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02 January 2015

Cold Weather Bike Wear Review

It's not that cold in Greece anyway

There is not much cold weather in Greece (unless you go to the mountains and the north of Greece), so I guess most roadies just stay home for a few days when things get unpleasantly wet and cold. Myself, I like to be outside in "fresh" weather. I think unless you really reach levels that threaten your body temperature falling, and as long as you have halfway decent clothing, it's nice to "brave the elements".

On December 31st and on New Year's day we had some cold weather, with temperatures around 4 degrees Celsius (yepp, not that cold if you're from the north of Europe), lots of wind, and that stingy, cold rain. I was out riding on both days. Here are some notes on the gear I was using...

BBB BWS-04 Overshoes / Shoe covers

I wore these BBB overshoes over MTB shoes. They are meant for wet and cold weather. The result was that my shoes stayed completely dry and I didn't have even slightly cold feet. I was wearing thick wool socks too though, which would have helped. Initially I wanted to buy overshoes for "wet, but not cold" weather, but the shop was out of those. I wanted to buy from a real shop, because I didn't want to mess with the size not matching to my shoes (I took the shoes with me and we tried them right there and then). They might be too warm for warm, rainy days, but at 4c they did well. They are apparently made from neopren with a waterproof layer on top. I like the Kevlar reinfored tip and heel. My bike has mudguards, but they fall a bit short and I don't yet have mudflaps, so the overshoes did have some water to fend off.

BBB ColdZone Winter gloves

Aparently this model has been superseded, couldn't find them on the BBB site. From descriptions from some online dealers, I learned that these are "made of wind- and waterproof Trioxx fabric", with only the cuffs being made from neoprene. I also got them from the Fidusa shop in Neo Heraklion (together with the overshoes), so I could try them on. Let's say they did "well enough". At the start of my ride I am going down 200m of altitude, so it can get a bit cold at first. Here I felt a bit cold on some of my fingers. Later, as soon as I started moving, they were warm enough. With the rain, my hands were wet at some point, but kept on being warm. Even after stopping to eat at my "turn around point", I had no cold fingers. I do have more of a tendency for numbness in my left hands when wearing these gloves, compared to not wearing gloves. I would say these gloves do the job for me, but if you have a tendency to get cold hands easily, they might not be your magic gloves.

Tigths "Collant 700 Membrane" from Decathlon

I got these tights from Decathlon in France. They have a "membrane" area over the upper legs and lower belly. This keeps your core body dry and warm - unless it's so warm that you sweat a lot. They are doing a good job in the temperatures given, and wind and drizzling cold rain were no problem at all. I must say that I have mudguards on my bike, but no mudflaps, so shoes and lower legs have to fend off some more water. In combination with the overshoes, these tights worked fine, with only the back of my lower legs sometimes being a bit fresh (but not really cold). Note that these are not advertised as waterproof or even water repellent, except for the "mebrane" areas. I wore these tights also last January on a 200km Brevet, where we had a couple of hours of rain with slightly higher temperatures. I was very comfortable there.

Gore Bike Wear Phantom 2.0 SO Wind Jacket / Vest screaming yellow-black

I'm a bit reluctant to write something about this piece of equipment, because I don't like it very much, and I probably wouldn't buy it again. This thing is supposed to use this magic Windstopper fabric, that stops the wind, is mostly water repellent, yet does not get you sweaty. I haven't yet found in what temperature range it's meant to work. The site where I bought it says "from 0 to 10 degrees Celsius", but at 4c it needed 2 layers of stuff underneath. Anything close or above 10 degrees, and even with one base layer I get turned into a sweat bath. Anytime going uphill for a longer time, even in cold temperature, a lot of sweat is trapped. On my first test ride I was tempted to stop and take off one of the layers on the way back, as I had heated up - I didn't, because it's unpleasant and even a bit a dangerous in the cold when you're already sweaty.

You can take off the sleeves, which helps when conditions change. In my two test rides, It worked well enough, I wasn't cold, and the layers below weren't too wet - I can only guess that part of the wetness was from the rain, part from sweat. I don't think the material is really that breathable, in my experience it isn't much better than a hardshell rain jacket.

Apart from that I have two pet complaints with this garment: The first is that the site where I bought it described it as "tight fit". Now it could be their fault, or it could be the fault of the sizing table (or me reading the sizing table), but this thing fits like an old garbage bag. I guess it would be a tight fit if I was weighting at least 15kg more. The second is the quality of the zipper. For a long time I was of the oppinion that they used the cheapest zip that they could possibly find. I don't believe that anymore. I believe they deliberately searched and found a zip that is even worse than the cheapest one. I just hope I'll never have to try to close the jacket when I'm out somewhere on the road with frozen fingers.

On the plus side, the jacket is in a screaming neon yellow, and hasn't let off any of that shine despite a lot of washings. It also has some token reflective elements. Now if they had added real reflective elements, conforming to EN1150 standard, you could wear this in a Brevet ride without an additional reflective vest - but it seems no bike wear manufacturer is thinking that far any more (since Mavic stopped making their "Vision" series of stuff).

Posted by betabug at 15:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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