After the ease of a summer cycling outfit – bib shorts, jersey and you’re ready to hit the road – dressing for autumn can be a lot trickier. Autumn cycling is only predictable by its unpredictability; leave the house in sunshine yet return in rain. As early autumn rolls around, the most important thing to focus on for your cycling gear is flexibility with kit that that can be layered up or removed through the changeable weather. We’ve all had those mornings where we’ve sat there thinking, bib shorts or tights? Jersey with arm warmers or long sleeved jersey, or jacket, or a base layer, will I be hot or get cold – neither ideal!
So, here are my top six items of cycling gear I’d recommend for early autumn cycling.
1. Full back gloves
In the summer I ride in gloves with as much ventilation as possible to keep my hands cool (and for the awesome tan lines), like these Lizards Skin SAL 1.0. These are a bit nippy for early Autumn but I’m not moving onto full fingers gloves just yet, so step in, my Endura Aerogel mitts. These are a bit thicker and have no ventilation on the back so are much better for when the weather decides to turn. Having multiple pairs of gloves is a luxury as I easily could survive with just one or other as I did when I first started cycling. Invest in one good pair and build your wardrobe as your budget allows.
2. Arm warmers
You’ll find arm warmers on every one of these Autumn cycling kit round up style posts. Why? They’re just so useful! Roll up your short sleeve jersey, put these on and roll your sleeve back down over the top and suddenly you have a brand new element to your jersey. At this time of year it’s amazing how quickly the wind can change or the sun disappear even if it felt warm enough at first, so these are worth rolling up and stuffing into a back pocket. Arm warmers provide the aforementioned flexibility we’re after here and save you investing in a long sleeve jersey. I like the Mid Zero by Sugoi as the fleece liner keeps the wind out really nicely.
3. Base layer
A decent base layer will help to keep your torso warm and also prevent any cold weather related chafing (we’ve all been there). I normally wear mine under my bib short straps to stop the rubbing. With this bit of kit you need to make the call early, as it’s not as easy to remove mid-ride as something like the arm warmers. For me, the 12 Celsius mark is when I put on a base layer, though I also tend to use one if the wind is up. Use your weather apps (or go low-tech and just step outside!) but remember you’ll warm up a lot on the bike, so it might take a bit of trial and error to decide. My favourites are by Under Armour, though the cheap Craft ones from Aldi are pretty decent too. I am also currently experimenting with a bamboo T from GRN sportswear who are an ethical sportswear company, which is why I’m happy to pay the higher price to support their values.
4. Shower coat
No need for a Gore Tex, a basic shower coat will do you fine if the weather turns. Generally classed as wind breakers, shower coats are a multipurpose item that do a great job in the wind, a half decent job in the rain and often pack down to a size not much bigger than an orange. So, definitely a worthwhile item to shove into a back pocket. You can find a great round up from Road.cc.
Cycling caps are perfect for this time of year for two reasons.Firstly, they add some much needed warmth. A fair bit of heat escapes through your head and whilst caps are generally made of cotton they are better than wearing nothing at all. We’re not quite at fleece beanie temperatures yet, so until then a cap will suffice.
Secondly, the sun has started to get much lower in the sky now, so you’ll find glare becoming a real problem at certain times of the day. Sunglasses do part of the job (though ironically they may be too dark to see everything else) but the peak of a cycling cap is the perfect way to keep the sun at bay. As with most of the kit in this article, caps pack down nice and small so are ideal for shoving in your back pocket when you’re not wearing them.
It’s not just yourself you need to deck out for the changing seasons, and as the nights draw in you definitely want to have a strong set of lights on your bike. Even in daylight, however, all it takes is a stiff breeze to bring in some dark cloud and before you know it you’re surrounded by gloom. It can also be really hard to pick out a cyclist in the early evening when the sun has dropped low in the sky. A set of lights are certainly not going to overpower the sun, but they help, especially if they’re flashing. There are loads out there but I tend to strap a small one to the back of my helmet and then have a full set for the front and back of the bike itself. I like the Lezyne strip lights as they sit well on the saddle post with a Micro Drive on the front, which has more than enough power for both cycling in the dark and making myself seen in the glare.