Autumn in Europe is probably the hardest season to dress for. The weather is unpredictable and a slight shift in the forecast can make a huge difference to the outlook of your ride.
A change in wind direction can bring with it an icy rain that you weren’t expecting, or a growing grey cloud can suddenly cut short your evening light.
The problem you face when trying to get your cycling kit just right is that when you’re working hard and you’re basked in the rays of autumn sunlight you are going to feel pretty warm, but the challenge comes when this is combined with bitter early morning starts, or when the temperature suddenly drops off in the afternoon/early evening and you are wet from perspiration or an autumn rain. If you don’t have the right kit with you you are going to feel quite vulnerable to the elements.
The key, as I'm sure you’ve heard before, is layering, and having those versatile pieces of kit that can go on and come off, that are lightweight but pack a technical punch when it comes to performance.
Base layer / Skinfoil
Well-suited to autumn and spring rides, chilly early morning starts or post-work loops as the sun is setting, a long-sleeved ASSOS skinFoil cycling base layer is designed to be the ultimate first layer. Tubular knitting technology allows it to be completely seamless in the main body, and therefore incredibly comfortable against the skin. The long sleeve gives full arm coverage, will wick moisture away from the skin and is very breathable.
Super versatile, you can extend your shorts for full leg coverage and add sleeves to your jersey, and stash them in the back pocket for the final leg of the ride. The Dotout Twister arm and leg warmers are part of the ‘long season’ clothing line perfect for Autumn and Spring. Made with a special technical fabric with internal raising for absolute comfort and an external water-repellent surface treatment called Dot Dryntech which makes them fully waterproof.
Long sleeve jerseys
If you’re not a fan of arm warmers or the chill is too much to consider a short sleeve, it’s important to choose the right long sleeve jersey. A good quality garment will keep the chill off without causing you to overheat, so fabrics that are both insulated and breathable are key. The Spatzwear 'HEATR' 4 Season Long Sleeve Jersey is another piece of kit that is targeting all season capability. The 3D-knitted design helps it to capture warm air, manage wicking and create a mobile but supportive stretch fit resulting in a super versatile base/mid/single layer jersey which tackles all seasons.
Gilet core protection
A lightweight gilet is ideal for unpredictable days in autumn and spring - it fits in the jersey pocket ready for a windy descent or sudden downpour - creating an excellent barrier over the core. The Q36.5 Air Vest is a new addition to their essentials range and is another garment that is touted as an all-year-rounder. It’s extremely compact and low volume, breathable and boasts a durable water repellent treatment.
A cycling jacket is important when there is a sniff of rain around, because let’s face it in a British Autumn there is rarely a day with 100% chance of no rain. A lightweight jacket that will protect you from the wind and the rain but won’t cause you to overheat is the perfect accompaniment for an Autumn ride. The Assos MILLE GT Clima Jacket works brilliantly as a wind block while keeping out light rain, plus you get the benefit of full reflectivity if you’re setting off before sunrise.
Thin longer finger gloves
When the temperature drops it doesn’t take long at all to start to feel an icy chill on the hands. Gloves are something of a personal preference but I personally get very warm hands so I’m just looking for something to keep the chill off on Spring and Autumn rides, that I can quickly stuff away in the back pocket. Assos’s Tiburu range is designed to cover Spring and Fall, so the Assos tiburuGlove_evo7 is designed to serve as a low weight shield against mild temperatures. Constructed from brushed lycra with a high proportion of elastane (15%), makes for a warm, cosy fit on cool mornings.
Keep your toes toasty when the temperature falls and you won’t be disappointed. With a mixture of durable and winter-proof fabrics such as neoprene, nylon and brushed linings, they help to keep the cold and wet at bay — from your feet at least! Plus, if things warm up they’re easy to remove too. Spatzwear are a British company that specialise in harsher conditions, and their Neotoez Neoprene Toe Warmers are as good as they get.
There you have it, with the right kit in the wardrobe there are no excuses for being a fair weather rider. Invest in a bit of quality clothing specifically designed for bridging the shoulder seasons and you will feel much more comfortable and happier riding through those unpredictable months.
What is your must-have piece of cycling kit for an autumn ride?