Beat the wind
Investing in a wind vest and arm warmers can help you ward off the autumn chill, finds David Roche and Margot McGovern.
Autumn is a mixed bag when it comes to riding weather. When the sun is out it’s still relatively mild, but in most parts of the country the mornings and evenings are growing increasingly chilly and the wind has a definite bite to it. Your summer kit feels a tad scant, at least at the start of your ride, but winter thermals will leave you sweltering. Fortunately, there are two pieces of kit – wind vests and arm warmers – that will protect you from the elements and are easily removed and stowed in a jersey pocket when not in use.
Cycling fans will have seen pros stuffing wads of newspaper down their jerseys to protect their torsos from chill winds, and a wind vest – also called a gilet – serves the same purpose for those of us who don’t want to keep yesterday’s news close to our hearts.
Wind vests are one of the few pieces of riding kit that are useful almost all year round as they protect the torso from cold winds without inhibiting arm movement or causing you to overheat.
They are typically sleeveless, with a high collar to protect the throat. Most are water resistant and made from lightweight materials, such as nylon or polyester, often with mesh paneling on the sides or back for maximum breathability. They come in both race and relaxed fits to suit your riding style, although it’s important to keep in mind that a bulkier fit will create more wind resistance and slow you down. Many include rear pockets or vents to allow access to jersey pockets and are increasingly including a discrete chest or side zip pockets for storing small valuables. Women’s specific styles tend to be shorter in the body, slimmer at the waist and shoulders, but wider on the hips. They are available in a range of colours and designs, with many including reflective details. All wind vests scrunch down to fit inside a jersey pocket and some rain and shower jackets, such as the Netti D4 ($199.90) and Cannondale Morphis ($199.90), convert to vests via zip off sleeves.
Sugoi Zap $139
A good, high quality choice for those seeking a high-vis option, the Sugoi Zap features a perforated back panel for ventilation, invisible front and rear rockets and shockcord adjustable hemline.
Skins C400 Vest $179.90
DiAPLEX front panels adjust permeability according to the temperature, and back mesh panels ensure breathability, while an aerodynamic fit and sleek styling support your performance.
Santini Ice $129.90
Made from waterproof, breathable material with a mesh back panel for breathability, the Santini Ice is Italian made and beautifully cut, although cheaper versions from other brands, such as the Netti Clear Vest are also available.
Netti Performance Vest $69.90
Seam sealed for high water resistance and made from wind blocking fabric with reflective hem and piping, the Performance Vest is a step up from Netti’s older and very popular Hub design.
BBB Squadra $69.90
A mesh-backed, water resistant vest with back pockets and reflective piping.
For a cool day when it’s too nippy for short sleeves, but not cold enough to justify a winter jersey for the whole ride, arm warmers are an excellent option. They are essentially a fitted sleeve extending from the upper arm just beneath the cuff of a short sleeve jersey to the wrist and can be rolled down as you heat up while riding then easily removed when stopped at traffic lights. The upper arm band features silicone grippers to keep them up and some also have them on the outer hem to hold the jersey in place. Some designs are also pre-formed to match the bend of an elbow to prevent bunching. Most are UPF50+ and made from thermal brushed Lycra “Super Roubaix” fabric, although knitted fabrics are becoming increasingly common. Also available are sun sleeves which use a similar design but lighter fabrics, such as Lycra and knits, and are designed to offer sun protection while keeping you cool.
It’s recommended that you try them on before purchase to check that they are the right length and diameter as sizes vary. They should extend to your wrist and be tight enough to stay up without becoming uncomfortable.
Skins Unisex Arm Warmers $69.90
A high performance compression model. The gradient compression weaving holds the arm warmer firmly in place.
Sugoi MidZero $60
A fun, summer-weight option available in a range of colours and patterns and ideal for a wide weather range.
Solo Super Roubaix $49.90
Multi-panel design to follow the natural curve of the arm without bunching. Quality with a retro touch.
DeFeet Fluro $44.90
A bright, knitted option that prioritises comfort.
Netti Super Roubaix $39.90
A thrifty winter arm warmer with thermal Super Roubaix fabric.
David Roche operates Cycling and Sports Clothing.
The April-May 2013 issue of Ride On is out now – on Australian newsstands and sent directly to our members and subscribers – including this article and many more to feed your bike bliss.
Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network Victoria. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.