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Smart layering: The ultimate clothing guide for road cycling in Spring

Spring is coming. Flowers will start to flourish, as well as your cycling. It’s promising: Warmer temperature, a more colorful view wherever you go... but everything isn’t a bed of roses. 

Why spring is a tricky season for cycling

Chilly mornings can scale up to 2 digit temperatures in a single day.A sunny morning can be pushed away by cold rain in the evening.

 In winter, the goal is to wear as many layers as you can (specially if you cycle early in the morning). If you can articulate your arms and legs with all that clothing, you are good to go.

It’s all about thermal clothing: gloves, base layers, bib tights and thick jackets. 

 In summer, breathability and aerodynamics are your goals. You want to dry the sweat as quickly as possible, avoid irritation and protect your skin from the sun. 

In spring, we require clothing that is versatile and adaptable to conditions and temperatures that can change unpredictably.It’s all about smart layering.

Smart layering: how to master spring cycling

There is no silver bullet. When defining your spring cycling wardrobe, you have to take into account your personal situation: if you are a professional, a recreational cyclist or a commuter. 

Think about how long you ride, how fast you ride, and how your body typically responds (if you sweat a lot, if you are sensitive to cold weathers, if your body increases temperature really fast). 

 Also, you have to take the nature of your ride into consideration: If you train in the morning, it’s going to be chilly probably. The temperature won't change that much, so you would have much more control over what to wear than a person that commutes to work by bike.

And the most important aspect: where you live. UK’s spring is not the same as Colombian spring. 

However, there are some principles that can be applied to all that will make cycling in spring awesome! We’ll cover each piece of clothing and earch case:

- Arm and leg warmers.

- Base layer.

- Long sleeve jersey.

- Jacket.

- Gilet.

- Bibshorts.

- Gloves.

Arm and leg warmers

Probably the most underrated piece of clothing for cycling.They don’t get enough credit for sure.Arm and leg warmers are the secret weapon for versatility.You can transform your long sleeve jersey in a short sleeve jersey and vice versa instantaneously.

 In Spring, this is just what we want.You can start your rides with leg, knee and arm warmers, and when the temperature rises, you can fold and put them in your jersey back pocket or backpack. 

 For arm warmers, they should be tight enough around the bicep so as not to fall down, while still being long enough to go all the way to the wrist.Arm and leg warmers are usually made of fabrics that’s thicker than the usual material used for jerseys (lycra). Some are are made from knitted fabrics, like wool, to provide maximum warmth. 

 What we want for this moment of the year is a light fabric with some thermal and windproof protection.If you find some that fits you perfectly, a good choice would be to order a pair. 

Base Layer

Another piece of clothing that goes under the radar. The base layer is the piece of clothing that will be in contact with your skin the majority of time. 

 Investing in a good base layer yields huge improvement in comfort, providing this features: 

- Keeping you dry when you’re sweating, by pulling moisture away from your skin.

- Providing a layer of insulation (protect you from the chill). You can tailor how much insulation by the base layer you choose. 

- Protecting you from irritation. 

 There are two options regarding the fabrics :

- Natural fabrics, like merino wool, bamboo, etc. 

- Man-made synthetic base layers like polypropylene.

Quick drying materials are essential, especially if you can’t sneak a short shower in the middle of the day. Synthetic material base layers are lighter and will do a great job in Spring.

Long sleeve jerseys

It’s warm enough to stop using the winter coat, and the dilemma emerges:Long sleeve jersey vs lightweight jacket.As we discussed above, this depends on personal preference and estimation based on experience. 

You should ask yourself: Will I want to peel out the jacket? Am I generally ok riding with things in my pocket?If you are ok with the last question, you should probably go with the jacket: they are built for windproof protection first. 

 If you are uncomfortable carrying things in your back, a gilet may be perfect for you.Make sure your jersey has resistant pockets (always) and, if you ride without jacket or gilet, a full length zipper to protect you from the wind.

 Combinations start to sum up 

- Short sleeve base layer + Long sleeve jersey + Gillette 

- Short sleeve base layer + Short sleeve jersey + Arm warmers + Gillette

- Short sleeve base layer + Short sleeve jersey + Lightweight jacket  

Wind and waterproof jackets

As we discussed earlier, lightweight jackets will protect you from the wind and possibly rain this Spring.They stop the wind from chilling the sweat and making you very cold. 

In Spring, we have to look for this 3 features in a jacket: Breathability, lightweight and packable.

 If we choose a right jacket, they will be our saviour in chilly mornings, and when temperature rises, easy to carry around. 

We recommend taking a lightweight jacket everywhere you go, except for super hot days when you are training between the range of 1-2 hours. 


What is the point of covering your torso but not your arms?

 Protecting you from the wind as well as not reducing mobility in your arms. 

A gilet is the perfect way not to overheat your arms and let them move in their full natural range of motion. 

The material should be similar to the wind and waterproof jacket.

Shorts and bib shorts

Shorts and bibs are back. If you are not sure about which one to use, you can read our article here

 Always look for high technology regarding the chamois, and anti slipping bands.Some insulation from the fabric might me a good choice depending where you live.You can combine them with leg warmers for versatility

 If you know it’s going to be chilly the whole ride, you have more sensibility in your legs or you just don’t like to show your knees, ¾ are a great option. 


Why you would wear gloves in winter is pretty obvious: you want to avoid frozen fingers. 

 But here are the reasons why you must wear gloves all year: 

- Protect your palms from cuts and abrasions. 

- Comfort provided by padding: Vibrations of cycling can generate pressure in several points in your hands, leading to pain. 

- Control: The most important feature. Sweaty hands or wet handlebars can be dangerous. The texture palms of gloves are built to prevent slipping. 

 For Spring, look for good quality padding, which is often in the form of gel inserts. Padding can help prevent rubbing and blisters.Full finger gloves are the way to go, but you want to consider lighter gloves, without thermal features.