There are two main challenges for cycling in winter. The temperature is usually pretty cold and if snow or rain isn’t falling, the road or trails are likely to be wet. The days are also very short meaning that if you enjoy spending time out on your bike it is important to be visible. Good apparel will provide protection from the elements and visibility.
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Decked out in Louis Garneau apparel I tackled some pretty tasty weather on my bike. With plenty of fluro yellow the outfit certainly made me visible, in particularly the pieces from what Garneau call the #ReclaimTheRoad (RTR) collection.
Power Wool jersey
On the coldest days, the Power Wool jersey was nice and insulating. Made with a combination of synthetic and merino wool it can be worn as the under or outermost layer. I tended to wear it under a jacket as it does not provide much protection from a cold wind. With a channeled inner construction it is quite breathable but still very cozy to wear.
The jerseys is held in place with elastic wrist and hem bands which do the job. The high collar is nice under a jacket keeping the cold air out and the three pockets are handy if you want to keep some personal belongings. The Power Wool is a great item to reach for on cold days and at $160 provides the versatility that will allow you to put many kilometers in it.
Course Elite Bib tights
Bib tights are a must in really cold weather. The Course Elite Bib tights are a performance tight that uses multiple types of fabric to keep the wet and cold out while remaining comfortable. What Garneau call the Super Lite Dry is a material that is designed to offer protection from wind and water. It is found on around the shins, and the upper front and back side areas that tend to get wet while riding. The material is not fully waterproof however so don’t expect sealed protection for the legs.
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The tights are quite warm which make them functional into the negative temperatures with areas with multiple layers of fabric for increased insulation. Designed for performance, they offer mild compression which I found made them quite comfortable. Due to the fact the tights use a multi-paneled construction, there is a fair bit of stitching on the inside which left imprints on my legs after removing them. An excellent option if you are looking for protection when the weather dips below zero. The Course Elite Bib tights retail for $300.
Torrent RTR Jacket
The Torrent RTR Jacket is a lightweight rain jacket for the days you know its going to rain. With protection from the wind, with an underlayer, it is also sufficiently warm for a variety of conditions. It also packets down to about the size of a jersey pocket.
Reflective strips on the back and arms also make it a jacket you will be visible in. The jacket has slits in the back to provide some ventilation and a large pocket to store your belongings. On wet late fall or winter days, the Torrent RTR provides the rain protection you need. It retails for $225.
Cove Hybrid jacket
Made for versatility, the Cove Hybrid jacket is made for cold days but is designed to keep you well ventilated. It’s an excellent, more casual option for winter riding which combines more insulating fabrics for cold days and performance ones to ensure you don’t overheat during a winter ride.
Whether for a fat bike adventure or on a commute, the Cove Hybrid will keep you warm. It’s also good to wear casually on cooler fall days though if you plan on wearing it below zero, you best be active. With side pockets it also has more versatility being a good option if you plan on doing some winter cross training whether cross-country skiing, running or snowshoeing. The Cove Hybrid retails for $200.
Rafale RTR gloves and Big Foot shoe covers
To protect your extremities we tried the Rafale RTR gloves and the Bigfoot shoe cover. Perfect to ensure you are visible on the road and provide warmth for the cold fall weather rides, the Rafale gloves are well built designed with padding to endure the wear and tear that goes with holding handlebars. They are surprisingly breathable making them very comfortable and protect well against the wind. Even in wet weather, I was pleased to find my hands were kept sufficiently warm to continue enjoying my ride instead of worrying about frozen hands. I could also use the screen on my touchscreen cell phone. However, they are a little light for temperatures below zero. The Rafale RTR gloves retail for $45.
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The Big Foot shoe covers, on the other hand, are for heavy duty usage in whatever nature has to throw at you with 3 mm of neoprene separating your shoes and the elements. A zipper provides access to your shoe dial or can be used for ventilation. With a sealed zipper in the back, they slip on with relative ease and the velcro top allows the tightness to be adjusted. They are also quite high meaning that even your ankles will be well protected from the elements. The Big Foot shoe covers are available for $80.