Embrace the winter chill with these valuable tips from seasoned CIOVITA Ambassadors on how to layer up and enjoy the thrill of riding during colder months. While the idea of cruising the streets or flowing through singletrack may seem unnerving, with the right cycling apparel and knowledge of how to use it, winter riding can become a thrilling and enjoyable experience. With this in mind, we asked a few of our ambassadors to share their valuable knowledge of layering up to ride during the colder months.
Not a tip but a general point - if you dress well for a winter ride, you will feel a bit cold at first, but once riding you should warm up quickly. If you feel warm when you step outside, you will probably start overheating soon into a ride. Think about where you will be riding - road rides are usually faster and colder, and you tend to be more exposed to the elements; off-road, you might be more protected and likely working harder at a slower pace, so your needs are different. I suggest wearing thin layers rather than one or two bulky layers; similar to having different tools to fix your bike, you will need different layers to do different jobs. Keep your hands and feet warm, it is no fun not being able to change gears because your fingers can't move, or pedaling with toes that feel like ice blocks - I wear lightweight everyday gloves that work year-round, and thermal ones for those extra cold days. Get a handlebar bag; sure, it might not be the most aero or look the coolest on your road bike, but if you're taking off layers during your ride, the handlebar bag will be a great place to stash them. Lastly, my biggest tip: Invest in all things Merino and CIOVITA has some amazing options. It's not called the Adventure Fabric for nothing - it's super soft, lightweight, and you can use it all year round. Get some gear and go on an adventure!
Future planning: During my kit up I always consider what I can do if the day were to heat up. For example, I will wear a normal jersey underneath and a lighter long sleeve so that I could put my lighter long sleeve in my back pocket if it gets hot. If I had worn only a thick long sleeve I would have had to wear that the whole time. For your feet: If it’s very cold I will double sock. If it’s very very cold, I will double sock and put ziplock bags over my toes before I put my feet in my shoe. For your body: During winter I almost always wear a baselayer. This just helps my chest have an extra layer of warmth. For your head & face: I wear sunglasses, a vitatube headscraf around my neck, and a buff over my head and ears. This cuts all the cold air hitting my face. For your outer layer: I also wear a gilet often. It cuts all the wind from your chest. If it does get too hot then I just open the zip completely and it doesn’t trap any heat.
Wear easily-accessible and easy-to-take-off types of clothing (especially when you’re unsure of the weather changing). I am talking about items such as arm warmers and cycling gilets, as these are small enough to put in your back pocket and easy to take off when you feel you get too hot but would also still keep you warm at the start of an early morning’s frosty ride. My second tip would be to use a secret weapon, that being secret socks. It is true what they say about the tips of your nose, fingers, and toes being where the cold really bites on the bike and therefore I often only use secret socks for extra warmth. They’re great as they’re thin enough to still fit underneath your cycling socks in your shoe and give you just that extra bit of layering. My third tip, and going hand in hand with the second, is proper winter gloves. However this may not be a “tip”, it is my greatest advice to invest in a pair of PROPER winter gloves. It makes the world’s difference being able to feel your brakes - trust me.
An undervest, best known as a baselayer, is a must (vest or long sleeve). If you are out on the bike early or for solid one-and-a-half hours in the dark before the sun comes out, arm and leg warmers are the way to go - these pack away easily into the pocket of your jersey if you warm up. Since I don't like my neck getting cold I prefer a head scarf around my neck to block out any cold wind. A Lava jacket will block out any cold air and keep you toasty :)
You have to dress warmly during the winter season. My go-to item is our range of Lava Jackets, as well as the Reflective Leg Warmers - they help with visibility and warmth. I never go without a CIOVITA baselayers, they provide extra comfort. A casquette is a must-have in winter for extra warmth, and where possible plan your kit the evening before your ride.
The first thing I never miss is my baselayer! A good long sleeve is a great addition to your winter cycling wardrobe (the new Apex H1 Svelto jersey is amazing!) as well as the Artico long-finger gloves. If it's not too cold then I add my gilet over the long sleeve and I am good to go. If the weather seems a bit colder, but not super cold, I will add my windbreaker over a long sleeve and gilet - this is my favorite combo for intervals. If it is properly cold and early I will almost always go for this option; long sleeve, lava jacket (the new Lumen Lava Grey jacket is amazing), or Contego jacket (this one is nice as it can zip open from the bottom as well) and a windbreaker over this. I wear knee warmers almost every morning during winter.
Don’t ride when it’s cold… Kidding. The best strategy for keeping warm is to channel your inner onion by adding layers. My go-to combo is the Dri-Release undervest followed by a Tinta Flyweight jersey and the Apex Ember jacket, if it’s especially cold I’ll pop on some arm warmers and a Merino Lightweight Collar VitaTube. I don’t enjoy wearing gloves but winter often demands it and then my go-to is the Volare long finger.
Keep your extremities warm…when your hands, feet and head are cold the rest of your body gets cold too. Layer your chest…in extreme cold even four layers on your chest is fine, just make sure you can unzip them on climbs easily to regulate temperature. A baselayer will save you…there is nothing better than a Merino baselayer, that is the must-have undershirt for winter. Always carry a neck warmer vitatube…it can cover your ears or your neck and can save you when it is colder than you expect. Arms don’t get ‘as’ cold...To avoid overheating you can leave your arms less protected as they don’t catch as much air as your chest and hands. I often wear just arm warmers, rather than a long sleeve jacket, which keeps my body temp that little bit lower there so that I don’t overheat with all the layers. It is a balancing act, especially on harder rides (intervals) or days where there's lots of up and down.
Winter is a beautiful season and with the appropriate knowledge there should be no need to leave your wheels unturned for the season! Layer up and enjoy the ride.