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I regularly cycle to work in London, at the moment the weather is between 5-9 degrees Celsius. I'm finding it difficult to decide what to wear in these conditions as I either get too much windchill (when I don't wear leggings) or sweat too much that it's uncomfortable or I look too disheveled when I arrive. It seems to be about striking a balance between not being too cold when I leave and not too hot once I'm in full flight. It's obviously much easier to decide what to wear when it's either really cold or very warm.

My question is, are there any guidelines or conventions governing what pro cycling teams / serious riders wear according to the temperature/wind conditions? Are these things decided by each rider or do teams decide?

  • Not cheap but there is high tech stuff that is designed for active wear. – paparazzo Feb 18 '15 at 15:51
  • You need to make clear if you are cycling in "working clothes", and, if so, what sort of clothes those are. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 18 '15 at 16:10
  • 5-9 C is pretty warm. Aside from some light gloves, most work clothes will warm you up appropriately in 5 minutes or so. – Batman Feb 18 '15 at 22:38
  • Think about what feels chilled, and how the air gets there. I wear wrist joiners to go between my gloves and the cuff of my long-sleeved vest because that's where wind gets up (flash name for some of my kid's old socks with the toes cut off!) I also wear a skullcap under the helmet and a "multipurpose" tube bandanna around the neck, which does pull up for the chin as well. If its real cold I'll wear that up to my nose, but higher than that causes glasses to fog when stopped at red lights (yes, I stop at reds). At the other end, slow down the last 500 metres to cool down and reduce sweat. – Criggie Jul 11 '16 at 12:01
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For the question you actually ask, about team riders, the answer is that its a personal thing.

Keep in mind, though, with a pro rider (any sponsored rider, in fact) that there may be contractual things which require/prevent them from wearing certain things. The range of kit available to them will depend on the depth of the sponsor's pockets.

Someone like Santini, for example, produce lots of different clothing products (they have a catalogue online) and so getting each and every product made up in team colours will be prohibitive for the smaller teams. (I suspect non-team clothing is not an option for the riders, and you do hear stories from way back about riders sewing their sponsor's labels into their preferred clothing, so as to "appear" compliant - a bit like footballers and their boots.)

As for the rest of us....the general rules are (a) to wear your layers many, thin and wicking, so as to prevent getting sweaty (and therefore damp); (b) not to allow yourself to overheat during the ride - in practise this can mean starting off cold and relying on the exercise to get you warmed up.

Those two are good for the dry. In the wet, bear in mind that the more waterproof you go, the less you will wick, so it is a sliding scale. My personal preference is to accept that you're going to get wet, but to concentrate on wearing clothing that will dry quickly once the rain stops. But this rule doesn't work very well though for e.g. winter socks (and shoes for that matter) - the combination of cold and wet is always difficult to overcome.

  • Indeed, the "initially cold, comfortable after 5 minutes of riding" is a great rule of thumb. Even hikers on foot suffer when not adhering to it! – Vorac Feb 18 '15 at 13:23
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I think pro riders wear jerseys.

That being said, I usually think about ventilation. Throat and the joints like fingers, knees - get high insulation via scarf, gloves, soft kneepads.

The core of the body - which produces a lot of heat - (chest, back)is well ventilated via airflow from the neck of my anorak to the wide opening on the bottom i.e. I don't tighten the lower end.

In colder than that weather a bacalva or an elastic scarf can cover the face and ears.

My anorak is similar to this one, but with larger opening at the neck. Notice the large opening at the bottom. If I am cold, I tuck my t-shirt into my pants. If I am sill cold, tightening of the string at the bottom of the anorak is useless, because then the cold is due to frost wind at the chest. enter image description here

This is a quick answer. The question has been asked and there are good answers somewhere around.

btw in Bulgaria now it's the same weather (obviously)

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Pro-teams wear high performance race garments. The last thing a pro-rider wants is to have to wear a jacket which flaps in the wind as this will only serve to slow them down. So not only must the garment be functional - it must be race-cut to a close fitting with no excess material.

When the weather turns foul - the favourite of the peloton is the Castelli Gabba. It is known in the past for teams to use this garment - even though they were sponsored by other clothing manufacturers.

A lot of clothing for racing in cold and wet weather is designed using a water-proof soft-shell material but without the taped seams to increase breathability. The Gabba is a perfect example which other brands have followed ie. Sportful - no rain or Capo Lombardia etc.,

New rules to the UCI this year mean teams must wear jackets, gilets which do not cover their sponsors logos. No more Gabba.

When I commute (UK) by bike - I check the weather forecast and also have a thermometer outside the back door. I wear race gear and do not wear waterproofs - as they are too hot in use - but have a pretty water resistant jacket should it downpour. Everything else is water-repellent but not waterproof.

My commute is 1hr and its about the limit for the clothing before it is really drenched in heavy rain.

Versatile clothing options are the key. Arm warmers, Knee warmers, leg warmers, gilets are all very versatile bits of kit.

  • You would also be surprised how water repellent a standard pair of bib tights are. And a decent set of mudguards also keeps road spray to a minimum - so the only water you need to worry about is the rain coming down from the sky and not up from the road. – OraNob Feb 18 '15 at 15:53
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I am a minimalist, non-Lycra advocate and also a cross country skier. What I've learned over 30+ years is that people tend to initially overdress when starting out on aerobic activity. I decide what to wear by what is comfortable for the weather at hand, and then remove one layer. Or, If I'm a little chilled or uncomfortable to start out, I figure I'm dressed just right. At 5 to 9 degrees C, all you need are decent gloves, a light windbreaker that zips up full around the neck and maybe a nice wool cycling cap that covers the ears. You don't say how far you are riding. It takes a good mile or two to get warmed up to your "running temperature". By your description I'd say your commute is long enough to get sweaty, so that's what my advice is based on.

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