I’ve been asked to put together some ‘Hot Tips’ together for bits of kit that I think you should look at. Most of this will be centered around clothing as it’s technical equipment for the body.
Autumn and Spring are about my favourite seasons, not too hot or cold and both bring an amazing array of colours when you go out riding. On this post I’m going to look at warmers.
Tlhe best baseliayer is the one you fit the best, and not all baselayers are designed around cycling. Fabrics can differ with certain companies preferring Polyprop and others polyester and finally Merino. Polyprop baselayers like Helly hand Gore are hydrophillic, whereas many baselayers are hydrophobic. You’ll hear good arguments why each manufacturer use both, you’ll need to try some out as what works for you in this area, as your exact branch of the sport will influence your choice.
I like many brands for base layers but I’ve found both Craft and Odlo to be excellent as the quality is great, wash well and last for ages. These guys are experts and this is the primary business so they have to get it right!
Keep to synthetic fabrics if you ride really hard or sweat a lot. Merino is a great alternative and on days when you neeed to do a long and steady ride this is the perfect choice as the fabric has a wide window for thermal operation. This would also make a great choice for Mountainbikers. The key to making any base layer work better is to make sure that it fits like a second skin. This will speed up the process of wicking, while having the added benefit of not making the user cold.
Arms, Knees and Legs
These are essential bits of kit, really they are a game changer. Until recent times all warmers where pretty much thermal fabric tubes, no matter the hot stamp label. Over the last 3-5 years things hav changed in that you can get ergonomic shapes, better fabrics (lighter weight for the same warmth) and now highly water resistant fabrics which extend the time to discomfort, if it starts pouring with rain.
But this isn’t the whole story as there are Lycra and Mid Weight options, the best coming from DeFeet. Lycra ones can be very useful in the summer when the mornings are cool and a Thermal version would just be way too hot. They keep the skin protected from the wind, and to a degree the sun. The mid weight options which I’ve got a few pairs of are perfect for Spring and Autumn as it’s cooler, but not cold. If you don’t have many long sleeve jerseys with a light brushed fleece these are a real good option. The DeFeet armskins and Kneekers had been originally concieved with Cyclocross in mind. Racers, remember that when looking for some warmth that won’t leave you cooked this tubular knitted construction in a mid weight fabric is ideal.
Overshoes, Booties or Shoe Covers
Whatever you call them, these are another essential piece of riding kit which transcend many seasons, and reasons why you need them. Spring and Autumn see an increase in the use of a Belgian style cover which shares much of the properties of a DeFeet style mid weight warmer which has been concieved with the main focus of blocking the vents to add warmth, but with the added (or maybe main) benefit that they keep your shoes grit and dirt free.
The other two options fall into either the neoprene or the PU coated camp. Neoprene isn’t waterproof which is a common misconception. But when wet it does have this bizarre benefit of warming up the trapped dampness. These are great for cold mornings as any air that is trapped soon warms up and keeps the feet toastie. If you don’t believe me try a pair of toe covers and you’ll understand. The PU coated version is highly water resistant, not waterproof. Even Goretex overshoes aren’t 100% waterproof because of the nature of the design as it’s a piece of material with holes in it, otherwise you’d never get them on your feet!