Geared Up: Winter Riding

Dec 21st, 2018

GORE C7 Windstopper Pro Bib Tights, $230

GORE’s C7 Windstopper Bib Tights help keep the chill of winter at bay with windproof, water-repellant materials, a breathable upper, and a comfortable chamois insert. High-visibility accents help during the day while reflective logos get you noticed during twilight hours and after dark. For easy on and off, each leg has a zipper up the side. 

The upper of the C7 tights is very comfortable with mesh bib straps. So too are the materials used in the short area of the tights, with a fuzzy internal surface on the windproof fabric. I do wish the cut around the hips was a bit tighter, but better a bit loose than too tight. At the knee, the material is a bit stiffer though still flexible enough for easy pedaling. 

I’ve worn the C7s in temperatures as low as 25°F and I was on the verge of needing another layer. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been comfortable in the Windstopper tights up to nearly 50°F thanks to the good breathability of the materials. In a perfect world, I would love to see a version of the C7s sold without the chamois insert so that they could be used on multiple occasions without need for a wash. But as they are, the C7 Windstopper Bib Tights are an excellent piece of winter cycling kit.

Spatz Roadman Overshoes, $110

Okay, these are not cheap, and they’re certainly not a conventional overshoe, but perhaps both of those things are a positive. The Spatz Roadman Overshoe is a new take on a winter shoe cover. These insulated, reflective, neoprene covers extend up the leg to just below the knee. This increased coverage keeps water from entering your shoes above a typical shoe cover and provides extra insulation for your lower leg. 

While designed for road shoes, I only ride in mountain bike shoes and the Spatz Overshoes fit just fine. Once dressed to go out for a ride, you pull on the shoe covers before putting on your shoes. They are then pulled down over the shoe and attached with a Velcro strap under your shoe’s sole.  If you ride all winter or commute year-round, especially in wet conditions, the Spatz Overshoes are certainly worth a look.

Light & Motion Urban 1000 Ridgetop Headlight, $90

Even during the day, the shallow angle of the winter sun’s rays means that every cyclist should take steps to increase visibility. Light & Motion’s Urban 1,000 Ridgetop headlight puts out a whopping 1000 lumens on high, enough for mountain biking or high-speed road sections at night. On its lowest setting of 250 lumens, the Ridgetop can keep you riding for up to six hours. During the day you can set the light to pulse mode and get several ride’s worth of battery life, up to 12 hours. 

With a wide beam pattern and amber side lights, you are visible to traffic approaching from side streets. The light is charged using a micro-USB, and it mounts to your handlebar with a beefy rubber strap. The light can also be mounted to your helmet with an optional accessory. 

I’ve commuted using the Light & Motion and also used it during road race that started at night. The output was great in all conditions. And with a price tag of only $90, the Urban 1000 Ridgetop packs a lot of punch in a small, affordable package.

Soma Cazadero 50mm Tubeless Tire, $70

Winter is a good time to throw on a set of wider tires. With snow, ice, and sand common in many areas, a wider footprint can keep you more surefooted throughout the colder months. Soma’s Cazadero has been in production for some time, but only recently did the 700c x 50mm tubeless version come to market. 

Made in Japan by Panaracer, this size is great on mountain bikes that see a lot of road and gravel use or for bikepacking bikes that are transformed for commuting. The tread pattern is fast-rolling thanks to a solid center section while the side knobs are stable over loose gravel and dirt. 

Thanks in part to the width, but also due to the light casing, these tires are supple! I found myself running slightly higher pressures to get them to feel like many of their competitors. If you don’t encounter much in the way of stones, glass, or other sharp objects on your local trails and roads, these tubeless tires will keep you riding in comfort.

Maxxis Velocita AR 40mm Tubeless Tire, $68

If you want a fast-rolling, comfortable, tubeless road or gravel tire, Maxxis’s new Velocita AR tire may be just the ticket. Interestingly, the Velocita AR (all-road) is based on a tubular road tire from Maxxis, the Velocita. The tire reviewed here uses a larger version of that tubular’s tread pattern but is molded to a tubeless clincher casing. Thanks to its large 40mm size, the Velocita can be run at a low pressure. This combined with the mostly smooth tread makes for a fast, comfortable ride. 

For light road touring aboard a gravel bike or a touring bike with big tire clearances, this may be an ideal tire. It won’t provide that same cornering stability of a more heavily treaded tire, but on tarmac and smooth dirt roads, it’s a winner. The Velocita AR is offered in two versions, a lighter 120tpi model and the 60tpi SilkShield model reviewed here that is likely the better touring tire.

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