Layers are your best friend
The trickiest thing about riding in-between seasons is that the weather is at its least predictable. Layers give you high versatility and are the most effective way to stay comfortable. The air trapped between each item helps keep you warm and equally distributes the heat. Your core temperature is always going to impact whether or not your extremities stay warm, so if you don’t have a solid base layer, even the best gloves and socks won’t work.
Your base layer should be close-fitting and made of a fast-wicking material that you feel great in. Decide on short or long sleeves depending on the temperature and remember that a crew-neck can also help trap warmth if you’re out really early or late in the day. The best outer layers will depend on the temperature, but you should also take into consideration how long you’ll be out. Some prefer arm warmers for autumn riding, but a long-sleeve jersey can also be a great, more comfortable option. A jersey made from a fleece-backed thermo fleece material provides additional insulation but is also highly breathable. Combine this with the right base layer and you’ll be both super comfortable and well-protected.
If a long sleeve is not enough, and you’re already maxed on the warmth of your base layer, a windproof gilet can go a long way. The Craft Featherlight gilet, for example, is lightweight, cheap and is easily stowable in rear jersey pocket.
Be kind to your hands and feet
If you’re feet and hands aren’t happy, you won’t be either. Accept right now that, depending on where you live, warm socks simply might not be enough. Modern cycling shoes are designed to be super well-ventilated, and that means they allow a lot of cold air to pass through. According to your circulation and the rest of your gear, a pair of oversocks might do the trick.
If you’re still not feeling protected, light, windproof overshoes will trap more heat and help you stay warm longer. Aqua Light Overshoes aren’t bulky at all but still provide lots of protection, resist rain and spray from the road, plus they have reflective strips at the rear. Once the temperature falls closer to zero though, you’re going to need full-on winter shoes to stay comfortable while riding.
As far as gloves go, there are lots of suitable options, but keeping the wind out is the most crucial requirement. Fabrics such as GORE Windstopper and WindTex are both good options that also offer water repellency and breathability. The inner membrane will vary depending on the cold temperatures it’s designed to withstand, find something within your expected range and make sure it fits well and has a cuff design you find comfortable.
Legs, legs, legs
We probably don’t have to remind you to take care of your legs, but the value of a quality pair of knee warmers cannot be overstated. Just be careful about making sure that you get the right size, the silicon grippers can only do so much, and you don’t want them slipping all over the place. A comfortable pair of three-quarter length bib tights is also a flexible solution. Look for a pair made with a fleecy-backed fabric for thermal protection, and be sure they have a comfortable seat pad.
Don’t forget the detail and multi-purpose your accessories
Investing in some decent autumn cycling socks is cheap and you can also wear them to keep your feet warm during other activities. Prendas offers lots of good options, with both the ThermoCool-Carbon and the Reflective Flash sock being rider favourites.
In terms of trapping the heat on top, a basic cotton cap under your helmet can be the perfect solution when an under-helmet skull cap is still a little too warm. Your head will still be able to breathe, but you’ll have added protection from the elements.
So there you have it, layer-up to give yourself maximum flexibility, don’t forget the lights and mud-guards, and go enjoy that brisk autumn air!