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Cycling Clothing For Changeable

Autumn and Spring Conditions

Autumn and spring are the most difficult times of the year to get your choice of cycling clothing right. With cold mornings, warm afternoons and erratic heavy rain showers, it’s all a bit of a minefield. Fail to prepare and the chances are you’ll fall into one of two main categories.

The first is the rider who sets out on a chilly morning, braving the cold in their summer kit, hoping the weather heats up. In stark contrast, the other type heads off in a full-length base layer and winter jacket, only to overheat once the sun comes out.

The good news is you don’t need to fall into either of these categories. With a few key additions to your wardrobe, you can ride in comfort, whatever the weather.

Layering Cycling Clothing

If you already own a short sleeve jersey and shorts, this is a great base from which to build up your kit for the transitional seasons. Pop on a sleeveless base layer and you’ll instantly increase the functional temperature range of your existing kit. Arm warmers are another fantastic addition; you can roll them down while climbing, pull them back up for the descents, or store them in your back pocket when the temperature stabilises.

When it’s not quite cold enough for tights or leg warmers, knee warmers represent great value for money; bringing all the benefits of ¾ length knickers at a fraction of the cost, all while enabling you to continue wearing your favourite bib shorts.

Our next recommendation is to bring a packable outer layer for days when the weather looks changeable. Modern outer shell fabrics are highly packable and can fit neatly in your back pocket. What’s more, these garments are perfect for protecting you on those cold and damp early morning rides and can be packed away if the weather improves.

There’s a wide range of choice available, which can be narrowed down depending on whether you want water resistant, waterproof or windproof kit.

What is Windproof Cycling Clothing?

Windproof cycling clothing stops the wind from penetrating the fabric, which can make the rider feel much colder than the air temperature suggests. This problem is compounded when the rider’s perspiration combines with windchill to make them feel very cold, very quickly. We recommend ensuring your windproof layer is highly breathable to combat this.

A quality windproof gilet or vest such as the Mavic Cosmic SL Insulated Vest features a totally windproof front, and a mesh back to ensure breathability to keep you comfortable no matter how hard you ride.

Water Resistant and Waterproof Cycling Clothing

There is a wide spectrum of options available that vary from shower-proof, highly packable jackets to totally waterproof rain capes. Generally speaking, water-resistant jackets will withstand heavy showers while remaining breathable. A good example would be the Castelli Squadra ER Rain Jacket.

Totally waterproof garments, on the other hand, are better for using in persistent rainfall but can sometimes come at the expense of losing a little in the way of breathability. Then again, the holy grail of lightweight, packable, breathable and waterproof does exist in the Gore Wear Shakedry Range.

Water resistant jerseys are becoming really popular too, with the ASSOS Liberty RS23 Thermo Rain Short Sleeve Jersey and Castelli Perfetto options leading the way. These garments feature a DWR hydrophobic coating to boost water repellency and maintain breathability, which requires reapplication for optimum performance over time.

Protect Your Extremities

Most riders can attest that having cold, wet hands is more than uncomfortable; it can also be dangerous. It's imperative to maintain control over your bike and you don't want the weather impeding your ability to pull your brake levers. Layering gloves is a wonderful way of keeping your hands at the optimum temperature. Start with a comfortable light glove with a little insulation, such as the Castelli Lightness Gloves. Then, if icy cold rain threatens to ruin your ride, pop a pair of the packable Endura Adrenaline Shell Gloves on top to keep your hands totally protected.

A cycling cap can help protect your head from rainfall while the peak provides shade for your eyes. What’s more, a cap takes up very little space in your pocket should you choose to take it off. Consider the Castelli ROS Cap, with an adjustable front panel you can use to switch between cool breathability and totally shutting out the weather.

Want to know more about protecting your extremities? Read our guide here.

With a huge range of options available to provide versatility to your wardrobe, you can pick and choose the items that best suit your kit to keep you riding in comfort throughout the autumn and into spring, too.

About the Author

  • Niall Gaffney
  • Height: 169cm
  • Weight: 63kg
  • About Niall Gaffney : Cycling became more than a method of getting from A to B for Niall when he bought his first road bike about ten years ago. Since then, he's covered thousands of miles in the Surrey countryside and over the water in his native County Dublin.

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