5 key rules for cycling clothing

CC by Colville-Andersen via Flickr

Everyone of us knows, that in cycling, layering your clothing is key. In Germany this is called the “onion-principle”. 
What to wear is as much a personal thing as your maximum heart rate. You have to find it out yourself. But there are a few key rules that apply to every cyclist.

1. Pay attention to your core

If your core stays warm, everything else on your body will be warm too. Your blood get’s heated in your core and when it comes cold out there, it will also be cold in your feet.

2. Always have a layer in reserve

Yeah, on a hot 35°C summer day, you might break this rule. But, if the temperature goes down under 20°C it’s easier to get too cold than too warm.

3. If you get wet substract 10°C

Wetness is the worst enemy fo a cyclist. Together with wind, it will cool your body so much down, that it needs way more energy to heaten up again. Energy, which you can not use for riding. I experienced, that in wet weather my clothing should meet conditions for a 10°C cooler day. So if it’s 8°C outside, but it’s raining, I dress for cycling in -2°C.

4. Windproof beats waterproof

To say it simple: Windproof is still a breathable garment, whereas waterproof most of the time is not. So when it rains you will get wet, if not from the rain, then from your own sweat inside your waterproof. If you take into account that rainshowers usually doesn’t last that long, you will be far more comfy with a windproof layer. The principle here is: You won’t get cold from the rain. It’s the wind, that cools you down.

5. The “boil in the bag” is your emergency exit

This is somewhat of an emergency trick: I usually have a thin plastic trash bag and also thin plastic gloves in my bag. You get these on a gas station. If the weather gets to the extremes – and I mean really hefty rain in temperatures round about 6°C – I pull the bag over my core and get into the gloves. This traps air around my body, which will heat up after a few moments and at least gets me home. To put that into perspective: This only happend once in the last five years.

How do you stay warm in winter?


16 responses to “5 key rules for cycling clothing

  1. Good article 🙂 out of interest where are you in Germany?

    In terms of keeping warm and dry I have a Buffalo teclite that I wear on the mtb for bad weather, it’s warm with large zips up the sides which means it nearly splits in two, but it’s warm even when soaking wet. On the road I have a convertible jacket that you can remove the arms from which is more wind than water proof. I have asked for a gabba for Christmas though 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A cozy living room next to a roaring fire usually does the trick.
    But then the yell of the (one man) peloton calls and I go for layers and short (20 mile ish) rides. Playing football as a kid was shorts and (almost) t shirt garb, no matter how gruesome the weather so I try not to let a bit of cold/wet/breezy ness put me off.
    Some handy tips as ever Stefan, thank you. (And is it pronounced Freezing?)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After the core, I focus on the extremities like ties and fingers. I have some nice gloves and toe covers I use all winter. Keeping my core warm usually keeps my arms warm, but the fingers are a different story.

    Then again… Here in NC (USA) It’s not much of a problem. When I lived in Berlin though….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I live in a usually warm area but when it does get cold it will freeze. I usually goof up my layering the first time it gets cold each year (Like this past Saturday) wind proof works pretty will with maybe an additional vest for my core. I also found that putting tape over the vents on the bottom of my shoes helps with my feet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I live in Ohio, USA. For rain, we have “waterproof breathable” rain gear. That started as Gore-Tex and is common these days. The particular brand I use is FroggToggs, but there are plenty more. That’s expensive but it does the job well. For cold, it gets well below freezing here, and I ride for transportation, not just for fun. The principle of layering still applies, but pay attention to closing out the air at the wrists, neck, waist, and ankles. Visibility is always an issue, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I will be finding out!!!! I have it figured out with running but cycling is different. Right now I am still experimenting, but the weather has been unseasonably warm. My commute is thirty two minutes both ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A bit like you mentioned I like to use layers, so base layer, good jersey and arm warmers then a windproof top. Love a good skull cap would recommend Grip Grab skull cap and their gloves are great too. I also use over shoes which keep my feet toastie!

    Liked by 1 person

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