Whether it’s the chilly sting of fresh morning air, or the all-too-soon gloom of an earlier night, autumn is most definitely upon us. For some, the road from bright skies and warmth of summer to the depths of winter are enough to bring about despondency. But we are hardy and – more to the point – educated cyclists, and just because the conditions have turned, there’s no reason to stop enjoying our bikes.
In fact, autumn rides can be some of the most fun experiences of the year. Yes, you don’t always know what the weather isn’t going to do, but isn’t that just part of the adventure that comes every time you throw your leg over the saddle? To take on the uncertainty of nature, and to conquer it, is one of the reasons why cycling is the most satisfying form of transport.
But you can’t do that purely through force of character alone – you need the right kit. Thankfully, fabric and material technology from Polartec will allow your body to comfortably navigate everything from the unexpected sun of an Indian summer to the frostiest moments of an early winter. Even better, during this time of concern about man-made climate change, many of Polartec’s innovative materials are made from recycled ingredients – so you can face up to the conditions without contributing to their instability.
Whatever the weather, we’ve got the right kit for you to focus on the ride and forget about the rain, wind or sun. So here’s our round-up of all the cycle clothing you’ll need this autumn, and the incredible fabric innovation that makes their performance so impressive.
For something so fantastically soft, it feels odd to say that Polartec Power Grid fabric is at the ‘cutting edge’ of fleece innovation. However, Power Grid’s patented geometric-pattern grid composition really is at the forefront of fabric technology. Power Grid’s knit construction enhances warmth and breathability, while also being able to reduce overall weight, improve compressibility and wicking, and add technical style. With additional benefits such as high breathability, soft touch and manufacturing from 50%+ recycled PET plastic, you can see why Power Grid is the perfect choice to keep close to your body.
MAAP’s Thermal Base Layer Long Sleeve Tee is your perfect next-to-skin companion for autumnal rides. Featuring all the performance characteristics of Polartec Power Grid – versatile warmth, efficient moisture wicking and highly effective thermoregulation – this garment also benefits from MAAP’s advanced design, allowing for a fully accommodating range of motion.
Polartec Power Wool is a fantastic example of highly-specialised hybrid fabric technology that uses both natural and synthetic fibres in a knit construction for incredible performance. The synthetic fibres on Power Wool’s outer surface enhance durability and resilience without hindering moisture transfer; on the inner surface, Merino wool fibres make the most of its famed natural comfort, warmth and wicking ability. That makes Power Wool perfect for diverse conditions, different levels of activity, and even a range of different garments.
In terms of autumnal comfort bang for your buck, nothing beats a neck warmer, which provides a necessary insulating barrier between your head and upper body. MAAP’s Polartec Team Neck Warmer does this better than most by utilising Power Wool’s unique performance qualities in a simple but maximally effective form to ensure you never get a chill on your chest again.
As technologically competent and exotically innovative as it is, Power Wool doesn’t have to be reserved for limited, specific uses like neck warmers. Santini’s Vega Grido Bib Tights utilise Polartec Power Wool to offer a superbly comfortable ride experience in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Even if you’re not sure what the weather’s going to do, you can be sure that you’ll at least be ready for it.
Breathability and non-waterproofing seems to go hand-in-hand – if dampness can be expelled then it probably can also find its way in. So how can you get breathability and keep the weather away? NeoShell is Polartec’s answer. This fantastic fabric is soft, stretchy, lightweight and highly durable. Most importantly, though, while its sub-micron membrane structure is impressively breathable, it’s also been extensively engineered to keep wind and rain well away from the wearer.
Like the Santini Vega Gridos above, Sportful’s Fiandre Bib Tights have been designed to take on any conceivable autumnal – and even winter – condition. In this case, though, Polartec’s weather-beating NeoShell has been used in strategic areas to provide maximum protection and stretch, with thicker fabric on the legs and lighter fabric on the upper to accommodate the extra warmth of a jacket.
NeoShell isn’t just great for offering full-ride comfort to your legs: MAAP’s Prime Vest is a midweight and packable gilet that can be whipped out when the conditions change. Thanks to Polartec NeoShell, it provides a highly breathable wind and waterproof protective layer, as well as some extra welcome practicalities such as a small zipped pocket and reflective highlights.
Polartec Alpha’s ground-breaking active insulation uses lofted fibres connected to a solid mesh core to create consistent warmth and optimum breathability, without the need to remove layers. It’s a very clever fabric. In fact, it was developed for elite US military units who required a superior insulation system for extreme temperature variations during the start-stop conditions of combat.
Alpha is one of Polartec’s most popular insulation fabrics because of its versatility. Moisture and hot air can escape when you work up a sweat on a climb, while the fibres will keep you warm when you’re flying down the other side of the hill.
This ability to regulate your warmth means there’s less need to put on extra layers and then remove them again according to the temperature and terrain. What's more, because the insulation is woven to a core, many face fabrics are available, including thin and lightweight ones because there isn't any danger of the fibres migrating through, which is something you can find with down.
We mentioned earlier that Sportful’s Fiandre Bib Tights had been designed to accommodate the extra warmth of a jacket – and here’s exactly what we were talking about. The Total Comfort jacket uses both super-warm Polartec Alpha on the inside and an outside layer of breathable and waterproof Polartec NeoShell for truly ‘total’ weather protection.
The Sportful Total Comfort Jacket might utilise a mixture of Polartec fabrics but these Under-Gloves from Santini are pure Alpha. That means they are light, soft and – most importantly – incredibly warm. If you already have a favourite pair of gloves but you find the chill is seeping through, use these underneath and treat your hands to a little bit of luxury.
When is a fleece material not a fleece material? When it’s Polartec’s Thermal Pro. At first sight, and first touch, Thermal Pro is just another soft and warm fabric. But get up close and personal with the diverse variety of knitting techniques used to create Thermal Pro's unique surface structures and you’ll see that it’s anything but just another fleece. It’s warm without being heavy, it’s highly durable, it’s fast drying, it’s even available made from 100% recycled PET Plastic. There is one quality you will notice clearly, though: Thermal Pro is also pill resistant, meaning it’ll stay looking smart for longer.
Pas Normal Studio’s Off-Road Fleece Jacket isn’t just for our mud-plugging mountain biking friends; any rider can wear it. When you need something simply warm to wear – whether that’s for a quick spin across town, as a layer on a longer ride, or even just to keep cosy under roof – the Thermal Pro construction is the perfect fleece barrier between you and the cold.
Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric may look and feel like a simple softshell material, but lurking behind that pleasingly touchable exterior lies the power of weatherproof armour. Power Shield Pro’s resilient three-layer fabric protects against strong winds, rain, snow, and even abrasive surfaces without sacrificing anything in terms of warmth or comfort. And don’t worry about overheating or self-produced moisture. Unlike traditional protective layers, Power Shield Pro’s microporous membrane easily releases excess heat and perspiration, resulting in dry conditions both inside and out.
So where should you turn when autumnal weather turns officially bad? Santini’s Vega Multi Jacket is the answer. Its Polartec Power Shield Pro construction offers an impenetrable barrier to the worst of conditions, while its unique ability to maintain thermal balance will keep your body at the ideal temperature. It’s ergonomically cut and it’s even got a waterproof hood hiding in there, too, so you are perfectly covered from head to saddle.