Best autumn cycling kit for women: embrace the season in style

Gear up for autumn rides with these curated outfits for women, selected by cycling apparel brands to match the changing seasons 

With crisp air, stunning scenery, soft, beautiful lighting, and hues of oranges and yellows, it’s hard to deny that autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons. But after months of just throwing on a lightweight cycling kit, digging out your layers from the back of the cupboard is not so appealing, even if it is a glorious day outside. And then on top of that, it’s hard to know what to wear. Will it rain? Do I need a jacket? Will I need a thermal base layer or just a mesh one? I don’t like wearing leg warmers, is there another option? With autumnal riding comes questions. 

To help, we’ve tried and tested a range of cycling apparel brands to see what they offered for the transitional season and whether they did the trick at keeping us warm, dry, and riding throughout the change of seasons. 

In some of our articles you will find links to buy products from various external retailers. These links contain an affiliate code, and it means that Rouleur may receive a small percentage of the money you spend if you choose to buy that product via the link. This does not affect the amount you pay. All products are independently reviewed and selected on our judgement of them, not on whether they offer us affiliate revenue.

 Le Col Women’s Pro Long Sleeve Jersey, Sport Cargo Thermal Bib Shorts, Pro Rain Gilet and Knee Warmers 

The Women’s Pro Long Sleeve Jersey is said to be the perfect jersey to bridge the gap between seasons when arm warmers are needed, but thermal fabrics are not. I am not a huge fan of wearing arm warmers, so this seemed the perfect substitute. When I first put on the jersey, I noticed how, compared to some other brands, this was more of a relaxed fit, coming up slightly bigger for a small with a longer length cut. I found it extremely comfortable to wear, and I could tell as soon as I put it on for the first time it would be a staple in my cycling wardrobe. However, I did find that when out on the bike, despite the longer length and elasticated silicone-gripper waistband, that the jersey rode up my back when in a riding position against the lycra shorts. 

Nevertheless, out on the bike, the jersey protected me from any wind chill and wicked away sweat quickly. The high neck with the easy-to-use zip also prevented any wind from getting in and allowed me to control how much, if any, ventilation I needed. Paired with the Pro Rain Gilet, I was protected from both the wind and any rain showers that can be unpredictable during this time of year. The three rear pockets had plenty of room for any additional layers I may need on rides. They were also easy to reach and included a secure zipped pocket. The green colour jersey I tried is really eye-catching and certainly adds a pop of colour to some very grey days, and the blue Le Col branding is a nice contrasting touch. This green sits within a range of seven other colours, providing plenty of options.

Completing the outfit are the Sport Cargo Thermal Bib Shorts, lined with a fleece fabric. This thermal lining was also around the waist and up to the bibs' braces, making wearing these bibs feel very cosy. Even with the jersey riding up, the bib shorts come up very high and therefore prevent any skin from being exposed between the jersey and bibs. The cargo pockets on the side of the bib shorts also enabled me to carry additional items. They also made it easier to reach the items I needed, especially when my jersey pockets were covered by the gilet. 

On colder days, you will need to wear either leg or knee warmers as these are only thermal bib shorts, and therefore, you won’t have the same protection as a full bib tight. But these are a great alternative that still provides warmth if you wish to wear shorts for as long as you can on the bike. The Le Col kit is middling in the market, with the bib shorts costing £165, the jersey £160, the gilet £130, and warmers from £50.

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Assos UMA GT Spring/Fall Half Tights C2 and Jacket

The Assos UMA GT Spring/Fall collection is designed specifically for that tricky weather that sits in between warm and cold. When it’s not the temperature for a deep winter outfit but the wind is a little too biting for a summer jersey and shorts, the Spring/Fall collection from Assos fits the bill.

The Half Knickers were lightweight enough to mean I didn’t sweat while we were grinding over some steep gradients, but the brushed inner provided a necessary layer of insulation when I reached the top of the climb and when I was descending. I was sceptical at first about the Half Knickers not having bib straps and felt like this could mean my back was exposed if my jacket rose up, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn’t an issue at all. The Half Knickers have a high waistband which actually sits extremely comfortably on the midriff – Assos calls this the HipClick, a waist construction that combines elastic mesh and layers for high coverage that stabilises the knickers’ body position. The lack of straps also means that nature breaks are much easier as layers of clothing don’t have to be removed when stopping.

Ultralight leg grippers at the bottom of the knickers ensure they stay in place on the leg – having air still hit the lower calf is a great way to keep cool but also have key muscles at the top of the leg protected from the wind. The Half Knickers also feature Assos’ well-known Golden-Gate stitching technology in the chamois which I find extremely comfortable across all of their bibs. At £155, the Half Knickers are reasonably priced considering they could be worn in many different conditions, especially if you are based in an area which doesn’t regularly get hot temperatures.

The Assos UMA GT Spring/Fall Half Tights paired with the UMA GT Spring/Fall Jacket is a perfect autumnal outfit. The jacket has a thin material on the arms to aid breathability but a thicker middle section to protect the core, so I feel like I hit a sweet spot with my kit in this combination. I often also store the Spring/Fall gloves and UMA GT Clima Jacket (a thin outer rain jacket and wind shell) in my pocket for emergencies, and for when things get properly chilly on long descents. The three rear pockets on the UMA GT Jacket are stable even when packed full due to the Triple Ramp design keeping everything in place. The reflective accents add visibility in low light conditions too.

At £215, the Assos UMA GT Spring/Fall Jacket is undeniably a hefty investment and the price point is perhaps the only negative thing I could point out with the garment. However, it’s worth noting that it can be layered with a thick base layer underneath or with a rain jacket over the top which makes the jacket versatile for a range of conditions.

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Pas Normal Studios Women's Mechanism Pertex Rain Jacket, Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey, and Essential Thermal Long Bibs

Pas Normal Studios offers a great range of kit that is ideal for when autumn temperatures start dropping to the lower end of the scale. The Mechanism Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey is one of the most versatile and well-used items in my wardrobe for this time of year. It offers great insulation and feels extremely snug with a long sleeve base layer underneath (the Pas Normal Studios Thermal Long Sleeve Baselayer works perfectly), but can also be worn with just a thin mesh underlayer for warmer days. I like the aerodynamic fit of the jacket and it has been perfectly cut to flatter the female anatomy with a shorter front and longer back to protect from spray on the roads. The jacket features water repellent Schoeller fabrics on the chest and arms which means that moisture doesn’t seep through in rain showers or if the roads are wet – though it’s not waterproof enough for heavy rainfall.

If you are caught in a downpour, however, the Women's Mechanism Pertex Rain Jacket is the perfect stowaway emergency jacket to have in the back pocket. It features a Pertex® Shield Air 3-Layer fabric which remains breathable when doing hard efforts on the bike but also great protection against the elements. The two-way zip is also useful if things do start to get a bit hot – opening it at the bottom allows airflow without the jacket flapping open in the wind. While both the Mechanism Thermal Long Sleeve and Pertex Rain Jacket are highly-functional and do a great job in those changeable autumn weather conditions, they are priced at the higher end of the scale with the rain jacket priced at £240 and the jacket also coming in at £240. This is a big investment – though I would say the kit has a premium and durable feel.

I paired the Mechanism jacket and rain jacket with Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Thermal Long Bibs. The celeste green colourway I wore is certainly an acquired taste and does show marks from moisture on the road quite quickly which could eventually become hard to wash out, but Pas Normal do also offer three more muted colour options which would likely be more practical for wet autumnal conditions. These bib tights are definitely to be worn in the colder months moving into winter, they feature M.I.T.I. SuperRoubaix fleece fabric with a DWR treatment which is very warm and does a great job at protecting leg muscles from cold winds.

Despite the warmth of the bib tights, the material still features a good level of flexibility which ensures that you have a full range of movement when wearing them, something that isn’t always the case with other bib tights I’ve tried. I liked that the raw edges of the straps were flat against the body to avoid any bulk and rubbing, while the soft mesh backing meant that airflow was good around the core, without the tights adding an unnecessary and uncomfortable layer of insulation around that area. I find the four-layer chamois pad in the Pas Normal Studios Essential Thermal Long Bibs to be very comfortable and quick-drying – it has enough padding without being bulky or feeling like it is rubbing.

The Pas Normal Studios Essential Thermal Long Bibs are £240 which is at the more expensive end of the spectrum when it comes to bib tights. However, these are certainly warm enough to last throughout the whole winter and would do the job in temperatures as low as five degrees celsius, which goes some way to justifying the cost. They feel thick and high-quality, with an anti-abrasive finishing that also should help with durability.

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MAAP Women’s Eclipse Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey 2.0 and Team Bib Evo Tights 

In Melbourne, Australia, winters see temperatures of around six to 14 degrees Celsius, the same temperatures those in the UK and Europe experience as the seasons change from summer to autumn, and winter to spring. The Melbourne-based brand MAAP have therefore ticked all the boxes when it comes to creating kit for the transitional weather. It’s not made for the deepest of winter days, but it is also not lightweight enough that you'll need to take several more layers with you just to store in your back pocket. MAAP has hit the sweet spot with its autumnal kit.

The Eclipse Long Sleeve Jersey 2.0 has quickly become a go-to for all the riding I have been doing as of late in the early mornings before the sun has had a chance to warm up. Mainly due to its brushed fleece-lined fabric, which not only has a premium feel when you first put on the jersey but also kept me comfortably warm with just a lightweight mesh base layer underneath. You could certainly also continue to wear this jersey throughout the winter months by layering it with a thermal long-sleeve base layer, however, if caught in a rain shower, the jersey is only waterproof against light moisture and road spray, so taking a packable waterproof jacket is a must. Even with a layer on underneath, the jersey also did not feel bulky in any way and I could move easily in the jersey. 

The women’s iteration has been cut to be slightly shorter at the front with a bonded front hem, resulting in a nicer, more comfortable fit when riding and standing off the bike. The sleeves and high neck are also designed to keep any wind out, which I found was true when out riding, adding another element to keeping you warm. The small size of the pockets was the only thing about this jersey that I found didn’t work for me and would have preferred slightly bigger pockets to store my stuff. The jersey retails for £190 in two colourways – teal and bone – which is the average price for this type of jacket in the market. If that is a hefty investment for a jacket just to cover you for the transitional weather, it can be layered with other thermal and/or wind-proof pieces of kit to see you for longer than just the autumnal months. 

I paired the jersey with MAAP’s Evo Tights in bronze green, which I found perfect for this transitional weather. The bib tights are not lined with any thermal fabric, and therefore, you don't find yourself overheating. Instead, they have a thin feel, almost like a second skin, that quickly wicks away any sweat and provides that protective layer from any cold chills. The bib tights also come up high around the waist and back to ensure that no skin is exposed when in a riding position, with a mesh panel at the back to provide ventilation. 

Even though on the MAAP website it says these are cut in a longer length, I found them to be a perfect length for my 5 '3 frame with no excess material bunching around my ankle. They also have silicone grippers around the ankle to ensure they don't slip down. The bib tights come in green, black and navy, so are very versatile and easy to wear with different colours. At £245, the bib tights are certainly an investment piece, and while they do feel like a premium pair of bib tights, there is no fleece lining, so it is unlikely they’ll keep you feeling warm during those cold winter days (MAAP does offer a thermal version for £15 more). But if you want a bib tight that will see you through the change of seasons, these are perfect. 


Rapha Pro Team Training Tights and Long sleeve Jersey

With Rapha's additions to its autumn/winter collection, the brand has found a close to perfect solution to the predicament of dressing for cycling in middling conditions. Clearly made by those who ride bikes themselves, a thoughtful design process is clear in both Rapha’s Pro Team Training Tights and Pro Team Long Sleeve Training Jersey. 

Pro Team Training Tights, Rapha has removed my need for shorts and leg warmers, something that I am very relieved about. For years, I’ve struggled to dress for these changeable spring and autumn time conditions because I haven’t been able to find leg warmers that fit right and stay up without sacrificing the blood circulation on my legs. The Pro Team Training Tights are made of an extremely breathable, lightweight material that wicks sweat and has the barely there feel of leg warmers without sacrificing the flexibility, comfort and security that bib tights offer.

The tights retail for £180, which is a reasonable price and fairly middling in the market. It’s important to note that these tights likely would not be the best investment if you want a pair of bibs to see you through the entire winter – I don’t expect they’d be warm enough in temperatures below eight degrees celsius. However, if you often find yourself scratching your head about what to wear during autumn and spring and are not a fan of leg warmers, then these are a wardrobe staple.

Made to be the perfect accompaniment to the Pro Team Training Tights is the Long Sleeve Training Jersey. Rapha says the long sleeve carries all of the features from its coveted Pro Team Short Sleeve Training Jersey, but with added sleeves to make it more suitable for cooler weather, The jersey is made with a non-perforated fabric to the front, and the same 155gsm fabric as the short sleeve version on the back. I found this to wick sweat well and it had the flexible feeling of a jersey but the added warmth on the arms was an asset.

The jersey comes in a range of bright colours which is great for riding in low light conditions. Cuffed sleeves and hem match that on the Pro Team Training Tights, and they keep the jersey firmly in place as well as blocking out any wind. Rapha says that the jersey has an anti-bacterial treatment which keeps it fresh. The jersey retails for £105 which I’d say is a reasonable price for a garment which can be used in a range of temperatures. 

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