You might find it hard to believe, but I love winter riding. I can't fully nail down why it is. All I know, is that there is something incredibly special about riding out on a frosty morning: seeing your breath as vapour, rising to a bright blue sky; feeling the chill in your lungs, and the wind burn on your face.
OK, so there are those damp days, and the stormy days. I embrace those now though - relishing the challenge that is provided by the elements. Wrapped up in the right kit, you battle through; you feel like a warrior in doing so.
It wasn't always like this. Winter training was once my worst fear. There was a time when my winter kit comprised of wool leg warmers, feet wrapped in plastic bags, and just a lightweight gilet to try and protect my chest from the winter winds. I'd return home with hands so numb that I couldn't pull my house keys from my summer jersey pocket; or feet so cold that they would look as purple as beetroot when I finally stepped into a steaming shower.
Good kit makes a world of difference to winter riding. This winter I've been testing some of the latest winter range from dhb. The dhb Aeron collection of products is designed to provide maximum protection from the elements.
In this blog post, I thought I would provide my low-down on the products, and why they made my selection as 'winter comfort' kit.
My 'Deep Winter' kit list
- dhb Aeron Full Protection Soft Shell
- dhb Aeron Windslam Roubaix Bib Tights
- dhb Merino Long Sleeve Zip Neck Base Layer M200
- dhb Merino Neck Tube M200
- dhb Extreme Winter Full Finger Gloves
- dhb Aeron Winter Merino Socks
- dhb Extreme Weather Overshoes
Product highlight: dhb Aeron Full Protection Soft Shell
There are weather-proof jerseys, and there are winter-proof jerseys. The dhb Full Protection Softshell is most definitely the latter.
Designed with a waterproof membrane, rather than just a water-resistant fabric coating (the norm for 'rain jerseys'). The design provides significantly more weather protection than most.
Couple the weather-proof membrane with the fleece lining, fleece collar, and the long drop-tail rear hem, and you've got a warm, dry, and winter-ready layer.
I've been using this on damp days, and sub-zero days. All I've needed beneath it is a merino base layer, and it has shaken off the wind, rain and sleet, without the need for further waterproofing or insulating layers.
The Array provides a superb level of winter comfort.
Product highlight: dhb Merino M200 Base Layer and Aeron Merino Winter Socks
I have always loved Merino wool. Even before it was used in trendy 'retro' jerseys, I embraced the fabric for its insulating properties, on cold and damp days.
Unlike some Merino wool garments, the dhb Merino washes very well too. Even on a standard cool machine wash, there is no sign of shrinking or thinning in the material.
Product highlight: dhb Aeron Windslam Roubaix Tights
Cold leg muscles won't do you any favours; unless you're going looking for injury and discomfort. Winter tights are a must at this time of year.
The dhb Aeron Windlam Roubaix Tights are some of the warmest winter cycling tights that I've tested to date. With the windproof front panels, and fleecy Roubaix lining, they are luxury winter wear.
The fit is also superb. Despite the heavyweight fabric, they are form fitting; providing a reassuringly snug feel.
The seatpad has proven to be a good value option. Although it is not quite as comfortable as some super high-end winter chamois pads, it will keep you in comfort for up to five hours in the saddle.
The Array is a true deep winter comfort product.
Product highlight: dhb Extreme Winter Gloves
Protecting your feet and hands from the cold is fundamental to winter riding comfort. The dhb Extreme Winter Gloves are high-end winter protection.
The gloves feature a windproof and water resistant membrane, to keep your hands protected from the elements. The double-lining then provides the insulation; in the form of the hollow-fill fabric, and the fleece inner layer.
Despite being deep winter cycling gloves, the Array aren't so thick that they reduce dexterity. In fact, the grippy palms and articulated fingers mean that you lose little control or feel of the brake levers and handlebars.
Product highlight: dhb Extreme Weather Overshoes
The dhb Extreme Weather Overshoes are the perfect complement to the Extreme Winter Gloves. Their thick 3.5mm neoprene, coated in wind and water resistant TPU, provides plenty of protection from frosty toes.
You'll be thankful of the Kevlar reinforced toe areas, and durable YKK zipper, when you're trudging around off the bike. Equally, you'll benefit from the reflective accents on the overshoes, when you spinning out the miles in the winter darkness.
Neoprene overshoes might seem like a simple concept, but these dhb ones are very well executed. They have a good fit, and are made from fabrics that should see you through multiple winters.
This selection of dhb winter kit has shown itself to be highly effective; at providing great comfort and performance, at a respectable price.
Winter doesn't have to be an uncomfortable riding season. It certainly doesn't have to be an unsafe one.
Kit yourself up in some quality high-visibility winter kit; then you can rack up the miles, whatever the weather throws at you.