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Cyclist's favourite spring kit options

Cyclist magazine
14 Apr 2021

What are the best items of cycling gear to see you through spring? The Cyclist team picks their favourites

Spring is a time of reawakening. The flowers bloom, the trees blossom, woodland creatures emerge from their burrows and cyclists leave the safety of their turbos to venture out onto the tarmac again.

Those hardier souls who have ridden outdoors throughout the winter start to peel off their layers, and everyone has the same thought on their minds: it’s time for some new kit.

Gearing up for spring can be tricky as it’s such as capricious season. On any given outing a rider can be faced with a multitude of weather conditions or wild temperature fluctuations. That’s before having to deal with the mud and debris-strewn roads of winter that haven’t yet had time to clear up or dry off.

Fortunately, the Cyclist team has a wealth of experience when it comes to testing lots of different kit in all kinds of conditions, and over the next few pages we’ll reveal the products that we reach for time and again to help get us going in spring.

It might be a packable jacket that we’ve found protects us from those April showers, a pair of tyres that consistently come through the testing road conditions unscathed or some comforting nutrition that helps take the edge off those chilly morning starts. Whatever it is, you can be sure each pick is worth its salt to have made the cut.

Consider giving one or two a go if you can. They might just smooth the transition into what should hopefully be a fantastic summer of riding.

Sam Challis, tech editor

As tech ed, Sam has been waiting years for this. His young family curtails all-day rides, but short, sharp blasts around west Dorset still allow him to pick out the best kit.

Castelli Gabba RoS jersey, £175,

That WorldTour pros spent their own money on Gabbas to race in them for the soggy 2013 Milan-San Remo speaks volumes, but I prize this weatherproof jersey as much for its versatility as for its protection. Its mix of Gore-Tex Infinium fabrics and taped seams (in contrast-colour piping) make it windproof and block out all but persistent downpours.

Pair it with armwarmers and a sturdy base layer and I’m comfortable down to low single-figure temperatures; on its own with an airy underlayer it’s good into the mid-teens. Given that range I’d argue that, despite the price, it’s darn good value.

Buy the Castelli Gabba RoS jersey now from ProBikeKit

Squirt chain lube, from £1.99,

Squirt is a ‘slack wax’ lube I’ve used for a couple of years. It’s a runnier form of the hot-melt waxes considered the gold standard in terms of drivetrain efficiency and wear, and provides many of the same benefits. As a liquid it’s easy to apply, although you need to make sure it penetrates the chain properly by giving each link a little bend and rub (which I don’t mind admitting is oddly therapeutic).

You don’t need to degrease either. As it solidifies into wax on the chain, a stern brushing with a cassette brush clears any debris off. Easy.

Buy Squirt chain lube now from Wiggle

Gripgrab Flandrien road shoe covers, €69.95 (approx £60),

I tend to prefer oversocks to overshoes, because being soft and stretchy makes them easier to put on – who wants to get out of breath before you even start riding? They also suit the type of rides I typically go on: short ones where the damp and cold only need to be postponed as I’ll be home before I get truly uncomfortable.

These Gripgrab shoe covers provide the best of all worlds, being soft and supple enough to get on and off easily, but also coming with a water-resistant membrane that keeps out rain and wheel spray. I also like the understated design – they’ll go with anything.

Buy the Gripgrab Flandrien road shoe covers now

James Spender, deputy editor

Growing up, James’ bikes were second-hand so he spent his spare time studying upgrades. That obsession with kit and components has only grown, much to our benefit.

Rapha Pro Team insulated gilet, £140,

Puffer jackets: 1990s French exchange students, good; cyclists, bad. Yet I love a properly insulated top layer, which is why this is such a winner. It’s warm, slim-fit and low in bulk. The chest panels are windproof, the shoulders and back a thin, stretchy softshell, plus it’s DWR-coated, but the magic is in the Polartec Alpha lining.

Made from synthetic fibres woven into a 3D structure, Alpha traps air against the body to form hundreds of tiny insulating pockets, so this gilet is warm and it doesn’t wet out and clump like a traditional down-filled puffer.

Buy the Rapha Pro Team insulated gilet now

Wizard Works Lil Presto! bar bag, £65,

Pandemic pedalling necessitates carrying enough tools and food to re-weld a frame roadside while throwing a small buffet; pandemic socialising has meant cycling to meet people outdoors carrying extra clothes, locks and beers. And thus I’ve fallen in love with the Lil Presto bar bag.

Made by UK-based Wizard Works, the Lil Presto is one of those ‘Oh, feels so nice’ bags, made from waterproof Cordura fabric with non-scratch silicone straps, because there’s nothing like lashing a bar bag to an aero bar for maximum style points.

I’m a big fan of the Presto’s top-loading zip and easy-reach side pockets, and there are loops out front to mount a light too – a feature often overlooked on bar bags. Plus an optional carry strap (£7.50) turns the Lil Presto into a man satchel.

Buy the Wizard Works Lil Presto! bar bag now

Cateye light set, Ampp800 headlight £64,99, Tight Kinetic rear light £22.99,

The first lights I ever owned were Cateyes, and so too Cateyes will be my last. They are the most dependable not-silly-money lights on the market, and these two are brilliant for spring riding because they’re compact yet bright with long run-times.

Turned right up, the Ampp800 belts out 800 lumens for 90 minutes, while the Tight Kinetic has 360° visibility and changes brightness under braking, like a car’s brake lights.

It’s AAA battery-powered (the Ampp is rechargeable), but good for up to 180 hours.

Buy the Cateye Ampp 800 headlight now from Wiggle

Buy the Cateye Tight Kinetic rear light now from Wiggle

Pete Muir, editor

As the ageing silverback of the troop, Pete expects to be protected from the elements on rides by his band of juveniles. He expects cycling kit to do the same job.

Lazer Century Mips helmet, £149.99,

Helmets fall into the category of boring-but-essential, so it takes something quite special for a helmet to make me say, ‘Ooh, that’s clever.’

The Century does just that, thanks to its reversible panel on the top.

The Twist Cap, as it’s known, is a detachable section of the shell held in place by magnets: flip it one way and you have a well-ventilated helmet for hot rides; flip it the other and it’s an aero helmet for saving precious watts. It’s so simple, and there’s even a built-in rear light for when it suddenly turns gloomy. Which it will.

Buy the Lazer Century Mips helmet now from Freewheel

Dhb Merino long sleeve jersey, £90,

There’s an old army saying: ‘Any fool can be uncomfortable.’ So true. When I’m on my bike I want to feel swaddled like a newborn babe.

Yes, of course I also want to minimise drag and look as pro as possible, but most important is the soft touch of downy merino fibres against my skin. And the Dhb Merino jersey is a fine example, being well cut and unfussy, but with some smart details such as a mesh strip down the rear for ventilation, silicone grippers and reflective tabs on the tail.

What’s that you say? It’s not windproof or waterproof. Well, that’s why it pairs so beautifully with a ShakeDry jacket…

Buy the Dhb Merino long sleeve jersey now from Wiggle

Gore x Romance ShakeDry jacket, £270,

Gore-Tex ShakeDry is the material I have been waiting for all my life: completely waterproof, properly breathable, but thin and light enough to scrunch into a small ball and stuff in a rear pocket when not required. It’s the material I deserve, having spent my youth sodden and sweating in glorified bin bags that flapped like sails on an abandoned dinghy.

There’s only one issue – most ShakeDry jackets are black. Yet this collaboration between Gore and Romance has created something bright and dramatically different.

Find out more about the Gore x Romance ShakeDry jacket now

Stu Bowers, senior editor

Stu has been living and breathing bikes for well over 30 years, having raced for Team GB, plus worked as a Team GB mechanic and managed a few bike shops.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, £520,

This is Garmin’s latest and greatest head unit. The large colour screen is second-to-none and perfect for accurate route navigation, especially thanks to the superb touchscreen. Some really useful new features include the ability to pause route navigation/notifications if you wish to explore off course, plus the excellent ClimbPro guide. This is invaluable if you’re riding a climb you don’t know as it tells you what’s to come.

The Edge 1030 Plus also offers up to 24 hours of battery life, and an optional 48-hour ‘Battery life+’ pack.

Buy the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus now from Wiggle

Dynaplug Racer tubeless repair tool, £37.99,

I can’t tell you enough how much I prefer tubeless tyres. The benefits are numerous and with this little tool from Dynaplug it makes even more sense. Now I can fix a hole that’s too large for the sealant to cope with in seconds without removing the wheel.

The ‘plugs’ are like little gummy, rubbery worms that you simply push into the hole using the insertion tool, creating an instant bond for an airtight and permanent seal. Then you just reinflate and go. It’s so small and light, I never leave home without it.

Buy the Dynaplug Racer tubeless repair tool now from Freewheel

Veloforte bars, from £2.49,

For a long day in the saddle I’ve always preferred ‘real’ food over sugar-laden energy bars, which is how I came across Veloforte. Its products are the perfect middle ground: the convenience of an energy bar made with only 100% natural, real food ingredients, compacted into dense, highly calorific portions.

The flavours are more diverse than your common-or-garden options and I particularly like the bite-size chunks the company offers for their ease of consumption on the bike – Veloforte bars have fuelled me for some of the toughest sportives I’ve ever ridden.

Shop the selection of Veloforte bars now at Wiggle

Joe Robinson, digital editor

One of our younger staff, Joe has been known to wear a collared shirt and puppytooth suit trousers to work. He says things like this make him our barometer of cool.

Vittoria Corsa Control TLR 28mm tyres, £69.99,

Just like everybody has a favourite Abba song – mine’s ‘SOS’ – everyone at Cyclist has a favourite set of road tyres. Mine has always been 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pro clinchers, but I’m open to new ideas, which is how I’ve now come to favour these for spring.

Being 28mm wide and tubeless-ready, they combine the puncture protection and grip I’m so accustomed to but feel noticeably more supple, improving ride quality and potentially resulting in a bit more speed too.

Buy the Vittoria Corsa Control TLR tyres now from LeisureLakesBikes

100% Glendale sunglasses, from £139.99,

With a head so big it has the volume to contain 5,500 skittles, I’m one of the rare beasts out there that actually suits the continuous trend towards bigger cycling sunglasses. That’s why I’ll be wearing 100%’s Glendale sunglasses for the next few months, as they are as big as you can go without officially looking like a downhill skier.

For spring, due to British weather being as predictable as the Lottery, I’ll be using the 17% VLT bronze low-light lens that will easily manage the brightest of May mornings but also keep vision clear in the heaviest of April showers.

Buy the 100% Glendale sunglasses now from ProBikeKit

Isadore 100% Merino LS base layer, £60,

For me a base layer is a non-negotiable part of any ride, let alone my spring spinning. It offers an extra layer of warmth in the cold and can cleverly wick away sweat from the body in the heat. It also helps prevent any unwelcome chafing from bib straps.

I’ve long championed Isadore’s long-sleeve merino option as one of the best for comfort and warmth. Let’s not ignore the nifty thumbholes that prevent your sleeves from rolling up either – a bit of inspired design from former pros and Isadore founders Martin and Peter Velits.

Buy the Isadore 100% Merino LS base layer now

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