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Help: Winter Clothes(11 posts)

Help: Winter ClothesBikewithadam
Oct 14, 2002 1:20 PM
I'm having a tough time deciding on winter clothes. This is the first winter that I want to ride seriously and I am looking to get some good quality stuff that will last me several seasons.

Can anybody recommend good jackets, tights, shoe covers and gloves? I've narrowed down my search to Assos, although I'd certainly consider other manufacturers. Within the Assos line, does anybody have experience with both the "Airblock" and "Thermo" tights, and likewise with both the "Airblock" and "Gator" jackets? I don't know whether I should stick with airblock or get the thermo/gator combo for colder weather.

Any help would be appreciated!
Many answersmass_biker
Oct 14, 2002 3:09 PM
There are many answers to this question, all of which start with "It depends on how much you want to spend...". But after riding and racing for almost 15 years in New England (and I'm a transplanted Californian!), this is what has worked for me.

Jackets - don't scrimp. One of my best investments was a cycling-specific winter jacket (I got the Exte Ondo something or other). Nice and burly, with a pocket in the back to put the second bottle in so that at least one won't freeze. On less cold (30-40) days, just a long sleeve base layer underneath would suffice. On colder (20-30), a more substantial midlayer would be called in, and on really cold days (20 and below), the midlayer would take the place of underwear and hope would replace good sense. I am sure the Assos stuff would be very nice.

Tights - I have tried a bunch and the ones I like and use the most are the Performance Triflex. Sure, they aren't the most form fitting ones out there, but they are seriously warm, have nifty wind/water block stuff on the front, and are fuzzily warm on the inside. Best of all, they are around $100 less than the Castellis. Trust me, your tights will get nasty and skanky, so think many times before laying down $200 for glorified underwear. The Triflex tights are somewhat warm in temps above 40.

Shoe covers - again, as a warmblooded Californian, my dogs get really cold in the winter. But I have held Old Man Winter at bay with the combination of the following - thermal liner (wool and nylon - available from any hiking store) in cycling shoes, hiking sock over the cycling shoe (a burly ragg wool one works - if you have Euro leanings, go with time trial covers, and then a bootie over the whole magilla). This "overbootie" approach requires the use of a heavy duty covering, and again, the good folks at Performance step in with superduper thick neoprene with crazy industrial zippers that regular folks can afford (and use for years on end). I have tried others (TeoSport, Castelli etc.) and they are great down to 40. Below that, and in foul weather, reach for the catalog. Mine are one size larger than normal (dead air between the inside of the bootie and the outside of the shoe is key to staying warm) and going on two years with nary a peep. Honorable mention goes to Pearl Izumi - as soon as my Performance booties die, I will have to try the Typhoon booties. For temps down to the 40s, I rely on assorted shoe covers and the like. Smartwool socks are your best friend in all of this.

Gloves - I am yet to find the perfect glove, so my drawer is full of weird combos. Ones that I come back to time and time again are the Pearl Izumi Lobsters - I get em one size big because the insulation compresses when you lean on the bar, and because a big size allows you to stuff heat packets in there. Other ones that work pretty well are no-name wool gloves for temps down to the 40s.

Other - get a Pearl Izumi balaclava. It makes a huge difference on the really chilly days. On those iffy days, even a cotton cycling cap makes a difference, so stock up on them and use them even in the wintry months. Craft underwear is awesome, and totally lives up to (and exceeds) the hype. Wool is a great last year in most climes and the key midlayer in really really cold weather (Craft next to the skin, then wool jersey, and then winter cycling jacket). And if you want to ride seriously through the winter, think about keeping yourself warm and dry from the bottom up - which means a beater bike with fenders and the like (but that is another post altogether).

Good luck.

"winter" where?filtersweep
Oct 14, 2002 3:32 PM
How cold do you want to go? I live in MN and we call it "fall/spring" riding- which I'll do until the snow flies.

I have a very nice Castelli jacket that I use with a base layer. A jacket should breathe, which is why I think a cycling specific jacket is a good way to go. I also recommend wearing something over the ears. I use a wind blocking headband with earflaps.

The key issue is good tights and shoe covers (since my 'nads and toes get the coldest). Most tights don't work too well below 40 degrees (with wind). You'll want to block the wind AND have some contour to the knees so they don't bind (you need more than two panels to the legs). Also, cheap shoe covers simply do not do the job. Finding just the right size shoe covers can be quite a hunt. You'll want something rugged, since they will be chewed up eventually.

Gloves are a bit tricky- seems they are either warm and mostly unpadded, or padded and not warm... the holy grail is to find both!

Good luck... I quickly lose my motivation when I'm freezing out there ;)
Try cross-country ski shops, YOKO gloves are great,Spunout
Oct 14, 2002 5:23 PM
And most XC gear is quite breathable. Assos and Castelli cycling wear can really eat into your budget.
"winter" where?Bikewithadam
Oct 14, 2002 6:19 PM
Well I'm primarily riding in the Philadelphia and Boston areas, so it'll be pretty cold. (Maybe not as cold as Green Bay, but all you cheeseheads out can stay quiet about the Patriots, thank you very much!) All of your comments so far have been pretty helpful.

In response to some of the questions, I am thinking about plunking down and "doing it right". I've found that as far as cycling clothes go you get what you pay for, so I'm looking to buy something good the first time around. (Been saving for this purchase all summer!) One question I still have is whether or not to go for the absolute coldest-weather stuff vs. the 35-60 degree stuff, e.g. Assos airblock vs. gator, or another manufacturer's equivalent. I'd like to be able to ride in truly cold weather, but I am hesitant to buy something that is so warm that it will be inversatile and too hot to use when it's only moderately chilly out. How breathable are these materials? If I get the "warmest" garments will I overheat when it's 50 degrees out? Which way should I go??

Thanks for your help!
A few items that work for me in CT.dzrider
Oct 15, 2002 4:46 AM
Over time I've picked up a bunch stuff that I use in different combinations for different temperatures. Some things I'd recommend.

1. Bigger shoes - they'll accomodate thick sox without impeding circulation.

2. Wool/polypropelene, Army surplus glove liners and Outdoor Research Windstopper gloves big enough to fit over them.

3. Another vote for Performance neoprene booties.

4. Hind dri-lete tights. Great for the money.

5. If you hope to ride for more than 90 minutes get a seat bag or handlebar bag that lets you carry warmer clothes. 45 minutes from home with the temperature falling can be a horrible situation.
Oct 15, 2002 5:35 AM
Splurge on the winter jacket. A good (i.e. warm one) will be useless in temps above 45 or so, but you want to be warmer, rather than cooler on these epic wintry rides. So budget some money for good layers. Having good layers will enable you to use your clothes in shifting weather.

Really cold: Winter jacket, heavy weight (wool, thermafleece) long sleeve jersey, good (i.e. Craft) long sleeve undershirt

Kinda cold: Winter jacket with just the underwear (and maybe a short sleeve jersey over the long sleeve undershirt)

Not that cold: Heavy weight jersey, long sleeve undershirt and a windvest to keep the core warm

The best winter jackets do a great job keeping you warm, and I find these are best in temps below 45. None of these are that great in temps above 55, but they aren't saunas. That said, I say get the warmest garments you can. You can always cut back on any layers you put on underneath.

To summarize - spend up for a good jacket, but don't forget to spend wisely on undergarments. Super expensive tights aren't that much value-added I have found.

look hereMJ
Oct 15, 2002 12:11 AM
Icebike Tights by Gekko GearEricBH
Oct 15, 2002 3:43 AM
The Icebike tights by Gekko Gear in Winter Park CO., are the warmest tights I've used. PI Amfib tights are my mildly cold weather tights now. The Gekko gear tights I reserve for the real cold stuff.
I suggest...hirevR
Oct 15, 2002 9:25 AM
Assos Airblock Jacket (soft, fleece-lined) 189.00
Nike Roubaix tights (with windblock kevlar inserts) ??
Illuminite shoe covers $45.00
Pearl Izumi Cloth gloves (35 degrees and above) $21
Pearl Izumi Lobster Gloves (below 35 degrees) $49
Performaance brand skull cap $10
Performance brand headband $10
Body Armor Under armor $40 (sports authority)

I live in lancaster PA and this is the clothing I wear during the winter. This morning I wore the full get uo for my commute (it was 34 degreess) aand I was actually warm. The Assos jacket is AWESOME and SOOOOOOOworth it. It is the only item I need up top if it;s around 30-35 degrees. If it gets any colder, I layer with a body armor t-shirt. It is the techiest and most stylish and functional jacket out there doing everything it claaims to do.
IMHO: ASSOS rules!!coonass
Oct 15, 2002 6:05 PM
I find the Gator jacket comfortable down to the low-30's with their very thin Hydro II shirt...and I don't have that "Michelin Man" feeling that I had with 3-4 layers of clothing for the same ride...I've got a pair of Airblock Thermos on order as I've finally accepted the facts: "The good stuff costs $$$". The Gator is like wearing a medium weight Autumn jacket (with longer sleeves for stretching to the hoods) and is superb...My present Bellweather tights and polypropelene(sp?)thermos, makes the legs feel 'heavy' can save a some $$ on the ASSOS at (Tim is excellent) Whichever ASSOS you decide on, you won't be sorry.....btw: their armwarmers are super thick for COLD conditions.
(One tip I learned in the Military; a very, very light application of Vaseline (or A&D Ointment) on the face helps protect your skin)