Make sure you're ready for the cold temperatures with the right winter cycling clothing to keep you warm on the club run or the ride to and from work.
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. What you'll find below is the winter cycling clothing we're still using regularly long after the review was 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.
If you're an out-all-day sort of rider, or heading off on an extended tour, it's nice to take a genuinely warm layer along for breaks, rest stops, energy crashes or the odd unexpected blizzard. The Madison DTE Women's Hybrid Jacket (there's a men's version available too) is light, cosy and packable, and the handy stretchy side panels mean it'll pop over everything.
Although aimed more at mountain bikers than roadies, this insulated jacket has plenty to offer the adventurous road or gravel rider, especially if you're looking to ride all through the coldest weather or tour.
It's constructed from a combination of Thinsulate Platinum synthetic insulation with panels of stretchy, fuzzy-backed Thermal Roubaix fabric at the back, sides and the hood.
The Lusso Aqua Repel V2 Jacket is surprisingly warm and waterproof for such a lightweight jacket, and the performance is excellent, as is the cut, which is close and racy, with plenty of coverage when you are in the saddle.
V2 stands for Version 2 and this Aqua Repel has had a few updates since we last tested it back in 2016. The most noticeable change is the fabric, to Storm Shield, which Lusso says is a lightweight thermal, windproof and water-repellent material. It's created using a waterproof membrane with an inner and outer fabric for protection from the elements.
The Pro SL PrimaLoft Jacket II is a luxuriously warm, soft and comfortable top that's fantastic either on its own or beneath further layers. It's windproof, brilliantly breathable and extremely light, despite its slim and easy-to-pack nature. Endura only does two colours – this 'kingfisher' blue or black – but beyond that, it's hard to find fault.
Endura fills this with two types of PrimaLoft, with the bigger chunk being the 'Gold' grade across the front and the upper sleeves. The rear panel is lighter-duty Silver Active, which breathes better and can stretch – two qualities the company says it's improved with this updated jacket. The stretchy lower half of the arms, stretchy side panels and the rear pocket area have no insulation at all, and each armpit has a small triangle of ventilation holes.
The classically styled Sportful BodyFit Pro Thermal Jersey may look simple, but with the inclusion of plenty of technical fabrics it delivers on both comfort and performance. It's very well made too, which goes a long way to justifying the price.
Sportful's BodyFit range is designed for performance riders, those who want close-fitting apparel with a great cut when on the bike, no flapping fabric or creases around the joints. And that is exactly what you get here with the Pro Thermal jersey.
Decathlon continues its theme of offering quality products at great prices with this Triban RC 100 Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey. Under 25 quid gets you a warm, well-cut top that is pretty good in the breathability stakes too.
Warm, comfortable and water repellent enough to withstand all but the worst of days, the Lusso Aqua Pro Extreme Jacket does a lot of very sensible things very well indeed. Throw in a flattering fit and enough reflectivity and colour to make it highly visible without tipping over into garishness, and it's a real winner.
Sportful's Fiandre Pro jacket commands a big price but it offers big performance for tackling horrible weather, protecting you from rain and wind well beyond the point other jackets would have succumbed to the elements, wrapped up with fit and comfort that has been refined over the years.
The key to the Fiandre Pro's performance when it's cold and wet is the use of Polartec Neoshell, a fabric Sportful first used in the Fiandre Extreme Neoshell jacket a few years ago, and updated last winter. Neoshell is a fabric that offers the protection of a rain jacket with the breathability and comfort of a softshell.
The Triban Long-Sleeved Merino Wool Bike Touring Jersey from French sports giant Decathlon represents incredible value for money, harnessing all the qualities of the famous fine sheepswool and looking chic both on and off the bike.
Packing for a multi-day cycle tour focuses the mind like nothing else. The knowledge that you have to lug everything with you up all the hills forces you to think very carefully about every single item. Do you really need that pair of pants or can you 'go commando' in the evening? Should you wear flip-flops? Saw the handle off your toothbrush?
A single, reliable, super-versatile jersey that with some canny layering can be worn every day in all conditions takes out a lot of cycling kit-related guesswork. One that can all do that and double up as a pub jumper is priceless. The Triban merino jersey is one of those.
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.
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.
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, you'd probably expect to pay much more.
It's 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.
This latest version has plenty of reflective material to help keep you visible.
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.
Rapha's Pro Team jacket combines a supremely good fit with a softshell material that fends off bad weather with ease. For cyclists who like to ride hard and fast all the time, the breathability and protection of this jacket is outstanding.
The dbh Aeron women’s short sleeved merino base layer is a great shoulder-season underlayer that washes well, dries quickly and has a soft feel against the skin. It retains its shape well too, though it's on the thin side for serious winter use.
The dhb (from Wiggle) baselayer is made from 160gms merino (65% merino/35%polyester) which proves the perfect weight to slip under a long sleeved outer on coolish days, or with a long sleeve and a waterproof when it's raining hard.
Getting the right winter cycling clothing is largely about layering. Want a technical winter baselayer that will allow you to keep the other layers off? Decathlon's Van Rysel Extreme Long Sleeve Baselayer could be the answer.
Base layers – 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.
The Van Rysel Extreme Long Sleeve Baselayer (previously known as the B'Twin 920) 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.
The 7Mesh Seymour Tights are a pocketable, lightweight insulated layer to keep you warm in changeable weather. With well-thought-out features and a water-repellent coating, they are a handy option to remain comfy when temperatures drop.
There are many padless winter bib-overtights on the market that you can layer with your favourite summer bib shorts for a toasty ride – but if it gets warm you may be sweating a lot, and there's pretty much no chance of easily removing and popping such a large garment in a jersey pocket.
7Mesh has addressed this need in the bibless Seymour Tights. Made from a ridiculously stretchy material, the Seymours have a fluffy 'Roubaix'-style insulation layer underneath, but it's surprisingly thin for the warmth it delivers.
The 7Mesh TK1 bib tights are very warm, technically loaded and can carry as much kit as a three-pocket jersey. As always, the pad fit may not be to everyone's liking, but if it does suit you these are excellent winter tights for on- or off-road riding.
Overall, the TK1s are great winter tights, in my case ousting the rather excellent Pearl Izumi Pro Pursuit bibs that have been my winter mainstay the last two years. The combination of amazing fit, luggage capacity, warmth and waterproofness makes the TK1s serious contenders for The Last Winter Bibs You'll Ever Need To Own.
The Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts aim to keep you warm and dry no matter what the conditions throw at you. Italian for Flanders, the Fiandre have a lot to live up to, and after a month or so of testing, it would appear that the NoRain Pros are just as impressive in the UK's unpredictable weather as they are in Belgium and have been my shorts of choice for the majority of conditions.
Bibshorts are another area of winter cycling clothing where you probably don't want to economise too much as you'll almost certainly be trying to get by with just the one layer. 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.
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.
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.
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 Windstopper Trail Pants.
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.
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.
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.
Leg warmers aren't just winter cycling clothing - not in Britain anyway. This means that a good pair are worth their weight in gold, these Castelli Thermoflex Leg Warmers something of a bargain.
We can't possibly talk about winter cycling clothing without turning our attention to socks. 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.
An innovative form of winter cycling clothing, 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.
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 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.
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.
Sealskinz 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.
One of the cheaper forms of winter cycling clothing in our list, 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.
This latest incarnation of Decathlon's top-model Triban 900 Winter Cycling Gloves features a few handy (sorry) improvements over the previous version that makes them among the best winter gloves for the money – and they stand comparison with gloves costing twice as much.
Decathlon says these gloves are designed to keep your hands toasty down to zero Celsius, and that's exactly what they do. They also do a surprisingly good job of fending off the wet for gloves that make no claim to being more than 'water-repellent'.
The 100% Brisker women’s gloves are a great set of winter warmers for moderate to chilly days. The softshell backing keeps the worst of the wind at bay, they're hardwearing and a single-layer palm means there's still a great feel on the bars. At this price, there’s no reason not to have a pair for winter riding.
The softshell back of the hand feels a bit like neoprene and is pretty windproof, although it doesn’t claim to be, and it stays pretty warm even when soaked through. Better still, the palm is a single layer of suede-like material, for a feel on the bars that's like wearing a summer glove, despite the extra protection.
With a few clever details that really help them do their job well, Galibier's Barrier Deep Winter Gloves ensure toasty hands when temperatures drop to low single figures and below.
No single detail makes the Barrier Deep Winter Gloves stand out. What's impressive here is that Galibier has managed to combine a host of features such as lots of insulation, total windproofing (the barrier of the name), reasonable water-resistance, reflective details, a comfortable neoprene-and-Velcro cuff, and a grippy palm in a pair of gloves that cost less than 25 quid. And you also get things you'd expect in gloves at this price like soft fabric on the back of the thumb to wipe a runny nose, and gel padding at the bottom of the palm to cushion your hands.
Gloves get a lot of focus when it comes to winter cycling clothing because that's often where people feel the cold first. 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.
Showers Pass Crosspoint Softshell WP gloves will keep your hands dry and toasty even in a hard winter.
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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.