With autumn rain set in, winter just around the corner and the clocks set to plunge us into 4pm darkness in less than a week, all cyclists will know that the inevitable onslaught of slippery roads, freezing fingers and reduced visibility can pose a challenge to the daily commute.
But never fear – you won’t have to give in to public transport just yet. We’ve rounded up the best of our tried-and-tested items to shield you against the elements this winter, and to prevent cycling from becoming a miserable experience. There’s a whole host of clothes and accessories to choose from this season, and all should help to make your cycle as smooooth as possible. Ride on!
1. The headphones: Monster iSport Intensity earphones for Breast Cancer Care, £79.95
Cycling while wearing headphones is a bit of a contentious issue, but there is no policy officially condemning it (although NHS Choices advises against it), and one study even concluded that cyclists listening to music through earbuds at a reasonable volume had the same level of hearing as car drivers who listened to nothing.
So if you’re inclined to need a little melody while you’re pedalling, these could be for you. Headphone experts Monster have launched a pair of neon pink iSport Intensity headphones which are amazing at staying in place on the go – they’re also washable, sweatproof, and UV-protected, with antimicrobial eartips.
The best bit is part of the proceeds go towards supporting Breast Cancer Care for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For each sale of the new earphones, Monster and each selected retailer will donate a total of £5 to Breast Cancer Care and aim to reach a minimum donation target of £10,000 by the end of November.
Monster iSport Intensity earphones, £79.95, can be purchased at Johnlewis.com.
2. For toasty toes: TEKO Firefly Reflex socks, £13
Socks may be the seasonally mundane gift of choice, but TEKO’s Firefly Reflex socks are something to actually get excited about.
Made from 100% recycled materials, they’re eco-friendly and are spun with reflective yarns for increased visibility in the long evenings, too. These socks are also designed with an anatomical fit to wrap snugly around cold feet, and incorporate a special technology, Evapor8, manages sweat with great efficiency.
They make the perfect companion to a tight black legging, so pull up over your ankles to make yourself extra visible.
TEKO’s Firefly Reflex socks, £13, can be purchased at Amazon.co.uk.
3. The reflective jacket: Proviz REFLECT360 Women’s Cycling Jacket, £74.99
Now this really is a must-have for any cyclist, especially those who travel on dingy roads with little street lighting. It incorporates 100% reflective technology and is really lightweight, meaning you can carry it around easily throughout the day. It also dries off really fast after getting caught in a shower.
Cleverly, it’s a modest grey colour in daylight – nothing to rave over, right? But just wait till you see it glow bright white in the dark, and that’s the deal clincher.
The jacket has been designed to maximise breathability by having several air vents. There are also multiple pockets to keep small items in. It’s highly innovative and looks extremely snazzy – I got several positive comments from drivers when using it in the dark.
The only downside is that it isn’t totally waterproof, just water-resistant. But there’s no doubt that this jacket is perfect for slipping over warm clothes on colder days, and you really can’t beat it if you want to be seen. As Halfords so sensibly puts it, safe is the new black!
Proviz REFLECT360 Women’s Cycling Jacket, £74.99, can be purchased at www.provizsports.com.
4. The lights: Knog 4-LED rechargeable bike lights
These incredibly useful USB-rechargeable bike lights by Knog are without rival in terms of design, price and brightness. With four LEDs, they’re seriously powerful and are dead easy to attach and detach, a must when you’re in a rush and it’s pouring with rain!
They’re just 4.3cm² in size, and have five different modes depending on your preference: steady, fast flash, organic Flash 1, organic Flash 2, and eco flash.
If you’d prefer a cheaper option, there’s also Knog’s fun range of single-LED lights, priced at £15.00.
Knog 4 LED USB rechargeable Bike Lights, £24.00 each, can be purchased at www.pedalpedal.com.
5. For soothing: PapayaGold PAWPAW moisturising balm, £5.99
It may not be the first thing you think of when cycling, but it isn’t just your wheels that need a little oil occasionally. This excellent balm soothes all areas of dry skin, be it wind burn across your cheeks, chapped lips from the cold or even eczema on other parts of the body, and you only need use a small amount.
Papaya is known for its healing qualities, and it’s easy to see why. I even tried it out to see if it would soothe a few cuts and bruises, and I definitely felt the difference. This is the ideal all-in-one product to carry around when cycling, especially since space is often tight.
PapayaGold PAWPAW moisturising balm, £5.99, is available at www.superdrug.com.
6. For troubled tyres: Topeak MiniRocket iGlow bike pump, £22.49
With each day straddled by darkness, this fantastic little pump is perfect for flat-tyre emergencies.
It’s got static and flashing modes so you won’t lose sight of it; it is a must-have if your tyres are prone to flattening. It’s advisable to pump them up every 10 days or so regardless, and this is the tool you need!
Topeak MiniRocket iGlow bike pump, £22.49, can be purchased at Halfords.com. Halfords is also offering 20% off high-vis products until December 24th.
7. The T-shirt: Dare2b Women’s Affection T-shirt, £13.49
This cute, affordable T-shirt speaks for itself, really, and it’s great to wear when cycling along busy roads to really ‘drive home’ the message to car users! Worn on my cycle into work with a lightweight layer underneath (see Number 8), it was the perfect eco-friendly commuter outfit – and it teams up well with a pair of jeans, too.
It’s made with cotton blend fabrics so dries quickly if it gets rained on, and comes in three colours – black, blue and white.
Dare2b Women’s Affection T-shirt, £13.49, can be purchased at Halfords.com. Halfords is also offering 20% off high-vis products until December 24th.
8. The thermal: JML Magic Layer, £12.99
Made with incredibly thin fabric, this lightweight, three-quarter sleeved top is great for wearing against your skin beneath other layers.
It comes in three colours (black, beige, white) and is so versatile you can wear it with anything – fantastic for trapping heat when temperatures really start to drop.
JML Magic Layer, £12.99, can be purchased at JML Direct.
9. For glare: Maui Jim sunglasses, £149.00
Sunglasses might not be the first thing you think of in winter, but the glare of the low sun can cause visibility problems on clear days, so they can come in useful. Not only this, but they’ll shield your eyes from rain and road grit.
Pricey they may be, but Maui Jim sunglasses are the bees’ knees. I feel as soon as I put them on that I’m going to love them – the image is crystal clear, and the curved arms fit perfectly around my head. Maui Jin has a huge online catalogue and some are available on prescription, too. With a range of different lenses, you can’t go wrong – although the HCL™ Bronze, ‘For everyday variable conditions, from full sun to overcast’ are perfect for cyclists in this country, with the unpredictable weather!
Maui Jim sunglasses in Hot Sand, £149.00, are available to buy at Mauijim.com.
10. For aesthetic appeal: Le Col Sport Ladies Winter Jacket, £170.00
Coming in a range of gorgeous colours, Le Col is spot on with its winter 2014 collection. Designed with cyclists in mind, it feels like a really high-quality piece of apparel from the moment you open it up.
The fabrics are beautiful, with a soft fleece lining around the collar and stretchy sleeves. It’s got three large pockets and one internal zip pocket which are very handy, as well, and the fit feels tailored and comfortable. I don’t get too sweaty with just a light shirt on underneath, and I’m well protected from wind and rain thanks to the jacket’s vents.
If you like to look stylish and feel supremely comfortable while cycling, this is the jacket for you. I’ve only been able to test it down to temperatures of about 15°C, but it’s designed to cope with 5-18°C, so I know it would work just fine in deep winter as well.
Le Col Sport Ladies Winter Jacket, £170.00, can be purchased at lecol.net.
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