We all dream of better weather as the rain, snow and mercury continue to fall, but for many of us that is still months away. If the trainer has finally won, and you can’t stomach another lap around whatever virtual island you inhabit, it’s time to head outside. While the days may not be getting warmer yet, they are slowly getting longer. To coax you outside, here are three items we’ve been wearing when it’s time to yank the bike from its trainer and brave wet roads and chilly temperatures – the Castelli Vela, Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey, Voler Caliber Thermal FS Bib Knickers.
CASTELLI GOES SAILING.
It’s 30-percent lighter than nylon and 15 times stronger than steel. That’s Dyneema, a fabric based on hightech sailcloth and the main component of the new Vela vest from Castelli. The fabric is totally windproof, totally waterproof, offers just a touch of stretch and is ridiculously light—the entire vest is just 59 grams. All it took was some "ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene" fabric. We can see why the supplier decided to call it Dyneema. As much as Castelli cares about fabrics, it cares more about fit, so careful patterning and two breathable stretch panels on the back ensure it lies comfortably flat and aero in the riding position. A nice tall neck ensures the warmth it protects at your core doesn’t escape out the top. With a vest so effective, so light and so packable there is absolutely no reason not to toss it in your pocket every ride. $200; castelli-cycling.com
TRADITIONAL LOOK, MODERN TECH.
Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey puts the latest warm-weather tech in a subtle and traditional package. Thermal fabric has a soft feel against the skin—like a favorite pair of long underwear—but moves moisture quickly away from the skin, while retaining body heat. Panels under the arms provide additional venting when the pace quickens and Pearl Izumi’s Form Fit keeps the jersey from flapping in the wind in an aggressive riding position. The fit helps the jersey layer very well, with long arms and a silicon gripper at the waist that keep it in place when you yank off a jacket or vest. Pearl Izumi is creating a lot of utility in its kits and the P.R.O. Escape Thermal Jersey is the best example yet. New P.R.O. Softshell light pockets are super-light, hold a lot of gear securely and are water resistant to protect contents from and road spray. In addition to three full pockets, smaller pockets are perfect for gels or blocks, you don’t need to dig under your phone rain cape to find them. $155; pearlizumi.com
EXCEPTIONAL WARMTH, REASONABLE COST.
Of all the new apparel options for coldweather riding, we’d put thermal bibs at the top of the list. There were already a lot of options for keeping your core warm, but not so many from the waist down until thermal bibs. But they can get pricey, which is why we love Voler’s Caliber Thermal FS Bib Knickers. Like every item in the Caliber line, the fit and finish is exceptional. And the price is reasonable. Voler has been using flat- seam construction (FS) for many years and has it dialed to perfection. Artico thermal spandex fabric is fleece-backed, giving these bib knickers the cozy feeling that helps get you out the door on a cold day. Voler claims they are ideal between 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 7 degrees Celsius), but with the extra coverage provided by the knickers we’ve stretched that quite a bit, dipping below 30 F. (minus 1 C.) and above 50 F. (10 C.). They perform so much better than bibs and warmers. You’ll be so comfortable you may be inspired to extend your cold-weather adventures, but don’t worry, the new chamois, the Orion, puts the all-important shaping on the underside of the pad to reduce friction for comfort hour after hour. $120; voler.com