In this modern world it is difficult to know what to wear with the changes in the weather. We all know what it’s like; one moment you’re enjoying the blissful warmth and sunshine of what you believe to be a lovely day to then being shivering in heavy rain with nothing but grey butts looming directly above us and a sudden chill in the air.

As an experienced all year round Cyclist I know it’s vital to get the right clothing. One of the most important parts of a cyclist’s wardrobe are base layers and in this blog I am going to offer my best tips for getting base layers right, to allow optimum performance without severely overheating or getting far too cold.

From Hot to Cold

I can talk from experience with how essential it is to get base layers right, being based in Portugal surrounded by a range of mountains, many of my rides incorporate climbs and declines. Whatever the weather climbing will make you hot, however the declines will soon be a cold rush against you, chilling that once warm sweat to an uncomfortable cold and damp feeling.

Thankfully for us with all these advances in sporting clothing getting more comfortable on your bike is available at generally quite reasonable prices. Base layers have moved forward over the years and are now lighter and more efficient.

Cycling Base Layers - arms and vestUndervests

The undervest has always been an essential part of your cycling kit. The main objective of the cycle vest is to keep your chest dry and keep the moisture away. All designs nowadays seem to have evolved from the old cycle vests based on a mesh design which does look slightly like a granddad’s old string vest. These old style vests are still effective and useful today and as such are being utilised by many a cyclist still. These vests can also add a little extra protection from road rash, and with the innovation of new materials, they dry so much more quickly. Make sure when purchasing to get a close fit.

Arm Warmers

Great invention, Arm warmers are perfect to wear under your long-sleeved jersey as a base layer. They can always be removed if you start to overheat on climbing and can soon be replaced when descending or when temperatures drop and things are becoming a bit too chilly. My advice would be to make sure you get lined ones, not just lycra as these will offer much better warmth for those colder spells.

Leg Warmers and Knee Warmers

Leg & knee warmers a great base layer for those occasions of extreme cold. Place these underneath your bib longs to give you extra protection against the cold. They are great to use if you commute to work as you can wear them in the cold mornings but always have the option not to wear them if it’s warmer when you return home.

Cycling Base Layers - glovesGloves

I find it difficult when searching for new gloves to get the right balance between hot or cold. It’s the typical cycling scenario; the first part of your cycle ride your hands are cold, but then as soon as you have warmed up, you’re stuck with a thick pair of gloves for the whole ride, with rather uncomfortable hot and clammy hands. My recommendation is to go with two layers. A pair of liner gloves with a more padded pair of cycle gloves on top. When things are getting too hot, simply remove the inner glove, if temperature drops again then simply, replace the inner glove.

Shoe Covers

Cycling Base Layers - shoesOk, they are not a shoe cover, but first little addition to think about are toe warmers for that extra bit of warmth.

Onto shoe covers and for me Neoprene covers in the winter are the best option. So why Neoprene? They are a flexible material, so easy to stretch over your toe covers. Neoprene covers are also good at keeping those toes warm and toasty.

In extreme wet weather conditions I even place a pair of plastic shoe covers over the neoprene just to keep my feet a little bit drier.

If you fancy a bit of quick DIY then you can also get a pair of old thick socks and cut out holes for the cleats and heels. That’s what we old school riders used to do back in the day, they are also perfect to wear in the spring or autumn.


The views shared are that of the author and are not necessarily that of Lexham Insurance Consultants Ltd.