The British weather. As well as being the source of all small-talk conversation with old ladies and taxi drivers, it also divides the cycling world into two. Those who hang up their helmets for the winter, and those who stoically pedal onwards in grey drizzle, biting winds and icy conditions. If you’re one of the latter, you’re going to need to invest in some winter cycling kit to avoid the ‘drowned-rat’ look upon arrival at your destination. Here are our top 5 winter cycling favourites:
Anyone can tell you that cycling in the rain without mudguards will lead to a splattered back and soaking feet. SKS are the grand-daddys of clip-on mudguards, and these extra-long mudguards for road bikes deserve an honourable place in our list. It can be a bit fiddly to fit the fixings first time round, but once in place, they clip on and off in seconds. Their bigger-than-average size means you get full protection from the elements.
Along with the rubbish weather, winter brings with it dark and dreary nights and a good, waterproof set of lights is essential. The Orfos Flare 360s offer intense LED brightness to rival car lights, and claim to be visible from a full 360 degrees. These bad boys are pumped full of silicone, so when it rains, there’s nothing for the water to leak into. They’ve even been tested by SCUBA divers and lived to tell the tale, so they should be no match for the British weather.
You could pay hundreds of pounds for a waterproof jacket by some of the big names, but there’s simply no need. The Madison Stellar jacket is a big favourite amongst cycling buffs and with good reason. Taped seams and great breathability ensure water-fastness without you drowning in your own sweat. It has a magnetic flap to protect your rear from road spray and articulated arms allow ease of movement. Reflectors and a clip on the back to attach a light ensure you’ll be seen in drizzly conditions. Great value and great performance.
Icy hands can be a misery, so a good pair of gloves is a must. While our winters can’t really be called ‘extreme’, these gloves are equipped for even the chilliest of mornings. They’re quite bulky, but have a clever ergonomic design to ensure dexterity while riding. There’s a showerproof membrane sewn into the inside of the glove, and it’s filled with squishy hollow-fill fibre that keeps your hands nice and toasty.
Almost everyone has a woeful tale to tell about trying to repair a puncture in driving rain with no natural light. A good set of winter tyres can help prevent (but not entirely eliminate!) excessive punctures through the chilly months. These Durano Plus tyres have excellent grip in the wettest of conditions, and a ‘smart-guard’ lining offers great resistance against the mass of detritus that inevitably finds its way onto our roads during wet spells. They roll nicely and are easy to fit. We wouldn’t be without them.
With a bit of careful investment, your winter kit should last you through many seasons. Winter cyclists – we salute you!