Even nice summer days often start cool, with pockets of cold air in low-lying areas and mist around rivers. While it’s straightforward to wrap up warm for the journey to work, you’ll then be overdressed for the ride home or else have your bag stuffed to bursting with superfluous kit. This is a minor problem if you commute with panniers; you’ve got room for discarded layers. If you like to travel light – especially for a long day-ride rather than the commute – there’s a better way.
Leave your autumn/winter gear in the wardrobe. The alternatives below will keep the early chill off and yet are so compact that you can pocket them when you don’t need them. In addition to the shorts and jersey you’d wear for a warm afternoon, you’ll want:
– Short-sleeve or sleeveless base layer
Example: Endura Translite Sleeveless. Unless the day is baking hot – and in Britain, it won’t be – this can stay on when it warms up.
– Cycling cap or snood
Example: FWE Neck Warmer. A cap or snood will fit under a helmet to keep your head that bit warmer. The ‘neck warmer’ can be worn in more ways (head, neck, etc) but a cap keeps rain and sun out of your eyes too.
– Lightweight, long-finger gloves
Example: Madison Roam Full Finger. Summer gloves aimed at mountain bikers keep the chill from your fingers but won’t overheat your hands later.
– Gilet or lightweight windproof
Example: Endura Pakagilet II. Keeps cold breezes and light showers from chilling your body’s core, yet packs away to almost nothing.
– Arm warmers
Example: B’Twin Pre-formed Cool Weather Arm Wamers. A pair of stretchy separate sleeves to add to your summer jersey. Can be rolled up or down on the move
– Knee warmers
Example: Santini Totem Knee Warmers. Same idea as arm warmers but for your legs, effectively converting your shorts into 3/4-length tights. Full-length leg warmers are available but knee warmers do the job fine for less bulk.
– Toe covers
Example: Gore C3 Gore Windstopper Toe Cover. For cosy tootsies in single-digit temperatures.
If you commute in normal clothes you’ll likely be warm enough for the ride to work simply by adding a hat, thin gloves, and a lightweight windproof jacket or gilet (see above). Gilets are a bit ‘tank top’ over normal clothes but work well, and yellow ones look like safety vests anyway.
The bigger issue is becoming too warm. Leave your waterproof jacket at home or omit your insulating mid-layer – that is, your jumper. Worried about summer rain? Invest a cape: looks weird, works great, because air circulates underneath.
Example: B'Twin 500 City Cycling Rain Poncho.
Let the breeze in by untucking your shirt and undoing a couple of buttons. Resist the temptation to press on regardless when you get hot. Stop and shed a layer.
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It’s colder, darker, and wetter, but cycling to work can still be the highlight of your day if you have the right equipment and attitude.
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Cycle commuting improves your physical and mental health, as well as boosting productivity at work – so long as you do it right.