By the Bicycle Times Staff
How do you dress for a ride? This question is more complex than it may seem at first. But with the aim of helping you answer it for yourself, here we present a collection of clothing reviews, along with some advice on how to combine pieces for different outfits to match different conditions. The reviews are loosely arranged in outfits according to the weather in which you’d wear them, going from warmer to cooler. We also present some “Extras to Consider” with each outfit, things you may want to bring along in a bag to be prepared for changes in temperature or to accommodate different needs. Read the complete introduction here.
1. Endura Laser II Jacket
The Endura Laser II Waterproof Jacket is a fully seam-sealed, breathable shell that packs down into its own zippered rear pocket, squishing to the size of a large burrito. Three Velcro tabs let you strap the jacket-burrito to your frame. Interesting. But the only zipper pull is stuck inside the pouch, which makes it a hassle to unpack when you’re standing in the rain. The cut is roomy enough to fit over a sweater or other layers, and I’ve been keeping it in my backpack with me just in case of a passing shower. The drawcords at the collar and hem and the Velcro cuffs kept me dry in some nasty weather. At $80, it’s more expensive than a basic plastic rain jacket, but if you live somewhere with a lot of precipitation it’s likely worth the investment. Made in China. www.endurasport.com
2. Layered Tops
Not a review, a bit of advice here: layering is the best way to go as it gets colder. Multiple layers of fabric trap heat better than one single layer, and you can remove one or more if you warm up. Different layers can also serve different functions; for instance, the SmartWool base layer shown here wicks sweat away, a wool mid-layer adds warmth, while the Endura jacket shields you from rain and wind.
3. Swobo Knickers
Swobo’s ThermoGnar Bib knickers are constructed of Merino wool next to the skin, bonded to layer of nylon/Spandex on the outside. The wool transports moisture away from the skin and insulates like no synthetic can, the outer layer keeps light rain and wind at bay. A fancy Italian chamois keeps the bum happy and the mesh straps prevent chafing and the dreaded mid-riff clothing gap, a very good thing in cool weather. The $180 price tag is steep, but compares favorably to other knickers of similar quality, and they are made in Oakland, CA. www.swobo.com
4. Bontrager Men’s Commuter Pants
Some days it is nice to not look like a biker. These $100 casual pants have numerous small touches that make them work well in the saddle, but don’t scream "geek "when away from the bike. The legs roll up to knicker height and snap into place, which exposes a big reflective strip across the back of both legs, and a loop for a U-lock sits over the left rear pocket. A full compliment of “normal” pockets work as they should, and a single low-profile zippered thigh pocket is a fine place for your text-messaging machine. There is a seamless fabric panel inside across the seat that adds just a hint of padding while riding, but no odd feel while walking—in fact it took me over a week to notice it. While designed more for the warmer three seasons, I’ve been really happy with them in the winter; the tight weave of the lightweight fabric makes them surprisingly windproof and warm, even down to freezing. The fabric is also comfortable enough to wear all day, dries very quickly, and seems to shed dirt. These have become my go-to riding pants for commuting. Made in China. Bontrager.com
5. SmartWool PHD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks
Spoiled as it may sound, I wear nothing but wool socks, and the SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew socks have become my new cool-to-cold weather favorite. SmartWool’s 79% Merino wool, 20% nylon, 1% elastic material blend, along with the construction of the sock, help to keep it in place. Additional material at highpressure zones gives cushion and durability—these have held up much better than other SmartWwool socks I’ve used. In the morning, I reach for these $22 socks first, whether they’re clean or not. Made in the U.S.A. of New Zealand Merino wool. www.smartwool.com.
6. Shiela Moon Cycling Cap
Fits under a helmet, and the visor adds protection from rain and snow.
7. Endura Gloves
Keep your hands and feet warm for riding comfort.
8. Fleece vest
A vest is a packable layer that adds a lot of warmth.
9. smartwool Glove Liners