MoreBikes.co.uk winter kit guide: #2 Jackets and trousers
In winter, whether you have a good time on your bike or not is largely down to getting your kit right. If you’re warm and dry, you’ll have a ball. If not, well… let’s be honest, it’s going to be miserable.
But getting it right is fairly simple and doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here’s our top five tips for getting the most out of your jacket and trousers:
1. Winter jackets and trousers – the basics
The main thing to check when considering jackets and trousers for winter riding is that they’re water and windproof, breathable and that they have a thermal lining to keep you warm.
The quality of materials and the level of weather protection varies greatly, with the pricier brands usually offering a better shield against the elements. But that’s not to say that you should necessarily go for the most expensive suit you can find. If you only use your bike for a 15-minute commute, lower spec products will suffice, but for all-year tourers who rack up the miles regardless of weather, a fully weatherproof suit will be worth the investment.
If you buy your jacket and trousers as a set they often come with a zip to attach them together at the back. This stops the trousers sliding down and the jacket riding up, so you’re not revealing your backside to the elements (and to other road users for that matter). Some trousers also come with braces that will do the same job.
2. How to stay dry?
Many textiles come with a Gore-Tex (or similar) lining that’s designed to be waterproof but still breathable, keeping you dry without making you sweaty. The level of waterproofness is indicated by either a PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) number or in millimetres (the same method of measuring but converted to metric system). These numbers are achieved by applying water to a fabric with an increasing pressure to see when the water breaks through the fabric. A higher number in both PSI and mm indicates better pressure resistance and therefore better water protection.
3. Separate waterproofs
A cheaper way to keep the elements at bay is to go for separate waterproofs that go over your jacket and trousers. These come as either a one-piece or a jacket and trousers combo, and they are a cheaper investment than a new suit if you already have a decent one that just needs a bit of help with keeping you dry. Waterproof layers are a bit of an added hassle when riding, and they make you look like the Michelin Man, but they do the job and they don’t cost the earth.
4. Textiles or leather?
Should you go for textiles or leathers? As a rule of thumb you get better weather protection from textile jackets and trousers than the leather equivalents, but leather offers better abrasion resistance. So, in terms of choosing the material, the key is to match it to your style of riding. If you’re planning on commuting through the winter, water and windproof textiles might be a more suitable option than leathers, which are more popular among sports bike riders. Having said that, you always have the option to get some lightweight waterproofs to wear over your leathers.
5. Making yourself visible
As the days get shorter and you’re likely to ride in less than perfect light more often, it’s worth checking that your gear has reflective elements (often piping, logos or styled patches). Bright coloured hi-vis gear is great for making you more visible in daylight, but as it gets dark it doesn’t matter what colour your gear is – unless you have reflective gear, other road users will struggle to see you.
Want to see some more jackets and trousers that we have tested and featured recently? Have a look at our jacket and trousers reviews.