Cycling in Spring can be somewhat of a lottery, and let’s be honest you can’t get too comfortable with the weather during a British summer either.
Most cyclists would agree that Spring is the most difficult season to dress for because you can start out on a bitterly cold morning and a couple of hours later, your body temperature is up and the mercury has risen by 10ºC, similarly you can get going late morning without a cloud in the sky and get caught in a Spring shower with a biting wind chill.
In spring (British summer) and autumn, getting your cycling kit right is all about layering.
There's no one catch-all solution, everyone has preferences based on riding styles, whether it's racing or commuting, how fast you're riding, and how hot or cold you run as a cyclist. We're all different, but there's some really good technical clothing available that can make all the difference to your enjoyment levels in changeable conditions.
A long sleeved jersey can be seen as a physical extension of summer and a way to make the most of the transition in the seasons. Preferably with some UV protection alongside the extra coverage to block the chill of early mornings and shorter days.
Alternatively, as you build up temperature on a ride and as the air temperature increases, you want to be able to gradually peel away layers leaving you at a comfortable temperature. Items like gilets, knee warmers and lightweight jackets are ideal to wear over shorts and jerseys. They can be worn when needed and stuffed in a jersey pocket when not needed.
Arm warmers are another fantastic addition; you can roll them down while climbing, pull them back up for the descents, or store them in your back pocket when the temperature gets up to a more pleasant level. These are a hugely underrated piece of cycling kit and many manufacturers struggle to get the shape and fit right, so if you find a pair that suits you, it may be worth getting a few pairs.
It is important to be comfortable in the summer months, because let’s face it, it’s when you are likely to be spending your longer days in the saddle. Comfort starts with the bib shorts, and at the heart of a short is the seat pad, or chamois, which will reduce chafing, soak up shocks and prevent the build-up of pressure in contact points with the saddle. The Assos T Mille S7 Bib Shorts gives you the ultimate in comfort at a great value price.
When it’s not quite cold enough for tights or leg warmers, knee warmers give you an option that is great value for money; with all the benefits of 3/4 length knickers at a portion of the cost. Plus you get to continue wearing your favourite bib shorts.
If you're happy to splash out and buy a dedicated pair of shorts for the shoulder seasons, then 3/4 length bib knickers, like these Giordana FRC Thermal Bib Knickers are an option, or thermal bib shorts, like these Dotout Combo Dryntech Bib Shorts which use nanotechnology to make the garment resistant to water, moisture and air, while maintaining the breathable properties.
A crucial element of your summer riding kit is your base layer. The first layer that touches your skin. The last one you remove. A good summer base layer can have both cooling and warming influences, by actively transporting moisture and heat away from your skin it regulates your core body temperature. Lightweight mesh base layers like this Spatzwear ‘CoolR’ should be reserved for the summer months - in spring and autumn you'll likely be fine pairing your summer jersey with the same short sleeved base layer you'd wear through winter. Assos do a range of Spring/Fall baselayers ideal for when the air temperature is mild to warm.
There are days, believe it or not, when you can be almost certain that it's safe to leave the waterproof at home. This is when a gilet is a sensible option. A gilet is perfect for the early starts, before the sun has come up, especially when you are meeting friends and know you may be waiting around for late-arrivals, but when you also know it’s going to be glorious by lunchtime. A gilet, like the Assos Tiburu Gilet Equipe, will insulate the torso, blocking the wind, whilst ensuring your arms don’t overheat. When it’s no longer required it will pack down small enough to slip into your back pocket.
When the forecast looks more changeable we would recommend a lightweight, packable jacket. Similar to a gilet, but with the addition of sleeves, these garments are perfect for protecting you on those cold and damp early morning rides and can be packed away if the weather improves. There’s a wide range of choices available, which can be narrowed down depending on whether you want water resistant, waterproof or windproof kit. 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. The Dotout Bodylink Jacket is another wind and waterproof technical cycling jacket which will withstand heavy showers while remaining breathable.
A lightweight summer glove is another great option to keep the chill off your hands in the early hours which can be stuffed in the back pocket when the day warms up. The Assos FF Shasha Glove is a full fingered glove which is ideal for rides where you want a little more protection and grip without the fear of overheating their hands.
Finally, another underrated item with multiple benefits which can be stuffed easily in the back pocket is the humble cap, like these Assos Mille EVO8 caps. It offers a bit of extra insulation on the cooler days, protects the head from rainfall and the peak provides shade for your eyes. When it comes to choosing the best cap, it's largely down to choosing one that most represents your personality on the bike.
The weather can play a huge part in the enjoyment of a ride, but with the right kit, there is no reason you can’t be comfortable, warm and dry, whatever the weather. You can pick and choose the items that best suit your kit to keep you riding through Spring, Summer and Autumn.