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  1. #1
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Temps for Shorts or Tights

    Spring weather often has me guessing on what to wear for a ride. To many or insulated clothing may create to much heat and sweat, not enough leaves you cold.

    I'm curious to know at what temperature do you switch from wearing shorts to tights? Or, do you prefer to always wear leg warmers, and at what temps?

  2. #2
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    60F+ and its shorts -- actually bibs.
    Below 60 its knee warmers. Below 50 its leg warmers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    60F+ and its shorts -- actually bibs.
    +1

    Below 60 its knee warmers. Below 50 its leg warmers.
    Depends on weather forecast, projected length of ride, etc. For a morning commute I might go with knee warmers around 55F, or if it's an early start for a long ride. If it's evening, or rain threatening, tights. Below 50 I'll usually go with tights.

  4. #4
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    Working down the thermometer...

    65 I add knee warmers
    50 Switch to mid-weight bib tights
    30 Switch to winter-weight bib tights
    10 Add kneewarmers under the winter-weight bib tights

    Always shorts in there because they're cheaper and easier to launder, a real issue as a four-seasons commuter. I have 12 pair of shorts at $40, but 12 pair of mid-weight tights at $125 and 12 pair of winter tights at $165 is a bit above my budget. Be cheaper to buy a car then.
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    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    In the Boston area, this can be a tough call. It can be 65 degrees, and feel like's it much colder. Or.. It can be 65 degrees, and feel much warmer. The wind, relative humidity,
    etc. can play parts. Wind from the east: Long tights and a jacket. Carry ear protection and warm gloves. You will not regret this. Wind from the west: Even tougher. A west wind
    can actually be quite warm, even though the west wind is stronger. i.e. Plastic-trash-cans-in-the-street, lots of airborne pieces of trash.

    What it takes: Experience in your given geographic area. But, I basically consider it "winter" until the temps go up to the 70s and stay there.
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    60 and above - shorts
    50 - 59 tights
    < 50 stay in, watch TV and wonder why I moved to Florida in the first place

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    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Below 60, shorts with tights, jacket, hat, full gloves
    Above 60 shorts, summer gloves no hat but I use a jacket until about 70 degrees
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    Above 70 shorts. Lightweight tights below 70, wool tights below 50. I like being warm.

  9. #9
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    60F+ and its shorts -- actually bibs.
    Below 60 its knee warmers. Below 50 its leg warmers.

    Civia Cycles

    What Cycling Clothes to Wear Bike Riding | Bicycling Magazine
    Me too.

  10. #10
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trackhub View Post
    In the Boston area, this can be a tough call. It can be 65 degrees, and feel like's it much colder. Or.. It can be 65 degrees, and feel much warmer. The wind, relative humidity,
    etc. can play parts. Wind from the east: Long tights and a jacket. Carry ear protection and warm gloves. You will not regret this. Wind from the west: Even tougher. A west wind
    can actually be quite warm, even though the west wind is stronger. i.e. Plastic-trash-cans-in-the-street, lots of airborne pieces of trash.

    What it takes: Experience in your given geographic area. But, I basically consider it "winter" until the temps go up to the 70s and stay there.
    You make some valid points concerning wind and humidity. Even though the thermometer reads 60F, depending on wind and the direction, clouds, humidity, it can feel much colder.

    Just finished a 40 mile ride today, starting out at 47F and finishing at 60F. I know this is where knee or leg warmers come in to adapt to changing temps. But I stuck with bib shorts the whole ride and felt comfortable. I'm beginning to think it's more important to keep the core area properly protected or regulated then the legs.

    It does sound like 60F is the breaking point between shorts and tights for most people.

    Thanks all!

  11. #11
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Have to go out before I get kitted up, with the winds and our humidity most of the year the ambient air temp isn't enough of a guide. Rule of thumb, though, 70°+ its shorts and SS jersey, <70° its tights over shorts or bib tights and a LS jersey, throw in a compression shirt when its cooler.

    Maybe you should get some arm and leg warmers you can shed if it gets too warm after riding a bit. Not very expensive and you can stow them in a jersey pocket easily.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    My knees are not exposed until it's 65 F. Upper torso and arms are more subject to wind and temp. So, that varies.
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    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    I believe in the old "covered knees below 60 degrees" adage. I'll cheat a few degrees if it's going to warm up quickly.

    Also remember that there's a third option: knickers. They keep the knees warm, but let the lower legs cool off.

  14. #14
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    In situations like this I take my MULE Camelback. I use park bathrooms (ones I know I can trust and are clean) and can change mid ride. The desert cools off nice at night, but warms up quickly. Losing the tights and extra upper level can give me a couple more hours of riding time.
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    Cycling Anarchist Trsnrtr's Avatar
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    The problem with knees is that knees don't have many feelings and rarely feel cold, yet the meniscus and other internals don't work properly when it's cold. Many knee doctors recommend covering the knees below 65-70F. In fact, I've read a couple times about national team members and pros being fined for not wearing tights during training if temps warrant it. In races, heavy creams and oils are used to protect the knees but training is a whole other thing.

    Btw, I've seen pics of pro teams training on open roads wearing tights while hangers-on wannabes are following in shorts.
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    When I lived in a locale that had an actual summer, most of my riding partners and I put on tights when the temperature was below 75F. Now that I live where 75F is a warm summer day, I wear less clothing (and I have less muscle but more adipose). I'll wear shorts down to somewhere between 55F and 50F. Knickers come into play down to about 45-40F. Below that it's tights. If it's in the low 30s, then tights may be worn over knickers.

    My key piece of cool weather gear is my thin wool cap. Having a warm head (and warm ears) really makes a difference, especially on descents. I also love my booties and my glove collection. Keeping those tiny bits warm really takes the edge off of otherwise chilling winds.

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    What you wear at any given tempature will be different than what I will wear, so there are no hard and fast rules.
    But I will suggest that you look into knickers. Not shorts, or full tights, but come to just below the knee. I find they are perfect for chilly mornings when tights would be too much, and short not enough. And they keep the knees a bit warmer, which for me is important. I will tend to put on extra layers on my torso, vest jacket, etc. with the knickers, and have the option of taking that off if\when it warms up. The knickers are good in a wide range of temps.
    YMMV
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    I started out Saturday morning in bib tights and a long-sleeved shirt at 50 degrees, worried how it would be if and when it warmed up. Three hours later when I finished it was 68 and that combination was still comfortable, certainly not too warm. I think I'd be comfortable in shorts at about 65 and up, though.

  19. #19
    Home School Valedictorian 02Giant's Avatar
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    When I started out last Saturday it was 43, I was in shorts, I won't do that again. When I got home it took two hours to warm back up.
    Last edited by 02Giant; 04-21-14 at 11:11 AM.

  20. #20
    your god hates me Bob Ross's Avatar
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    65°F or under, I cover my knees; >65° my knees are exposed (shorts).

    Unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out a similar hard&fast rule regarding covering my ankles/calves, so the decision to go w/ knee warmers or knickers versus full-length leg warmers or tights is usually a crapshoot for me. But that transition is probably somewhere around 40-45°F

  21. #21
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Roughly like this
    <55F put a long sleeve Gabba over my jersey (or, if <60F and windy/cloudy)
    <45F put on tights over the cycling shorts
    <40F put on warmer gloves, add thin rain shell over the Gabba

    and if it is raining hard, add a thin rain jacket and switch to neoprene gloves. My usual weekend road bike has Crud RoadRacer fenders.

  22. #22
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    Thanks for this thread. I've been riding shorts or bibs down to 40 or so, and a base layer under shorts down from there. Running, I leave my legs bare down to 30 or so since I'm moving slower. It's never hurt, so I didn't figure it was bad for my knees.

  23. #23
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    I only ride in shorts. If it's too cold for short it's too cold (IMO) to ride

    I wear t-shirts if it's above 60F, between 50-60 a long sleeve t-shirt and below that a jacket (still shorts though)

    Fortunately I live in an area that rarely gets below 40F so I rarely miss rides because of temperature

  24. #24
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    I just ride in sweatpants , since most is to get somewhere .. Russell has a compound knit .. poly fleece inside nylon outside

    looks OK , stretches a bit , absorbs sweat, and the last drops from the WC visit.

  25. #25
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    Too warm for tights=shorts. Too cold for shorts=tights. In between=shorts and legwarmers. Next question?
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