Fall Cycling Gear

Vest and Arm WarmersFall is a great season for riding, but dressing for the cooler weather can be difficult. It’s usually too cold for shorts and a tee-shirt, but too hot for heavy pants and a jacket. Either combo will leave you uncomfortable.

Everyone has heard the term, “Dress in layers”, and this is the best advice for fall riding. The two pieces of clothing pictured here are the wind vest and “therma fleece” arm warmers from Pearl Izumi. Both of these items are easily stowable in a jersey pocket or pack.

The wind vest keeps your core body temperature warm, but has a huge vent in the back to get rid of excess moisture and heat. You can easily control body temperature with the front zipper. Another version of this vest has removable arms for further versatility. I’ve found that vests work great for temperatures in the 50’s and upper 40’s, as wearing a full jacket in these temperatures can be stifling once you get riding.

Also highly recommended are arm warmers. Many rides will start off comfortable with a short sleeve, but get cooler as the sun goes down or goes behind the clouds. The arm warmers provide great comfort when the temperatures drop while still maintaining breatheability. Arm warmers can also be worn under a long sleeve jersey for an additional layer of insulation on the really cold days.

Headbands made from very thin but warm fabric like microfleece are a good item to have with you too. A head band will keep the cold wind off your forehead and ears, but let excess body heat escape out the top our your head and through the helmet.

Knee warmers are also available, but I’ve haven’t had good luck with them. They tend to constantly slip down unless you have strong elastic on your shorts. There is a great (and very funny) review of knee warmers over on the Fat Cyclist blog HERE. I think knickers may be a better choice than knee warmers.

I bought the above items at the REI in Reno, and there are some good selections at the local bike shops. There is also a Pearl Izumi outlet store up at South Tahoe (located at the “Y”). I’ve had the best results trying cycling clothing on before purchase. There are a lot of great deals on the internet, but in the end, I’ve usually been disappointed with fit and styling.

Fall is pretty short around here, so I’ll be discussing winter clothing pretty soon!

9 thoughts on “Fall Cycling Gear

  1. I haven’t had a whole lot of luck with knee warmers either. I remember you mentioning your wind vest last year and I need to look into one of those?

    So are you going to buy the jersey with the iPod controls in it for this winter? It seems like a bargain to me.

  2. Is this a fashion blog or about cycling? God, next you’ll be discussing color coordinating jersey and shorts with helmet! Style Man.
    I usually opt to just stay indoors until the warm weather comes back, myself.

  3. I’ve been reading this and the Facility Bike blog for a couple months now.

    A pretty fair deal can be had at the High Sierra Bike store across the Mt. Rose Hwy from Raley’s in Galena. They are still small enough that they negotiate every sale.

  4. Man, I love kneewarmers! Along with armwarmers and a good vest, they’re my favorite cycling clothing.
    The old rule used to be if it was below 65* out, cover your knees. As my knees (one in particular) aren’t so good, I try to follow that religiously. When I was in Monterey, it was usually cold/rainy/foggy enough to warrant them most of the time, and it’s nice to be able to have them in your jersey to throw on if it gets cold halfway through.
    I love layering up for a colder ride, makes me feel most like I’m accomplishing something than when I’m sweating my ass off in just shorts and a jersey.

  5. Chris – I’ve never listened to music while riding! Although I usually have a song going in my head anyway. Lately it’s been themes from Nintendo games…my son plays his game boy on the drive to school! Gotta do something about that.

    Brian – Strictly Fashion. Your new 29er is the ultimate (almost) snow bike! You’d better ride it this winter!

    Crofoot – Thanks for reading! That shop is one I’ve been meaning to visit for a while now. My friend Todd has bought a few bikes from them.

    James – I think there may be something with leg warmers and leg shape. My wife has a fine time with them. I had to buy XS for myself…very skinny legs. They still slip down though. They definitely work better with my tight shorts (vs. baggies).

  6. The trick is to go a size smaller than you think you need, and yes, I pretty much need to put them under the lycra shorts to make sure they stay in place. Most of my baggies have at least a thin, vented pair of lycra shorts under the baggies. Helps keep the chamois in place, I wouldn’t ride baggy shorts without a full liner.

  7. And speaking of riding with music, the best things I’ve ever used are the new(ish) Oakley Thump 2 glasses. They have the built-in mp3 player, and man, the best earbud design for riding. They can float outside your ear, don’t have to go in them, so much better, especially while riding road. I can’t ride without them!

  8. That’s funny, because when I was trying on the leg warmers, I assumed I’d need a medium. They looked like bell bottoms! Ended up getting the XS! They seem snug enough, but I think the taper of my leg just pulls them down. One trick I’ve found is to get them in place the moment I hop on the bike. If there’s much walking before the ride, they almost always fall down.

    My baggies do have the inner shorts, but the elastic isn’t as powerful as the tights…

    Once I tried them on top of my long tights. The slippery fabric accentuated the slippage!

  9. Some of my knee warmers have silicone on both sides, so they stay in place with contact on the legs, and the inside of the shorts.
    They don’t like to be walked in though…

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