Choosing bike tights

I have found that choosing the right clothing for your legs is one of the easier decisions for your winter ride. It’s pretty rare that your legs get too cold since they’re constantly working away and generating heat. If they get cold, ride harder!

But let’s start at the warm end of the spectrum and work down. Keep in mind that these temperatures are ballpark numbers that are dependent on other factors such as wind speed, precipitation, and solar radiation (i.e. is the sun out?)

Below 62F

I cover my knees. That means either I pull on knee warmers with my cycling shorts, or pull a pair of normal-person knickers over some cycling shorts (often some lighter triathlon shorts.) I have a favorite pairs of Patagonia and Kuhl knickers. They’re synthetic, dry quickly, and don’t pill up.

Below 52F

I switch over to full length cycling tights. My favorites are Patagonia’s Windshield tights. Better tights have a wider range of operating temperatures and conditions. The Windshields work right on down to freezing. They are wind-resistant yet still breathe well. They’re not overly tight, so they’re a little more appropriate when walking into the nearby hardware store or attending your local city council meeting to ask for bike lanes.

Iditasport 350 Farewell Burn; Photo by Tom Evans

Below 28F

I pull on my trusty Pearl Izumi AmFib tights when the temperatures drop. They are windproof up front with breathable panels in back. They can get overly warm as you approach 40F.

Below 12F

At these temperatures I typically start pulling on layers beneath my AmFibs. I’ve used Patagonia’s capilenne and R0.5 tights. Both work great. If it’s super windy, as it was during the Iditasport, I’ve also pulled on some windproof briefs as an added layer of protection.

But that’s basically it. You don’t need a lot of clothing combinations to keep your legs warm while cycling in colder weather.



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