The weather doesn’t really seem to know what it is doing any more, but I think it is safe to say that the start of the year is always pretty grotty. You need to be warm and dry. You know the score…layers…build them up and you are sorted. The kit listed here is typical for this time of year (depending of course on where you live and how long you are out in ‘it’) – either way this stormy weather gear will keep you going…
From Dirt Issue 120 – February 2012
Words by Mike Rose. Photo by Mike Rose.
Now then, Endura winter Thermolite ¾ bib shorts, everyone’s dirty little secret. I have a ten year old pair at home, so I thought it was time for a new set…and what a difference a decade can make! Hugely improved chamois, better cut, better material…just better. They keep you all nicely tucked in, and keep your back and knees warm. Tricky to go for a pee in, but not impossible. Winter wardrobe staple. £67.99 www.endura.co.uk.
Of course I wouldn’t be seen dead walking around just in lycra (it is not a pretty sight) so luckily I’m really liking these Sombrio Highline shorts. There is a nice feel to the stretchy fabric, plenty of pockets and even a couple of vents (if you really need them a this time of year). The cut is slim but not ridiculously so, they don’t feel clingy in any kind of way. They are just mega comfortable (the crotch panel is seamless if you want to use them without a liner), have a couple of useful, and deep, zippered pockets, perfect length. Bang on. £89.99 www.sombriocartel.com/www.hotlines-uk.com.
Up top, and underneath, it is the classic howies merino NBL Classic (can I say classic twice?). It is super fine merino, sits close to your skin and feels and smells good. It really is a classic (again). £55.00 www.howies.co.uk.
On top of that I matched up the Sombrio short with their Carver jersey. It is a simple, thin, polyester long sleeve top, perfect as part of a layering system (go for something quicker if it is really cold). £44.99 www.sombriocartel.com/www.hotlines-uk.com.
Over that I have been using Gore’s Fusion GT AS jacket. It is Gore’s premium mountainbike jacket and has a price to reflect that. Now I know that Gore stuff is expensive, but they have been the market leaders for some time and know their stuff. They invest and invent technology, and that costs. I think I am right in saying that this ‘Active Shell’ is Gore’s most breathable fully waterproof jacket, and of course it is super lightweight (this XL weighed in at 290g). This is one very technical bi of kit, I can’t really fault it…oh go on then, the micro fine zip has been a bit tricky (might drop a dab of oil on it) and I wouldn’t mind a rear pocket on it for those times when I don’t want to lug the back pack around, but performance wise it is bang on. It is pared down to the minimum in a ‘less is more’ kind of way (it does have a stowaway hood though, which has been useful). Because of the price I wouldn’t want to crash hard in it, but for all–day rides when you aren’t ‘on the edge’ it can’t be faulted. Of course if it is not likely to rain then go for something more breathable, a simple windproof/showerproof shell would be perfect. £219.99 www.gorebikewear.co.uk.
My old Giro Xen eventually bit the dust, so it was time for a change. POC’s Trabec comes in three models, this being the mid range Trabec Race. POC pride themselves on technical features and safety (there’s not enough space to go into it all here), so I feel in good hands when I put this on. Euro styling, in–mould technology, Aramid filament reinforced EPS core. I didn’t think I had the right head shape for a POC lid, then I got hold of the XL–XXL size…perfect. But quality comes at a price too, £159.99 www.pocsports.com/www.2pure.co.uk.
Not really for winter riding, but on those in–between days I’ve been trying the Fox Attack glove, £30 www.foxhead.com. Very, very minimal and simple; slip–on with no cuff (or velcro fastener), as single layer palm for a very direct feel and a water repellent back (upper) layer. These are vented, so if you are after something warmer and offering full winter protection go for the Antifreeze glove.
Vans Gravel shoes – sticky rubber, waffle sole, Van’s styling…a marriage made in heaven. The pair I have still have very stiff uppers, and the grip isn’t as leech-like as the leading brand on the market (Five Ten), but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The level of grip is very good, but the rubber isn’t as gummy as Stealth. You can move around a bit more with these, which many people will like. £80 www.vans.co.uk.
Well, this outfit needed a bit of jazzing up to drag it out of its ‘black period’. Dennis the Menace striped crew socks from Surface. Stick them on your feet. £9.99 www.surface-clothing.com.