What to Wear Cycling During the Different Seasons

what to wear when cycling

One of cycling’s many benefits is that it gives you a chance to spend time outside.

You can get some fresh air, feel the sun on your face, and explore nature on two wheels. As a bonus, research shows that spending time in nature is good for your mental health!

But picture this: You head out cycling on a blistering summer day — and forget your sunglasses. You spend your whole ride squinting and end up with a headache.

Or this: You set off on a crisp winter day but forget your gloves. You have to turn back because your fingers are freezing!

Or THIS: You hit the trail on a gorgeous spring day without glancing at the weather. A sudden rain shower comes on and you end up drenched!

ARGH! Our point is this: The weather can make or break your bike ride! However, it doesn't have to ruin your day.

The right seasonal cycling gear can help you avoid disaster and enjoy cycling, whatever the weather. Below, we talk about seasonal cycling essentials so you can prepare accordingly.

Safety first: What to wear regardless of season

Some cycling gear is essential — whether riding in rain, sleet, snow, or sunshine. Make sure these items are part of your everyday cycling outfit.

  • Bike helmet: As a cyclist, your helmet is your best friend — protecting your face, head, skull, and brain in case of an accident. Research shows that wearing a helmet reduces head injuries by 48%. To keep the public safe, some states have laws mandating helmets. This guide explains state-by-state helmet laws and includes instructions on choosing and fitting a helmet.
  • Visibility vest: A visibility vest can go over whatever seasonal clothing you wear. Made of reflective material, it allows cars and pedestrians to see you easily. This can help reduce the risk of collisions. You can also get high-visibility bike tires, helmets, water backpacks, socks, and even tape for your handlebars.
  • Cycling gloves: Gloves aren't just for cold weather. Cycling gloves with grip pads make it easier to grab the handlebars, improving maneuverability. Fingerless gloves are another option. Gloves also protect the skin on your hands, preventing blisters from the handlebars and scrapes if you take a tumble.
  • Protective glasses: Even if it's overcast, having a pair of protective glasses is helpful (in this case, you'll want lenses that aren't tinted). Glasses keep dust, dirt, pollen, bugs, and other debris from getting into your eyes. They also help protect against wind, which can make your eyes watery. You'll be able to maintain clear vision, minimizing the risk of an accident. Wrap-around glasses are ideal, as they protect you from the front and sides.
  • Reflectors, bike lights, and mirrors: Your bike should be dressed for safety, just like you! Reflectors make it easier for others to see your bike, while lights and mirrors make it easier for you to see others while riding. Increased visibility for all involved is important for safety.

Whether it's January or June, you should never ride without these safety items. Read on for our season-specific cycling clothing tips.

What to wear cycling in spring

For balmy spring days, wear bike shorts paired with a long-sleeve jersey or thin long-sleeve undershirt. If the weather is a bit crisper, add bib tights or leg warmers, and opt for a heavier long-sleeve jersey.

Remember the old adage, "April showers bring May flowers?" Prepare for wet spring weather by packing a water-resistant barrier jacket and waterproof neoprene shoe covers.

What to wear cycling in summer

In summer heat, it's important to keep cool while still protecting against the sun. For temperatures of 70 degrees and upward, opt for cycling shorts and a short-sleeve jersey.

Add a headband to keep the sweat out of your eyes, and top it off with wrap-around sunglasses. Apply sunscreen to your arms and legs, but avoid your face so it doesn’t run into your eyes when you sweat. 

What to wear cycling in fall

Fall weather can be variable — and windy. Prioritize layers. You can wear a sleeveless undershirt with a heavy long-sleeve jersey over top, and tights with leg warmers.

If it's still warm enough, bib shorts are also an option. You may also want a windproof light jacket to keep the windchill away.

What to wear cycling in winter

For winter cycling, it's all about staying toasty. Go for heavy tights, a long-sleeve turtleneck undershirt, and a heavy cycling jacket over top.

You'll also want cold-weather riding shoes, heavy full-finger gloves, and wool socks (merino wool is a popular choice). A headband can cover your ears and keep them warm.

If it's super frigid, you may even want a balaclava — this can help protect your skin against wind chill, which can be rough during winter riding. Add knee warmers and arm warmers to keep your joints toasty and prevent aches and pains.

Things to avoid wearing while cycling

Just as there are some fashion dos for cycling, there are also some don’ts. Steer clear of these items, which aren't ideal for a safe (or comfortable) bike ride:

  • Jeans: Jeans are made of thick, inflexible material, which can impede your mobility when pedaling. Plus, the fabric can be super uncomfortable when straddling a bike seat. Skip the denim and opt for stretchy, soft fabrics instead.
  • Baggy clothing: You might think loose clothes will maximize your comfort when riding a bike. Think again. There's a risk that loose fabric will get stuck in the bike's mechanisms or wheels. Plus, loose fabric fluttering in the wind will create drag, making you less aerodynamic and slowing you down.
  • Dark clothes: This tip is all about visibility. Even if you're wearing a visibility vest over your outfit, steer clear of dark hues, which are hard to see. Opt for light, bright colors that pedestrians and drivers can spot clearly.
  • Improper footwear: "Proper" footwear depends in part on what kind of bike you ride. If you ride a road bike, you should only wear cycling shoes with cleats that clip into the pedals, for example. There are also special shoes made for mountain biking. Even if you're just riding a casual city bike, at least wear closed-toed shoes to protect your feet.
  • Underwear (under Lycra*): Bet you didn't see this one coming! This cycling fashion don't applies specifically if you're wearing Lycra bike shorts. Wearing underwear underneath the shorts can result in uncomfortable rubbing and chafing. The undergarments can also trap microbes. Strange as it may seem, some experts recommend going commando under bike shorts!


clothing for cycling

Apparel for long-distance cycling

If you're going to be cycling for a long distance, comfort is a top priority. Temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. For example, it will be warmer mid-day when the sun is shining than in the early morning or evening.

For this reason, long-distance cyclists should dress in layers.

Start with a thin, snug base layer made of a synthetic moisture-wicking fabric designed to keep sweat from settling on your skin.

Then, add a middle layer like a long- or short-sleeve top or cycling jersey. There should be some air between your bottom and middle layers to improve breathability.

Finally, add a weather-appropriate outer layer. This will depend on the climate. A thin fleece may suffice on a dry fall day, while your outer layer should be water-resistant for damp spring rides.

For your bottom, wear cycling pants made of synthetic, sweat-wicking fabric like Lycra. They can be long or short, depending on the weather. 

Finally, wear a cycling pack with water, a cycling kit with maintenance essentials like tire patches, and a basic first-aid kit, especially if you're headed out for a long ride in rural surroundings.

Enjoy year-round cycling with e-bikes from Velotric

A comfortable day of cycling starts with the right bike. Velotric's electronic bicycles enhance your ride, as the electronic motor can power your bike forward when you're tired of pedaling hard or facing tough terrain, like a monster hill.

Velotric's bike styles suit all kinds of riders. The Discover 1 has 500/900W rated/peak motor and slim tires, making it great for urban commuting and weekend trips. Meanwhile, the Nomad 1 has a 750W/1200W rated/peak motor and fat tires, better suited for rough terrain.

Each bike has a high-quality 48V 14.4Ah battery certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL 2271), a top global safety standards organization. The battery fully charges your bike in just six hours.

Both bikes have five-level pedal assist, throttle assist, walk mode, and hydraulic disc brakes.

The Discover 1 and Nomad 1 come in two main sizes: The Step-Thru model is for rider heights 5’1” to 6’4”, while the High-Step model is for rider heights 5’6” to 6’9”. (Hint: Learn more about how to fit your bike to your body here).

Ready to find your ride? Visit the Velotric bike shop.

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