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winter gear


Speeding Up
May 29, 2008
I know it's early to start thinking about this but this is the first coldish season that I'll have a little money to invest in a good kit. :D

I guess I'm looking for windproof tights and an upper body long sleeve layer that wicks sweat/keeps you dry.

Last year I had cheap-o old tights, normal school girl legwarmers, in addition to the normal shorts and rain gear over a winter long sleeve jersey. and wool socks, hat. That got me commuting through 5 degree weather and with the warm packs in my shoes, even commuting through the snow :eek: a few times wasn't too bad.

But, it left me too sweaty for a longer than an hour type of ride.

So how do you stay dry and warm?
Where's the best place to buy this stuff?
( I am women's XL in Japan sizes... M or L in western women's sizes)


Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
I'm really amazed how much innovation has been going on in clothing over the past twenty years. When I was an old boy I'd be cycling in the winter with wollen gloves, a thick wooly jumper etc. Heavy, cold when wet and sweaty, no wind protection. I'm surprised I used to do it really.

I've gradually upgraded my winter gear, moving from normal tights to windproof PI bib tights with special panels for different parts of the legs. The bib tights are better as you can tuck your undershirt in nicely, and there's no draughts. They're pretty good. I then have cycling specific winter socks, with neoprene overshoes - these overshoes do a jolly good job of keeping my feet warm, but I still need to put those heated pads in sometimes.

On top I have quite a thick long sleeve undershirt, with an Assos windproof jacket. Sometimes I use a muffler round the neck, which I can pull up over my face and nose - this is good for descents (all expertly modelled here). A thermal head cap tops it off. On really cold days like this, then I also add a windbreak.

I like cycling in winter as it's like a new challenge. The kit I'm using makes it quite a comforable experience.

Bought most of it online from wiggle and crc. Occassionally I'd try something on in a Japanese shop to check the size then order it online. gloves, overshoes etc are no problem size wise.


Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
I found the key is getting the layers correct for the conditions. Is dry a priority? Or is warm? Training? Commuting? Chances are your base layer will be the same - so find a good micro-fiber base set - top and bottom. I'm very happy with my Pantagonia, but also have some no-brand stuff that works well, too. Next is shorts or bib. If you are in rain / wet conditions, you should wash or rinse your gear every ride - if you don't have alot of sets, this can get tedious and just not have enough time to dry properly between washings - especially padded kits. So, in the rain, I'll opt for using cycling specific underwear (bettone) then un-padded or thin pad only shorts. If its too chilly for shorts only , then I add leg warmers. Then finally if its really cold , I'll add my Giordano merino wool tights (old school, but they rock). On the top, I'm Panatognia base, 2XU long sleeve. If it gets cold, then I just use newspaper. For rain , I've got a 100yen shell and for wind cut, a Pearl Izumi wind shell. If I had alot of extra scratch I'd go for the Castelli or Assos shell - then it would cover both the wind and the rain.

Check out the sports stores around Ochanimizu and Shinjuku South (Oshmans and next to South annex station) I've got some pretty killer deals there on base wear.

One word about base wear - I've found that most polypro materials basically stink. The wool / silk / micro-fibre blends not using PolyPro seem to avoid this. And I also have a Pearl Izumi piece that has some silver treatment that seems pretty good.

If you are commuting and need to wear work clothes underneath - then its a different story. I have a standard set of rain gear (pants and top) I bought years ago from Nashbar - they still work great. Since they are designed to keep as much moisture out - they are not so good when you are sweating - but they do have back vent which helps alot. And small enough to stuff or stow when you get where you are going.


Speeding Up
Jul 13, 2010
I had a 50km commute back in Sweden so I have tried many different clothes in temperatures down to -5 C. Unfortunately most of my kit is back in Sweden so am also looking for new stuff here.

I have a pair of long tights that have wind proof panels on the front. I can highly recommend this type as it works well in a wide temperature span. I wear these over my cycling shorts and add a base layer under if it gets colder.
I have ordered a long sleved jersey of the same design from Wiggle that will arrive in a week or so.

I like to use neoprene gloves and shoe covers when it gets cold and wet. I have found that my feet gets really cold quickly without the covers.
When temperaures are around 0 or lower I like to wear a balaclava under the helmet.



Speeding Up
May 29, 2008
Thanks for the replies!

To clarify, I'm not so worried about commuting gear (then it's not such a problem getting sweaty because I can change). I want gear that will let me ride all day in the winter.

I'll need to train all winter if I want to ever catch up!

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
So how do you stay dry and warm? Where's the best place to buy this stuff?
Windproof bib tights (I shop at Nalsima, and buy Assos) are good for my legs for most of the season. For the coldest days I have a pair of wind/snowproof Pearl Izumi tights which are fine for skiing too!

I have winter training jackets from Foska in the UK. However, it seems they don't have nearly such a range of women's jacket designs as they do for men.

But I've just noticed they've started making heavyweight winter jerseys, too. I'll be getting some of them when I have a few £65s to spare.

I've been very pleased with Mavic shoe covers - waterproof and windproof. I carry them everywhere, even in summer, if there's the slightest chance of rain. For real winter I have two pairs of Shimano SPD winter shoes with built-in waterproofing and neoprene insulation. (I wear the shoes on alternate days so that each pair gets a fair chance to dry out, hopefully improving their service life.)

I've still to find my perfect winter glove. I sweat a lot, even from my hands, so almost anything gets damp after a few hours of riding.

--HF Mike--


Speeding Up
May 29, 2008
Thanks for all the tips!

My cold gloves are REI brand and have mesh between the fingers so they stay pretty dry but they barely lasted a season :( I think I'll be getting out the sewing kit.

I've been happy with my rain jacket from Showers Pass, a Portland Oregon company. Trust Portland to know what to do with rain like this... ug.
Unfortunately, I tore it up a bit with a spill back in January so it's not as rain proof as it used to be. :eek:


Maximum Pace
Oct 14, 2007
Snoogly that's a fine testament. Given your caveat about the 100% waterproof ones (Goretex?), which of these products would you recommend as most appropriate for a Japanese winter?

A fair question, given the bewildering choice! I fingered my gloves, and can say:

Are not sweaty at all, though when it's below zero you might want to wear thin inner-gloves too.

Are very cosy (no inner-gloves needed on the coldest days), and though waterproof they are not as sweaty as the Roekl gore-tex ones. I can wear these all day without getting sopping hands, but I wouldn't like to guarantee your digits would remain dry.

I really can't say which of the above would be best for you. The wind-stopper ones are great in all but the coldest weather (but can be worn with inners), but are not all waterproof. The above ones are really toasty (and 'waterproof'), but might be overkill if it's not that cold. I do also have a gore-tex pair (though the exact item is no longer available) which did get hot and soggy after a few hours. Luckily they were a gift, so I was happy splash the cash on the other pairs.

Autumn and Spring I wear these. I find them almost erotic in their design and feel ....

I favour 3 or 4am starts (even in the depths of Winter), which is why I have experimented with different gloves.

I have no idea why Roeckl has such a huge range of gloves, as it does get confusing. However, their gloves are amazingly well made, without a stitch out of place. I could happily finger them all day ... Oh, and the sizing is perfect. :) Bob Bike shop is good too, though not exactly in the 'Wiggle' category.


Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
One thing I would recommend is a neck warmer or`topless balaclava` as I like to call them. I find these ideal as a full balaclava is too hot. Obviously, they keep your neck warm, which helps as I have slight asthma and cold air can be a problem, but can be pulled up to cover your ears and jaw. I saw a nice lyrca type one in the ski section of sports authority so they are available in Japan. I second the Pearl Izumi winter tights: my legs are never cold in those and so comfortable.


Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
Just scored a 3 layer Descent Jersey at Cycly for under 3000yen! Very nice! This , plus my Pantagonia under layer and I'm set. On the lower side -- My trusty Pearl Izumi 3d shorts + 25yr old Giordana wool tights. Even they get wet - its 100% Merino wool - contrary to popular belief it does not get soggy! For the rain showers - I'm still pretty ok with the 100yen store plastic jacket just cut down to a cycling profile. And it fits into a back pocket.


Speeding Up
Nov 1, 2009
dhb brand at wiggle

I have tried these in 3/4 length and thought they were great. The pad is what I like, not too thick but dense enough. Lots of nice extras like zips at the legs for easy on off and zip in the front to make pee'ing easier.

The price can't be beat and the quality is much better than what I am used to from a "house" brand. There is no comparison to Performance's house brand, these are much better quality.

The one negative is that the fabric can snag and then not look as nice. Functions just as well.

That said, dhb for fall/winter 2010 is coming out with a new line of clothes with even more improvements. I just bought an entire winter kit last night for less than what I might pay for top shelf bib tights elsewhere.

I can't afford Assos plain and simple, so the dhb brand is a pretty good quality product for me. They get a lot of positive reviews from the Brit cycling mags too.
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