Buying a kit doesn’t make you a faster cyclist. Put off buying a carbon bottle cage until you reach your target bodyweight. But spending money CAN make you safer – and more comfortable. And as we lurch into spring, the changing weather invites the discerning cyclist to spend money on a versatile kit.
Multi-purpose head device
When the weather at the start of your ride is likely to be different to the weather at the end of your ride – this piece of kit will make all the difference, no matter what the manufacturers call it. Some brands call this a snood, some a head-warmer but B’Twin call it a “headband”.
This video perfectly demonstrates what you want in a piece of versatile clothing – the ability to quickly switch up how much of your body surface is covered by material. This will regulate your body temperature and vastly improve the quality of your ride. A frosty start? Wear it like a balaclava. Once you’ve warmed up, you can reduce it to a sweatband. Kits don’t come more practical.
Choose slick tyres
Bicycle tyres ain’t the same as car tyres. Car tyres are square edged but bike tyres are rounded – because the speed-to-weight ratio through the tyre contact patch is very different for both modes of transport. Slick tyres on bicycles adapt better to the wet and are less likely to aquaplane. That’s why aircraft have rounded tyres.
Check out this teenage bike gang, snapped on London’s Park Lane on a road closed prior to a protest. Every one of them had slick tyres on MTBs, off-roaders, low riders, and jump-bikes. When I was their age, my friends and I would all have had huge knobbly tyres and wondering why we kept wiping out on skids in the wet.
Rapha arm warmers
A company that spends gargantuan amounts on marketing really doesn’t need a recommendation, but as this video from YouTuber, TheDarkinstall demonstrates, some bits of Rapha kit are worth coveting more than others.
Think about it, you don’t move your arms so, surely, the warmer the better. But what Rapha realised before anyone else, was that re-introducing merino to the arms would form a vital part of temperature regulation. Merino retains heat – but not moisture – and the ability to quickly regulate how much of your arms are covered more effectively attenuates your comfort.
Avoid weather injury
There is a wealth of academic studies that warn athletes that exercising without warming up properly can lead to injury. I’ll add a disclaimer here that, firstly, an item of clothing on its own doesn’t prevent injury and, secondly, we’re talking about injuries caused by athletic exertion.
The above video suggests you should take temperature-use guidelines in the spirit they’re intended – as guidelines. Unless you’re trying to win Paris-Nice, wear warmer clothing. Manufacturers tend to veer their advice towards the more physically able. Remember – it’s always easier to take off warmer clothing than it is to wish you’d brought warmer clothing for the ride.