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You don't need to spend a fortune on a winter cycling outfit

Sometimes cycling can seem like a very expensive hobby, especially during the winter when you need to invest in suitable clothing to enable you to continue riding when it's cold, dark and wet.

Inspired by a forum thread on road.cc titled “winter road clothes on a budget” we’ve set out to show it’s possible to outfit your cycling wardrobe for winter without spending a fortune.

We’ve put together a complete outfit for £151.95. That’s not to say you can’t go cheaper, you probably can if you shop around and make the most of sales and end of season discounts, but these are all readily available garments in a range of sizes.

You might already have some cycling clothing though - shorts, base layer, jersey for example - in which case you are halfway there and can consider adding some accessories such as arm and leg warmers and a jacket, so you don’t have to rush out and buy all this kit at the same time.

- Best cheap cycling shorts

- Best cheap cycling jerseys

Aldi Seamless Base Layer — £6.99

Men's-Seamless-Cycling-Base-Layer-A.jpg

Men's-Seamless-Cycling-Base-Layer-A.jpg

A good base layer is a solid foundation for any cycling outfit, and for winter a long sleeve base layer will provide the necessary warmth to insulate on a cold ride. Shop at Aldi and you can get this Seamless Cycling Base Layer for just £6.99. It’s made from polyester and the lack of seams will ensure it’s very comfortable next to the skin.

If Aldi have sold out, another quid gets you the B'Twin 100 Cycling Base Layer.

B’Twin 100 Warm Cycling Jacket — £29.99

 B’Twin 100 Warm Cycling Jacket.jpg

B’Twin 100 Warm Cycling Jacket.jpg

A jacket is an essential at this time of year, to keep you warm when it’s cold and protected from the wind and rack. It’s one of the most expensive items of cycling clothing, so spend as much as your budget will allow. This smart looking jacket from Decathlon is fleece-lined for warmth with a windproof fabric on the outside and a water repellent material on the front panels and arms. It’s finished with lots of reflective material and three pockets.

The British winter can be very unpredictable and the best approach to dealing with it is choosing clothing that allows you to adapt to those constantly changing variables. It's also ensuring you pick the right clothing for the type of weather as well, if you never go out in the rain then there's little point in investing in a waterproof jacket, for example.

dhb Flashlight Bib Tights — £60

dhb-Flashlight-Bib-Tights-Cycling-Tights-Black-AW16-NU0534.jpg

dhb-Flashlight-Bib-Tights-Cycling-Tights-Black-AW16-NU0534.jpg

If you do want to put your shorts to one side and invest in a pair of cycling bib tights, you can’t go wrong with dhb’s offering, and these Flashlight Bib Tights provide extra safety by way of large reflective prints. The tights have a high-quality CyTech Elastic Interface padded insert for maximum seated comfort and the legs are made from a Ceylon performance stretch fabric.

Tad pricey? The dhb Blok bib tights are £38.99, and B'Twin's 100 bib tights are just £19.99.

howies Merino Leg Warmers — £12.50

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leg-warmer-u-153-black-parent_1_1.jpg

If you’ve already got a comfortable pair of padded Lycra shorts, then investing in a pair of leg warmers is a really cheap way of keeping your legs warm without buying a pair of expensive cycling tights. These from howies are made from merino wool, famed for its lovely softness against the skin, with a silicone gripper hem to stop them sliding down.

Usually £19, these leg warmers are currently on offer for just £12.50.

- Buyer's Guide to arm and leg warmers + 14 of the best

Craft Storm Gloves — £24.99

craft-storm-glove.jpg

craft-storm-glove.jpg

Long finger gloves are the last essential product on your winter cycle clothing list, and here the choice can be overwhelming. Cycling gloves come in as many varieties as there are weather types, with everything from thin wool to thickly padded Artic gloves and waterproof gloves. We’ve picked these Craft Storm Gloves as they are a warm and good fitting glove that works well in the widest range of winter conditions. Read our review here.

Madison Sportive PU Thermal Overshoes — £19.99

Madison Sportive Aero overshoes.jpg

Madison Sportive Aero overshoes.jpg

These are the least expensive overshoes to earn a rating of 4 1/2 out of 5 from our reviewers; they're 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. Featuring a fleece lining that fits snugly to your shoes in tandem with an unvented, taped waterproof top layer, these overshoes are surprisingly warm in all conditions bar freezing or below.

Read our review of Madison Sportive PU Thermal Overshoes
Find a Madison dealer

 


These are very much the basics that we reckon you need to tackle a bike ride lasting a couple of hours or more. The jacket will see you through most of the winter, the base layer will keep you warm and dry, and the tights and gloves will keep your legs and hands protected. From here you can add more accessories as you see fit, and things like overshoes, merino wool cycling socks and head and neck warmers are other items of clothing that you might want to look at adding to your cycling wardrobe.

And if you need some shoes (we're sort of assuming you already have some cycling shoes) then there are lots of affordable options, as this guide shows.

Hopefully, these recommendations will prepare you for winter riding. Do you have any good winter clothing that you use?

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

10 comments

Avatar
CygnusX1 [778 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

One more essential - overshoes. Keep the rain, road spray, salt and other crud off your shoes and add a layer of windproofing for your toes.

Avatar
Simontuck [194 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Skullcap. Preferably windproof and long enough to cover my ears and keep the wind out. Check it fits under your helmet comfortably, but most helmets are easy enough to adjust slightly.

Necktube. Doesn't need to be very thick or windproof (but these are available options) I use one I got free with a motorbike magazine years ago. It just plugs a few gaps, provides a handy nose wipe and can cover most of my face if its really miserable weather.

Avatar
urbane [98 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Simontuck wrote:

Skullcap. Preferably windproof and long enough to cover my ears and keep the wind out. Check it fits under your helmet comfortably, but most helmets are easy enough to adjust slightly.

Necktube. Doesn't need to be very thick or windproof (but these are available options) I use one I got free with a motorbike magazine years ago. It just plugs a few gaps, provides a handy nose wipe and can cover most of my face if its really miserable weather.

I've recently bought thin synthetic cycle skullcaps and balaclavas from Decathlon, and earlier bought thin motorcycle balaclavas from Halfords.   A balaclava is plain better than a skullcap and necktube because of full coverage and ease of use, and you can speak through them easily.  I prefer a balaclava to a skullcap when the temperature drops below 4C and they are great below zero.

Avatar
robertoegg [112 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Simontuck wrote:

Skullcap. Preferably windproof and long enough to cover my ears and keep the wind out. Check it fits under your helmet comfortably, but most helmets are easy enough to adjust slightly.

Necktube. Doesn't need to be very thick or windproof (but these are available options) I use one I got free with a motorbike magazine years ago. It just plugs a few gaps, provides a handy nose wipe and can cover most of my face if its really miserable weather.

 

Interesting - I find I only need anything near my head / neck if it's sub-zero. Else I'm working hard enough that I get too hot with that lot on.

Indeed, the true budget option is to carry on uysing your summer gear with a non-breathable jacket! Plenty warm ta...

I agree on overshoes though - you can get the Planet X neoprene ones for about £12 - £20 depending on their sales. 

Avatar
abrooks [26 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Some great suggestions here and on the forum thread but if the clothing (or the process) don't make you feel dirty there is a steady market in second hand clothes from the pricier brands.  I have bought and sold jackets and jerseys from Rapha and Assos and would not hesitate to do it again.  

Colours that aren't popular or slight marks can precipitate some great bargains.  Maybe worth looking at for a jacket for example, which is probably going to be the priciest item on your list.

Avatar
peted76 [990 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I've got a really thin lycra 'headband' which is just wide enough to cover my ears (about three inches I'd guess) but does not 'insulate' my head like a skullcap does.  It cost very little and does one job (keeps your ears out of the wind).  I've had it for about five years and although I've never really given it much thought.. is probably one of my most important items as it's great for 'most types of British weather' above about five degrees. Highly recommended.

Avatar
Grahamd [932 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
peted76 wrote:

I've got a really thin lycra 'headband' which is just wide enough to cover my ears (about three inches I'd guess) but does not 'insulate' my head like a skullcap does.  It cost very little and does one job (keeps your ears out of the wind).  I've had it for about five years and although I've never really given it much thought.. is probably one of my most important items as it's great for 'most types of British weather' above about five degrees. Highly recommended.

Have a Giordana one that is made of a very warm fabric. Ears and forehead sorted, which makes an enormous difference. Cost less than £10.

Avatar
Duncann [1257 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Grahamd wrote:
peted76 wrote:

I've got a really thin lycra 'headband' which is just wide enough to cover my ears (about three inches I'd guess) but does not 'insulate' my head like a skullcap does.  It cost very little and does one job (keeps your ears out of the wind).  I've had it for about five years and although I've never really given it much thought.. is probably one of my most important items as it's great for 'most types of British weather' above about five degrees. Highly recommended.

Have a Giordana one that is made of a very warm fabric. Ears and forehead sorted, which makes an enormous difference. Cost less than £10.

Likewise, I have an Aldi light fleece band from years ago and it's essential for properly-cold weather.

More recently I lashed out £5 on a pair of their winter gloves, which are also excellent.

Agree with others about overshoes - feet pretty quickly go numb otherwise on long, cold rides.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [1596 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

There are always bargains to be had even with the top names. My son bought me a Helly Hansen Freeze base layer for £29 xmas '16, I got a Mountain Warehouse soft shell 5 years ago for £25 which has been fantastic, LIDL were selling a great softshell for £15 a couple of years ago.

Showers Pass Skyline for £43 posted autumn just gone which I love (there are still some in Red in a small ebay no. 252743126379)

Avatar
PeterCee [12 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I too am a massive fan of the Decathlon Cycling Balaclava.

The material is very thin and stretchy, when you first put it on you think it's going to be too cold - but it's perfect. Your head never gets too hot even under the helmet and the lightweight material over the ears, neck and chin area is perfect in  0deg C to 6 degC conditions.

Its nice and cheap, superlight and packs away to nothing.