Autumn is officially here and with it comes shorter daylight hours, colder weather and unfortunately more excuses not to ride. For cyclists this time of year can be a bit of pain as the weather and temperature can change drastically from one day to another with no real pattern.
Sometimes even from morning to evening can be very different weather-wise but with a little preparation there’s no reason to stop riding.
Here are a few tips to help you keep up the commute whatever the weather this autumn.
Autumn weather can be very changeable so the key is to layer up. You may find that a fresh morning gives way to a sunny afternoon so being able to regulate temperature will make you much more comfortable. The key to this is layering.
Summer clothing can still be used in early autumn but with a few other pieces to keep chill or rain away. Shorts and short sleeve jerseys can still be used with arm warmers, knee warmers or leg warmers to keep the body covered.
A gilet is a great piece of kit as it keeps the core warm and can also be rolled up small enough to be stored in the rear jersey pocket. A set of medium weight gloves will keep the digits warm without bulk and can also be easily stored.
A lightweight rain cape will keep the worst of the elements at bay and pack down very small. Thicker socks are a must and maybe even a pair of overshoes if it’s raining.
It’s also worth bearing in mind getting some lighter coloured clothing or some with hi-viz panels to make you more visible to other road users in low light conditions.
The Castelli Sottile gilet is an excellent piece of kit
If your commute involves riding in the dark you will need a set of lights – it’s a legal requirement. Even if your commute doesn’t involve riding in the dark we still recommend fitting a set of lights, especially if you ride any time near dawn or dusk but not in darkness.
On a normal autumn day it can darken over quickly and in foggy or misty conditions a set of lights will make you more visible to other road users so have a set and leave them on.
Just make sure you check the battery levels regularly as there’s nothing worse than a fading light just when you need it…
You should always keep your bike in good working order but more so during bad weather. Make regular checks on the tyres, cables, transmission and brake components as well as the frame to ensure everything is working okay and nothing is worn or broken.
Keep it clean as this will also help show up any potential problems. If anything looks like it could do with replacing do this sooner rather than later as it’ll probably break at the most inconvenient time. Having a mechanical is never good but when it’s cold or wet it seems much worse.
Fitting mudguards will do wonders to your comfort on wet days. The amount of difference they can make with eliminating spray and keeping you drier, and therefore warmer, is incredible.
There are many different types of mudguard available and with the growing choice of clip on guards you don’t even need to have mudguard eyelets on your frame or forks to be able to fit a set.
You will need to check tyre size compatibility with mudguards on whichever set you purchase but more so on clip on models.
Even race bikes can have mudguards nowadays
Rain and frost play havoc with road surfaces so it’s worth going for tyres with increased puncture protection. Rain washes flints and debris on to the roads meaning they have more hazards than normal on the surface.
Wider tyres will also be more comfortable and provide more grip so are worth the weight penalty for commuting.
Although a rucksack may be the easiest way to carry small loads such as clothing, fitting a pannier rack and a set of panniers will make a massive difference to your comfort in the autumn months. Not having a pack on your back means clothing does a better job of regulating body temperature.
Waterproofs or thermal jackets are not compromised with having one area of the back damp because of the weight on it trapping sweat against the skin.
It’s also worth buying a dry liner bag to keep your valuables dry in panniers no matter how water-resistant they claim to be. If water does get in for some unknown reason at least your contents will still be dry and the bags weigh hardly anything either.