Let Santa make your winter riding more comfortable

Enjoyment from the right position
We all know the importance of getting your bike fitted properly in the first place but usually leave it from then on. As we get used to cycling, our position on the bike naturally changes and rightly we often switch to a lower handlebar (removing spacers) and perhaps buying a longer stem. This, coupled with new saddles and different pedals, means a totally different set-up to the one you started with and this can cause problems. Local shops like Sigma, Specialized in Kingston and Pearson all do decent bike fits but this can cost £100+. Although this is money well spent, you can probably haggle a free fit when you buy new shoes and cleats – it worked for me at Sigma recently.

Sore bum
A few suggestions to stop Mr. Sore Bum spoiling our winter cycling fun…

First, as David has been suggesting recently, switch to winter tyres with a bit more grip. Swapping to 25mm tyres on a road bike these will be more comfortable and this is accentuated as you can run them at slightly lower pressure. Even if you stick with your 23mm tyres it’s prudent to run them at slightly lower pressure in the winter and this will make the ride a bit softer.

Switching to latex inner tubes is also worth considering. These cost a bit more and loose air quicker than your usual tubes and are a bit of a pain to fit (not recommended for your saddle bag) but as well as being lighter and more puncture resistant, they’re much more comfortable.

Treat yourself to some decent cycle tights (‘longs’ in winter, 3/4 ‘knickers’ for milder days). The best ones I’ve tried are Assos due to their fit and comfort, no matter how long the ride. They are expensive but you know you’re worth it. Slightly less expensive but also good are Café du Cycliste (like a French Rapha) who use the same pads as Rapha but are a bit cheaper and in my view, more stylish. A cheaper, but excellent option, are those from Santini.

If you have a budget bike, switching from an aluminium to a carbon seat post can help improve ride comfort. Really good ones are available from £80 to £100.

Snowy Bike

Protect those extremities
Most important is to keep your core warm and the best strategy is with a tight fitting merino long sleeve baselayer; Icebreaker or Craft both offer a decent range. But don’t overdo it, as the body warms up during a ride. A windproof packable jacket will help to keep you warm if you get colder again on descents.

Your extremities however don’talways warm up to the same degree. A couple of suggestions for your more exposed bits are to wear ski glove liners for the fingers, and you can always take them off if it warms up. For your feet, the standard remedy to cold toes is to use overshoes, and there are varying thicknesses depending on climate and weatherproofing. Though I would say no overshoes are truly waterproof since the water eventually drips down your legs and into your overshoes.

But my top winter tip for toes: buy some Toasti Toes by Heatmax. These are amazing! They are adhesive pads that stick to the front (outside) of your socks and are air-activated staying warm for a few hours – long enough for any DV deep-winter expedition. If you buy them in bulk they’re about £1 each from Amazon and most outdoor shops.

Where should I buy Simon his Christmas present?
This is the easy bit! Two excellent on-line retailers are the place to go:

Prendas  www.prendas.co.uk
This is a great value and super efficient site. They specialise in “old school” cycle shirt design but also stock excellent value for money modern clothing. Of note, they have a good stock of Santini who produce the best arm and leg warmers and make really good value padded cycle tights referred to above.

Always Riding www.alwaysriding.co.uk
Quite different to Prendas; these guys stock some super brands – including Café du Cycliste – but often ones that are less well known. There is something here for everyone (including me).

For more on preparing you and your bike for winter riding, do have a read of this Road.cc article