The mild winters in central Texas comes with its trickery. One part of the day will give you a sunny clear weather with manageable temps. Next will have trechorous rain, wind and sleet. With that in mind, I have learned to always dress for the worst of it and peel off the layers as needed.
The market gives a rider many winter riding options. From one piece riding suits to two piece jobbers. My budget limits me me a bit so for now it’s the two piece option. I’ve worn hybrid jackets like the Joe Rocket Alter Ego and the Tour Master Transitions. But they seem to leave me with either a loose fitting bare mesh jacket or a complicated multi-layered bulky jacket. I have to blame my slender build but I’m sure they work for many riders. But just not me.
Mid cost range companies like Joe Rocket, Tour Master/Cortech and a few others give the entry level/budget minded rider some decent options. But as I gain riding experience and a little bit more budget, I long for better gear. Fit and comfort are becoming more important and with that sometimes comes more cost. When possible, I shop for deals from European companies like Alpineatars, Dainese and Rev’it. Their sizing tends to be less roomy than the typical ‘Merican (American) sizing (small, medium, large). But their gear is tested in races like MotoGP, British Superbike and AMA races in the US. I recently replaced my Joe Rocket Alter Ego jacket for a Rev’it Ignition jacket. Still a multi-layered Hybrid jacket but the fit suits my build a bit better.
Back to winter riding gear. Let’s start with your base layer. Layering is very important when riding in unpredictable weather. I’ve been very happy with Cycle Gear’s Freeze Out and Heat Out base layer gear. I find it to be very affordable and functional. The only complain I have is the sizing runs extremely small. I normally wear a medium in most things but in their freeze/heat out gear I wear an XL to XXL for comfort. Mind you that most base layer clothing is designed to be worn close to the body to perform optimally. You want the base layer to function like a second skin. Wicking away sweat to keep the body comfortable. You will notice that with the use of a base layer with wicking properties, you don’t have to layer as much as you would traditionally. So you ride much more comfortably and longer. I wear a top, bottom wicking layer and a helmet liner to keep me comfortable during both winter and summer riding.
Now to outer the outer shells. I’ve been riding with a Tour Master Saber 3/4 jacket when the weather is pretty crappy. The jacket is water proof with zippered vents. It also comes with a removable inner quilted liner. The jacket length tends to be not the most stylish but I have to say, the length of the jacket is functional when you’re in the cold wet stuff. I normally ride without the stock liner and use with my Cycle Gear Sedici heated jacket liner. It works wonderful. In 30 degree weather, have not had to crank the heat over the lowest setting. For pants I’ve been lucky and happy with a hybrid pant by Joe Rocket called the Alter Ego. Weather proof exterior with armor at the knees, padding at the hips, a removal inner rain liner and a removable vent panel that runs from the top of your lap to the lower hip. This allow the pants to breathe during the warmer seasons.
Next comes boots and gloves. Winter riding usually brings all things cold and wet. A goot pair of waterproof boots and gloves will give your feet and hands the comfort that they deserve. being the most outer extremities, warm blood takes the longest to reach them. So look for boots and gloves with weather/water proof technology like Gore-Tex, Hypora and any of the similar variations that are on the market. This layer will keep your skin feeling warm by also wicking away sweat but not allowing moister to penetrate the garment. I currently ride with a pair of Cortech water proof torug boots and a pair of Alpinestars DryStar gloves.
Well, that’s my two cents. Ride safe