It’s no secret: one of the biggest ways that brands can keep the cost down on bikes is to fit them with wheels that are ok, but not great. Also, new wheels have a habit of eventually becoming old wheels. If you want to transform the way your bike feels and performs, the wheels are the best place to start.
There are a number of really nice factory-built wheels out there, but there is nothing quite like a good set of custom, hand-built wheels. Choose your rims. Choose your hubs. Get the right spoke-count for the kind of riding you are doing. Properly laced, and properly tensioned.
Wheel building is half science, half art. Because of this, a great parts-list does not automatically create a great wheel. In fact, it can still result in a terrible wheel. The builder is the crucial element, and it just so happens that we have the most experienced wheel-builder in… Adelaide? South Australia? Over the years Phil has built not just hundreds, or a few thousand, but tens of thousand of wheels, and for the best riders in the business, both here and in Europe. Without exaggerating, it is possible that Phil has hand-built somewhere between 30,000-40,000 wheels. It could even be more. He lost count long ago, but he had already built thousands as an apprentice at Norwood Star Cycles by the time he was 15 years old. Then, in the early years of Norwood Parade Cycles, Phil had 100 wheels ready to be picked up for various suppliers around Adelaide every week, for at least two years. 37 more years of trading have since passed.
Phil is as humble a character as you could imagine, and so are his prices. Wheel builds start at $59.95 per wheel, plus parts. Most standard builds would fall into this category, but some wheels require far more time and attention to get right. We have access to most suppliers of rims, hubs and spokes, so whether it’s no-frills reliability you are after or the money-no-object wheelset of your dreams, come in and have a chat to us to work out what is going to be best for you and your bike!
(of course, if your existing wheels need truing or your hubs need rebuilding, we can do that too!)
It’s been a while since we’ve updated things on this site, so there’s a lot to catch up on, with some exciting new brands to offer from clothing to bikes (and we’ve even added e-bikes to the range!), as well as a welcome addition in the workshop. In this post we’ll start with the bikes.
Trail, Gravel, and Electricity
We are pretty happy to welcome Rocky Mountain to the shop – makers of high-end mountain bikes since 1981 from the legendary North Shore of Vancouver, BC. They have a big range of mountain bikes, from the 170mm travel Slayer to the unbelievably good value Soul, which at $899 is far more mountain bike than you’ll get from other brands. At the moment we have a few of their lower-price hardtails on the shop floor (including the Soul) as well as the 160mm travel, 27.5″ Altitude, with many other models available to order.
With the gravel scene continuing to gain traction, we’ve bolstered our range of gravel bikes, from Felt, Jamis, and Orbea.
Felt are bringing three of their cyclocross bikes into Australia this year, with the F40x (pictured below), F30x, and F4x, which are more race/gravel oriented, while Jamis absolutely nails the gravel/adventure segment with their Renegade range.
We have two versions of the Renegade in the shop, with the Explore and the Expat.
The Renegade Explore, at just $1399, has indecent levels of spec for such a paltry sum. Here are the basics:
T6 Alloy frame, with 3 bottle-cage mounts and clearance for 700x42c or even 650x47c tyres (we tested it, with a 650x54c, or 2.1″ tyre, just rubbing!)
Carbon fibre fork with 12mm thru-axle, flat-mount brakes, adventure-fueling additional fork mounts, and a CARBON steerer-tube (find that on another bike under $2k!)
New Shimano Sora groupset
Tektro Lyra disc brakes
Full Ritchey finishing kit (with wide, flared bars)
WTB rims, nice and wide, and tubeless-ready!
Comfy Selle Royal saddle
Clement MSO 36c tyres – some of the best all-around tyres on the market
Sweat-as contour-line paint details!
This is the perfect chance to see what the big deal is with gravel riding without blowing the budget. The greater Adelaide area has a huge selection of quiet gravel roads and tons of trail to explore, and this was made for just that. Want a nice commuter? This is just as well suited for it! Plenty of options for mud-guards, racks, and bottle cages. You will not regret it!
At the moment there is limited stock available. We have the last 54cm in the shop and at the time of writing, there are 56cm, and 58cm remaining with the supplier.
The Renegade Expat is the same bundle of goodness as the Explore, but with an upgrade to the groupset, which is Shimano’s latest version of Tiagra, TRP Spyre brake calipers, and swaps out the alloy frame for a Reynolds 531 steel frame, adding about ~600 grams to the weight of the overall bike, but adding the sweet ride characteristics of quality steel.Finally, we now have e-bikes! We did it properly, too, going straight to the good stuff.
A quick mention for the Orbea Terra, which we’ll get into in another post soon – this is Orbea’s new gravel/CX bike, all carbon, and fully customizable. These are typically made-to-order from Spain, with limited stock in Australia, but with the ability to customize these to the degree that you can (the paint is a no-cost option!), custom is the way to go.
Sinus is a German manufacturer, and if you’re not already aware, the Germans don’t mess around when it comes to quality. Attached to their frames are a host of German parts, from SKS mudguards, a Busch&Muller integrated light-set, Schwalbe tyres, Racktime rear carrier, suspension seat-post, integrated rear-wheel lock, Suntour front forks, and powered by Bosch, with their Active Line motor, Intuvia display, and 400WH battery, giving you 4 levels of assist and just shy of 150km of range!
We stock the Tria 8 men’s and women’s versions, with the availability to order alternative models. You don’t know how good these things are until you ride one, so come in for a look and inquire about test riding one of these today!
We’ve been meaning to get this done for a while now (we’ve been busy!), but we finally got the right bits together and found the time to build this Daccordi Noah with the parts it is worthy of.
The Noah is one of Daccordi’s top road frames. Everything Daccordi makes is essentially “race-ready”, but the Noah takes it to another level using more advanced materials with a hand-wrapped frame to deliver the highest performance while also retaining an exceptionally refined ride quality.
Though it’s a break from tradition, we decided to match this Italian beauty with a groupset that, arguably, has no peer at the moment. Shimano’s brand new Dura Ace 9100 is so refined in both performance and increasingly with Shimano’s product, aesthetics, that it was a no-brainer.
We went back to Italy with a finishing kit from Deda, using their top-of-the-line Superzero bars, stem, and seatpost. Everyone loves a bit of Enve, and we’ve built up a few Daccordi’s with their fine kit, but we think the shape of the Superzero aero road bars are even more comfortable, super sexy, and are lighter as well. The same goes for the stem and seatpost, which has a comfy and light-weight Selle San Marco saddle attached to it.
For the wheels, anything reasonably light and stiff would suit this bike, but in this example is a pair of Mavic 40C carbon wheels.
We’re pretty happy with how this has turned out. It’s a bike that is just as happy winning races as it is on social rides, looking good while doing both. With this Noah, you’ll be aboard an ark that will happily take you into a new world of cycling enjoyment.
Give us a call or come by the shop to find out if this is the right bike for you.
That’s another year in the bag. Our 37th, in fact. We (Phil, specifically) have seen a few changes in the bicycle industry in that time, and it will no doubt continue to do so. What hasn’t changed is our straight-forward, honest approach to selling and servicing bikes. In an era increasingly dominated by big, flashy concept stores, we’re happy to see that many people still find the small, humble, local bike shop a place they are comfortable in.
We will be closed for the Christmas break from Dec 25th and will be open again on the 5th of Jan, 2017.
We wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas and New Years, and look forward to seeing you again in the new year.
This one takes a slightly different approach, keeping things simple, clean, and classy.
The proud owner purchased his last new bike more than ten years ago, so he clearly isn’t in the habit of chopping and changing bikes on a whim (which, as it happens, was another Italian bike running Campagnolo). With that in mind, he didn’t want to take any shortcuts when it came to the most important part of any build – the frame.
The Noah sits at the top of Daccordi’s road offerings, along-side the lightweight Fly. Hand-wrapped tube-to-tube construction, it delivers the highest of performance and balanced, razor-sharp handling, but still retains the usual smooth ride that is characteristic of Daccordi frames.
He had a colour scheme in mind even before knowing what sort of frame he would end up with, but Daccordi came to the rescue and worked with us to deliver exactly what he was after.
Simple and uncluttered, the white and blue scheme was adapted from a early model Daccordi and then modified for this frame to suit the customers taste. The pleasant surprise was a deep but subtle sparkle in the blue to give it some depth and make it pop.
To match the truly Italian frameset, fully handmade by a family business that goes back to a time when most company founders were still in nappies (or even born), the obvious choice here was a Campagnolo groupset in the form of the ever-dependable Chorus (there was a budget to consider, after all), and continuing the Italian theme with Deda bars, stem, and seatpost, Vittoira’s new Graphine Rubino Pro tyres, and freakishly colour-matched Fizik saddle and bar tape. Mavic wheels were given the go as they offer the right amount of performance and match the aesthetics perfectly.
The new owner couldn’t be happier with the result, having ended up with a custom bike that matches his personality, offering the highest of quality and performance without shouting “look at me!” They should get along famously for the next 10+ years.
If you are after something beyond the ordinary with performance to spare, whether it be something extremely eye-catching like our last build, something dark and mysterious like this, or something clean and classy but a bit more reserved like this Noah, come have a chat to us about building a Daccordi for you.
When one of our long-term customers had his beloved Daccordi Grinta stolen a while back, he was devastated. Fortunately, though, it was insured, so the silver lining in this dark cloud was going to turn out to be pretty shiny indeed…
The Grinta was a mainstay in the Daccordi lineup for years. A beautiful, lugged, handmade Italian racing bike with unique lines and a satisfying colour scheme was the heart and soul of his old bike, and making sure that it’s replacement would be at least as good was obviously the starting point.
The only way that was going to happen was with, of course, another Daccordi.
At first he wanted to keep the same sort of vibe going with the new frame, but things changed as we looked at his options, and he ended up going with a much tougher looking frameset in the Divo, with it’s larger diameter straight tubes and clean lines. This is a punchy frame, delivering the speed, balance, and comfort that typifies Daccordi frames.
Further departing from his original plan, he ended up being won over by a vintage paint scheme that contrasts perfectly with the modern lines of the bike.
Adding a touch of extra customization that a smaller, family operated company like Daccordi can do, this frame has a unique rear-triangle due to the Italian supplier of the tubes normally used for the Divo being unavailable. Hand wrapping everything in-house meant that Daccordi simply used different tubing, and the result, we think, is even more spectacular than normal.
Internal cabling can be a nightmare to work on, as any mechanic can tell you, but Daccordi considered this in their design and installation couldn’t have been easier.
So, apart from the frame? This build didn’t cut any corners.
A Dura Ace 9070 Di2 groupset took care of the mechanical (and electronic) bits, and Enve took care of the rest, including their Garmin mount for the Aero handlebars, lending the stealthy look that still has many fans.
All said and done, this bike will turn heads as fast as it will enable its new owner to turn its pedals.
We’re all pretty happy with how this turned out, and can’t wait to get started on the next one!
Winter in Australia. It’s not proper winter, really. I mean, yes, it gets colder, wetter, and darker, but snow and ice isn’t really an issue, which means that riding a bike year-round is something we can do rather more easily than many others.
Still, it’s certainly enough of a change in weather that if you are going to keep riding through the cold, the wet, and the darkness, then you will need to think through your wardrobe a little more carefully than your summer one.
We’ve got a range of options to suit the many different conditions you’ll face this winter.
Before we get started, however, it’s certainly worth noting that people deal with temperature in vastly different ways, from that guy who still wears nothing more than a short sleeve jersey and bibs through the depths of winter, to the person who has four layers on as soon as it hits single digit temperatures.
As a matter of fact, just the other day on a particularly icy and wet morning, I was rugged up head to toe in waterproof everything and still managed to be a bit chilly, and a guy riding in shorts and thongs turned in front of me. Thongs.
It’s difficult to get it perfect. Because weather is so changeable, different terrain requires different degrees of effort, and the pace doesn’t always leave you in your comfort zone, you’re likely to be a little too warm, too cold, or too sweaty at some point in your ride. You’ll figure out what works best for you over time, but expecting the ideal level of comfort for the entire duration of any spirited ride will more than likely leave you slightly disappointed. If you are commuting at a pretty relaxed pace, then no problem.
What I usually suffer from is dressing for how I feel before leaving, when I’m already cold and before I start riding and producing heat. Before long, I’m unzipping, de-layering, and stuffing half of my gear up the back of my jersey. I’d rather be warm than cold, but there is a balance to be struck, so keep this in mind.
Know what kind of ride you will be heading out for – whether or not you’ll be stopping (and cooling off), whether there will be long climbs and fast descents, a fast pace, an easy pace, if the temperature will be rising or falling, and, of course, the weather forecast for rain and wind.
Cold to cool to warm-ish
It’s all about layers. We’ve found that an unusual number of people don’t use a baselayer for some reason, but this is one of the key pieces to being comfortable throughout a whole range of conditions. They add some extra warmth in winter and providing a cooling effect in summer, but their main purpose is to do the important job of moving moisture away from your skin to prevent the layer against your skin from remaining soggy with sweat, helping you to better regulate your core temperature. We’ve got light ones and others that offer more insulation depending on your needs.
For days when you start before the sun comes up but finish well after, you’ll likely want, and need, more layers. Arm warmers (lined with fleece) and vests (or gilets), are perfect if it’s not so cold that you need a jacket. A gilet will keep the wind off your chest while venting the excess heat out the back. They are the much more comfortable version of stuffing a newspaper down the front of your jersey for the decent. Plus, they pack away neatly into a pocket.
The same goes for your lower extremities, with kneewarmers, full legwarmers, and shoe-covers.
Shoe-covers and gloves are some of the more important items to have if you want to be comfortable when the temperatures really drop. There is nothing worse than cold and numb fingers and toes, and especially for your hands, as they need to do the important work of controlling your brakes and the convenient work of shifting your gears.
Both are available in various weights, from thin layers just to take the chill off, through to fully waterproof and toasty warm versions. The same rules apply here – waterproof shoecovers and gloves can make for soggy socks and clammy hands if you are pushing the pace for any length of time, but again, at least they’ll be warm. Really warm gloves will inevitably involve a trade-off in dexterity, with the extra insulating bulk requiring a little more deliberateness when shifting gears.
Toe covers are great for many people in most conditions. Mavic’s Toe Warmers are among the best. They are far more wind-proof than most, and for various reasons, fit much better too.
We have merino wool socks for extra warmth (and comfort!), as well as merino-lined waterproof socks for when things turn really foul. I can tell you from personal experience that the waterproof socks (SealSkinz) are unusually breathable for a completely waterproof garment, and the Castelli socks are the most comfortable socks I’ve ever had on my feet.
Another often-overlooked item for icy conditions is the snood, or Head Thingy, in Castelli parlance. It keeps the cold draft from blowing down your jersey or jacket, and pulls over your face or even your entire head if you want, keeping you as warm as possible. It’s little touches like these that give you the opportunity not to have to wear bigger, heavier clothing.
Cold but Dry
For properly cold but dry conditions you’ll want to keep as much heat in but still try to remain as dry as possible, so you’ll want an insulated but breathable outer layer to keep you warm and avoid making you too sweaty, which will make you cold. Again, this is largely down to smart layering. If you are still cold, add another layer. You could just wear six jerseys, but a better option would be a good base layer, a slightly warmer mid-layer, and a warm, reasonably breathable outer layer. These are typically something in-between heavier long-sleeved jerseys and full-on jackets, with or without a windproof material on the front panel, and often retain the pockets you would normally find on your summer jerseys. There are other, heavier jackets that will do a better job of keeping the cold out, but to a certain extent, they will not be quite as breathable (no matter what they claim!).
Still, much better than waterproof garments…
From jackets to gloves, shoecovers, armwarmers, and socks – we’ve got your wet-weather gear covered.
In the wet, you’ve got water-resistant, and water proof. There are all sorts of spray jackets that will keep light rain out for shorter periods of time, provide some insulation against the wind, and keep a bit of warmth in, but water proof they are not. After anywhere from a few minutes to a somewhat longer period of time, the water will work its way through the fabric, but they can be quite effective against light rain.
Waterproof garments – properly waterproof ones – will keep the water from getting in, but the reality is that as your effort increases, the more moisture will have trouble getting out. How hard you are working is the major factor no matter how advanced the material is – even with the best materials in the world, if you are working hard, moisture will build up in the inside. There are some wonderful fabrics out there that do an admirable job of moving out as much moisture as possible, but in the interest of setting realistic expectations, there is no magic bullet that we know of for a truly breathable and waterproof garment.
Some materials, like Castelli’s Nano Flex garmants, are treating the fibres themselves to be highly water-resistant, and this gets you much further along the way to being both highly breathable and highly water-resistant, but they are not water-proof.
With that said, I’d rather be a bit sweaty than soaked, given the fact that we’re discussing winter conditions. At least you’ll be warm (just be conscious of cooling off while still sweaty and still riding). To offset this, there are usually different venting options for different jackets to achieve more breathability and to control internal temperatures. In any case, there’s always the front zip…
There are really light rain-capes that pack away into a jersey pocket, and more substantial jackets that tend to be more thoroughly water-proof over time, but often do not pack away quite so easily (or not at all).
What you decide to wear will likely depend on what you are doing on the bike. If you are heading out for a hard ride and it’s wet but not cold, maybe don’t worry about being water-proof, or just take a spray jacket. However, the colder it gets, the more you want to avoid losing too much heat and making yourself sick, so breathability might not be as much of a priority as warm. Will you be stopping along the way long enough to catch a chill? A waterproof layer will likely serve you well.
If you are heading to work in the wet in normal clothes and you are not fighting for the podium in the commuter cup, then just get water-proofed and slow down a bit. You’ll enjoy the ride more, and will be neither wet nor sweaty.
Riding a bike in winter for practical purposes really isn’t all that complicated. Mudguards are your best friend, get some waterproof clothes, and slow down a bit. Simples.
So, if you are going to be riding through winter, pop in and have a chat about how we can make the experience that much more comfortable and enjoyable, and you’ll be riding in the rain wondering what all the fuss was about.
Sugar plum fairies, flowing rivers of chocolate, and mountains of gold are some of the things dreams are made of.
Oh, and Daccordi‘s. Or if they aren’t yet, they will be after having a look at this one, our newest Daccordi we have built up for display.
If you are unaware, we bring in some of the worlds best frames from Tuscany, Italy, handmade by the same hands that have been doing it for eons. From Daccordi:
“A Daccordi frame is created, designed and built in the heart of Tuscany, with respect to our tradition and with the newest and most innovative technolgies, using only components desgined and manufactured in Italy. All this makes our products exclusive and sincerely made in Italy.”
See? With pedigree, killer looks, and a ride that approaches magic carpet status, we’ve taken the hard part out of deciding what to lust after.
Choose your frame, then build it up with anything you’d like or simply what you’ve already got. It almost doesn’t even matter what you put on it. Better parts will provide better results, but the frame is what matters most, and you can rest assured that with a Daccordi, you’re sitting on just shy of 80 years of the best of what Italiy, or anyone else for that matter, has to offer.
We’ve got a few Daccordi frames hanging around the joint (literally), so we thought we’d do us both a favour and make your custom build that much cheaper.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Daccordi is one of the older Italian bicycle manufacturers, having a 20 year head start over the likes of Colnago, De Rosa, and Pinarello (Bianchi and Willier are older still). Unlike any of these brands, Daccordi are still keeping their bikes Italian in every way, sourcing materials from Italy, and building and painting them at their factory in Tuscany. It’s still family run and as they hand make everything, they can manage truly custom builds.
Below are some of what we have in stock that are going at very attractive prices, so give us a call if you would like to discuss a particular build, or come in to see more of the range.
In our part of the world the temperature is heading south for the winter, and whilst we are still lucky enough to be able to continue riding with relative ease – unlike those with a proper winter – it still presents its problems when it comes to deciding what to wear on the bike.
If you are commuting in plain clothes it may not be as difficult, providing you are not trying to set Strava records on the way there. You will still heat up more than if you were walking and it will still be somewhat more difficult to manage the trade-off between staying warm and keeping free of excess perspiration, but the situation is a little less complicated than when heading out for a more strenuous recreational ride.
There’s cold, there’s wet, and there’s dark.
If you are going to wear the clothes you will be in all day, the first and best thing you can do is to leave enough time for your journey to be undertaken without needing to rush. Seriously, if it is not raining, and you don’t have to rush, you need precisely zero articles of cycle-specific clothing. Sure, throwing some Lycra on under your normal pants will be more comfortable, but at the end of the day you can just grab the bike and go.
Not only is leaving yourself enough time to keep to a moderate pace the solution to being comfortable and not saturated with sweat, but riding at a comfortable pace also makes for a much more pleasant journey. Your stress levels drop considerably, your mood improves, you have more time to make decisions, and you get the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of your surroundings, whatever they may be.
Alright, so let’s say that your journey is long enough or you ride just hard enough to make deciding what to wear a little less straight forward, but you’re still not going to change once you get to work.
First, in any rainy situation, whatever your thoughts on whether mudguards are cool or uncool, they are without a doubt one of the best things you can do to make winter riding more comfortable. They are available in all sizes, for all bikes, but full guards are the best (obviously). If the skies have cleared but the roads have not, you won’t have to worry about puddles or wet and filthy clothes upon arrival, and you can ride with one less care in the world.
Don’t over-dress. Sounds obvious, but I constantly make this mistake because I’m cold in the morning around the house and dress for how I feel there and then, and within minutes of starting out, I’m already too warm. I know this, yet I still do it time after time. I hate being cold…
Warm hands and feet make a big difference to your overall level of comfort. For weather that is beyond merely chilly, get some good gloves that are windproof (we have some really nice ones from German manufacturer Ziener), and possibly waterproof if you want to plan for rain (SealSkinz). Remember that anything waterproof won’t breathe as well as something that isn’t, regardless of its claims. As long as the gloves are warm and the temperatures aren’t too bad, wet hands aren’t a big deal if they are still warm.
Shoe-covers may not be the most fashionable, but toasty feet are wonderful things on a cold morning. There are 3 types of shoe-covers: thin over-socks that are useless if you have warmth in mind (good for protecting your pretty shoes from getting dirty, or if you think you need that little bit more aerodynamics…), insulated but non-waterproof shoe-covers (pretty obvious what they do), and full-on, waterproof, windproof, insulated overshoes. For the later there are varying levels of thicknesses for insulating properties. Again, while the waterproof shoe-covers aren’t usually any more bulky than the non-waterproof ones, they won’t breathe as well, making for some sweatier feet. For those of you that are particularly sensitive to the cold, like me, it’s worth it to have them as warm as possible. We stock one of the worlds best selling waterproof shoe covers, BBB’s Waterflex, which are a good all-around, do everything shoe-cover. For those after a slightly more “pro” look, we have Mavic’s Pro H2O Shoe Cover, which gives a closer fit and is slightly less bulky (less insulated).
If it’s not raining and the temperature won’t be too bad, then a good set of toe warmers will work, will be far less bulky, and your feet won’t overheat. Again, Mavic’s toe warmers are really, really good.
Hot tip: if you are using them over cycling shoes, go for the same size as your shoes. If you want to use them over regular shoes, often the size up is better, as trainers, etc. are a little bulkier. Also bear in mind that if you are not using road cycling shoes (with cleats), then with most of the shoe-covers you will be walking directly on the underside of the covers as they usually only have holes cut out for the cleat and the heel, and they will wear out in time if this is the case. The BBB Waterflex covers are more open on the underside, having only a Velcro strap in the middle (and the toe wraps around to the bottom), making it a little more suitable for regular shoes.
An alternative to shoe-covers would be a waterproof/windproof sock, like the SealSkinz, but obviously your shoes will still be wet if it rains, and they’re not going to be quite as warm.
A final note on shoe-covers is that if it is really raining, eventually water will get in from the top as it runs down your legs, especially if you are wearing socks that are at, or higher than, the tops of the covers. You’ll have somewhat wet feet in this case, but at least they’ll still be warm.
Hands and feet covered, what about the rest?
If you are wearing what you’ll be wearing for the duration of the day (as I do), there’s not much you can do aside from a suitable outer layer. Really, there is nothing special required here. A regular jacket or rain jacket will suffice, but there are advantages to jackets that are cycling-specific, such as a lower-cut back to help protect against spray from the back wheel, reflective elements for low-light situations, better ventilation, often they’ll have longer arms suitable for a riding position, and some will have a closer fit. Netti are a popular and less costly brand – their Elite rain jacket being totally waterproof, very packable, and well priced.
I have found a hood to be extremely useful for the commute in the rain, though it does compromise your shoulder-checking ability a bit. When it’s tipping it down, my hood is up, and my head is dry.
Cycling specific water-proof pants (that you put on over your regular pants) are a little harder to find, but if you combine a waterproof jacket (with hood), waterproof pants, shoe-covers, gloves, and mud-guards, then even the heaviest of downpours isn’t actually that bad! I’ve often arrived home after riding through a deluge and been none the worse for wear. There’s a weird kind of enjoyment I get from a successful commute in the rain, but it’s something I absolutely loath when underprepared…
Now, for harder, longer recreational rides where you are not needing to be presentable for work or pleasure (or if your commute is longer and you can change out of your riding clothes on arrival), it’s a different ballgame, as you have many more options with which to equip yourself against the elements.
The hands and feet situation is the same, so that’s easy.
As you will be working harder and for a longer period of time, you’ll want to manage your moisture build-up as that has a significant effect on staying warm. Start things off with a good base layer. I’ll wear one on all but the warmest days in summer as they are not only comfortable, but do the job of moving sweat away from your skin to evaporate quickly and also provides your initial thermal layer.
There are different weights of base layers, naturally, so you can select the appropriate weight for the temperature range. Wool is a fantastic material as it keeps you warm even when wet, but also doesn’t smell if you have to use it for extended periods between washing. For winter, BBB’s Thermolayer is a synthetic material that has the properties of wool (warm, dry, and fresh), and has a slightly higher neck to keep the breeze out a bit better.
If it’s not too cold, you might just wear a base layer, jersey and arm warmers (or long sleeve jersey), but if it is any cooler, the second most valuable item of clothing to have at your disposal is a good vest (or gilet).
A vest will keep your core warm without overheating you, as a significant factor in losing heat is the amount of air moving over your body at speed – particularly when sweaty. This is achieved by usually having a windproof/water-resistant front panel and a mesh backing, so the wind is kept at bay but excess heat is flung out the back. A gilet also has the advantage of taking up a minimal amount of space in your jersey pocket, making it the perfect companion on days that may start cool but warm up, or rides that include a few longer descents that could benefit from keeping the wind off of your chest. After all, a descent is usually preceded by a climb, and you don’t want to be speeding down a hill with a freshly sweat-soaked jersey pulling all of your heat away from you. Good way to catch a cold. You’ll use it in spring and autumn for sure, and likely throughout (an Australian) winter except for particularly cold days.
When the temperature drops a bit further, a long sleeve jersey lined with fleece is often the answer, though many people opt for a light jacket, of which there are many. There are plenty of lighter outer layers out there now, sitting somewhere in between a long-sleeve jersey and a full on jacket, so you’ll have to find the right balance for your comfortable temperature range (your environment and whether you heat up quickly or not, etc). Long sleeve jerseys will provide a minimal defense against the elements (cold, wind, or rain), fleece jerseys a little warmer, light jackets warmer yet and also usually wind-resistant/windproof, and many of those are showerproof with some sort of DWR treatment on the fabric. All of these will still breathe reasonably well. Our team long-sleeved, fleece lined jerseys have a windproof front that makes them excellent for cool to cold days.
With jackets, especially waterproof ones, there is a greater chance that you will be pulling it off at some point, only to put it back on when you cool off again, particularly if the ride is a hilly one. This is because no matter how breathable something that is waterproof is (or claims to be), whether it is Gore-Tex, eVENT, or any other breathable/waterproof fabric, it’s still not going to allow moisture build-up to evaporate at the rate if would when not wearing a jacket, and still not as close to a non-waterproof one than manufacturers would have you believe. Unless the temperature is cold enough to keep the jacket on for the entire ride, you will probably want to take it off at some point (like a long climb). You may not mind being sweaty – after all, you are exercising and that’s kind of the point – but you will get warm and sweaty if you are peddling at more than a moderate pace. Simply unzipping it will drastically improve things, but there’s still a good chance you’ll want to stow it away completely. Come to terms with this.
You can sometimes end up getting just as wet inside as not wearing one in the rain due to this build-up of perspiration. There is still an advantage though, and that is heat retention. Wet fabric draws heat from your body at something like 25 times more than just air (the faster the air is moving around it the faster that heat disappears), so wearing something that soaks up perspiration and doesn’t move it on very well can have a significant effect on your ability to keep warm. Your base and/or mid layer should be moving this moisture on and may continue to do an admirable job at shifting moisture away from your skin, but that will ultimately get held up by the waterproof jacket. Wet, but at least you’re still warm.
What a good breathable jacket will allow for is a greater ability to move this moisture on while still retaining heat. Technically. You might delay the onset of sweat building up on the inside of the garment a bit, but ultimately you will still get sweaty. Once sweaty, however, a breathable jacket will get rid of it more efficiently than a non-breathable one, so you will dry out faster by comparison.
This is assuming that the jacket has no vents to help with the job of removing moisture, but as we are talking about winter, and I’m assuming a cold temperature, the last thing you will be wanting is a current of cold air running through your clothes. Makes me cold just thinking about it… On the other hand, if you have a couple of very good layers underneath then vents would be useful without dropping your core temperature too much.
So, for cold weather, it’s all about the layers. If it’s cold and dry, then you want to layer very efficient fabrics that move moisture along while keeping you warm. Start with a good base layer (again, there are warmer ones for winter, but don’t be afraid of thin or even mesh ones too – as long as they are effective at moving moisture away from your skin, they’ll do), add a mid layer, and then add a warmer/windproof/waterproof top layer as the conditions demand. If you need to, add more layers, but usually a wisely chosen three will suffice.
If it’s both cold and wet, then you’ll be wanting a water-resistant top layer if it’s only light rain, or a waterproof top layer for anything more. As we don’t all have the space or the funds for limitless clothing options, the waterproof jacket will do, as long as you accept that you’ll get a bit of a sweat up with it on. Plus, it will also pay off if it’s really cold.
And if it’s really cold, then put something between your head and your helmet. The classic cycling cap will both keep a lot of heat from escaping, and keep the sun and a bit of rain out of your eyes. Cotton is the default material for caps, but my local shop caps are made from a jersey material (Lycra) and benefit from a much better fit for a range of sizes (not as tight – I have a cotton cap that gives me a headache from being a little too tight), but also doesn’t get saturated with sweat like cotton. Plus, I have to say that they are the most comfortable, by far…
The cap: cotton is traditional, Lycra is better.
If it’s a bit colder yet, you might want to go straight to a skullcap – basically a beanie, but it is lined with fleece and covers your ears. From there you can go to a balaclava, if you are riding in temperature well below zero.
So, hands, feet, and torso are covered, which only leaves the legs, and they’re pretty easy.
You have one of two options: use your regular bib-shorts with leg warmers (fleece lined, sometimes with wind-resistant front panels, but these don’t tend to have quite as good a fit), or go for a full-length bib for winter that are almost always fleece-lined, and/or made of a heavier Lycra. There’s always the 3/4 length option if you don’t get too cold, which are otherwise the same as the full length.
And there you have it. The elements of your winter cycling wardrobe. This will likely require some experimentation, as somethings will fit you better than others, some things will reveal their true nature only after a few rides or more, and some things will be more to your personal preferences in terms of the temperature range they keep you in.