Make sure you're ready for the cold temperatures with the right cycling clothing to keep you warm on the club run or the ride to and from the office.
We get asked all the time what clothing we recommend and seeing as we've tested hundreds of cycling garments over the years, we've put our heads together and collected some of our favourite cold weather clobber. This is the stuff that we still use regularly long after the review is published, so when we say it's good, we really mean it.
We've linked through to the full reviews on each product so you can read our full verdict on each, and via the headline, to somewhere you can buy it.
The best new winter warmers
Madison's Avalanche gloves are great mid-weight all-rounders that will see you through wet, chilly rides from autumn to spring, and for a very reasonable price. Living in the UK, there's not much point buying winter gloves that aren't waterproof as well as windproof, and the Avalanche combines both these attributes in a glove that isn't too bulky, meaning you get enough feel on the bar and sufficient dexterity to grab zip pulls.
The fact that they really are waterproof bears emphasis because not all gloves live up to this claim. We've worn these in sustained torrential rain, and got home five hours later with hands still totally dry inside, if a bit chilled. The outer was quite soggy – proving that the 100% polyurethane membrane does its job – but a hot radiator soon solved that.
Endura's Pro SL Primaloft Waterproof Gloves are warm enough even for freezing temperatures without being bulky, and they live up to their billing by keeping the rain out. They became tester Mat Brett's favourite winter gloves last winter, the ones he used day in and day out and they never let him down.
For a start, they're warm, and you really don't want to make any compromises there. You know that person who always gets cold on a ride before everyone else? That's Mat, yet he didn't suffer numb fingers with these on and his hands have only felt the slightest bit cold in freezing temperatures. Being waterproof, they're also windproof so cold air can't blow through, and Primaloft Gold insulation keeps the warmth in.
The Dissent 133 Ultimate Glove Pack really is just that, and will easily see you through an autumn, winter and spring of road and commuter riding. We never found conditions where these couldn't be used, making them excellent value compared with the three sets of gloves you'd otherwise buy.
You can buy a lot of softshell tops these days, most of which claim to be weather resistant, and good across a range of temperatures. I'll wager you can't buy many better than this Kalf Club Men's Softshell Jersey, though. It really does do an excellent job and I can highly recommend it.
The eVent membrane within the jersey is charged with stopping the wind, keeping the external moisture (ie rain) out, and letting the internal moisture (ie sweat) through. A lot of the time those all seem like mutually exclusive goals, so it's always a wonder to me that membrane fabrics work at all, let alone so well. I've had good experiences of eVent membrane fabrics in the past and this is no exception: the Kalf Club jersey is really impressive in its ability to regulate moisture and temperature.
Morvelo’s Thermoactive jersey is a warm long sleeve autumn to spring jersey that will become part of your essential cycling wardrobe very quickly. On its own, with a base layer, under a windproof or a waterproof or with a gilet it’s a hugely versatile jersey which works hard to keep you warm.
In many ways, it’s just a classic cold-weather jersey with its stretchy soft fleece lining and a high collar which immediately feels snug when you put it on. However, it is Morvelo’s attention to the fit that has made it so practical. The sleeves and cuffs are close fitting to prevent excess material flap, increase warmth and to help you wear it under other shell garments. The material is an undisclosed Italian fabric which is sewn into a multi-panelled construction that copes extremely well with moving heat away from your body and keeping you warm however you wear it.
The Pactimo High Country Wool Jersey is a stylish bit of kit that's worth investing in if the bike is your number one mode of transport and you are a bit of a sucker for the retro look.
Pactimo has combined three different fabrics (merino wool, Coolmax polyester and nylon) to create a pretty versatile jersey. The wool content keeps you warm while the polyester and nylon add durability and give it a more lightweight feel.
LAB is the high-performance range from dhb and this new Aeron LAB All Winter Polartec Jacket is designed for you to continue racing and riding hard throughout the winter months. A trio of fabrics keeps the elements at bay really well; it's not the perfect winter softshell, but it's pretty close.
dhb has chosen fabrics from Polartec to deliver the kind of properties needed for exercising hard through the winter weather. The front, shoulders and the outer arms (basically all of the blue bits) are made from NeoShell, which is a waterproof and windproof softshell material. It's placed in the positions on your body that are most likely to take a battering from the rain when you are crouched over in a race position.
Galibier's Mistral foul weather jacket will cover off nearly all of your winter rides if you like to work up a sweat. It's windproof, waterproof, breathable, close fitting and exceptional value.
It's a decent-looking top, all told. The fit is for road riding: tight sleeves, short front, dropped back. It's excellent on the bike, with very little flapping even at high downhill speeds, and plenty of length in the arms even for an ape like our tester Big Dave.
The Endura Pro SL II is a warm, very slim-fitting and extremely protective winter jacket that looks built to last - and an absolute godsend on horrible winter days. A redesign of the original Endura Pro SL, it features an excellent high collar, intelligent use of panels and a sleek yet stretchy fit that will never slow you down.
Endura recommend this as an outer layer on dry days between -5 and 12C, and a mid-layer beneath a waterproof once it worsens. That seems accurate, though you won't find much room beneath it for baselayers unless you size up. We didn't want to fit more than two (one tee, one long sleeve), and that combo was warm enough down to around zero. Any lower and we'd recommend an outer layer, however.
The Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket offers fabulous cold weather performance, requiring very little to be worn underneath, with the inner being exceptionally soft. The attached snood is more hinder than help, but overall this is an excellent bit of kit.
The Mille GT Ultraz has been designed to let you tackle the worst that winter can throw at you, but at a more affordable price point than Assos' Bonka jacket. A wide range of meanings of 'affordable' are in play here, this is still £265 (the Bonka is £370!). If you've not got that kind of cash, there are plenty of great alternatives at a much lower price, but if you can afford the Mille GT Ultraz then it's worth every penny.
The Gore C3 Women Thermo Bib Tights+ really do perform well in cold, dry conditions and are exceptionally comfortable. The two-zip system at the rear is also great for speedy, hassle-free pee-stops.
Tester Emma says " I am religious about protecting my knees when I am riding; they are in the direct line of airflow and are being forced to work overtime while riding. No surprises then that I love the double-layer panel that extends from the middle of the shin to the lower quad; it's a winning ingredient. The tights are not waterproof and don't incorporate Windstopper fabric in the legs, so the double layer goes a long way to protect knees from the cold air as well as splashes and road spray that can quickly penetrate a single layer."
The latest version of Pearl Izumi's Pursuit Hybrid winter bib tights have had some subtle alterations, and with Mike raving about the previous versions in his review almost two years ago, we were pleasantly surprised to find that, if anything, they've got even better. The added PI Dry technology on the back of the legs prevents you getting soaked from spray, they're super-stretchy and flexible so you can use them on hard training sessions too, and the padding is really comfortable – they're among our very favourite bib tights.
The Pursuit Hybrids are supposed to be optimal for temperatures ranging from -5C to +5°C, although from our test rides we'd say you can definitely get away with using them in temps up to 10°C as long as you don't go too overdressed on top.
With the Women's Shadow Tights, Rapha has combined its finest technologies to create "unparalleled" weather defence and performance – and added a price tag to match. Leaving no stone unturned from cosiness to safety, it has created a reliable and stylish pair of bib tights to keep you on the road, even when the mercury plummets.
What makes them so special? Are they really cut from a different cloth? Well, yes. Rapha calls it 'Shadow fabric' – a tight weave material with stretch and a special coating for breathable weather defence. The Shadow Tights are developed with a greater focus on foul conditions – and not just to survive them, but to thrive in them.
The Dexshell Ultra Dri Sports socks work really well to keep your feet warm and dry. With a waterproof breathable Porelle membrane construction, high calf cuffs that grip your shins and repel water as well as can be expected, and a merino inner for warmth, they're a great option for sodden cold days.
A proper three-layer waterproof sock, the inner cushioning is 3/4 merino, 1/4 nylon, for warmth and a great feel against the skin, dry or wet. Inside the cuff is a slick layer of what feels like a very supple vinyl. It acts as a sort of seal, preventing the worst of water getting down from your leg. Of course it's not going to be completely watertight, but it does a very good job.
The Showers Pass National Geographic Waterproof Socks are genuinely waterproof, ideal for the worst possible conditions although understandably not as breathable as some, and expensive.
We've seen loads of pieces of kit come through our door that are claimed to be waterproof but in reality let water in after an extended shower. However, we can safely say that these socks are genuinely waterproof.
Caratti's Neoprene Windproof Toe Covers are the perfect riding companions as the transition from winter to spring takes place. They cover the vents of your summer shoes first thing in the chilly morning and slip easily into your jersey pocket when things warm up a little.
The Caratti toe warmers have quite a few uses. This time of year, they are a nifty solution for those early morning rides when you know that the temperature is going to warm up while you are out, or when things are really brutal – think snow and freezing temperatures – they can be an extra layer above or beneath a pair of traditional overshoes.
dhb's Aeron LAB Neoshell overshoes offer excellent waterproofing, breathability and a lightweight feel with a solid underside that makes the £50 price tag a bit more bearable.
The worst weather that these saw was three hours of falling rain and plenty of standing water. These kept out everything so we really can't fault them for normal rain. Maybe the heaviest stuff would get through and deep standing water might flood the cleat holes, but for normal riding, these are as good as we've tried.
Classic warm winter gear
Morvelo Stealth Stormshield Knee Warmers keep your knees luxuriously warm down to about 3-5 degrees in foul weather. They are water repellent, stay up well and the plain black material means they will work well with most of your other riding kit.
They're made from a thick Roubaix material for warmth and a windproof and highly water repellent fabric, called Stormshield, to block out the elements. It’s a highly elastic fabric with four-way stretch and has the ability to move moisture away from your skin while blocking incoming water which makes it ideally suited bad weather riding.
Winter cycling is made much easier with high-quality clothing that provides excellent insulation and comfort, and the LL.habuTights_s7 from Swiss masters of cycle clothing Assos are a case in point. With a thermal fabric and double layer over the knees they'll keep your legs toasty warm meaning you're fresh out of excuses to cancel a ride because it's too cold. They offer just the right amount of warmth for typical British conditions, which at the time of writing has included a sustained period of sub-zero temperature that has certainly made riding the bike more testing than usual.
If you want a pair of tights that'll protect you from pretty much everything the winter can throw at you, then the Lusso Termico Repel Bibtights are a very good option. Thermal, water repellent, with a comfortable pad and blocks of subtle reflectives, they're ideal for dark, dank rides throughout the off season.
The Lusso Windtex Stealth overboots offer a large working temperature range across a myriad of different weather conditions. And don't let that Windtex name fool you – these booties will also keep the rain at bay for way longer than you'd expect of a fabric this light and thin.
The Kalf Club Thermal bib tights are supremely comfortable, nice and warm yet lightweight, and really well constructed. The reflectivity on the calves actually looks good, and the fit is excellent. They were tester jack Sexty's my go-to bib tights last winter, except for near-zero temperatures for which they're not quite warm enough.
A quality softshell is one of the staple requirements in any cyclist's winter wardrobe where versatility is key to shrug off the wind, light rain and ice cold temperatures. Gore knows a thing or two about keeping the elements out and that's shown here with its Power 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell. You can go cheaper but can you go better?
When you see the word thermal in a jersey's title you expect it to have a certain amount of weight and thickness about it. The Kalf Club Men's Thermal Jersey doesn't have either of those things, in fact it barely feels any heavier than most summer tops, but boy is it ever warm – even with the thinnest of layers beneath it.
The Kalf Winter Merino Socks are comfortable and warm even when the mercury drops below freezing. With generous reflectives on the back for visibility, it's hard to imagine much better winter socks.
The Prendas Meraklon arm warmers are basic but they do a good job and come at an amazingly cheap price.
They're essentially tubes of polypropylene (58%), nylon (40%) and elastane (2%) with a ribbed top and a more tightly woven cuff section at the bottom. A little more air gets through than with fleecy Roubaix fabrics but they're warmer than skinny Lycra warmers – they split the difference between the two. We found them a good option for typical spring/autumn conditions.
Warm, very water-resistant and extremely well-priced for the quality, these are probably the best arm warmers on the market at the moment.
Featuring the mid-weight style of the Aeron Rain Defence range, these arm warmers are well up to the task of insulating you from the cold. The rain resistance they offer is very impressive, while the thickness of the fabric provides insulation even if water manages to seep through, which it did on one occasion in a fantastic 20-minute deluge.
Gore's Element Urban Windstopper Soft Shell Pants are an interesting and practical set of casual commuting trousers. As windproof and waterproof as you would expect from Gore, with several practical, high-vis elements, they're very good – once you've found the right size.
Wearing Lycra doesn't suit every situation. Try walking into a proper London pub, going to a football match or going clubbing in bib shorts – you get strange looks. So having a set of trousers that can do most of what Lycra can but without the social stigma that the 'uninitiated' put on it is nice. Step forward the Element Urban Windstoppers.
As you might suspect from the name, the trousers are designed to be both windproof and waterproof. Given that these are a Gore product, it's not surprising to hear that they excel in these areas. The rain beads against the material and the wind batters it but nothing gets through.
The Holborn skirt/leggings combo from Road Rags is possibly the most comfortable item of clothing I've ever worn. The Holborn takes the best aspects of lycra tights - stretchy, form fitting and moves with you - and transforms them into something that you could genuinely enter a pub in without looking like a cyclist.
Madison's Sportive PU Thermal overshoes are a great option for wet weather riding, with the added thermal benefits providing some much-appreciated insulation. Although described as a mid-weight overshoe by Madison, they don't struggle when the temperature gets down to low single figures.
Wiggle's in-house clothing brand, Dhb brings fantastic value to its Classic Roubaix bib tights, teamed with top performance. At their £55 RRP these bib tights are knocking around the bottom rungs of the cost ladder, but punch way above their weight for comfort, warmth, chamois quality and fit. Most importantly, the Roubaix fabric is constructed of a mix of 86% polyamide and 14% elastane for the entirety of the tights. It's extremely comfortable, flexible and warm – easily capable of dealing with temperatures close to freezing.
Endura's Pro SL Biblongs are excellent: they're windproof, fit superbly, and the pad comes in three widths, offering a little customisation.
At the core of the longs is the four-way stretch windproof, breathable fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish front and seat panels. This panelling of fabrics gives the longs a very comfortable fit. On the bike, they fitted me perfectly with no bunching of material at the back of the knee.
Sealskinz Mid Weight Mid Length Socks are a good thing to have in the drawer once the cold and wet weather draws in. There are some UK conditions that will breach any foot fortifications, but these socks are a great last line of defence.
Decathlon's in-house cycling brand Triban rarely fails to deliver on the whole bang for buck ratio, and it's the same story here. For the performance and quality you get with the RC 500 Warm Long Sleeve Jersey (previously known as the 900 jersey), you'd probably expect to pay much more.
The 900 Warm is a pretty simple jersey. You get a fleece-lined fabric that's warm enough in the spring and autumn down to say 5-6°C with a simple baselayer beneath, and if things drop towards freezing it's thin enough that you can layer it up easily under a jacket.
Gore Bike Wear offers a somewhat bewildering choice of jerseys and jackets, but if you're after a lightweight, slim fitting top that offers wind and rain protection with excellent breathability for three-season use, the Power Gore Windstopper Long Sleeve Jersey is a top pick.
Made from Gore's iconic Windstopper fabric, the Power jersey is ideal at dealing with the constantly changing weather conditions of spring, summer and autumn. Wear it over a lightweight baselayer and it can cope with a really wide band of temperatures, from nudging zero up to high teens. That versatility makes it easy to dress for virtually any ride, so you can spend less time making tricky clothing decision and more time pressing the pedals.
Designed for those rides when you don't want to wear bib shorts, these Rapha Women's Tights are made from a comfortable high-stretch fabric. You honestly wont feel you even have them on.
Want a technical winter baselayer that will allow you to keep the other layers off? B'Twin's 920 Windproof Long Sleeve Cycling Baselayer could be the answer.
Baselayers – generally speaking – tend to be thin layers of fabric that help provide a passage for sweat to move from skin to the outside, and as a result perform a key function in keeping the body warm when needed, and cool when not.
B'Twin's 920 baselayer (previously known as the Aerofit) is a technically constructed top with a race cut that's designed to do the former and help you resist the cold thanks primarily to its slightly thicker construction and front windproof panel. Putting it on is like donning body armour – genuinely making the cold outside seem a little less hostile compared with thin merino-blended baselayers and giving you the confidence to shed a layer when heading out.
Showers Pass Crosspoint Softshell WP gloves will keep your hands dry and toasty even in a hard winter.
When you want high quality cycle clothing for the winter, Swedish brand Craft is one company that always stands out for us. They make excellent cold weather clothing that generally fits really well and works superbly in the chillier conditions of autumn and winter, and these Storm gloves are no exception.
Leg warmers aren't just for winter, well not in Britain anyway and a good pair are worth their weight in gold, these Castelli Thermoflex Leg Warmers something of a bargain.
Sealskinz' Belgian Style Cycling Cap is too toasty for temperatures above 10°C, but really comes into its own when temperatures drop to single figures. It was a vital companion last winter, and the latest version is reflective for gloomy-conditions visibility at no extra cost.
Lusso's thermal skull cap is a no-nonsense, close-fitting black hat that fits under your helmet and keeps your head remarkably warm considering it's not windproof. It doesn't cost much either.
The Madison Sportive Men's Softshell Jacket offers a good fit, generous warmth for the chilliest winter rides, looks smart and is reasonably priced. A windproof and water resistant fabric is used for the front, side panels and shoulders, with a thermal Roubaix back panel. It's a combination that provides good insulation for cold rides while keeping the wind out. It does a good job of keeping the rain out too. It's not ideal for prolonged downpours, but get caught in a short shower, and you'll be just fine.
The Ashmei Cycle Softshell Jacket is a very high-quality top that's particularly suited to spring and autumn days, and it comes with a multitude of excellent features. It's an incredibly well designed piece of kit.
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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.