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. Showers Pass Softshell Trainer
Showers Pass hails from Portland, Oregon, so they know a thing or two about getting wet. They claim their Softshell Trainer “fits like a jersey, protects like a jacket,” and I’d say that assessment is right on. With a softshell feel and thickness, it’s waterproof, windproof and warm enough for even the coldest days. The cut is athletic, so you might want to go up a size to fit over bulky layers. Then again, I’ve ridden down to the freezing point with just a baselayer underneath. The quality and finish are top notch, and the waterproof, zippered chest and rear pocket keep your goodies safe. Huge pit zips and a unique zippered rear vent at the base of your neck allow generous air flow. It might not ever take the place of a hardshell rain jacket, but I’ve ridden with it in light showers and snow and stayed dry. At $220, it’s an investment that should keep you riding year-round comfortably. Made in China. www.showerspass.com
2. Layered Tops
Here we have a short-sleeved wool baselayer under a long-sleeved jersey—two long-sleeved shirts would be even warmer.
3. Showers Pass Hybrid Zip- Off Pant
Pictured here in knicker mode, the Hybrid Zip-Off Pant has lower legs that zip off, great for a cold morning commute followed by a warmer ride home. Snap tabs on both legs secure the pants out of the way of chains and other greasy, grabby bits. Tailored to look and fit like casual wear, these $120 softshell pants offer a great balance between fashion and function. Zippered pockets at the rear and one thigh keep your stuff secure, while front slash pockets give your hands someplace to hang out. The fabric is wind- and water-resistant, but becomes pretty heavy when wet, but the pants dry relatively quickly and still retain warmth. This pair has seen thousands of commuting miles and general knocking about, and look like they are ready for thousands more. Made in China. www.endurasport.com
4. SmartWool Liner Glove
SmartWool’s glove liners are an integral part of my fall/ winter/spring layering kit. They’re a no-frills, 100% Merino wool liner offering an additional layer of warmth to any glove, whether under a basic full-finger glove for cool weather, or under a heavy winter shell for frigid temps. They’re a great layering option, but do not hold up terribly well when used as an outer layer. If you ask me, these mitts are worth their weight in gold, and I’d never go into a fall season without at least two pair of these $18 gloves, just in case you lose one. Made in Taiwan www.smartwool.com
5. Blue Bear Wool Tights
Blue Bear Tights are made from 100% extra-fine, itch-free, Italian Merino wool with six-panel, gusseted construction that eliminates the crotch seam. While the design inhibits chafing, it doesn’t inhibit range of motion, thanks to stretchy material. They’re tightly knit to protect against the wind and cold. Zippered ankles ease putting them on or taking them off, and the elastic waistband and drawcord keep them in place. These tights are great for temperatures below 40°F. Layered with a pair of knickers, I’m good into the single digits. They have held their shape perfectly, and are my favorite cold weather leg piece—worth the $148 price. My only nit is that there’s a little extra material in the seat, but this has been addressed in a redesign. Made in the U.S.A. www.bluebearclothing.com
6. Defeet Kneekers
Warm knees are happy knees. DeFeet’s Wool Kneekers are always on my legs when the mercury drops below about 45º, whether by themselves, or under tights and an outer layer. These 80% Merino wool, 19% nylon, 1% Lycra knee warmers stay in place well if you roll them with your short’s elastic: pull ‘em up high, place the elastic band of your shorts on the to top of the Kneeker, and roll them both down a half turn to interlock the pieces. These $27.50 Kneekers have served me beautifully for years, and come highly recommended. Made in the U.S.A. www.defeet.com
7. Swobo merino 6-panel beanie
The ultimate in comfort and warmth.
8. Fleece vest
Again, a vest adds a lot of insulation for the size.
9. Smartwool hiking liner crew
Yes, you can layer socks, too.