I love cycling. I appreciate the technical clothing available out there nowadays to make it more comfortable. But, let’s face it - not everyone looks, or feels comfortable in head to toe lycra.
During summer months I find you can get away with wearing regular clothes, or maybe swapping your regular top for a more wicking fabric for the ride and doing a quick change when you reach your location. But winter is brutal to the fashion conscious cyclists' ideals!
You are going to get wet, you are going to get dirty, and you are going to get cold (and everyone knows that the cold part makes everything less fun).
I’d recommend starting with some good quality waterproofs to go over your regular clothes. There’s loads of cycle-specific stuff out there that isn't screaming loud hi-vis yellow, but still has cleverly built in cycling features. Look for cool touches like reflective materials that mean you're still visible when riding in low light conditions, or fold down splash guards to cover your bum. A great example of this is the Original Rain Jacket by Vulpine. It’s exceptional quality, and looks pretty damn good when you’re not cycling too!
Next stop, some waterproof shorts. You might think "what on earth is the point of waterproof shorts – my legs will still get wet", but wait, don’t turn away! Think about it – when you're riding and your derrière gets wet on a ride, it’s very uncomfortable. Your knees, not so much. If the ride you are doing is short enough to get away without padded shorts/leggings, you can wear regular tights or leggings under the waterproof shorts, then just leave them on. Yes your knees may be a little chilly for the first hour when you reach your destination, but they will dry, and you'll have smugly managed to avoid doing a full body change and carrying more stuff in your bag.
If you have a longer ride, grab a pair of leggings with an inbuilt pad – sling your waterproof shorts over the top and they will cover up the dreaded nappy look!
Not that I'm a Vulpine groupie (honest!), BUT if you want a recommendation, their rain shorts are great! Don’t expect to stay bone dry in a heavy downpour, but they are highly waterproof and very comfy.
Hi-vis is a contentious subject. Not too long ago, neon had a revival; even H&M stocked it. Now it seems to have been relegated back to the wardrobes of those who dress for function over form, but it doesn't have to be like that! Remember those slap wraps you had great fun accosting your friends and siblings with as a child? No? Just me? Well, there are these great strips which when positioned in a certain way, are straight, and when you slap a wrist, ankle, or other appendage with them, they coil into a neat little circle. Grab a couple of these – a steal at £2.50 each – and slap them round your ankles or wrists when you ride for extra visibility. You can whip them off when you jump off the bike, or leave them on if you’re going raving!
Now, down to the feet. Overshoes aren't the prettiest, although they do a GREAT job. Nevertheless, you need to keep your feet warm, because if they get cold enough you’ll not only cause yourself damage, but risk losing sensation in your feet while you ride, and that is neither pleasant or safe. There is such a thing as waterproof socks (they are also generally very warm). You've also got merino wool which is a fantastic fabric – cosy and naturally sweat wicking. I usually wear leather boots like DMs when I ride in winter – keep your boots in good (and mostly) waterproof condition by polishing them with Dubbin regularly and they will keep your feet relatively warm and dry.
Overall, the most important thing is to feel comfortable, both in terms of how protective your clothing is, and what you look like! Make practical decisions about your clothing to suit you, and get a few choice pieces of waterproof outerwear and you can’t go too far wrong.
If you have any question at all, please pop into the shop! We can go over your commute, what you feel comfortable in while cycling, and our suggestions to help you stay warm and dry over the Winter months.