It is such a twist that dressing appropriately for cycling in spring is more complicated than in winter. The average biker will tell you that what to wear for spring cycling is one of their biggest worries.
Temperamental weather conditions in spring have much to do with this difficulty. However, you can now rest easy because we have a definite philosophy on what you should wear when cycling in spring.
Basics: What To Wear Cycling in the Spring
Same as with winter clothing, spring clothing for cycling has its rules. Decades of experience have taught us what works and what doesn’t.
In the early days, mothers would sew jackets and vests for their sons
, but today we have the added advantage of highly advanced technology and lots of expert research. As a result, these guidelines should be your go-to rulebook when deciding on what to wear for spring cycling.
Layering is the secret behind effective protection against the elements while remaining light and comfortable. As opposed to one heavy jacket, for example, you are better off with a biking jersey and a base layer.
Having lots of light pieces beats few but heavier items because you are ultimately going to want to remove something. Spring weather changes fast, and you might have a brisk sun that will have you sweating in buckets.
Make sure that all your layers can be easily transported in your saddlebag or pockets. That is why highly foldable jackets are in demand because you can easily roll them up and stow away in your back pocket.
Layering also helps you to balance out the properties of the various pieces. For example, a smooth, absorbent material next to the skin should be covered by a wind-resistant jacket. A bulky jacket may not come with this winning combination of properties to help in changing weather.
Some of the top layers can be removed or adjusted on the fly for seamless temperature control. For example, it is easy to peel back leg and hand warmers even on the bike.
Always Wear a Base Layer
The chief purpose of wearing a base layer is to achieve fairly constant temperatures. That means you don’t sweat as much, and you don’t get too cold. This thermoregulation is why you must wear a base layer.
There are different types of base layers. They vary by their weight, type of material, size, and fit. Selecting the right kind of base layer for your trip is essential.
Long-sleeved base layers are best for spring cycling because they offer added protection. However, for warmer weather, you might want to go with short sleeves, which should be as lightweight as possible.
The base layer material is probably the most important consideration here, though. Since it is the garment that goes right on top of your skin, it needs to be soft, smooth, wick away sweat, and dry quickly.
Both natural merino wool and synthetic polyester are great at this. Some even use bamboo, which feels very soft and is extremely light.
Water and Windproofing
Have appropriate outerwear to complement the base layer. It comes in the form of biking jackets and jerseys with different designs.
Softshell jackets used in winter are incredibly versatile and work well enough in spring. They are also easy to fold and carry when needed. Long or short-sleeved riding jerseys with wind-breaking capabilities are also perfect.
You can go for a light hardshell jacket as well, but it compromises on foldability. You should only wear one if you don’t intend to take it off.
Keep Your Arms, Hands, and Knees Warm
Cold fingers and freezing knees are a cyclist’s nightmare. They take incredibly long to heat up and will affect your performance significantly. Don’t risk going out without protection for them.
Hand and leg warmers are a spring cycling staple, especially if you will be on the road for hours or riding very early and late in the day. Fortunately, light Lycra warmers can be rolled on or off easily at will without much effort.
If this begins to sound like the spring cycling catchphrase, it’s because it is. The key to spring cycling wear is to be ready for any eventuality out on the road.
Like summer, spring inspires a carefree spirit in amateur cyclists. Even the best of us will overlook something. You must always take particular care to plan ahead and carry everything you need.
That includes wearing the right shoes, bringing along a reflective vest or other high visibility gear, and carrying your biking glasses. Any ride that extends for more than 30 minutes, unless it is a commute, deserves a full preparation stage.
Even when you don’t want to wear the full cycling kit for any reason, it’s good to keep these fundamentals in mind.
For example, when doing casual cycling, you can use a tight-fitting tee and light jacket for the top, chino, or other flexible pants for the bottom, and the right shoes.
Specifics: Spring Cycling Clothes
Now that you have learned the fundamentals, it’s time to see an actual guide on a sample spring cycling kit. These staples should be represented in one form or another every time you get on the saddle.
Bib Shorts or Knickers
Spring is usually too warm for tights, which is why it is time to get your bib shorts out. These have a comfortable seat padding over your butt and crotch area to protect you from the hardness of the saddle.
They also have the advantage of fitting extremely close to the skin, which gives you a significant aero advantage over your colleagues.
For chilly days (or if you prefer to show less leg), the three-quarter length bib knickers are a great option. However, they may not serve as adequate protection when it rains.
Read our Article: Top 5 Best Men’s Bicycling Bib Shorts
Tight-Fitting Tee-Shirt or Base Layer
Right next to your skin on your upper body should be an appropriate base layer. A natural lightweight base layer made of merino wool is the ultimate option for chilly weather.
For warmer temperatures, wear a synthetic polyester layer. These tend to be lighter and wick sweat faster. They are also easier to clean.
If you don’t want to have to wiggle into a base layer every time you ride, the right tee-shirt or even plain cycling jersey works as well. What you should aim for is a combination of wicking and wind-breaking properties.
Full-Sleeved Jersey or Biking Jacket
On top of your base layer, you can have a lightweight softshell jacket. It will give you some breathability for when it gets really warm, protects against the wind when it becomes chilly, and folds down easily for when the sun is positively scorching.
A good alternative for this is a biking jersey. A long-sleeved jersey can almost resemble a lightweight jacket, but they are even more comfortable and versatile. You can get a short-sleeved jersey in your favorite colors for those sunny days.
A gilet is a jacket with no sleeves. As you can imagine, they are perfect for spring cycling because they give you the much-needed protection from the wind while remaining easily foldable.
Gilets are a great option for replacing pesky jackets on the road and will still give you the required protection from the wind and light rain.
Knee and Arm Protection
Make a habit of carrying some light woolen or Lycra leg and arm warmers. These little articles are absolute lifesavers when the weather changes.
Leg warmers are especially important for the knees, which can make thousands of revolutions every mile you cycle. If they get too cold, blood circulation reduces, and the risk of injury adds up.
Soft Lycra warmers are incredibly light, and you can roll or unroll them at will without ever having to stop.
It is also a good idea to bring along some fingerless gloves, mitts, or even lightweight, full-length gloves. They prevent your hands from being chilled to the bone when the rain or wind shows up.
Have the right kind of helmet. Ventilation is an essential consideration in spring cycling. Even more importantly, however, have the proper headgear. It can get chilly while the only protection on your head is a plastic helmet full of air vents.
Carry along a skull cap or balaclava to protect your head from the wind, wick the sweat, and keep you cool.
Part of the headgear also involves investing in the right pair of cycling glasses. Spring brings the bugs out, and you don’t want to get one in your eyes when you’re hurtling along at 40mph.
Eyewear also protects you from the sun’s glare and keeps things from getting into your eyes in the case of an accident. Always make sure that the glass is shatterproof.
Socks, Shoes, Oversocks
Finish everything up by stepping into the right cycling shoes. Many spring cyclists prefer flat pedals, which is why you need to make sure you get a shoe with the right fit, a rubber sole,
The key to the shoes is in the socks. Thick, comfortable polyester or woolen socks help your feet fit snugly into the shoe and keeps them dry. Since you don’t have to worry as much about freezing, you can experiment with that size works best for you.
However, there is still a big chance that you will get rained on or splash into chilly, muddy puddles along the way. That is why a good, water-resistant pair of oversocks is a good idea.
Oversocks go over your shoes and protect your footgear from getting wet. They also have an added advantage in that they keep everything clean and fresh for easy washing.
What To Wear For Spring Cycling FAQs
What should I wear in changing temperatures?
Layering your biking gear is a good way to keep yourself warm in rapidly changing temperatures. That way, you can take them off or put them on at will.
What is the lowest temperature in which I can cycle?
50F or 100C is too cold to cycle in without protective gear. If you are riding in such weather, always make sure to dress appropriately and to keep yourself warm.
Why should I wear tight clothing when cycling?
Tight clothing improves aerodynamics by reducing drag. It is the same reason cyclists ride in groups or tuck into a compact position. Loose garments will catch the wind and slow you down significantly.
Should I wear gloves when cycling?
Absolutely. Unless the weather is warm and you expect it to remain so for a long time, it is a good idea to wear gloves to prevent icy fingers.
What should I wear when mountain biking?
As opposed to road bikers, mountain and trail bikers don’t have to worry as much about aerodynamics but rather control. Wear baggy shorts with lots of pockets, protective padding, and adequate windproofing.
Dressing for spring cycling can get very tricky. Nothing seems to work at first, and you always feel like you are either over or underdressed. Due to the rapidly changing weather conditions, it is a good idea to wear the right clothes for both.
Weight and space are a premium for every pro cyclist. That is why the garments you decide to bring along should be lightweight and easily foldable if they will be coming off.
Another big consideration is moisture. Whether from sweat, rain, or splashing, you are ultimately going to get wet. For this reason, wicking properties are such a big part of your spring cycling gear.
With these considerations in mind, veterans agree that a standard spring cycling kit should have the items highlighted here. A base layer regulates your body heat, the outerwear protects from the elements, while warmers cover your hands and legs.
Shoes and headgear also form an important part of comfort and protection. Even when you’re just commuting or riding for fun, make sure to represent these items in one way or the other.
With these principles in mind, you can conquer the challenge of what to wear for spring cycling for good, just as we did.