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Old 01-04-13, 09:03 AM   #1
TexLex100
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Using non bike-specific winter clothes?

The weather is getting a bit chilly early mornings when I ride. I have recently bought a Gore Bike Wear Phantom 2 soft shell for this kind of weather, but I was cold even with a base layer of merino wool. It is also tight around the arms (and I have the largest size, XXL). I had a similar experience with an Izumi shell.

My question is: how essential is bike-specific winter gear? Does any of you use regular, non-bike-specific, wind breaker while cycling? For example, LL Bean sells windbreaker fleece (http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/56539...-fleece-jacket). I can get one of those, and put a reflective vest on top for visibility.

Would that work? or is there something unique about bike clothing? Thanks.
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Old 01-04-13, 09:20 AM   #2
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Winter cycling is somewhat unique in that it demands warmth, wind protection and the ability to shed moisture from perspiration. It's difficult to find clothing that keeps the skin dry and that shields from the wind. Once the skin becomes wet, the chill can be very powerful, and dangerous. I avoid cotton completely and use wool or synthetic clothing that acts like wool.



I combine a few cycling items with some general purpose winter clothing. I'll use a wind-proof cycling vest, I like having my underarms kept dry and won't use a long sleeve windbreaker that traps sweat. These Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Tights are ideal for 40f and colder: http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...32&cagpspn=pla

These wool fleece insoles allow me to use my summer cycling shoes and still maintain warmth: http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/s...or_Shoes/26655

I'll use two layers of cycling boot covers;





I'll then use whatever I have from other winter activities. These include Smart Wool socks, a performance base layer from Target, a Merino wool long sleeve turtleneck from Ibex, and a winter fleece as a third layer.

These trigger finger mits from a sporting store are great for brifters and are very cost effective: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/c...aspx?a=1101011

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Old 01-04-13, 09:29 AM   #3
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Thanks. Yes, I do not use cotton at all during my rides. For the bottom, I wear an Izumi cycling shorts, a thermal long underwear, and then an UA Cold Gear tights. So, I have no problem there. I have less luck with the torso and feet, however.


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Winter cycling is somewhat unique in that it demands warmth, wind protection and the ability to shed moisture from perspiration. Only cross country skiing produces the amount of sweat that cycling produces. It's difficult to find clothing that keeps the skin dry and that shields from the wind. Once the skin becomes wet, the chill can be very powerful, and dangerous. I avoid cotton completely and use wool or synthetic clothing that acts like wool.

I combine a few cycling items with some general purpose winter clothing. I'll use a wind-proof cycling vest and Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Tights: http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...32&cagpspn=pla
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Old 01-04-13, 09:36 AM   #4
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Thanks. Yes, I do not use cotton at all during my rides. For the bottom, I wear an Izumi cycling shorts, a thermal long underwear, and then an UA Cold Gear tights. So, I have no problem there. I have less luck with the torso and feet, however.
I added some content to my post that should help with the torso and feet. I'm warm down to about 17f, I stay in when it's colder than that. I could keep cycling down to 0F if I inserted chemical heaters to my boots and went to regular mitts on the hand. I would use a Baklava over the head, also: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/s...owse&k=baklava
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Old 01-04-13, 10:16 AM   #5
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Non-cycling gear can certainly be used for cycling. Some of it will work pretty well for some things up to a point. But some of the purpose made cycling gear works very well and for a longer time. It comes down to a personal decision whether the benefits outweigh the costs.
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Old 01-04-13, 10:31 AM   #6
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I use both cycling specific and non-cycling specific winter clothes. When I commute to work, it's the non-cycling specific clothing. (Granted, these trips are shorter – 40 minutes each way.) In making a choice about the number of layers, I consider both temperature and wind speed. Additionally, I think there is often some slight misunderstanding about "breathable” clothing. Most fabric can’t get rid of moisture fast enough to keep one completely dry when exertion reaches a certain point. The trick is to keep the moisture away from contact with your skin. Hence, wicking fabrics next to the skin are my first choice. Sometimes, I’ll wear two layers of wicking fabrics and then one or more layers of other fabrics to insulate. In the winter, I always were a thin shell rated as wind proof or wind resistant up to 90 mph. Personally, I don’t like shells or jackets that are only wind resistant in the front, but not the back.
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Old 01-04-13, 10:39 AM   #7
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You certainly can use other non specific clothing with some comfort. It really depends on personal preference. Generally cycling specific clothing is always more comfortable for any riding other than winter time. I ride regularly in sub 0F temps. and use cycling specfic clothing for my upper and lower body but have to resort to more extreme weather gear for my hands and feet. No cycling shoes or gloves for around here, that's for sure. Other than that, I just use the layering method depending on the day's temp range.
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Old 01-04-13, 10:45 AM   #8
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I rarely wear cycling specific stuff any more.. Milage is just so short , commuting ..

65+, work just part time, then it's Pub Time.
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Old 01-04-13, 01:36 PM   #9
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I started cycling in the winter over 50 years ago, and this is the best piece I've read, in terms of being consistant with what I have learned from experience:
http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/01...g-why-its.html

One problem with the refelective vest is that it may make it more difficult to unzip your coat to vent heat. I use a reflective shoulder band instead. Some cycling outerware has extra vents to vent heat.

I ride a 25 mile round trip commute year round and have never owned any cycling-specific clothing in my life.

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Old 01-04-13, 02:52 PM   #10
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It is the outer jacket that has to fit. I am in the small categorie but I do have a couple of XL outer jackets to put over the top of all the other stuff I am wearing.

You can wear any clothing you want but for the legs make certain it is not too tight- does not retain wet (Jeans do) and there is some way of stopping them getting caught in the chain. Body wise and the best thing you can buy for the cold is a "Base Layer". My winter one is thermal and long sleeved. Then over this you can wear a light fleece and a windproof Outer shell. More garments can be put on if necessary and this is why for winter riding- the outer shell should be "Over Large".

But I have been cycling for 22 years and have plenty of cycling clothing. You acquire it on an "As needed" basis. Summer riding and it is shorts and jerseys- then a waterproof outer jacket- then you find out about windproof and one of those comes along.Then the long sleeve jersey and how about the cycling tights. Then there is the necessity of gloves and thermal socks and---------and the list goes on.

Main thing to do right now is keep riding. You are doing right by staying away from cotton but as you will find out- once you get the body warm enough on a ride--The feet hands and ears get cold. A ski mask for the ears as if it is cold on the ears- the rest of the face could be aswell. Gloves and I dare say you have long finger gloves tucked away somewhere but wind and water proof is important too. Feet and I used to wear two pairs of socks with a plastic bag layered between the two. Kept the wind and the wet out and the feet did not get too cold.

You do not need cycling specific clothing as if you did- you would be spending just as much on clothing as you did the bike. So in the meantime wear whatever you have got. And if it is every jersey and sweatshirt you have got then invest in an "Over" large outer jacket to keep the weather out.
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Old 01-04-13, 03:21 PM   #11
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I think that at the very least, you need a cycling-specific rain jacket. These are not as baggy in the sleeves & trunk as non-cycling jackets, and the arms are usually cut longer so you don't get a bare wrist when you're leaned forward.

Winter gloves, however, should NOT be cycling-specific, because the industry has yet to produce a decent winter glove that:
1. keeps your hands warm
2. keeps your hands dry
3. does not reek of sweat after one or two uses
4. does not make your hands just as wet from condensation
5. is durable

I'm currently using insulated snowboarding gloves with synthetic insulation filling with great results!

Luis
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Old 01-04-13, 06:21 PM   #12
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I mix the cycling specific with non-cycling kit in the winter. I added an Under Armour Cold Gear compression fit mock turtle LS top, their Cold Gear "Liner" gloves and a balaclava w couple of weeks ago. My wife gave me a PI wind and rain shell jacket for Christmas, that keeps the wind or wet off my torso and arms. I can use multiple or a single jersey depending on the temperature and long tights and/or bib thights and even shorts under either one, as needed. Layers makes the difference for me and I am not really concerned with a "Cycling" look per se, staying comfortable is more important. Cycling specific thights or shorts with a quality chamois is my only hard and fast rule, I hate chafing and irritation down in the nethers.

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Old 01-04-13, 06:32 PM   #13
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here's a vote for cycling specific clothing especially jackets & pants. they have the right cut for the riding position. it takes some trial and error and some expense to find what you like but in the end it is worth it.
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Old 01-04-13, 06:32 PM   #14
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I only have one piece of bicycle-specific winter clothing. A thin skull cap from Castelli to help cut the wind. Otherwise it's all street clothes. Generally, bicycle-specific clothes are way out of my budget.
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Old 01-04-13, 06:44 PM   #15
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I wear whatever works: I find a GoreTex parka as an outer layer works really well to keep the wind out and then I don't have to worry about the underlayers as much -- they are just insulation. That is usually just a fleece or a sweat shirt. And, under that I'll wear a cottton turtle neck and under that a cycling specific underlayer.

And, I have a couple pairs of old running pants with zippers at the ankles that work really well: they are fairly warm and windproof --- but they also wick away perspiration so I stay pretty dry. And, under them I wear biking shorts (actually underwear -- they are meant to worn under something.)

On my hands I wear either a pair of cycling specific wind-proof gloves or a pair of insulated ski gloves...

Basically: if I didn't already have something that worked, I bought it at my LBS.
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Old 01-04-13, 06:45 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
I think that at the very least, you need a cycling-specific rain jacket. These are not as baggy in the sleeves & trunk as non-cycling jackets, and the arms are usually cut longer so you don't get a bare wrist when you're leaned forward.

Winter gloves, however, should NOT be cycling-specific, because the industry has yet to produce a decent winter glove that:
1. keeps your hands warm
2. keeps your hands dry
3. does not reek of sweat after one or two uses
4. does not make your hands just as wet from condensation
5. is durable

I'm currently using insulated snowboarding gloves with synthetic insulation filling with great results!

Luis
Yep. I use two sets of winter gloves. One pair is a very nice Cannondale set that cost about a million dollars. The other is a set of fleece mittens from Chez Target that cost $12.50. I actually prefer the Target mittens, plus you can pull the hoods back, exposing the fingers and allowing you to work an iPhone.

I treated myself to a Smartwool mid weight top for base layer. It did not cost $12.50, and I wish I had bought it long ago. Very cozy on a winter day.

I used to wear a non-cycling but very warm jacket when I rode upright bikes. I now have a cycling specific winter jacket and like it way better. But it all boils down to preference and amount of discretionary funds on hand.
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Old 01-04-13, 08:15 PM   #17
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I could keep cycling down to 0F if I inserted chemical heaters to my boots and went to regular mitts on the hand.
I've gone 18 miles under difficult conditions at -34 C and have never had a chemical heater. Seems like a city folk thing to me. (Don't mind me. That's just my favorite insult lately.)

I wear hiking boots about 9" high, large enough to use a pair of winter wool socks and a thinner pair of socks. They do have a layer of Thinsulate but I'm not sure how much help that is.

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I ride a 25 mile round trip commute year round and have never owned any cycling-specific clothing in my life.
My commute is shorter but have also never owned cycling clothing.
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Old 01-04-13, 08:28 PM   #18
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I've gone 18 miles under difficult conditions at -34 C and have never had a chemical heater. Seems like a city folk thing to me. (Don't mind me. That's just my favorite insult lately.)
I only provide safe, useful and honest advice. Cycling at -34 (-29f) does not meet that standard. (Don't mind me. That's just my ethical philosophy).
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Old 01-04-13, 09:15 PM   #19
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I've gone 18 miles under difficult conditions at -34 C and have never had a chemical heater. Seems like a city folk thing to me. (Don't mind me. That's just my favorite insult lately.)
I use chemical warmers in July and August to hasten the acclimation process in order to HTFU.
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Old 01-04-13, 09:25 PM   #20
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Goretex, fleece and layering were common in ice-climbing, back-country skiing, mountain climbing and snowshoeing long before the bicycling industry adopted them for winter bicycling. The stuff works and isn't bike specific.

There are trade-offs. Any shell (jacket/pants) thats loose enough to permit effective layering won't necessarily be 'aero'.
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Old 01-04-13, 11:49 PM   #21
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The only non-cycling-specific gear I use is specific to hiking or mountain climbing.

Many of those items do the same thing - i.e. the base layers, sweat bands, the silk socks (in winter). and various other items.

And since I already have those items, I use them on the bike. Besides my HRM, I can't think of any cycling gear that I use on the mountains...
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Old 01-04-13, 11:57 PM   #22
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No fancy pants or bike boogers here just jeans, carhart coat, cat steel toes and I'm ready to rock (52) !
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Old 01-05-13, 08:48 AM   #23
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The weather is getting a bit chilly early mornings when I ride. I have recently bought a Gore Bike Wear Phantom 2 soft shell for this kind of weather, but I was cold even with a base layer of merino wool. It is also tight around the arms (and I have the largest size, XXL). I had a similar experience with an Izumi shell.

My question is: how essential is bike-specific winter gear? Does any of you use regular, non-bike-specific, wind breaker while cycling? For example, LL Bean sells windbreaker fleece (http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/56539...-fleece-jacket). I can get one of those, and put a reflective vest on top for visibility.

Would that work? or is there something unique about bike clothing? Thanks.
I'd like to expand my reply and address the specific jacket you provided a link to. I think the fleece windbreaker would not be ideal as an outer garment. Best to let the top layer be a shell so you can unzip to vent heat more effectively. Temperature control is what's important, and the ability to adjust your level of ventilation - from fully zipped to partially zipped, to unzipped like a cape (and hood on/hood off) is where it's at. See my early note about reflective vests inhibiting venting.

I wear a non-insulated Gor-tex hooded overcoat:

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/63187...pmd_google_pla

It takes about 30 seconds to throw it on. Just add ski gloves. With a normal office suit underneath, you are good to temperatures well below freezing. Below that, add overshoes and overpants and be happy down to 0 F.

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/63189...7-bundle&dds=y

As I said earlier, Copenhaganize.com pretty much has it nailed on winter cycling - "enthusiasts" overcomplicate it. I would add that sports and recreation bikes are set up for a forward-leaning position and have narrow seats, whereas European utility bikes favor a more upright position.

This is verering toward the "Just Ride" thread of last month. I don't have any beef with Peterson one way or the other. Sporting bikes assume cycling-specific clothing with padding and a special cut. It's similar to the way aerobatic airplanes lack seat cushions, because the pilot will always be wearing a parachute. As far as I can tell, the trend toward bikes that require large concessions in clothing is what the Grant Peterson controversy is about. I've ridden a road bike in suit and tie, and it's about as inappropriate as wearing Lycra on my bike would be. There's a continuum between full upright European commuting bikes and all-out racing bikes, and I don't know, a priori, where the bike-specific stuff becomes better. All the riding I do is transportation, so that's where my experience is. I've never been a sport or recreation rider, so there is a lot I may not know about your situation.

I have no problem with cotton for normal commuting in winter, but avoid it in extreme conditions, like skiing at -30F.

Your big issues are keeping extremities warm and not overdressing. Dress so you will be cold at the onset, unzip en route to regulate your temperature, and it doesn't matter much what you wear. (possible motto: it's not so much what you wear, but how you wear it)

Paul
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Old 01-05-13, 09:38 AM   #24
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^^^Thanks Paul. I actually have the same Bean stowaway with gore tex, but as a jacket rather than a coat. I have used it while cycling on various occasions, but I generate a lot of heat and sweat inside and it doesn't release the heat that well. I tried unzipping it but get cold. I guess I need to keep experimenting. Cheers.
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Old 01-06-13, 03:56 PM   #25
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Snomobile suit or insulated coverall's, muckluck boots, insulated hunting gloves, stocking cap, smart wool socks.It gets cold in Idaho
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