Transition Gear: Layering for Early Fall

I admit it.

I like to rock a team kit. Maybe I’m a joiner, maybe it’s just my mad Veloforma-Pride, maybe I just like nearly-see-through white side panels… whatever.  I’m coming at you unapologetically. Shameless style.  I do love the high-octane spandex.

That said, there’s a time and a place. Moreover, there’s a certain time of year that just screams WOOL AND KNICKERS at me.  And that time is now.  Until, say, March.

On a long winter training ride I do so love the HUGE squishy chamois in my Rapha ‘Cross 3/4 Bib Shorts. But the plain fact is? That shit is expensive.  When I’m making a call between FMB tyres or replacing my recently-stolen car stereo or a $300 cycling jacket?  Well.  I’m going to go with the tyres.  Thems the breaks.

Not all of us can have a “tab” that runs $43k deep, right? (To be fair, Mr. Velodramatic including all his bikes, tools, and accessories, so the figure really isn’t that bad when you think about it.)

But there’s good news! There’s a bunch of companies making really nice cycling gear that can look nice and understated and streamlined. You don’t have to wear the screamin’ team kit… and you don’t necessarily have to spend a normal-person’s salary on a cycling wardrobe either.

Case in point.  Last Thursday was skills practice. I needed to be a little bit warmer than usual to compensate for the lack of “real riding” but it was love-crushing Fall-worthy sunny outside.  I hit the middle ground with this combo, which was understated, non-racey, and pretty affordable to boot.


Hat: Plaid wool by Little Package (local hat rockstar) $30
Jersey: Castelli winter long-sleeved black and white jersey on massive warehouse sale $20
Baselayer (not shown): Swobo featherweight wool SS baselayer $58 ($40 when I bought it a few years ago)
Vest: Showers Pass Pro-Tech Vest $60
Knickers: Ibex wool 3/4 El Fito $125
Gloves: DeFeet DuraGlove Merino Wool $18.50
Socks: DeFeet Wooleator D High-Top $11.50

This combo was a little warm for Thursday’s immaculate Fall weather, but not too bad. Substitute a short-sleeved jersey for the long one and I would have had things on the money. The Swobo baselayer is The Yummiest and I like the wind blocking power of a light vest in chilly weather. Adding the shiny-see-throughness of the Pro-Tech gives a little subtle bling to otherwise ho-hum.

Fall is my favorite season for a number of reasons and super-fun layering opportunities (on or off the bike!) rank right up there. Play with texture, keep things functional, and remember – style counts!!

Now go ride your bike.
Score some wool while you’re at it.
Support a local guy.
Keep it simple.

Have fun.

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  1. Oh my, I do love my Ibex. I rocked the same knickers, wool arm warmers and my new Coppi Merino hat this morning. And the DeFeet gloves…..BRRRRRRRR!!!

  2. Mmmm… merino!
    The DeFeet gloves ROCK. They are seriously one of my favorite pieces of cycling apparel ever.

  3. DeFeet Woolie Boolies Rock!!!

  4. ok, I’m going to buy my wife those DeFeet gloves.

    • Bob – they are fantastic for the value. Be sure to get the charcoal colored wool version. Very comfortable over a wide range of temps, hold warmth even after getting wet in a bit of rain, easy to wash/maintain, breathe well.

  5. Perfect timing! I was just thinking this weekend how I needed a vest. With my Ibext wool arm warmers and a vintage wool jersey, I’m usually plenty warm once I get going, but I need something to keep the chill off my chest. I was too hot with my jacket. A vest would be perfect. Off to find the Showers Pass one and some DeFeet gloves. I lost my SmartWool gloves last year, so it’s time for a new pair.

    Now I want those Ibex knickers too, but I’ve got some Ibex leg warmers so I guess I’m ok. But the knickers are still going on my Christmas wish list :)

  6. The vest is great – a very simple piece without a lot of bells and whistles, but the see-throughness let’s all the other stuff you’re wearing take front stage. My only complaint is the chin guard at the top sometimes requires me to use two hands to zip all the way up to the top. For what it’s worth, the Rapha vests (they are fancy and call them gilets) are MIND BLOWING. The weight and hand-feel are really impressive, and the lines are beautiful but at $165 its in a different category.

    Vests, in general, make kick ass layer pieces because of that extra core wind block. Love ‘em. I have a few base layers with windblock built in, which is kinda neat (especially for super cold days), but I prefer to have the option to remove a layer and regulate temp.

  7. Heyyyy…. where’s the guy’s base layers? HM?

  8. They make one for bois too, Kman!!

  9. Great post Heidi. Fall clothing can be a tricky science and you offer some great advice on some well selected pieces! In Omaha on Friday, I wore my Ibex 3/4 pants, an Icebreakers LS top, and military surplus US-made Wool gloves ($3) at surplus store! Have you seen any socks that keep your toes warm? Maybe just too much mesh in the front of my footwear… then on Sat morning, we got 6” of snow, no riding for me.

  10. Socks are tricky! For me, in Portland, the cold toes are mostly a winter concern. I use those heated warmers made for skiers, placed on the front top of the sock (this way it also provides extra wind-block) and really burly Gore-Tex over-booties.

  11. PS Tim: Icebreaker! Great to know. I am dying to get my hands on some of that stuff.

  12. Icebreakers is good stuff.. but they have a weird robot-like supermodel-hot advertising campaign going on. Makeup and hair gel in the mountains.. not into it. Majority of it is made overseas, although they do source good wool.

  13. how’s the chamois on those knickers? I reviewed the shorts a year or so ago, and then replaced the chamois with another one I liked better.

    • Hey Lynne!
      I quite like the chamois, but I must admit to not being super picky these days about chamois. Also, I’m not riding near as far as you are most of the time. I bought a pair of these 3.5 years ago when I moved to Portland and finally had to replace them earlier this year. The seam on the chamois finally failed and pulled away. I still felt like I had gotten a really great life out of them, though. I wore them a ton!

  14. The chamois in the El Fitos is kind of saggy. I’m not exactly skinny and the fit feels a bit loose. That said, I’ve ridden up to 400K in them. I would be pretty comfortable recommending them for anything below 50-75 miles. They are amazingly comfortable through a very wide temperature range too.

    I just went through my drawers pulling out my rain/cold gear a few weeks ago. We have been kind of spoiled with all of the sunny days.

    Remember, wet but warm. That is why wool is magical.

    • Robert – that’s a good point about the chamois and general fit of the knicker.
      I have a medium and I could probably use a small. And I’m not a small in anything.

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