Knowing what to wear for an autumn’s day can be tricky. I can think of countless times where I’ve looked outside and the sun has been shining and the birds have been singing. So, of course, it looks like the perfect weather for a short sleeve jersey and bib shorts. Wrong. Autumn is so changeable (especially in the UK) that I find myself frozen after five minutes and regretting the day before it’s even started! Well, that’s not how it should be. Autumn is the perfect time to ride. The sun will shine and the wind will certainly follow, but if you’re prepared, autumn riding can be filled with beautiful scenery and fresh, enjoyable miles. So here’s our guide to essential accessories and must have kit!

 

autumn and winter cycling essential kitPhotograph by Russel Ellis

Arm/Knee/Leg warmers

This is my most loved set of accessories. They add many weeks onto the life of a summer kit and are so perfect for autumn. They are great for the cool and windy rides. Warmers are perfect for people who will ride in the cold, but require a little bit longer in the saddle to warm up. You can then take off the warmers as and when you need to. Unlike wearing a hardshell jacket for example, you can easily store away your warmers in your jersey pocket. Warmers come in various materials, such as merino wool or materials that are water-resistant, depending on where you live, you’ll have to decide what is more important, fighting the cold or fighting the rain. Sizing is crucial; you don’t want them to be cutting off circulation because they’re a size too small, but you don’t want them to be falling down every minute! So arm warmers should fit nicely under your jersey sleeves without any pulling, pinching or bunching. Knee warmers should start half way on your thigh and finish half way down your calf. Leg warmers should hug your legs all the way down to the ankles, with no bunching on the knee. But it can be difficult to find the perfect fit with warmers, so make sure to try them on before you buy!


Gilet

A gilet is ever more important to have during the autumn. Many people will wear them all year round as they provide protection from the wind, as well as warmth for your core on those chillier days. A gilet also allows you to wear your summer jersey for that little bit longer! Go for a gilet that is water-resistant (again, check it has been treated with DWR!) so it keeps your core dry during light showers. Gilets are extremely compact; they will fit perfectly into your jersey back pocket, ready for when the temperature drops. Overshoes/Oversocks: If you think back to last winter, do you remember how easily your hands and feet felt the cold? Even the thought of having no overshoes on during a downpour makes me feel cold. It’s not a pleasant feeling. So ensure your feet are kept toasty with a pair of oversocks, or overshoes for wet weather. Most overshoes are made of neoprene, the same material as a wetsuit, so they’ll stop your feet from getting wet, while insulating at the same time! But make sure to pick the right size for your shoe, ensuring there are no gaps around the ankle, as this will allow water to make it’s way into your shoe anyway!


Gloves

My hands feel the cold more than any other part of my body. If my hands are cold, my whole body will remain cold too. So investing in a good pair of gloves has been key to me enjoying autumn riding. Go for a full-fingered glove that is not too bulky, as this could detract from easy shifting and braking. Also, look out for enough grip, with the addition of rain, you don’t want to be slipping off the handlebars, so sufficient grip is essential. If possible, have a pair for wet weather riding and another to fight the cold in your wardrobe. Waterproof gloves can become sweaty at times and may be over kill for the autumn. But remember, this is a very personal piece of kit. There are people who are perfectly fine riding without gloves until mid winter, so find a pair of gloves that suit your needs and try a few different brands before settling.


Arm/Knee/Leg warmers

This is my most loved set of accessories. They add many weeks onto the life of a summer kit and are so perfect for autumn. They are great for the cool and windy rides. Warmers are perfect for people who will ride in the cold, but require a little bit longer in the saddle to warm up. You can then take off the warmers as and when you need to. Unlike wearing a hardshell jacket for example, you can easily store away your warmers in your jersey pocket. Warmers come in various materials, such as merino wool or materials that are water-resistant, depending on where you live, you’ll have to decide what is more important, fighting the cold or fighting the rain. Sizing is crucial; you don’t want them to be cutting off circulation because they’re a size too small, but you don’t want them to be falling down every minute! So arm warmers should fit nicely under your jersey sleeves without any pulling, pinching or bunching. Knee warmers should start half way on your thigh and finish half way down your calf. Leg warmers should hug your legs all the way down to the ankles, with no bunching on the knee. But it can be difficult to find the perfect fit with warmers, so make sure to try them on before you buy!


cycling in the autumn essential kit


Rain/Wind Jacket

An essential piece of kit will be either a rain or wind jacket. I personally would recommend a wind jacket because if they’ve treated with a DWR coating, they’ll be water-resistant. So you’ll have a jacket that will be strong enough to keep you dry in light showers (be sure to reproof any water-resistant and waterproof items after 2-3 washes!). The beauty of wind jackets is that they are lightweight and compact, fitting straight into your jersey pocket. They are also breathable, meaning you wont feel as though you’re in a plastic bag! On the other hand, you could decide to go for a fully waterproof rain jacket as a wind jacket will only keep you dry for so long. It’s a good idea to have both these items in your kit wardrobe anyway, but if you’re going for a ride and you know it will be continuous rain all day, a rain jacket is the best option. You should look for a waterproof jacket that is easily packable, for autumn’s changeable weather. A race cape is a good example of this; they tend to offer a degree of breathability, with the addition of under arm vents for example and are designed to be thin enough to fit in your jersey pocket. There is a huge variety of rain and wind jackets available and prices will vary from around £20 to £300, so you’ll be spoilt for choice.


Mudguards

Mother nature will be throwing you her best shot with rain and wind, and you thought wearing the correct kit would make you invincible. So why is your butt, chest and face so wet? No mudguards and it doesn’t matter what you wear, you’ll return home wet and muddy! – Perfect for a Cyclocross ride, but for roadies, not so much. As soon as the road becomes wet you’ll see your tyres kicking up water all over the place, as well as on the faces of those behind! Luckily, there are now more options other than the big old clumpy commuter style mudguards. Qbicle offer a great range for wet weather riding, which function with precision and are unbelievably discreet!