoes by Rapha $100
CHPT3 x POC Devesa Ventral SPIN Helmet by CHPT3 ~$341
Tarmac Disc Pro by Specialized $6,700
Heavy Jersey Black by Pas Normal Studios ~$262
Heavy Long Sleeve Base Layer White by Pas Normal Studios ~112
Long Tight Bronze by Pas Normal Studios ~$250
Winter Neck Tube by Pas Normal Studios ~$52
Navy Cap by Pas Normal Studios ~$29
Winter Glove by Pas Normal Studios ~$103
Northwave by Pas Normal Studios $379
Aether MIPS Custom by Giro $400
Endurace CF SLX by Canyon $3,999+
Recon Thermal Long Sleeve by Velocio $199
Thermal Bib Tight by Velocio $249
Winter Wool Socks by Velocio $28
Zero+ Bootie by Velocio $89
Zero+ Glove by Velocio $79
Zero Cycling Cap by Velocio $79
Cinder MIPS by Giro $150
Synapse Disc 105 (2018) by Cannondale $1,500
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If it’s just a little too cold for a simple long-sleeved jersey, this is your kit. Pactimo, a company that got its start in Colorado creating custom cycling gear for Olympians and everyday die-hards, makes a wide variety of warm- and cold-weather cycling gear; its Alpine series, which hit shelves this year, is warm but not stifling. Each piece is compressive and sweat-wicking, and the outerwear has integrated reflective patches. On chilly morning rides, wear the full kit; when the sun starts shining, peel off a few layers.
Alpine Thermal RT Bib Shorts Men’s by Pactimo $140
Alpine Thermal RT Arm Warmers by Pactimo $45
Alpine Thermal RT Knee Warmers by Pactimo $50
Alpine Thermal RT Leg Warmers by Pactimo $60
Winter Sock by Pactimo $18
Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Gloves by Showers Pass $45
S-Works Prevail II Helmet by Specialized $225
The first thing you’ll notice about UK-based Ashmei is its overall aesthetic — refined, minimalist and tonal, sprinkled here and there with Ashmei’s characteristic polka dots. It’s among the best-looking cycling apparel available today. Beneath its good looks, though, Ashmei’s products are fantastically high-performance, built from the ground-up with only the finest materials and construction methods. This kit exemplifies that rare balance of form and function, and will keep you toasty warm down to 30-degrees Fahrenheit or so.
Neck Gaiter by Ashmei ~$39
Polka Merino Sock by Ashmei ~$18
Legwarmers by Ashmei ~$75
Merino Beanie by Ashmei ~$35
Armwarmers by Ashmei ~$65
Windproof Glove by Ashmei ~$53
Bib Short v.3 by Ashmei ~$276
Gilet by Ashmei ~$110
Long Sleeve Classic Jersey by Ashmei ~$139
Short Sleeve Base Layer by Ashmei ~$86
Z20 Helmet by Bell x Cadence Collection $230
Pro Team Arenberg Sunglasses by Rapha $220
Headquartered in the Swiss Alps, ASSOS is known for its stringent attention to quality control. All of its products are made in-house by a team of master designers, seamsters and passionate cyclists. Unsurprisingly, being a hard-ass about how a certain jersey or bib is made produces amazing products, evidenced clearly in ASSOS’ collection of sub-freezing cycling clothing. When the snow is falling sideways and the wind is blowing hard enough to stop school buses, this is your kit.
LS.SKINFOIL_WINTER_EVO7 by ASSOS $115
FUGUBOOTIE_S7 by ASSOS $169
LL.BONKATIGHTS_S7 by ASSOS $439
NECKPROTECTOR_S7 by ASSOS $49
FUGUSPEER_S7 by ASSOS $49
FUGUHELM by ASSOS $119
BONKAGLOVE_EVO7 BLOCK BLACK by ASSOS $129
IJ.BONKA.6 by ASSOS $339+
Overtake MIPS by Smith $203