For those who Suffer, but still must ride

Ok this is a subject which I’ve advised on a lot over the years, but isn’t something that I suffer from badly myself. It has to get below 5°C before I have to get out the Winter gloves. Even then I can normally stand just using a good GoreTex Winter gaunlet style glove.


So to hands.

Like most things in clothing now you have two options. Old Skool in that you’d go for a layering system with a liner glove used in conjuntion of a Windproof or Waterproof outer glove, which may need to be a size larger depending on the overall fit of the original. The second option requires a leap of faith as you need to believe that these (thin) fabrics can provide the warmth and protection needed,So rather than waffle on about other temperatures on this I am goin to look at the gloves which provide the most warmth.

Without a doubt the warmest gloves you will use will be a lobster style ones. Partly due to the fact that your fingers are kept close to each other, and in doing so increase the natural thermal properties of your hands. The other benefit to this design is that they tend to use a very warm filler fabric as the dexterity of the gloves is pretty low on the features list of this product.

Ever since Andy Hampsten raided the ski shop and equipped himself with some warm gloves for the tough day on the mountain, so began the pursuit of making a warm, waterproof glove suited to the demands of the cyclist on drop handlebars. 

In essence what you are looking for is the following, regardless of your particular brand, and you should use it as a guide.

  • Gauntlet style. By which I mean that the closure extends way past your wrist so limiting the possibility of any air gaps between Jackets or Jerseys.
  • A thermal lining. This can come in the shape of a simple fleece material or in some cases using materials like Thermolite all the way up to the very best which is Primaloft.
  • A Wind or Waterproof membrane. Both membranes will stop the wind, and so adding warmth. Goretex tends to lose some dexterity compared to Windstopper in my opinion so I’d always go for Windstopper, although the Goretex gloves nearly always seem to be warmer.

Using those three simple guidelines you’ll be able to find a product regardless of price. The brand names (and the quality that goes with them) may change on cheaper products, but the principal remains the same. If you truly find that these are not warm enough try using some glove liners as well as the winter glove to further enhance the thermal properties of the chosen glove.


and to Feet

If you are going to continue to use your regular summer shoes there’s a few things you should consider before the winter creeps in, and these small mods will really help. If your shoe has air holes in the bottom I’d suggest taping these over with some duct tape. It’ll come off easy come the spring but not only will it stop the cold air chilling you to the bone it will also act as a barrier against any road spray coming up on damp mornings. Another quick fix can come in the form of tin foil. Popping out your insole/footbed you can trace around this on a sheet of foil and create a layer which will bounce back some of the body heat. You can also buy pre made footbeds from the like of Superfeet and their REDhot product should help keep the coldest feet warm. The only issue is that they may not fit in all cycling shoes.


One of the great additions to the cyclists wardrobe over recent years is the addition of Merino, or Merino mix socks. Without doubt my all time favourite is the DeFeet Woolie Boolie. Slightly thicker than a normal summer sock, but with bags of wamrth. They come in two lengths and go for the longer one if you really suffer, but for milder days the shorter of the two will be more than adequate for the deepest of winters. If you need something slimmer you can look to the Quindici from Castelli, tall at 15cm, but pretty thin all round. For some folks they swear by SealSkinz socks which have a Merino lining and a membrane middle to the softer outer. Highly popular for mountainbiking, but makes a lot of sense for those who suffer on the road.

Overshoes turn your Summer Shoe into a winter beater. I’ll cut straight to the chase on this. There are two overshoes I’ve used and I can’t sing their praises highly enough. The first is the Sportful No Rain overshoe. Not the prettiest of products but using their (almost) waterproof material the product has a huge warmth factor. Coupled with the fact that the ankle area has a double cuff which hides the zip and is secured off with a velcro closure, this is really a deep winter product which when I first used them two years ago battled through the snow with no issues at all. 


There’s a very similar product from Bioracer, but instead they use a high quality 4mm neoprene. It feels like the really good Japanese materials that you see on high end wetsuits. What is interesting here is that they employ the double cuff method also. But what is different is that they do not have any zips at the back. They have to go on before you put your shoes on and you need to wrestle them over your shoes. It’s a bit of a faff to be honest, but the results are worth the extra time spent on getting them on. Rain, Cold just didn’t prove a probelm for these overshoes. 

Another way to add warmth would be to add a toe cover underneath any overshoe. It doubles up the point of the foot which is in greatest contact with the wind and completely blocks off any mesh at the front. They are pretty cheap and cn be used in a lot of situations and is something you really should consider buying. I think they look a little funny, but with a Oversock on top it improves the overall appearance.

Of course there are a whole raft of good winter cycling boots, which on their own provide more warmth and protection. Couple that with any decent overshoe you’ll turn the warmth up to 11. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things off, but as a rough guide I hope I’ve covered of a few things. If you’ve some more questions, please post them below and I’ll answer.


5 thoughts on “For those who Suffer, but still must ride

  1. Excellent article and touching a subject which affects me greatly . As an old cyclist , cold cab be a real deterrent so i will try and find some kit that follows your advice

  2. Hey Rich, I listened to you on Tech 5 awhile back where you discussed base layers with John. Great stuff but I can’t seem to find it. i’m looking to get new gear for this winter and this article has been really helpful. Any recommendations on a good base layer or do you have an article up on that? Thanks, Dustin

    • Hello Dustin

      like many things in cycling ‘Fit is KING’, so that’s the first place I’d start. I’ve used lots over the years and I think that Craft, Helly Hansen, Castelli all make great products and enjoy using them all. But the king, especially for Winter is Odlo. The fit, warmth and wicking properties are the best I’ve used.

      I hope that helps, if not shout.

    • Hello Dustin

      Base layer performance is driven by price, want great value then look at Helly or Craft. If you want great fabrics and performance then check out Odlo.

      I’ve been impressed with both Castelli and Assos’s focus on this area as it’s producing some fantastic base layers that really keep you warm and dry.

      Hope that helps, if not shout.



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