On a winter’s day as the blistering cold wind rushes over your hands in the drops, penetrating the chinks in your anti-cold armour, teasing its way through your outer layer and creeping further inside your defences, it’s easy to begin wondering whether you shouldn’t have taken up badminton, rather than road cycling. Getting cold on the bike isn’t fun, but it also isn’t inevitable – and there’s no reason why deep winter weather should prevent you from getting outside and enjoying the sport we all love.
If you follow our guide on how to dress for winter, you should be able to attack your off-season training goals with the same enthusiasm and success that you experience in summer. And the shuttlecocks and court shoes can stay exactly where they belong: on the shelves of your local sporting retailer.
This year, MAAP’s Deep Winter collection has had some significant upgrades, providing cyclists who want to stick it out through the coldest parts of the year with a high-quality system of apparel to protect against the cold.
In this post we’ll explain why dressing for winter matters, as well as looking at the differences between deep winter in the northern hemisphere and the milder winter weather that many of us experience in the southern hemisphere.
When we say ‘dressing for winter’ in a cycling context, we’re talking about the best way to make your clothing choices to ensure a ride where you can enjoy yourself, while hitting the performance goals you’ve set for your off-season. If you haven’t got any performance goals, just focus on the more important first objective.
When you know how to dress for winter – and own the right key pieces of clothing to execute the principles – you’ll find riding in the cold becomes more of a joy and less of a chore.
The big trick to staying warm on winter rides – and it’s more common sense than closely-guarded secret – is layering. The right items combined in the right order should give you the perfect protection from the elements to enjoy any ride, regardless of the temperature.
What do Giza’s Great Pyramid and your winter dressing strategy have in common? They both started with a solid base. Base layers provide the foundation to your winter apparel, keeping you warm and moving the moisture your body generates as sweat away from your body. Why does sweat management matter in winter? Well you’ll more than likely be wearing multiple layers, and that can lead to moisture becoming trapped if it’s not all perfectly breathable. The trapped sweat gathers in pools, and can soak through your kit. Once a piece is saturated, it too will stop working efficiently. And then of course there are the moments where you stop working – maybe for a coffee, or to fix a puncture – at which point your body temperature will drop much faster if it’s surrounded by lots of wet, rapidly cooling fabric. Our own Deep Winter Base Layer is made with Polartec® Power Wool, for an impressive blend of temperature management and moisture wicking. Most top-end winter base layers will use merino wool in some way, but don’t worry about that itchy feeling you get from an old woollen sweater – the inner face of the Deep Winter Base Layer is made with super-soft, brushed merino wool for a luxurious next-to-the-skin feeling.
For those not looking to flirt with sub-zero conditions, the MAAP Thermal Base Layer provides good warmth that won’t become suffocating on milder winter rides, or at the transitional points in the year. It can be picked up in a variety of sleeve lengths, which is great for really fine-tuning the way you want to feel while riding.
The next layer to add is pair of bib tights. These are essentially a longer version of your favoured bib shorts, made with thicker material – and they usually have better protection against the spray and sludge churned up by your wheels in the colder months. Bib tights come all the way down to meet your socks (but whether you should wear your socks under or over your tights is a matter of much heated debate). Tights keep your lower legs warm, so they can perform at their best. Naturally, you’re going to want a top-quality chamois when investing in a pair of bib tights – you’ll be spending plenty of hours in them, after all.
MAAP’s Apex Deep Winter Bib Tights are the warmest we’ve ever made, featuring a strategic combination of both windproof and thermal materials plus a DWR waterproof coating for maximum elemental protection. If you live in a part of the world where winters are milder, then our Team Evo Thermal Bib Tights will serve you well.
The Team Bib Evo are our all-time most popular bib shorts, and we’ve just introduced a bib tight version of them too. The Team Evo Thermal Bib Tights promise epic comfort, with our Proprietary 3D Thermo Moulded multi density chamois, with their thermal fabrication plus DWR coating for when the weather turns wet. Whichever bib tight you choose, say goodbye to aching muscles and cold legs.
Not a fan of the full tights? Maybe you find yourself getting too warm in them. If that sounds like you, then the Base Leg Warmer is the one. Built to offer a solution on changeable days, these ‘leg sleeves’ can be removed while you’re out riding, without the need to disrobe entirely – so you can strip off some of the warmth as and when you need to. If you have advanced level wardrobe skills, you can even take these off while pedalling along, but maybe have a few practice runs at home first before trying this in a peloton of your friends.
Up to this point, dressing for winter is pretty much a one-size-fits-all approach. However, once you have your base and bib tights, things get a bit more flexible – and ultimately it’s all about preference. Most folks will rock a jersey on top of their base layer and then add either a warm jacket or the combination of a vest with arm warmers. A full winter jacket is a wise choice for those in the northern hemisphere, while those in warmer climes can benefit from the more flexible but not-quite-so-warm combination of vest and warmers, or something in between.
Winter jackets typically aim to keep you warm, with the secondary aim of protecting you from rainfall. It’s a rare item of clothing that can truly do both and do them well. If you go with a warmer jacket that’s so-so in the wet, it makes sense to carry a small lightweight waterproof outer shell that rolls down nice and small and fits in a pocket. That way you can enjoy your winter riding feeling warm and dry. The Prime Jacket is MAAP’s most packable option. You can also get garments with varying degrees of weather protection, so if you think you’re likely to get rained on a fair amount, look out for options with a high hydrostatic head (measured in the thousands of millimetres). Upward of 8,000 is a good base level.
MAAP’s new Deep Winter collection features the Apex Winter Jacket, which we’re proud to say is both waterproof and super-warm. It uses a fabric called Schoeller C-change™ membrane for temperature regulation, allowing you to stay warm when it’s extremely cold, without compromising on breathability. It’s suited for use in temperatures ranging down from 5°C to -10°C. If where you ride tends more to the rainy than the outright sub-zero – hi, England 👋 – then you can’t do better than the MAAP Ascend. The Ascend Pro Rain Jacket is made with Sympatex® fabric which makes use of a triple-layered, laminated membrane, it performs to an exceptional hydrostatic head of 45,000mm.
For days when it’s cold but not arctic, a combination of vest with arm warmers is often preferable to a full jacket. You can also, of course, wear a vest over a long-sleeve thermal jersey like our Force Pro.
Vests, sometimes referred to by their French name of ‘gilets’, are exactly what they sound like – an outer garment without arms that goes on over your jersey. Some have pockets in the back so you can store your essential mid-ride items in them, while others – like the more mid-season appropriate Draft Vest – sacrifice this extra stowage space in favour of a more streamlined silhouette.
MAAP’s new Prime Stow Vest, available for both men and women like the rest of this range, is made with a warm Polartec® Neoshell fabric and boasts a single waterproof pocket for protection of your most important and moisture-sensitive items. The two-way zipper means that if you need access to something in your jersey pockets underneath the vest, you can still reach them easily. It’s also easy to pack down small for stuffing into a jersey pocket of top-tube frame pack when it’s not required.
The arm warmer is a simple garment, effectively helping you turn a short-sleeve jersey into a long-sleeve. They have the added benefit that they can be easily removed when you’re riding – especially useful if you’re working up a sweat and actually need to cool down a little. Once the hard part of your workout is over, you can whip them out of your pockets and put them back on again.
Take a look at our Base Arm Warmers for a solid pair that will work brilliantly to keep you warm when you need it, and stow easily when you don’t.
Gloves are gonna be an essential element in your winter wardrobe. Your hands take the brunt of the wind chill that rushes over your handlebars as you move through the air, and so they’re going to feel even colder than other parts of your body. Factor in the importance of your fingers when it comes to braking and shifting gear, and it becomes obvious just how necessary it is to keep them fully functional while you’re riding.
When choosing a pair of winter gloves, try to hit a balance of cold-weather and wet-weather protection – and of course, try to choose a pair that reflects where you live. A super-warm but bulky pair will end up being a waste if you live somewhere with very mild winters. Likewise, don’t go too streamlined and lightweight if you’re going to be tackling a winter in the high Alps or Canada, places it gets super-cold.
Make sure when you’re layering your gloves that you pull your jacket’s sleeve down over the cuff – creating a better defence against heat loss. If you choose to use warmers, then try and fit the hems underneath the cuff of your chosen glove – which achieves roughly the same end result.
MAAP’s all new Apex Deep Winter Gloves have just been released as part of the new Deep Winter collection, and they represent everything we think a winter pair of gloves should be. They’re made with a combination of extremely technical materials including Primaloft® Gold insulation for heat retention and non-slip suede for the palm, so your control of the bike is never compromised. The palm areas are also thickened with Ariaprene®, to give you a bit of extra padding as you tackle the rougher roads of winter. It’s unlikely you’ll want to take these off if it’s super-cold, but luckily they’re touch-screen compatible – meaning you won’t have to expose your hands to the cold when you need to send a text.
If you live in a warmer part of the world where winters aren’t quite so extreme, our Winter Gloves should fit the bill. They’re waterproof, windproof and breathable, not to mention lined with polar fleece for a snug, soft feeling.
Your winter layering strategy shouldn’t end without some serious consideration of the extra accessories on offer to cold-weather cyclists. First up – and one of the most enduringly popular items for virtually any time of year – is the neck warmer. A lightweight, simple sleeve of material that is worn around the neck, kinda like a scarf – but a little bit more practical for riding in. A neck warmer helps to seal that area between your jacket, jersey or vest and the neck – leaving less of your skin exposed and helping to trap in vital warmth. Crafted from Polartec® Power Wool, it’s breathable and can be worn pulled up over the mouth and nose to defend against the chill on the very coldest days.
Overshoes and oversocks are another staple of the winter cyclist’s wardrobe. Overshoes tend to be a heavier layer with some sort of neoprene. They work just like a wetsuit, providing warmth even when damp and prevent your feet from getting cold. Oversocks are a little less resilient and focus more on warmth than overall weather protection. Choose them if the places you ride in winter are drier but still pretty chilly.
The new Deep Winter range offers both overshoes and -socks. The Deep Winter Neo Overshoes are built for anyone planning on riding through a full European winter. They are constructed in tough Japanese neoprene, with strengthened panels at the heel and toe for enduring performance and protection. The Knitted Oversock, meanwhile, is crafted with a super-tough Cordura® knit fabric and stretches easily over your cycling shoes for an extra layer of warmth.
So now you know, there is no true ‘secret’ to keeping warm in winter and hitting your goals – just use good quality kit, layer it up good, and find what works for you. Investing in cold-weather apparel is one of the easiest ways to up your game, enabling you to keep putting in the miles all the way through winter and into spring. If you have any questions about the best way to combine items from the MAAP Deep Winter collection, don’t be afraid to get in touch via customer services, or reach out to us on social.