How to layer up for a winter bike ride

There is no excuse for getting cold while out on a bike ride this winter. Preparing the night before and correctly layering will make your winter cycling just as comfortable and enjoyable as those amazing summer days we all love. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a fair weather cyclist and of course, the attraction is obvious. A cyclist just needs to dress in a way that can cope with the ever changing conditions.

Base Layer and Shorts

Starting off, you need a decent base layer. This can come in a variety of styles, either long or short sleeve depending on the conditions outside and your personal preference. From here, the next item to put on are your bib tights. This are a must for winter rides as they will generally have a taller section at the lower back and are fully fleeced lined for thermal insulation. If it is a slightly milder day, then bib tights might feel a bit warm on the legs and you can always revert back to your standard bib shorts. 

Gilet or Winter Jacket?

Next up is the first real decision we need to think about. Do you go for a long sleeve thermal jersey and gilet for the warmth or, do the conditions look like they could turn wet as well as cold and go for your full winter jacket? This will come down to your personal choice and what the weather looks like outside on day. All we can say is, either way you’ll feel a million dollars for getting out on your bike no matter what the weather has to throw at you. Long sleeve thermal jerseys, paired with a good gilet are perfect for keeping your core warm and you’ll get endless use out of them once the weather is dry. If it’s wet, then the majority of good winter jackets will be waterproof and as an added bonus, will have a longer tail at the back. This is there to prevent an uncomfortable wet backside out on your ride. 

Hands and Feet

Following the main body layers you’ve chosen, nothing has the ability to create so much pain and discomfort than cold and wet hands and feet. This is probably any cyclists worst nightmare. On your hands, swap out your summer fingerless mitts for full thermal winter gloves. Make sure these have proper insulation and form a snug fit so you have total control over your bike. Likewise, a good thick overshoe can be a game changer. Keeping your feet warm and dry will keep you out on your bike ride those few extra kilometres. If you have ever found yourself in the situation where you wish you had put gloves and overshoes on before you set off, you’ll realise why they are worth every penny.


Don’t forget about your head now either. Wearing a helmet doesn’t mean it’s like wearing your favourite woolly hat. Most road helmets nowadays are designed with lots of vents for cooling rather than keeping your head toasty warm. Get yourself a thermal skull cap, some even have ear covers as an added bonus. If you are more of a traditionalist, a cycling cap with peak will at least add some benefit on a cold ride under your helmet. 

Neck Buff

Then we get to the final item, the cyclists secret weapon and probably the cheapest and most versatile cycling item you’ll ever own. The tubular neck scarf, also known as a neck buff. This can be used to keep that draft away from your neck but alternatively has a multitude of other uses. Face mask, balaclava, headband, beanie or bandana. The list goes on. It basically all boils down to one key thing, preparation. Once you have done that, you can cycle anywhere at any time of the year no matter how cold it gets and still have a big smile on your face.

Check out Spin 11 for all your winter training clothing needs.