Blustery and cool but with beautiful lighting and peak scenery, there’s a case to be made that cycling through autumn is a more appealing prospect than slogging through spring. Meteorologically the better of the shoulder seasons, although the racing might have wrapped up, there’s no reason amateurs should look at it as an opportunity to take time off the bike.
Beginning in the Northern Hemisphere towards the end of September and ending in late December, autumn encompasses the tail end of summer along with weather broken adrift from the midsts of winter.
Relatively settled, you’re less likely to get caught out by sudden changes in the weather. With occasional rain and progressively lowering temperatures, this means you won’t need to swaddle yourself in the same way you do in winter or early spring. Instead, a few lightweight and adaptable items to bat away changes in the weather without overheating are what you should aim for.
Including lightweight packable jackets, arm warmers, midweight jerseys, and later tights or 3/4s, our latest Desire Selection rounds up a few autumn cycling essentials.
TwentyOne Factory Thermal Jersey 2.0
A new addition to the Rouleur store. We were attracted to Barcelona-based TwentyOne on account of its immaculate design and evident enthusiasm for escaping into the mountains. While the brand's base in Spain might enjoy agreeable weather year-round, its forays into Europe’s many high places give them plenty of scope for testing. The revised Factory Thermal 2.0 jersey offers quality fabrics and finishes, along with warmth and comfort.
Extremely versatile, it’s designed for riding in cold and medium temperatures and aims to let you self-regulate your body temperature as you ride. One way it does this is via a high collar designed to keep you toasty as conditions change. Cut long at the front, it also a top that looks good both on and off the bike.
ashmei Merino Arm Warmers
£44, Shop ashmei
Solving the question of whether to go with long or short sleeves, a set of arm warmers will roll up to fill only about half of a single jersey pocket. UK-based firm ashmei’s are made from Merino wool. This not only leaves them feeling wonderfully soft but helps them provide excellent insulation and breathability. Paired to wool’s natural ability to manage bacteria, you’ll be able to wear them for weeks at a time before they need to be washed. Providing insurance if the weather changes they’re also great for starting with if you leave the house early.
Le Col Pro Wind Jacket
One benefit of autumn’s fairly settled weather is you can often get away with a jacket that’s windproof rather than waterproof. Although waterproof jackets are now much more breathable, they’re never ‘that’ breathable. Making you more likely to sweat and then get cold, in the dry, a windproof jacket is a much better option. Also offering some protection against showers, Le Col’s Wind Jacket is a close-fitting garment with added stretch in its more vented side panels. With increased breathability on the non-wind-facing parts of the sleeves, the overall weight is kept extremely low. This means that although you’ll have to work very hard to break a sweat, the jacket will also easily fold down for storage in your jersey.
Rapha Classic Gloves
£80, Shop Rapha
Most riders will switch from mitts to full fingers before the leaves start falling off the trees. Of course, just how much insulation you want will depend on the peculiarities of your particular digits. These gloves from Rapha provide quite significant levels of warmth. They do this not so much by insulation but by their windproof and water-resistant exterior. With a comparatively plain leather palm, this has the benefit of leaving them both dexterous and breathable. Meaning you can pull them on early in the season without getting sweaty hands, pop a liner glove under them, and they’ll probably do many riders for winter and early spring too.
Assos Mille GT Knickers
£155, Shop Assos
A little added coverage for your knees, along with a bit of extra insulation. These ¾ length tights promise to be a comfortable place to while away a few autumn miles. Perhaps surprisingly affordable given Assos’s reputation, you’ll also benefit from the firm’s infamously comfortable chamois, which is composed of a mix of memory foam and waffle-type material. Designed to be breathable without letting the wind cut through them, their fit is supportive without being quite as tight as the firm’s race-focused products. Treated for a degree of water-repellency, they’re a surprisingly versatile option and less restrictive than using shorts and separate knee warmers.
Rouleur Collection Merino Seasonal Socks
£17, Shop Rouleur
We reckon wool socks are a great bet year-round. However, outside of summer, they come into their own. Able to provide excellent insulation even if they get a bit damp, they’re also lovely and soft. If the weather warms up, or you end up wearing them alongside overshoes, they’re also far less likely to make your feet sweat. In fact, we’re such fans of Merino socks we made our own. Letting other cyclists know you’re a paid-up member of the cognoscenti, our Rouleur pattern Merino socks feature a cross-hatch pattern inspired by the colours of the peloton. Eschewing any visible logos, they’re lovely looking and designed to keep your feet toasty at all times.
Q36.5 Termico Toe Covers
£33, Shop Q36.5
Following neatly on from socks... Odds are your shoes are designed to keep your trotters happy while pedalling at the height of summer. This often means lots of ventilation. Except this isn’t what you want the second the temperature drops below double digits. These slip-on covers for the ends of your shoes typically stay fixed to my kicks from September through until May. Taking the chill out of the oncoming wind before it hits your toes, they’ll also easily fit under full-length overshoes once the weather turns nasty.
Veloskin Daily Sports Moisturiser
£12.5, Shop Veloskin
As the weather turns a little bit more inhospitable, how about something to keep you looking your best? Stave off windburn, look less haggard, and improve your natural water resistance with a dollop of Veloskin’s cycling-specific moisturiser. Containing lots of lovely things like sweet almond, orange blossom, and bergamot oils, plus zinc oxide and cocoa butter, it smells delightful and has been formulated specifically for cyclists.