What do you wear for this cool weather riding?

In my part of California, we have at least another couple of weeks of unseasonably cool weather. After several years of heat waves and drought in the Golden State, I forgot how to kit up for riding when it’s 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

My upper body is fine — a windproof vest or jacket feels about perfect, and a warm core helps to keep my extremities warm. My legs — which are the engines that power my ride — never get warm.My summerweight shorts aren’t quite enough, but my heavy fleece-lined winter cycling tights are far too warm.

Should I look for my leg warmers that I haven’t seen in five years? What about a lighter weight pair of tights or three-quarter tights?

I think I like the idea of fleece-lined bib shorts like these thermal cargo bib shorts from Ornot in San Francisco. Who else has shorts like this?

How about you? What do you wear when it’s cool with maybe a bit of fog or mist?

Postscript: I asked this question on Twitter and received good responses. Thank you! Let me know what you think.


  1. Here in Seattle, where I commute five days a week, I like my leg warmers. They are an old pair of PI warmers and they have stretched out a bit, but I sewed a “bite” into them and they work great. In the Fall/Winter/Spring, I wear these with a long thick sock so no skin is showing at all.

    My shorts consist of PI riding short with a “mountain bike” short/shell over them. Riding shorts never have enough pockets for me, and these over shorts have a ton. Found them on some weird website.

    This keeps me warm enough and provides just enough protection from the rain/mist that I can stretch out my rides.

  2. over 45: arm warmers and a gilet
    under 45: add knee warmers and possibly wool socks

  3. I wear thin tights for temperatures down to the low 40s F. You can wear them over or under your riding shorts. They also provide sun protection. Inserting a sheet of bubble wrap inside your jacket or jersey (presuming you have on two layers already) is a good way to insulate your chest on really cold mornings. You can pull it out if it gets warmer farther along on your ride.

    I just discovered your blog while searching for information about bikes triggering traffic detection loops at stop lights. The link in your May 23, 2014 post is broken (I guess you are not longer hosting a copy of the San Diego City PDF on that subject), but I was able to find a copy using the name in your link. Many thanks!

  4. For winter rides: overshoes, endura cycling pants over the bibs, cycling jacket, neck warmer and cap, and of course gloves. It is pretty cold here.
    For higher temperatures, leg and arm warmers and gilet.

  5. It’s a good time of year to bring this up as we’re heading to cool weather in Southern California. I’m all about layers, and arm/leg warmers. My secret weapon is a beenie to keep my head warm. John

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