There’s a unique kind of freedom that comes with getting out on your bike during the winter months. Crisp air in your lungs as the last of the morning’s frost slowly disappears. Seeing your usual summer routes transformed into a winter landscape. The way that first sip of coffee tastes even better than usual when you finally get to the café stop.
When it’s cold and bleak outside, motivating yourself to brave the elements and get out on your bike can be tough. But with some great winter cycling kit, the right preparation and a few handy tips in your jacket pocket – winter riding can really be something special.
Ready to rack up those chilly miles? Read on to find out how to make the most of your winter adventures.
What to wear: Getting the right gear is a great idea
Nothing makes winter riding more miserable than not having the right kit to keep you warm and dry. A lot of us have probably been there: that first winter on the bike when you discovered that old waterproof running jacket you found at the back of the wardrobe is no longer waterproof… and those hand me down winter bib tights are about as useful as a paper plate when it comes to keeping the elements out.j
Thankfully we’ve got plenty of winter-ready kit that will make those winter miles not only bearable, but downright enjoyable. Some call is magic, we call it the Stolen Goat Alpine range!
So what are the essentials when it comes to building your winter cycling wardrobe?
What you need to stay warm and happy on the bike will really depend on
A) The conditions and,
B) How much you feel the cold.
As a general rule of thumb, a good pair of winter tights and a windproof, water-resistant jacket are your absolute must-haves. These provide a great base to keep your core warm and the elements at bay – with the option to layer up with accessories to suit the conditions.
What to wear when… it’s a bit nippy
For the days when it’s cold, but not cold-cold, our Kiko range gives you the perfect balance of warmth and water-resistance, without causing you to overheat. Offering optimal performance between 6-16 degrees Celsius, thanks to its breathability. The Kiko range can be layered up if there’s a brisk wind in the air, or worn alone when the sun is shining.
Our Kiko bib tights offer full-length coverage and water-resistance, combined with a super soft lining and a stretchy, comfortable fit. Pair them with one of our long-sleeved Kiko jerseys and some full-finger gloves, and for those glorious, sunny and mild winter days you’re good to go. When the temperature drops, but it’s still not quite full-on arctic conditions, you might want to add a Kiko base layer to keep your core warm. You can also layer one of our new thermal Kiko gilets over your jersey for added protection from the wind chill.
Not planning to ride in the deepest, darkest winter conditions? One of those people who will boldly proclaim “It’s shorts weather, what are you moaning about!?” in the middle of November? The Kiko range is for you!
Womens Cortez Kiko Bodyline LS Jersey£130.00
Mens Sane Kiko Bodyline LS Jersey£130.00
Womens Black Kiko Bodyline Bib Tights£140.00
Mens Black Kiko Bodyline Bib Tights£140.00
Womens Sane Kiko Bodyline Gilet£75.00
Mens Sane Kiko Bodyline Gilet£75.00
Women’s White Kiko Bodyline LS Base Layer£50.00
Men’s White Kiko Bodyline Long Sleeved Base Layer£50.00
SHOP THE FULL KIKO RANGE >>
What to wear when… it’s fr-fr-freezing!
Unless you are secretly a polar bear, once the temperatures start dropping down below 5 or 6 degrees C, you’re going to want something a little more heavy-duty to keep the frost bite at bay.
Enter the Alpine range! Think of it as Kiko’s warmer, older sibling. You’ve still got a level of breathability. Because there’s nothing worse than that weird “I’m cold but I’m also sweaty” boil in the bag feeling. But the insulating Tempest Protect fabric offers next-level wind and water-resistance which will keep you feeling toasty even on the most biting of winter days.
Wear one of our Alpine jackets with the Alpine winter tights and you’ll stay warm and dry all ride long. Add a good pair of overshoes, our winter gloves and you’re ready to fight the freeze.
SHOP THE FULL ALPINE RANGE >>
Winter riding accessories
What’s a bandido? And isn’t wearing sunglasses in the winter a little bit Z-list celebrity in an airport? There are lots of cycling accessories out there and, especially if it’s your first winter on the bike, it can be a bit overwhelming working out what you need.
Now if you’re only going to invest in one bit of kit beyond your tights and jacket, we’d recommend getting yourself a really good pair of warm winter gloves. Frost-bitten icicles for fingers do not make for an enjoyable ride. Nor does having to go out wearing gloves that are so bulky they feel like oven mitts.
The Stolen Goat Climb and Conquer gloves strike the balance of being ultra-warm, waterproof and windproof, with hardly any bulk. They look like regular knitted gloves – you can still easily shift gears, get at your mid-ride snacks and they’ve even got touchscreen tips for that “how far until the coffee stop” mid-ride Google maps check. Don’t let the lack of thickness fool you though, these gloves are deceptively warm. Just check out the reviews on the product to see how much the rest of The Herd have been raving about these gloves! Our product developer, Mark, can probably tell you in a far more technical way how this balance of maximum warmth, minimal bulk is achieved. But we like to think that it’s down to some top secret winter Goat magic.
There are three more additions we’d suggest to complete your winter cycling wardrobe. You won’t necessarily need them for every ride, but when the weather really turns you’ll be glad you’ve got these to hand. First up is a bandido – aka a neck warmer. This stops that horrible icy blast down the back of your neck, and when you’re faced with a freezing cold headwind you can pull it up over your nose and mouth. Back off Jack Frost, no nose nipping today!
Sunglasses in the winter might seem a little strange, but they’re a great way of making sure your eyes are protected from rain, road spray and any other muck and debris that might go flying around. Choose from our sleek Hexi style, or our taller Hexi+ design.
Finally, a winter cap is a great addition to your kit drawer. Our Belgian winter caps fit comfortably under your helmet, keeping your head warm and dry. Made with a sweat-wicking lining, our caps have a luxurious merino wool ear covering – because nothing spoils a ride like painfully cold ears!
Winter riding tips: How to stay safe, have fun and get the most out of your winter adventures
A little bit of planning ahead goes a long way when it comes to winter riding. It might sound like a no-brainer, but check the weather forecast – both for where you’re starting from, and where you’re planning to ride through. That way you can choose the right kit and be prepared for what the day might throw at you.
If it’s been particularly cold overnight and the roads are icy, consider leaving for your morning ride a little later than usual if you can. It gives the sun time to melt those treacherous icy patches, and it gives you extra time to enjoy your pre-ride coffee.
Finally, resist the temptation to ride in truly horrendous conditions just for the bragging rights. Sometimes, even with the best kit going, it’s just not safe to be out on the roads. Better to miss one ride than take a tumble and end up out of action for weeks on end. If you can’t sit still – why not take it indoors? Our handy guide for making the turbo not terrible has all the tips you need!
If it’s your first winter on the bike, or it’s been a while since you’ve been out in less than ideal conditions, there are a few things to watch out for during your ride. Take extra care on road markings if the ground is wet. Those white lines suddenly turn into mini ice rinks once they get a bit damp, and it’s easy to lose your back wheel and go skidding if you make a sharp turn on one. Likewise, be mindful of lingering icy patches at the side of those winding country lanes.
As fun as zooming through great big puddles might seem, doing so can end in not only soaking wet feet and a very soggy bottom – but an unintentional swim! You never know if there’s a giant pothole lurking underneath that big puddle, ready to give you a puncture or worse sending you flying off your bike, face first into muddy water. Go around the outside of the puddle if you can, or at the very least take it nice and slowly to avoid any mishaps.
Alongside wrapping up toasty warm in your new Stolen Goat winter cycling kit, if you struggle to stay warm when the temperatures drop, try increasing your cadence (how quickly you turn the pedals) to keep the blood flowing. It’s important to note that pedalling faster doesn’t have to mean riding harder – that’s a recipe for blowing up half an hour down the road and having a very grumpy slog home to contend with! Instead, pick a slightly easier gear and just spin your legs a touch faster. It’ll help to promote circulation and get your body generating a bit of heat.
It’s also worth considering your nutrition strategy when it’s particularly cold outside. Taking snacks to top up your energy levels is always a good idea if you’re going to be riding for longer than an hour. But be mindful that when the temperatures drop, your body is going to be burning through more energy just to keep you warm so you may need to up your intake. Now, if that’s not a perfect excuse for a mid-ride slice of cake – we don’t know what is!
Finding your Freedom on two wheels shouldn’t feel like a chore. Riding bikes should always be about having fun and enjoying your time outdoors – particularly in the winter months when Mother Nature might be trying her best to spoil play!
Gather your Herd and take the pressure off
Ride with your Herd, so you can laugh at each other’s puddle-splashed faces and share in each other’s misery when the headwind just won’t quit. Plan in a café stop, so you’ve got a nice break from the elements to look forward to and the chance to warm up and refuel with a slice of something tasty.
Take the pressure off how far or how fast you go. When you’re faced with tough conditions and wet, slippery roads – it’s bound to slow you down. And sometimes, being out there for hours on end just to top that Strava leader board just isn’t worth it. Drop the distance down if you need to and stick to what’s enjoyable. If that means you only nip out for a quick spin round the block – that’s totally fine. It’s off season after all!
Mindset is everything
Flip your mindset and make a conscience choice to find the joy, even on the most miserable of winter days. Try not to focus on how horrible the weather is, or how cold the tip of your nose is getting. The more you think about it, the more you’ll notice it and the less enjoyable your ride will be. If you feel yourself slipping into a bit of a dark place try to shift your focus onto other things. Take in the views, play a game of spot the winter wildlife. List 5 things you love about cycling in your head, to remind yourself why you wanted to get out on your bike in the first place. Bribe yourself with the promise of an epic hot chocolate or a giant wedge of peanut butter toast when you get home. Find what works for you, but just try not to put all of your energy into being naffed off with the weather. It won’t change anything, and it’ll only make you feel grumpier.
Tough is good: winter miles for race day smiles
Finally, try to embrace the hard rides… and even be grateful for them! Sometimes you’ll go out on your bike during the winter months and it’ll just really suck. It’s a fact of life. But still better a bad day on the bike than a good day staying home and doing the chores. Besides, these tough winter rides will only serve to make you physically and mentally stronger in the long run. That big hill you just rode up into driving rain and a relentless headwind? Think how much easier it will feel when you tackle it again on a calm spring day! Winter miles will build resilience and give you some great material for your ‘mental toughness’ folder. If you find yourself faced with less than perfect conditions on race day, you’ll be able to look back on those rides and remind yourself that you can do it because you’ve done it before. It’s such a cliché, but it’s true: winter miles really do lead to race day smiles.
If you’re heading out on your bike this winter make sure you stay safe, have fun and don’t forget to tag us in your photos. We love seeing how The Herd style out our Autumn/Winter kit!
Got a great tip for staying warm on the bike in the winter months? Why not join our Stolen Goat Herd Facebook group and share it with your fellow Goats!