What to wear cycling in spring
10 May 2022
By Nicki Giles
What to wear cycling at different temperatures can be a puzzle in spring, but with the right layers you'll be able to handle anything the day throws at you.
Spring in Britain can be rainy, snowy, sunny, windy or mild, often in the same day! Add in personal preferences and the varying temperature gauges of different cyclists and it can be difficult to decide what to wear cycling in spring. The answer is to equip yourself with multiple packable layers, so you can wear whatever the conditions dictate at a given moment and tuck away items you don’t need.
Start with core kit that you’d wear in the summer, then imagine how it might need to be adapted in different conditions. After all, it might be freezing when you start out first thing but up to 10 degrees warmer by the end of the day. It’s far more sensible to leave the house feeling relatively warm and lose layers than it is to either start the day cold, counting the minutes until it warms up, or bundled up so that in an hour you’ll be drenched with sweat.
So, begin with a pair of top-quality bib shorts and a comfortable short sleeved jersey, suitable for the type of riding you do, then layer around them.
A Castelli bib shorts and jersey combo for all seasons
Bib shorts are popular with cyclists because they’re easy to wear, cool enough to keep you from overheating when you’re working hard, but also easy to adapt if it gets chilly. Think of them as the bedrock of your spring cycling outfit, which can be built on to ensure you’ll stay comfortable if the conditions vary.
One option would be to go for thermal bib shorts, but if you’re looking for something more versatile go for the Castelli Free Aero RC Bib Shorts. Engineered for racing, with stretchy, supportive fabric and barely-there bib straps, they nonetheless prioritise comfort. A padded Progetto Air² seat pad, reduced seams and soft raw-cut leg endings and waist will ensure that, however far or fast you choose to ride, you’ll be glad you pulled them on.
With your jersey comfort and versatility are again key. We’d recommend the Aero Race 6.0 Jersey, which is virtually identical to Quickstep’s racing jerseys and will see you through from TT to day ride. Optimised through CFD analysis for optimum aero efficiency at 30-55km/h, with raw-cut elbow-length sleeves and a breathable mesh back, it also has great pockets for holding nutrition, a comfortable fit and excellent wicking capabilities, so you’ll feel great at the end of every ride.
Adding warmth to your Castelli jersey and bib shorts
When the day starts with a cold, clear morning then gives way to a gloriously warm afternoon, a base layer is your friend. While it’s chilly, it will insulate your core, then later it will absorb perspiration so that you’ll stay dry.
The Castelli Pro Issue Short Sleeve Base Layer is the perfect moisture management specialist to wear under your jersey in uncertain conditions. Designed with the input of pro cyclists and constructed from 3D mesh, it’s light and highly wicking, not to mention comfortable with minimal seams, and will lie flat under your bibs while adding the right degree of warmth.
Arm and leg warmers can also reinforce your bib and jersey combo. These light, flexible layers offer varying degrees of weatherproofing while being compact enough to stow if you get warm.
Castelli Nano Flex 3G Arm Warmers and Castelli Nano Flex 3G Knee Warmers can’t be beaten for spring, since they combine the comfy flat lock stitching and single seam construction with lofty, windproof fabric and a DWR treatment to repel rain. Both have silicone grippers at the upper to hold them in place and are stretchy enough to fit well while allowing the joints full range of a movement.
What to wear cycling in spring when April showers or storms hit
The temperature isn’t the only thing to consider when cycling in the spring; storms can blow up from seemingly nowhere. If the weather is foul and likely to stay that way, you’ll need a waterproof yet breathable outer like the legendary Castelli Gabba – but conditions are rarely so clear cut.
If the day is fair but windy or your route includes long downhill stretches, the Castelli Perfetto RoS Vest, also available as a ladies' cycling gilet, balances breathability at the back with tough wind proofing and water resistance on the front. There’s also a dropped tail to combat road spray.
If the weather is looking unsettled and you feel more protection might be welcome, opt for the breathable yet windproof and water resistant short sleeved Castelli Perfetto RoS Light Jersey, available in men’s and women’s cuts, which can be paired with arm warmers and a light base layer if needed. Or, in cooler weather, you can pull on the hardy yet race-fit Castelli Perfetto RoS Long Sleeve Jacket.
If a cloud burst threatens, stash the Castelli Emergency 2 Rain Jacket on your person. Weighing just 149g, it packs some serious rain repelling punch thanks to its waterproof fabric with 10,000mm water column rating, waterproof zipper and contrast seam sealing. It’s also slight enough to pack into half a jersey pocket. So, when rain stops, you can strip it off and ride on.
Plugging the gaps in your spring cycling clothing
Don’t forget that your temples, hands and feet will be sensitive to the cold in spring, but probably not all day long. Again, look to balance warmth with packability. For example, don the Castelli Pro Thermal Head Thingy – which can double as a bandana – or the light Castelli Pro Thermal Headband instead of a hat. Replace bulky shoe covers with Castelli Toe Thingy 2 Toe Covers, and if you’re not ready for summer mitts, trust the Castelli Lightness 2 Gloves to protect your hands instead of winter gloves.
5 key rules for what to wear cycling in spring
In summary, here are a few things you’ll want to bear in mind when picking your spring kit:
- 1. Weather reports can lead you astray. Be prepared for anything.
- 2. To avoid being too cold in the morning or overheating later, layer up.
- 3. Start with a comfortable, versatile jersey and bib shorts combo and layer from there.
- 4. You’ll most likely want to remove layers as you go, so they must be light and packable.
- 5. You’ll need somewhere to put them, whether that’s a jersey pocket or a saddle/frame bag.